Edgar Howard Sturtevant

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Edgar Howard Sturtevant (March 7, 1875 – July 1, 1952) was an American linguist.

Edgar Howard Sturtevant
Born(1875-03-07)March 7, 1875
DiedJuly 1, 1952(1952-07-01) (aged 77)
Known forIndo-Hittite hypothesis
Founding member of the Linguistic Society of America
ChildrenJulian M. Sturtevant
Academic background
EducationIndiana University
University of Chicago
Academic work
Sub-disciplineHittite language
InstitutionsColumbia University
Yale University


Sturtevant was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, the older brother of Alfred Sturtevant and grandson of educator Julian Monson Sturtevant. He studied at Illinois College, where his grandfather was president, and obtained an A.B. from Indiana University,[1] then the University of Chicago receiving there in 1901 a Ph.D. with a dissertation on Latin case forms. He became an assistant professor of classical philology at Columbia University before joining the linguistics faculty at Yale University in 1923. In 1924, he was a member of the organizing committee for the founding, with Leonard Bloomfield and George M. Bolling, of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA).

Besides research on Native American languages and field work on the Modern American English dialects, he is the father of the Indo-Hittite hypothesis, first formulated in 1926, based on his seminal work establishing the Indo-European character of Hittite (and the related Anatolian languages), with Hittite exhibiting more archaic traits than the normally reconstructed forms for Proto-Indo-European.

He authored the first scientifically acceptable Hittite grammar with a chrestomathy and a glossary, formulated the so-called Sturtevant's law (the doubling of consonants representing Proto-Indo-European voiceless stops) and laid the foundations to what later became the Goetze-Wittmann law (the spirantization of palatal stops before u as the focal origin of the centum-satem isogloss). The 1951 revised edition of his grammar (co-authored with E. Adelaide Hahn) is still useful today, although it was superseded in 2008 by Hoffner and Melchert's Grammar of the Hittite Language.

Sturtevant was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1939 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1940.[2][3]

Sturtevant died in Branford, Connecticut. His son, Julian M. Sturtevant, was a chemist and molecular biophysicist at Yale University.[4]


  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1931). Hittite glossary: words of known or conjectured meaning, with Sumerian ideograms and Accadian words common in Hittite texts. Language, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 3–82., Language Monograph No. 9.
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1932). "The Development of the Stops in Hittite". Journal of the American Oriental Society. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 52, No. 1. 52 (1): 1–12. doi:10.2307/593573. JSTOR 593573.
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. A. (1933, 1951). Comparative Grammar of the Hittite Language. Rev. ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951 (with E. Adelaide Hahn). First edition: 1933.
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. A., & George Bechtel (1935). A Hittite Chrestomathy. Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America.
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1940). The pronunciation of Greek and Latin. 2d. ed. Philadelphia: Linguistic Society of America, 1940. Review at Whatmough, J., "The Pronunciation of Greek and Latin by Edgar H. Sturtevant", Classical Philology, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Oct., 1941), pp. 409–411.
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1940). "Evidence for voicing in Hittite g". Language. Language, Vol. 16, No. 2. 16 (2): 81–87. doi:10.2307/408942. JSTOR 408942.[1]
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. (1942). Linguistic Change: An Introduction to the Historical Study of Language. New York: Stechert.
  • Sturtevant, Edgar H. A. (1942). The Indo-Hittite laryngeals. Baltimore: Linguistic Society of America.


External linksEdit

  1. ^ Gordon, Laura. "STURTEVANT, Edgar Howard". dbcs.rutgers.edu. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  2. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  3. ^ "Edgar Howard Sturtevant". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  4. ^ "Yale Bulletin and Calendar". archives.news.yale.edu. Retrieved 2022-05-28.