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Home > Research > Publications > Annual Reports > 1996-97 Annual Report

The Hittite Dictionary Project


Harry A. Hoffner, Jr.

The 18 May 1997 Sunday edition of The Chicago Tribune in its "Metro" Section carried a two-page article by Pulitzer-Prize-winning staff writer William Mullen on the Hittite Dictionary of the Oriental Institute. Color photographs on the front page showed Executive Editor Harry Hoffner and Research Associate Richard Beal at work in their offices (fig. 1). If you like to "surf the Web," you can find a print edition, minus the photographs, on the Tribune's World-Wide Web site. Just open the URL and activate the link on the left side of the page entitled "Search archives." This will produce a standard search window, in whose box you should enter the word "Hittite." The story about the Institute's Hittite Dictionary is entitled "Deciphering a Link to Past." Happy Surfing! As you can imagine, this well-written article brought the Institute and the Project much positive publicity.

This was a "roll over" year, in which Professor Hoffner had to prepare a long and complicated application for a new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which was submitted on 1 July 1996. We were notified in June 1997 that we had been chosen once again to receive a grant from the NEH, despite the stiff competition by many other projects for a very limited amount of available funding! ("High five" at this point.) We are very pleased about what this says for our standing in the American and international scholarly communities and, of course, in Washington! As in previous years, the NEH supplied us with the anonymous comments of the reviewers, and again these comments were highly complimentary. So, although it is sometimes frustrating that our work progresses more slowly than we would like, it is gratifying that the final product is of the highest quality.

Co-editors Harry Hoffner and Hans Güterbock, Research Associates Richard Beal, Ojuz Soysal, and Hripsime Haroutunian, Volunteer Irv Diamond, and graduate students Steve Thurston, Simrit Dhesi, and Kathleen Mineck constituted the project staff during the last year. Since our junior staff - Beal, Soysal, Haroutunian, and Diamond - is all returning, we are confident that progress on the Dictionary will continue to be steady.

Progress on the Hittite Dictionary has been good. We published fascicle 1 (pa- to para) in 1994 and fascicle 2 (para to pattar) in September 1995. The revision and reference-checking of fascicle 3 (pattar to putkiya-) was completed in early 1997. Thomas Urban of the Publications Office, who formats the Dictionary and prepares it for the printer, estimates that it will appear in the early fall of 1997.

We are about 95% through the first drafts of Sh-words now. Hoffner, Güterbock, and Beal have been revising the first drafts of the Sha- and Shi-words and putting them (content-wise, not yet formatting) in final form. We are in good shape to begin the reference-checking and final formatting of the first two-thirds of the Sha-words, which should make up fascicle 1 of the Sh volume. The Dictionary volumes are being set up in-house by Thomas Urban, which both speeds up the production and keeps the costs down. It is hard to beat the convenience of just taking our queries down the hall instead of telephoning or faxing to an outside typesetter, as we did with the previous volume.

As part of our commitment to the NEH, Hoffner and Irv Diamond, in consultation with John Sanders, the Director of the Oriental Institute Computer Laboratory, are selecting portions of the published volumes of the Dictionary to be put on-line in the Institute's World-Wide Web site. Other documents of interest are being considered for on-line publication, including Hoffner's unpublished Hittite-English Glossary, a useful aid to private or classroom study of the Hittite language.

The distribution of responsibilities on the Dictionary staff remains the same as in previous years: (1) Newly published texts and text editions are incorporated into the main lexical files by Haroutunian, who also - together with Soysal - maintain a bibliographical database of secondary literature on Hittite texts and language. Twice a month Soysal visits the Joseph Regenstein Library to look systematically through new periodicals and books of interest. In this way certain publications that are not found in the Institute's Research Archives are made available to members of the CHD staff in photocopy. Soysal is compiling a bibliographical file that currently consists of 7,500 cards. This system is of great value to the project. Haroutunian, as editor of the Newsletter for Anatolian Studies, receives bibliographical input from scholars around the world, including notices of work in press and in progress. (2) Most first drafts are written by Soysal, with a smaller number by Beal and Hoffner. (3) Revising of first drafts is done by Hoffner and by Güterbock (aided by Beal). (4) Preparation of the biannual NEH application, which takes most of May and all of June in alternate years, is the responsibility of Hoffner. The next application to prepare will have to be submitted by 1 July 1998, exactly one year in advance of the expiration of our current two-year grant. As the Executive Director of the project and co-editor with Güterbock, Hoffner also makes all of the decisions concerning staffing, equipment, and day-to-day operations.

E-mail communications make possible an extremely helpful stream of day-to-day exchanges of queries and advice on Dictionary matters with our three Dictionary consultants: Professors Gary Beckman of the University of Michigan, Craig Melchert of the University of North Carolina, and Gernot Wilhelm of the University of Würzburg, Germany. In addition, although he is not formally a consultant on the CHD staff, Professor Erich Neu of the Ruhr University in Bochum has offered text-collations and very useful information and advice via e-mail. It is truly a small world!

Revised: July 30, 2007

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