"Plene" spellings (with extra vowel glyphs, like ma-a-an instead of ma-an or e-es-zi instead of es-zi) are common in Anatolian cuneiform. Sometimes they disambiguate between signs with multiple readings: ke can also be read as ki, and er as ir, so the extra vowel in har-ke-e-er makes it clear that the word is harker rather than *harkir.

Other times, though, there's no ambiguity, so the plene spelling seems to indicate some other kind of distinction. I've seen arguments for vowel length, accentuation, glottal stops, and various combinations of the three. But it's not clear to me which of these theories is most widely accepted, if any.

Is there any sort of consensus on what these plene spellings represented?

  • see e.g. Hoffner and Melchert 2008 A grammar of the Hittite language, p. 25 (section 1.46), where they mention five reasons for plene writing (based on Melchert 1984).
    – Alex B.
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 16:44
  • cf. van den Hout 2011 The elements of Hittite, pp. 27-28 (sections 1.5.2-1.5.3)
    – Alex B.
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 16:50
  • @AlexB. Is the weight of scholarly consensus mostly on Melchert's side then? My understanding of the whole thing is kind of confused after reading so many conflicting opinions, but the impression I get is that Kloekhorst et al claim it can represent an initial glottal stop (based on "double plene" spellings like a-a-an-si = ʔānsi and HLuwian á vs a), while Melchert et al disagree.
    – Draconis
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


I think most people take plene writing in Hittite to represent either length or stress (or maybe both).
Besides, I warn you against most of Kloekhorst ideas, which are highly inadequate in my opinion. Melchert is much more recommendable.

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