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Article

Benjamin Fortson

Faliscan was the language spoken in the ager Faliscus north of Rome. It is preserved in some 450 mostly very short inscriptions dating from the 6th into the 2nd centurybce primarily from Civita Castellana (Falerii Veteres). An earlier stage of the language is distinguished from a later stage marked by monophthongization of the diphthongs ai and au to e and o, and merger of word-initial f and h as h. A local alphabet used in the early inscriptions gradually gave way to the Latin alphabet but was never fully abandoned.Few inscriptions offer more than onomastic material. Noteworthy is the perhaps proverbial foied vino pipafo (variant pafo) cra carefo = Lat. hodie vinum bibam cras carebo (“Today I shall drink wine, tomorrow I shall do without”), remarkably inscribed on two separate drinking cups (see Faliscan Red Figure kylix depicting Dionysus/Fufluns and Ariadne/Ariatha, Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, Rome). Of great interest is the “Ceres inscription,” from c.

Article

Benjamin Fortson

North Picene was an ancient language of eastern coastal Italy. It is preserved on an Etruscan-style stele from Pesaro and perhaps three other inscriptions (if they are genuine), dating from the mid-first millennium bce. The alphabet used is of the familiar northern Etruscan type, but the language does not appear to be Indo-European and has so far resisted interpretation. North Picene is not to be confused with the unrelated South Picene (see Picenum).

Article

Benjamin Fortson

Sicel was the language of the Siculi, spoken in eastern Sicily and preserved in a few inscriptions in the Greek alphabet (see alphabet, Greek) and in a handful of glosses noted by ancient authors. Though the interpretation of the inscriptions is largely unclear, the language is usually thought to be Indo-European and may have been Italic. Securely Indo-European is the form pibe (“drink!”), inscribed on the bottom of a drinking vessel (cp. Sanskrit píba, Latin bibe).

Article

Benjamin Fortson

Umbrian was the language of Sabellic populations in central Italy, including Umbria (see Umbrians) and neighbouring areas to the south that were occupied by the Volsci, Marsi, and Sabini. The bulk of scholarly knowledge of Umbrian comes from the Iguvine Tables (see fig. 1 and TABULAE IGUVINAE).The remaining material consists of about fifty mostly very short inscriptions from the 7th through the 1st centuries bce. A Volscian lex sacra of several lines, found at Velletri but probably stemming from elsewhere, is also noteworthy, as is the extreme age of the so-called Paleo-Umbrian material mostly from the 7th century.Umbrian is distinguished from Oscan, probably its closest relative, by many phonological developments that have, in their aggregate, generally obscured the resemblance of its vocabulary to cognates elsewhere in Italic. Many consonant clusters were simplified; s was rhotacized to r both between vowels and, by the later period, also word-finally after a vowel; diphthongs were monophthongized; intervocalic d was rhotacized to a sound written rs or ř; and initial l- became v-.

Article

Benjamin Fortson

The Latin spoken in the British Isles during and shortly after the Roman occupation (43–410ce). It left numerous traces in loanwords into British Celtic (spoken by the indigenous Celtic population of England and ancestral to Welsh, Cornish, and Breton) and early Anglo-Saxon (Old English). It is probable that British Latin over time developed differently from the Latin spoken on the Continent, but scholars do not agree on what its distinctive features were. This is in spite of the dramatic discoveries starting in the late 20th century (e.g., the Vindolanda tablets) that have greatly augmented the documentation of British Latin. Unlike on the Continent, Latin in Britain did not live on past the Roman occupation, and no Romance language grew out of it; the reasons for this have also been the subject of debate.

Article

Benjamin Fortson

The East Germanic language of the Goths, attested primarily in the lengthy fragments of a translation of the Greek Bible by the 4th-century Arian bishop Wulfila or Ulfilas (literally, “little wolf”). In Europe the language had died out probably by the 9th century, but a variation of it was still spoken in the 18th century in Crimea. Gothic is the first Germanic language to be attested in anything other than very short runic inscriptions.Wulfila used a modified Greek alphabet, supplemented with a couple of letters from the Latin and runic alphabets. Wulfila’s translation sticks very close to the word order and idiom of the original Greek, which makes studying the language’s syntax quite complicated. Gothic is the only Germanic language to preserve a passive conjugation and dual personal endings in verbs and shows none of the umlaut or rhotacism that so changed the soundscape of the West and North Germanic languages. An archaic syntactic feature of the language is the use of clitic conjunctions and pronouns (such as -(u)h “and,” related to Latin -que and Greek τε) that appear in second position in the clause, even separating preverbs from verbs.

Article

Jean Turfa

The study of the inscriptions written in the Etruscan language and alphabet, usually texts incised on stone, pottery, or metal objects, or occasionally on more fragile media such as ink-on-cloth. Dipinti (painted inscriptions) appear on vases and frescoes, especially from tombs at Tarquinia, Chiusi, and Vulci. The unique characteristics of the non-Indo-European Etruscan language and its seminal place in transmission of the “Roman” alphabet and numerals make it impractical to divorce linguistic, historical, and social considerations from the study of Etruscan epigraphy. The gradual replacement of Etruscan with Latin characters and language may serve as an index of the political and social domination of the Roman state.The alphabet reached Etruria during the 8th centurybce; the earliest exemplar is a set of rocchetti (spools/tablet-weaving weights) incised with the letter A, in a woman’s burial at Veii, implying the involvement of women weavers in its dissemination.1 Early examples (7th-century, especially abecedaria or sample alphabets) retain letter forms developed in western Greek colonies such as Pithekoussai, including letters not used in the pronunciation of Etruscan.

Article

Anna Morpurgo Davies

Direct evidence for the Carian language (see caria) is limited to approximately 30 inscriptions from Caria proper and well above 200 inscriptions (some still unedited) written by Carian speakers in Egypt (from the 7th cent. bce). There are also miscellaneous short texts from other sites and two short texts from Greece (6th and 5th cent. bce). The alphabet, which in Caria shows a great deal of variation, is clearly derived from the Greek alphabet with some additions but a number of letters have different values from those of the equivalent Greek letters. The brilliant decipherment started by the English Egyptologist John Ray in the 1980s and then completed by the Spanish scholar Ignacio Adiego and the German scholar Diether Schürr from the 1990s has shown that all earlier readings (partly based on the assumption that the script was half syllabic, half alphabetic) were misguided. The recent discovery of a short Greek–Carian bilingual from Kaunos (late 4th cent. bce) has confirmed the new values.

Article

Rex E. Wallace

This article describes the current state of our knowledge of the Etruscan language. The presentation covers language relationships, approaches to interpretation, alphabet and phonology, morphology and syntax, and the lexicon. Illustrative examples of Etruscan inscriptions complement the linguistic description.Contemporary views about the Etruscan language vary dramatically. Some scholars regard the language as obscure and mysterious; others believe the longest and most complicated texts can be translated. The truth lies somewhere between these extremes. Our knowledge of the structure of the language is much richer than it was fifty years ago, but large gaps remain in our understanding of the grammar, lexicon, and texts—larger than is the case with other languages of comparable attestation.Access to Etruscan is made more difficult by its genetic isolation, which was already recognized by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Ant. Rom. 1.30.2). The only languages that have so far been shown to be related to Etruscan—that is, to be descended from a common source (referred to now as Proto-Tyrrhenian)—are (a) .

Article

Late republican scholar whose (lost) works on *etymology (De origine vocabulorum) and religious antiquities (De dis) are quoted by *Quintilian, A. *Gellius, and *Macrobius.