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Article

John Penney

The name is a conventional label applied to the language of some 220 very short inscriptions from the Alpine region to the north of Verona. These date from the 5th to 1st centuries bce and are written in an alphabet of Etruscan origin on bronze objects, antlers, or ceramics. The texts are not completely understood, but from certain similarities in vocabulary, and especially in the formation and declension of personal names, it has been shown that the language is related to Etruscan.

Article

Patricia Watson

Register (esp. Latin), the level of language, especially with respect to vocabulary, appropriate to a particular *genre. Studies have concentrated on poetic rather than prose texts, though there are distinctions between e.g. the speeches of *Cicero and his more colloquial prose letters.Latin prose and poetry share a common vocabulary: even the most elevated poetic genre, *epic, contains a large proportion of everyday words. There are, however, important differences between (1) poetry and prose and (2) the various genres of poetry.1. The language of poetry has been distinguished from that of prose by two methods. (a) Leumann demonstrated the existence of vocabulary and syntax with a peculiarly poetic colouring, i.e. not found in the ‘standard’ prose of *Caesar and Cicero.(b) Axelson showed that many words or classes of words (e.g. diminutives) occur rarely, if ever, in poetry; these he labelled unpoetisch (unpoetic).2. In selection of vocabulary, Latin poets were influenced by the place of their genre in a hierarchy which ranged from epic at the higher end to *epigram at the lower.

Article

John Penney

Sabellic (or Sabellian) is the name given to a group of languages in ancient Italy, including Oscan and Umbrian, that belongs to the Italic branch of Indo-European (see italy, languages of for the use of “Italic” as a label for this group alone). An alternative name, still widely employed, is Osco-Umbrian, but the less cumbersome label Sabellic is increasingly to be found. It is based on what seems to have been the native term for the peoples of this linguistic community (see SABELLI): an element sab-/saf- may be recognized in such names as Samnium (Oscan safinim) and Sabini. (It is clear from recorded glosses and from personal names that the Sabini spoke a form of Sabellic, but there are virtually no inscriptions that can be assigned to them, apart from an unintelligible text on a vase from Poggio Sommavilla.) An older usage, still employed by some scholars, reserves the label Sabellic for the so-called minor dialects, such as Paelignian and Volscian.

Article

Semitic  

J. F. Healey

Semitic, a term derived from the Old Testament personal name Shem, refers to a middle eastern language group (used linguistically by A. L. Schlözer in 1781, though J. G. Eichhorn claimed priority). Principal ancient constituents are *Akkadian, Ugaritic (see ugarit), Phoenician (see phoenicians), *Aramaic, Biblical Hebrew, Sabaic, and Ethiopic (Ge῾ez).

Article

An archaic Ionian Greek alphabet was employed along the Mediterranean coast in the area of the modern provinces of Alicante and Murcia in the 4th century bce to engrave inscriptions in the Iberian language. It does not make use of the characters 〈ε μ π φ θ χ〉. While the phoneme /e/ is represented by 〈η〉, it seems clear that [m] existed only as an allophone of /n/ and that /p ph th kh/ did not exist in the language.1Much more widespread and attested in many more inscriptions are distinct variants of a paleohispanic script. There is general agreement that the script was developed, probably in the 8th or 7th century bce, in the Iberian Peninsula and that its principal, perhaps, indeed, entire source is the Phoenician abjad, though some believe that certain characters are derived from the Greek alphabet.2 The paleohispanic script is distinct among writing systems of the ancient Mediterranean in that it is semi-moraic and semi-segmental. Characters for plosive phonemes include an inherent vowel, thus there are five separate characters for each plosive—for example, 〈Ta, Te, Ti, To, Tu〉—while simple vowels, sonorants, and sibilants are represented with alphabetic characters.

Article

Stephanie Dalley

Sumerian is the earliest known language of ancient *Mesopotamia, written on clay and stone in *cuneiform script. Unrelated to other known languages, it is agglutinative and ergative. Largely superseded by (Semitic) *Akkadian, it was used for some religious and literary purposes into the Seleucid period.

Article

Michael Weiss

At Gubbio (Iguvium; see umbrians) were discovered, in 1444, seven bronze tablets of varying sizes (the largest measure 86 x 56.5 cm, or 33 x 22 inches, the smallest 40 x 28 cm or 16 x 12 inches), engraved on one or both sides with Umbrian texts, partly in the native alphabet (normally transcribed in bold), partly in the Latin alphabet. These are the famous Iguvine Tables. They range in date probably from c.200bce to the early 1st century bce and are the main source of our knowledge of Umbrian (see Sabellic languages).The texts contain the proceedings and liturgy of a brotherhood of priests, the frater atiersiur [Atiedian Brethren], not unlike the Roman arval brethren (see fratres arvales). The name is clearly to be linked with atiieřiate (dat. sg.), the name of one of the social groupings within Iguvine society; it had two subdivisions, which may correspond to two gentes mentioned in rituals as having sacrifices performed on their behalf (petruniaper natine, vuçiiaper natine).

Article

Robert A. Kaster

Varro (according to Petrarch) was “the third great light of Rome”—after Vergil and Cicero—and certainly Rome's greatest scholar. Though the great bulk of his work survives only in fragments, the quotations and paraphrases that those fragments preserve make his influence on subsequent writers evident: much of later Latin literature, from the Aeneid of Vergil down to St. Augustine's City of God, would look very different had they been unable to draw upon his learning. His writings covered nearly every branch of inquiry: history, geography, rhetoric, law, philosophy, music, medicine, architecture, religion, and more.Marcus Terentius Varro, (116–27bce), was born at Reate, in the Sabine territory (see sabini) NE of Rome. After studying at Rome with L. Aelius, the first true scholar of Latin literature and antiquities, and at Athens with the Academic philosopher Antiochus of Ascalon, Varro began a public career that brought him to the praetorship and, ultimately, to service on the Pompeian side (see .

Article

Michel Lejeune

The *Veneti(2) learnt to write from the *Etruscans during the 6th cent. bce and some 250 to 300 inscriptions survive, mostly votive or funerary, nearly all quite short (only one has more than ten words); these texts range from the last quarter of the 6th to the last quarter of the 2nd cent. bce. With the onset of Romanization, some texts were written in the native language but in the Latin alphabet. The Venetic script has two noteworthy features: different signs for t and d in each Venetic city; on the other hand, generalization to all regions, from the 5th cent. bce onwards, of a system of syllabic punctuation that involved bracketing with dots any syllable-initial vowel and any consonant that closed a syllable (e.g. . e .g o, dona . s . t o).Examples of texts (with punctuation omitted): mego doto vhugsiia votna…reitiiai op voltiio leno (‘Fuxia, wife of Voto, gave me to…[the goddess] Reitia by act of spontaneous will’); osts katusiaiios donasto, atra es termonios deivos (‘Osts, son of Katusios, offered [this precinct], entrance [allowed only] up to the Boundary Gods’); (in the Latin alphabet) enoni ontei appioi sselboisselboi andeticobos ecupetaris (‘grave of Ennonios for Onts, for Appios and for himself, [all three] sons of Andetios’); kellos pittamnikos toler trumusijatei donom (‘Kellos son of Pittamnos brought a gift to [the goddess] Trumusiatis’).

Article

Stephanie Dalley

(1) Term used until 1869 for the language now known as *Sumerian. (2) Term used since 1869 for the East Semitic language that is also known by its northern and southern dialects as Assyrian and Babylonian. The language is first attested from personal names of the mid-3rd millennium when it began to supersede Sumerian. It was written on clay, stone, and waxed writing boards in *cuneiform script.