25 Jul 2007

ETP 187: More weirdness

I'm not sure what is up with the Etruscan Text Project (ETP) and its indexing system. I found duplicates in it that have gone unchecked for a full year (as I've explained previously on this blog). Now what is published in Etruscan News doesn't match what the ETP website claims.

I just noticed that in the newsletter Etruscan News [pdf] (Winter 2006, volume 5, page 5), Rex Wallace of UMass subtly slips in one of his ETP indices, namely ETP 187, amidst a big list of more widely recognized indices from Etruskische Texte (often abbreviated as ET). He is attempting to demonstrate here that a gentilicium Vetna (genitive Vetnal)[1] is well attested and that it relates to the family name that is present in an inscription from the town of Chiusi. I have no objections whatsoever towards the validity of the name however since indeed it is well attested and his conclusions on the two inscriptions he speaks about here are sober and informative.

Putting aside shameless self-promotion of his own project which quite frankly isn't such a big sin considering that we're all trying to promote ourselves somehow, the real problem is that there is no trace of Vetnal on his own project's website under the index he gives. ETP 187 can be seen here. All it shows is a fragment of a vase reading [---]raices zav[---]. Whatever happened to proofreading? There's nothing on the ETP website indicating the presence of vetnal at all and so I can either surmise that it is another error thanks to ETP, or a note is in order explaining why the name is not visible here despite what is said in Etruscan News.

Perhaps those from the ivory tower don't expect plebeian pedants like myself to actually spend their spare time verifying what is published.

[1] (Jul 25/07) I added minor clarity to my hasty wording. I said quickly "the gentilicium Vetnal" but of course, more accurately, Vetna is the citation form with Vetnal as its genitive form. I felt I needed to change that. Maybe I have OCD. Whatever. Who are you to judge me? Hehe.


  1. While paying a visit to the P500+ (Indo-European, Hurrian, Etruscan, and a few more) section of Robarts Library at University of Toronto, I found a relative new tome (c 2008) by Rex Wallace: "Zikh Rasna: A Manual of the Etruscan Language and Inscriptions".
    Have you had a chance to get a look at this near 300-pager yet? It seems pretty thorough not unconvincing.

  2. I haven't come across it yet. However if it's as thorough as the title "Zikh Rasna", I'm dismayed.

    I presume that Wallace was trying to translate English Etruscan Text into Etruscan and he came up with ziχ Rasna. However, the word Rasna doesn't mean "Etruscan"; it means "Etruria". This is assured by examples like ET Ta 7.59 (An zilat amce mexl Rasnal) where mexl Rasnal can only sensibly read "of the state of Etruria" and not "of the state of Etruscan". (Note the type-II genitive in -l here which would never be applied to an adjective, proving that Rasna is strictly being used as a noun.)

    So Wallace's title really means, rather awkwardly, "Etruria Text" {rolling eyes}. I think a more decent translation might be Ziχ(cva) Rasnal "Text(s) of Etruria".

    Would anyone else care to counter?

  3. Sorry, correcting myself: Inscription ET Ta 7.59 that I quoted above should contain zilaθ not zilat. Minor detail.

  4. If na here is the common suffix found elsewhere (e.g.: paxana, aiserna), zix rasna seems to be a reasonable translation.
    Can you explain the etymology of rasna?

    Glen Gordon said...
    (An zilat amce mexl Rasnal) where mexl Rasnal can only sensibly read "of the state of Etruria" and not "of the state of Etruscan".

    Somewhere (I don't remember where) I read something like: "The Etruscans called themselves Rasna.". Looks like a substantivised adjective.
    I translate rasnal here as "of the Etruscans". To me, translating rasna- with "Etruria" does not seem to be necessary here.
    Do you know of any rasna- words that demand a "Etruria" translation?

    But... is something wrong with "of the Etruscan state" (This assumes case agreeing adjectives with genitives in l are possible, and rasna is one of them. Do these exist?)?

  5. Hans: "If na here is the common suffix found elsewhere (e.g.: paxana, aiserna), zix rasna seems to be a reasonable translation."

    The suffix -na makes both adjectives AND declinable nouns because it's simply a "pertinentive" marker (ie. X-na means "pertaining to X" or "relating to X").

    So Etruscan has adjectives like aisna 'divine' (from ais 'god'), but also **declinable nouns** like apana 'clan' (from apa 'father'), śuθina 'grave offering' (from śuθi 'grave'), mutna 'sarcophagus' (from mut 'to die'), tuθina (based on tuθi; even clearly declined as a noun in TLE 652: tuθineś) and a vast majority of Etruscan last names that also end in -na like Pumpuna! We can all see that last names aren't adjectives, so clearly -na is not simply an "adjectivizer" at all.

    As I already showed with ET Ta 7.59, Rasna is never used as an adjective in Etruscan texts and always as a noun. Given the semantics too, it also can only be referring to the land of Etruria, never individual Etruscans. Pushing a meaning of 'Etruscan' on the word makes for both clumsy semantics and grammar.

    Hans: "Can you explain the etymology of rasna?

    The etymology of this word is an entirely separate issue to the topic of how the word was used by Etruscans based on the artifacts themselves. The common idea that it relates to the Greek term Tyrsenoi and Egyptian trš.w is hard to prove or deny.

    Hans: "I translate rasnal here as "of the Etruscans".

    Yet, if it were used that way, we would surely see *Rasneras instead with animate plural -r and a proper genitive in -s (as is given most animate nouns). Your translation is not in a plural, let alone animate plural. You merely assume an inherent plural meaning in purely ad hoc fashion.

    Hans: "Somewhere (I don't remember where) I read something like: 'The Etruscans called themselves Rasna.'"

    Yes, you're vaguely remembering the words of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who lived around Julius Caesar's time when Etruscans were already losing their culture to their Roman environment.

    Putting aside the very important question of whether Dionysius really knew what he was talking about, I advise you to look for his words in original Greek (access the pdf of the original Greek words from a 1586 publication here).

    Take note of what Dionysius says word for word about the term 'Rasen(n)a' and how what I'm saying actually doesn't conflict with his statement at all. (I think I just might have to write an entry on Dionysius soon...)