Phraseological borrowing

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prestito fraseologico | calque phraséologique | phraseologische Entlehnung


In general, a borrowed phraseology is any idiomatic phraseme that is calqued from a model language into a target one (cf. Chen 1997, 90). In ancient documents, however, the repeated structure, rather than always pointing to an idiomatic-charge in spoken language, tend to indicate the existence of formulaic structures. The borrowing of formulaic structures is, obviously, a strong indicator of contact and communication between literary cultures.


A proposed case of phraseological borrowing (Dardano 2018) into Hittite is represented by the formula:

[I-NA MU 3KA]M LUGAL-uš a-ru-na-an ar-ḫa-an IṢ-BAT
On the third day the King took the Sea as a boundary

This occurs in the Annals of a Old Hittite King, possibly Telipinu (KUB 26.71 iv 14). It may calque the Akkadian topos of the King of Akkad who conquers the lands from the Northern to the Southern Sea. However, no formulaic structure exists in the Akkadian texts that is actually mimicked by the Hittite phraseology, and this, in turn, is not repeated in a formulaic fashion outside of the aforementioned annals, which means that we might at best be dealing with a case of migrating topos (Giusfredi, Pisaniello, Merlin in press).

Another example (proposed by Giusfredi, Pisaniello, Merlin in press) may be represented by the formula ÉRINMEŠ ANŠE.KUR.RAḪI.A/MEŠ "infantry and chariots (lit. horses)", which is introduced late in the Hittite annalistic narratives and which seems to represent a formal and semantic match when compared to Homeric formulae πεζῶν τε καὶ ἵππων, ἵππων τε καὶ ανδρῶν, λαός τε καὶ ἵπποι (Od. 14.267, Il. 21.16 and 18.153), as all of these formulae, like the Hittite one, specifically employ the word for "horse" to indicate "(war) chariots".


Chen, E. 1997. Towards a Typological Classification of Linguistic Borrowing. Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses 10, pp. 81-94. Dardano, P. 2018. Semitic influences in Anatolian languages. In Ł. NIESIOŁOWSKI-SPANÒ – M. WĘCOWSKI (eds.), Change, Continuity, and Connectivity. North-Eastern Mediterranean at the turn of the Bronze Age and in the early Iron Age (Philippika 118), Wiesbaden, pp. 345–374. Giusfredi, F., Pisaniello, V., Merlin, S. In press. PHRASEOLOGY AND LITERARY TOPOI BETWEEN ANATOLIA, THE AEGEAN AND THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST, forthcoming in a volume.