The Hurro-Urartian loan contacts of Armenian: A revision

Zsolt Simon*

Show more

* – Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics. Email:

Cite as Simon, Zs. 2022: The Hurro-Urartian loan contacts of Armenian: A revision. Hungarian Assyriological Review 3: 63–89.



The present paper critically revises the Hurro-Urartian loanwords of Armenian as well as the alleged Armenian loans in Urartian. It argues that while the existence of the Hurro-Urartian loanword layer in Armenian is undeniable, the number of the certain cases is much smaller than previously assumed. Furthermore, none of the proposed Armenian loans in Urartian can be maintained on linguistic grounds.

Keywords: Hurrian, Urartian, Armenian, Akkadian, loanwords

Copyright and acknowledgements

Copyright: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Creative Commons License

Data availability. The author confirms that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article.

Disclosure statement. No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

Funding statement. The author received no financial support for the research and the publication of this article.



Adontz, N. 1938: Emprunts de haute époque en arménien. Revue des études indo-européennes 1, 457–467.

AHw = von Soden, W. 21959–1981: Akkadisches Handwörterbuch I-III. Wiesbaden.

Attinger, P. 2021: Glossaire sumérien–français principalement des textes littéraires paléobabyloniens. Wiesbaden.

Bartash, V. 2018: Going for the Subarean Brand: The Import of Labor in Early Babylonia. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 77, 263–278.

BGH = Richter, Th. 2012: Bibliographisches Glossar des Hurritischen. Wiesbaden.

Blažek, V. 2008: Celtic ‘Smith’ and His Colleagues. In: Lubotsky, A. – Schaeken, J. – Wiedenhof, J. (eds.): Evidence and Counter-Evidence. Essays in Honour of Frederik Kortlandt I. Balto-Slavic and Indo-European Linguistics. (Studies in Slavic and General Linguistics 32) Amsterdam – New York, 67–85.

CAD = Gelb, I. J. et al. (eds.) 1956–2010: The Assyrian Dictionary of The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Chicago.

Clackson, J. 2017: The lexicon of Armenian. In: Klein, J. – Joseph, B. – Fritz, M. (eds.): Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics. (Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 41) Berlin – Boston, 1115–1132.

de Martino, S. – Giorgieri, M. 2008: Literatur zum hurritischen Lexikon (LHL) 1. A. (Eothen 1) Firenze.

Diakonoff, I. M. 1971: Hurrisch und Urartäisch. (Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft, Beiheft NF 6) München.

Diakonoff, I. M. 1982: Ancient Near Eastern Substrata in Armenian. Annual of Armenian Linguistics 3, 13–18.

Diakonoff, I. M. 1984: The Pre-history of the Armenian People. Delmar.

Diakonoff, I. M. 1985: Hurro-Urartian Borrowings in Old Armenian. Journal of the American Oriental Society 105, 597–603.

Diakonoff, I. M. 1992: First Evidence of the Proto-Armenian Language in Eastern Anatolia. Annual of Armenian Linguistics 13, 51–54.

Diakonoff, I. M. – Starostin, S. A. 1986: Hurro-Urartian as an Eastern Caucasian Language. (Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft, Beiheft NF 12) München.

Djahukian, G. B. 1982: Akkadian Loan Words in Armenian. Annual of Armenian Linguistics 3, 1–12.

Djahukian, G. B. 1990: Did Armenians Live in Asia Anterior Before the Twelfth Century B.C.? In: Markey, Th. L. – Greppin, J. A. C. (eds.): When Worlds Collide. Indo-Europeans and Pre-Indo-Europeans. Ann Arbor, 25–33.

Djahukian, G. B. 1992: Armenian Words and Proper Names in Urartian Inscriptions. In: Greppin, J. A. C. (ed.): Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Armenian Linguistics. Cleveland State University. Cleveland, Ohio. September 14-18, 1991. Delmar, 49–59.

eCUT = Christiansen, B. 2016–: Electronic Corpus of Urartian Texts Project. München.

EDAIL = Martirosyan, H. K. 2010: Etymological Dictionary of the Armenian Inherited Lexicon. (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series 8) Leiden – Boston.

EDG = Beekes, R. 2010: Etymological Dictionary of Greek. (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series 10) Leiden – Boston.

eDiAna = Hackstein, O. – Miller, J. L. – Rieken, E. (eds.) (2016–): Digital Philological-Etymological Dictionary of the Minor Ancient Anatolian Corpus Languages. München – Marburg.

Fähnrich, H. 2007: Kartwelisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. (Handbuch der Orientalistik VIII/18) Leiden – Boston.

Fortson, B. W. 22010: Indo-European Language and Culture. An Introduction. Oxford.

Fuchs, A. 2012: Urartu in der Zeit. In: Kroll, S. – Gruber, C. – Hellwag, U. – Roaf, M. – Zimansky, P. (eds.): Biainili-Urartu. Tagungsbericht des Münchner Symposiums, 12.-14. Oktober 2007. (Acta Iranica 51) Leuven, 135–161.

Giorgieri, M. 2000: Schizzo grammaticale della lingua hurrica. La parola del passato 55, 171–277.

Gippert, J. 2005: Das Armenische – eine indogermanische Sprache im kaukasischen Areal. In: Meiser, G. – Hackstein, O. (eds.): Sprachkontakt und Sprachwandel. Akten der XI. Fachtagung der Indogermanischen Gesellschaft, 17.-23. September 2000, Halle an der Saale. Wiesbaden, 139–160.

Girbal, Ch. 2004: Review of A. Çilingiroğlu – M. Salvini, Ayanis I. Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie 94, 157–160.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1980: “Hittite” Loan Words in Armenian. In: Mayrhofer, M. – Peters, M. – Pfeiffer, O. E. (eds.): Lautgeschichte und Etymologie. Akten der VI. Fachtagung der Indogermanischen Gesellschaft, Wien, 24.-29. September 1978. Wiesbaden, 203–207.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1982a: The Anatolian Substrata in Armenian. An Interim Report. Annual of Armenian Linguistics 3, 65–72.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1982b: Two Hurrian Words in Armenian. In: Samuelian, Th. J. (ed.): Classical Armenian Culture. Influences and Creativity. (University of Pennsylvania Armenian Texts and Studies 4) s. l., 142–150.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1982c: Two Points on Hurrian-Armenian Lexical Relationships. In: Dandamayev, M. A. – Gershevitch, I. – Klengel, H. – Komoróczy, G. – Larsen, M. T. – Postgate, J. N. (eds.): Societies and Languages of the Ancient Near East. Studies in Honour of I. M. Diakonoff. Warminster, 117–119.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1990: The Make-Up of the Armenian Unclassified Substratum. In: Markey, Th. L. – Greppin, J. A. C. (eds.): When Worlds Collide. Indo-Europeans and Pre-Indo-Europeans. Ann Arbor, 203–210.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1990–1991: The Etymology of Arm. astem and tarm and the Hurro-Urartian hypothesis with a bibliographical excursion. Revue des études arméniennes 22, 17–21.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1991a: Some Effects of the Hurro-Urartian People and Their Languages upon the Earliest Armenians. Journal of the American Oriental Society 111, 720–730.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1991b: The Survival of Ancient Anatolian and Mesopotamian Vocabulary until Present. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 50, 203–207.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1992: Mediterranean Botanical Loanwords in Classical Armenian. In: Greppin, J. A. C. (ed.): Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Armenian Linguistics. Cleveland State University. Cleveland, Ohio. September 14-18, 1991. Delmar, 61–75.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1995: Kuryłowicz and Hittite , and further extensions on to Armenian. In: Smoczyński, W. (ed.): Kuryłowicz Memorial Volume I. (Analecta Indoeuropaea Cracoviensia 2) Cracow, 313–315.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1996: New Data on the Hurro-Urartian Substratum in Armenian. Historische Sprachforschung 109, 40–44.

Greppin, J. A. C. 1997: Syriac Loanwords in Classical Armenian. In: Afsaruddin, A. – Zinser, A. H. M. (eds.): Humanism, Culture, and Language in the Near East. Studies in Honor of Georg Krotkoff. Winona Lake, 247–251.

Greppin, J. A. C. 2006: Substratum in Armenian. Aramazd 1, 196–201.

Greppin, J. A. C. 2008a: Did the good wines come from Armenia? Aramazd 3, 47–52.

Greppin, J. A. C. 2008b: More Material on the Urartian Substratum in Armenian. Journal of Indo-European Studies 36, 79–87.

Greppin, J. A. C. 2008c: The Urartian Substratum in Armenian. Bulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences 2, 134–137.

Greppin, J. A. C. 2010: Hurro-Urartian-North-East Caucasian-Armenian Linguistic Connections. Aramazd 5, 116–120.

Greppin, J. A. C. 2011: Urartian Sibilants in Armenian. Historische Sprachforschung 124, 292–296.

Hackstein, O. 2021: On Latin arbor and why tree is grammatically feminine in PIE. In: Fellner, H. A. – Malzahn, M. – Peyrot, M. (eds.): lyuke wmer ra. Indo-European Studies in Honor of Georges-Jean Pinault. Ann Arbor – New York, 183–204.

Hazenbos, J. 42021: Hurritisch und Urartäisch. In: Streck, M. P. (ed.): Sprachen des Alten Orients. Darmstadt, 166–191.

HED = Puhvel, J. 1984–: Hittite Etymological Dictionary. Berlin – New York.

HEG = Tischler, J. 1977–2016: Hethitisches etymologisches Glossar I-IV. (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 20) Innsbruck.

Hoffner, H. A. 1974: Alimenta Hethaeorum. Food Production in Hittite Asia Minor. (American Oriental Series 55) New Haven.

Hrůša, I. 2010: Die akkadische Synonymenliste malku = šarru. Eine Textedition mit Übersetzung und Kommentar. (Alter Orient und Altes Testament 50) Münster.

HW2 = Friedrich, J. et al. (eds.) 1975–: Hethitisches Wörterbuch. Zweite, völlig neubearbeitete Auflage auf der Grundlage der edierten hethitischen Texte. Heidelberg.

Kim, R. I. 2016: Studies in Armenian Historical Phonology I. Aspiration and Spirantization of PIE Voiceless Stops. In: Byrd, A. M. – DeLisi, J. – Wenthe, M. (eds.): Tavet Tat Satyam. Studies in Honor of Jared S. Klein on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday. Ann Arbor – New York, 151–167.

Kimball, S. E. 1999: Hittite Historical Phonology. (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 95) Innsbruck.

Kitazumi, T. 2013: Zum Problem der Gleichung heth. Hayaša = arm. hayk‘. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 163, 511–517.

Kitazumi, T. – Rudolf, S. 2021: Die syrischen Lehnwörter im Armenischen – eine Revision. In: Jouravel, A. – Mathys, A. (eds.): Wort- und Formenvielfalt. Festschrift für Christoph Koch zum 80. Geburtstag. (Studies on Language and Culture in Central and Eastern Europe 37) Berlin, 185–206.

Kloekhorst, A. 2008: Etymological dictionary of the Hittite inherited lexicon. (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series 5) Leiden – Boston.

Kölligan, D. 2019: Erkinkc ew erkir. Studien zur historischen Grammatik des Klassisch-Armenischen. (Studien zur historisch-vergleichenden Sprachwissenschaft 12) Hamburg.

LIV2 = Rix, H. (ed.) 22001: Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben. Die Wurzeln und ihre Primärstammbildungen. Wiesbaden.

Macak, M. 2017: The phonology of Classical Armenian. In: Klein, J. – Joseph, B. – Fritz, M. (eds.): Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics. (Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 41) Berlin – Boston, 1037–1079.

Mahé, J.-P. 1990–1991: Remarques philologiques sur l’arménien astem «demander une femme en mariage» et tarm «bande (d’oiseaux)». Revue des études arméniennes 22, 23–28.

Martirosyan, H. 2017: Notes on Anatolian Loanwords in Armenian. In: Avetisyan, P. S. – Grekyan, Y. H. (eds.): Bridging Times and Spaces. Papers in Ancient Near Eastern, Mediterranean and Armenian Studies Honouring Gregory E. Areshian on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday. Oxford, 293–306.

Melchert, H. C. forthcoming: A Dictionary of Cuneiform Luvian. Ann Arbor – New York.

Msériantz, L. 1904: Les éléments ourartiques dans la langue arménienne. In: s. e. (ed.): Verhandlungen des XIII. Internationalen Orientalisten-Kongresses. Hamburg September 1902. Leiden, 128–129.

Obrador-Cursach, B. 2019–2020: Greek πύργος ‘tower’ as a possible Lydian borrowing. News from the Lands of the Hittites 3-4, 9–15.

Obrador-Cursach, B. 2020: The Phrygian Language. (Handbuch der Orientalistik I/139) Leiden – Boston.

Olander, Th. 2020 [2022]: To *b or not to *b. Proto-Indo-European *b in a phylogenetic perspective. Historische Sprachforschung 133, 182–208.

Olsen, B. A. 1999: The Noun in Biblical Armenian. Origin and Word-Formation. With Special Emphasis on the Indo-European Heritage. (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 119) Berlin – New York.

Olsen, B. A. 2017a: Armenian. In: Kapović, M. (ed.): The Indo-European Languages. Second edition. London – New York, 421–451.

Olsen, B. A. 2017b: The Morphology of Armenian. In: Klein, J. – Joseph, B. – Fritz, M. (eds.): Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics. (Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 41) Berlin – Boston, 1080–1097.

Olsen, B. A. – Thorsø, R. 2022: Armenian. In: Olander, Th. (ed.): The Indo-European Language Family. A Phylogenetic Perspective. Cambridge, 202–222.

Palmer, A. 1990: Monk and Mason on Tigris Frontier. The early history of Ṭur cAbdin. Cambridge.

Petit, D. 2019: Genetic and Areal Classification of Languages in Anatolia and Caucasus. In: Espagne, M. – Isaxanli, H. – Mustafayev, Sh. (eds.): A Long-term History of Cross-cultural Transfers in the Caucasus. (Khazar Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Special Issue) Baku, 169–187.

Petrosyan, A. 2007: The Problem of Identification of the Proto-Armenians: A Critical Review. Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 16, 25–66.

Petrosyan, A. 2010: The Armenian Elements in the Language and Onomastics of Urartu. Aramazd 5, 133–140.

Poetto, M. 1979: Lidio kofu-. Incontri Linguistici 5, 198–200.

Radner, K. 2006: Review of A.-M. Wittke, Mušker und Phryger. Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie 96, 144–149.

Ravnæs, E. 2005: The Relative Chronology of the Sound Changes from Proto-Indo-European to Classical Armenian. In: Haug, D. – Welo, E. (eds.): Haptačahaptāitiš. Festschrift for Fridrik Thordarson. On the occasion of his 77th birthday. (Instituttet for sammenlignende kulturforskning, Serie B. Skrifter 116) Oslo, 191–204.

Ritter, R.-P. 2006: Zur Frage der Reste indogermanischer Dichtersprache im Armenischen. In: Pinault, G.-J. – Petit, D. (eds.): La langue poétique indo-européenne. Actes du Colloque de travail de la Société des Études Indo-européennes (Indogermanische Gesellschaft/Society for Indo-European Studies). Paris, 22-24 octobre 2003. (Collection linguistique 91). Leuven – Paris, 413–417.

Rollinger, R. – Kellner, A. 2019: Once More on the Nabonidus Chronicle (BM 35382) and Cyrus’ Campaign in 547 BC. Ancient West & East 18, 153–176.

Salvini, M. 1979: Confronti lessicali fra hurrico e urarteo. In: s. e.: Florilegium anatolicum. Mélanges offerts à Emmanuel Laroche. Paris, 305–314.

Salvini, M. 1990: Ein Beitrag zur hurritisch-urartäischen Morphologie. Orientalia 59, 243–250.

Salvini, M. 2008: Corpus dei testi urartei I. Le iscrizioni su pietra e roccia. I testi. (Documenta Asiana 8/1) Roma.

Salvini, M. 2018: Corpus dei testi urartei V. Revisioni delle epigrafi e nuovi testi su pietra e roccia (CTU A), dizionario urarteo, schizzo grammaticale della lengua urartea. (Documenta Asiana 8/5) Roma.

Salvini, M. – Wegner, I. 2014: Einführung in die urartäische Sprache. Wiesbaden.

Schmitt, R. 1972 [1974]: Die Erforschung des Klassisch-Armenischen seit Meillet (1936). Kratylos 17, 1–68.

Schmitt, R. 22007: Grammatik des Klassisch-Armenischen mit sprachvergleichenden Erläuterungen. (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 123) Innsbruck.

Schmitt, R. 2012: Review of EDAIL. Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 107, 123–127.

Simon, Zs. 2013: Die These der hethitisch-luwischen Lehnwörter im Armenischen. Eine kritische Neubetrachtung. International Journal of Diachronic Linguistics and Linguistic Reconstruction 10, 97–135.

Simon, Zs. 2021a: The alleged Anatolian loanwords in Etruscan: A reconsideration. In: Giusfredi, F. – Simon, Zs. (eds.): Studies in the languages and language contact in Pre-Hellenistic Anatolia. (Barcino Monographica Orientalia 17 = Series Anatolica et Indogermanica 2) Barcelona, 227–253.

Simon, Zs. 2021b: Hittite and Luwian Loanwords in Armenian: An Update. Hungarian Assyriological Review 2, 283–294.

Simon Zs. 2022: Proto-Indo-European Loanwords in Proto-Kartvelian: A Reconsideration. Unpublished talk held at the Comparative Indo-European Linguistics Seminar. Leiden University, 20 May 2022.

Smeets, R. 1989: On Hurro-Urartian as an Eastern Caucasian Language. Bibliotheca Orientalis 46, 259–279.

Starke, F. 1990: Untersuchung zur Stammbildung des keilschrift-luwischen Nomens. (Studien zu den Boğazköy-Texten 31) Wiesbaden.

Thorsø, R. 2022: A New Look at Old Armenisms in Kartvelian. Armeniaca 1, 97–110.

Tischler, J. 1992: Review of Starke 1990. Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 87, 532–535.

Trémouille, M.-C. 2005: Texte verschiedenen Inhalts. (Corpus der hurritischen Sprachdenkmäler I/8) Roma.

Viredaz, R. 2020: Les traitments de la triphtongue eay en arménien. Revue des études arméniennes 39, 1–32.

Wegner, I. 22007: Hurritisch. Eine Einführung / Einführung in die hurritische Sprache. Wiesbaden.

Weitenberg, J. J. S. 1985: Reconstructing Classical Armenian. The case of kotem(n). Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 98, 238–244.

Wilhelm, G. 2004a: Hurrian. In: Woodard, R. D. (ed.): The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages. Cambridge, 95–118.

Wilhelm, G. 2004b: Urartian. In: Woodard, R. D. (ed.): The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages. Cambridge, 119–137.

Yakubovich, I. 2009: Two Armenian Etymologies. In: Tatišvili, I. – Hvedelidze, M. – Gordeziani, L. (eds.): Giorgi Melikishvili Memorial Volume. (Caucasian and Near Eastern Studies 13) Tbilisi, 265–271.

Yakubovich, I. 2016a: Review of BGH. Journal of the American Oriental Society 136, 179–183.

Yakubovich, I. 2016b: Review of Salvini – Wegner 2014. Bibliotheca Orientalis 73, 155–159.

Yakubovich, I. 2017: Lydian kof(i)- ‘water’. In: eDiAna.