26 Nov 2007

Etruscan Dictionary Project Updates

This will now be the one and only Etruscan Dictionary "Ammendments page" in order to tidy things up on my blogsite. This page will always be easily clickable through the dictionary download icon towards the top, lefthand side of this blog. (It's about time you reordered things, Glen, you lazy bum! Hehehe.)


Here below are the ongoing drafts and ammendments to my Etruscan Dictionary project.

Latest PDF Update of the Etruscan Dictionary Project

Draft 010 (15 Jul 2008)Draft 010 (15 Jul 2008)
Draft 010 (15 Jul 2008)Ammendments for Draft 010

Archived Drafts and Ammendments
EtrDicAmm_02 Drafts: 01 : 02 : 03 : 04 : 05 : 06 : 07 : 08 : 09

EtrDicAmm_02 Ammendments: 01 : 02 : 03 : 04 : 05 : 06 : 07 : 08 : 09


As of Saturday, June 24, 2008:
  • The latest pdf published online on July 15 2008 contains 1092 items.


I believe that there is no excuse to overlook sound methodology when translating an ancient language. Authors often take advantage of their readers in obscure subjects like these and rest on their laurels rather than on rational defense of their claims. The Etruscan language is the continued victim of charletans without a competent understanding of linguistics using word look-alikes and folk etymologies as a means of arriving at their contrived translations. In my view, this is outrageous in this informed day and age. Methodology to me involves a thorough examination of *all* instances of a word and the consistent application of a single translation throughout. Only in a rare number of cases should homophony and obscure secondary meanings be a serious issue in disrupting this strategy. There is simply no other method worth considering than a structured and consistent one.

Beyond the regular application of a translation, there must also be a consistent application of grammar. Therefore, a detailed grammar must be devised with strong attention to how words are attested to have related to each other in a sentence. Far too often, details are overlooked by the untrained eye such as the reasons behind the use of a genitive case ending *-s or *-l for the recipient of the verb turuce versus the use of a dative ending *-si or *-le for the same recipient with other verbs like muluvanice. I believe that some of these grammatical nuances can be hints at the more subtle semantics of a given word. To date, there is no detailed grammatical outline of Etruscan and much contradiction. So I wish to remedy that through my own independent research into the matter.


  1. Do you know the Etruscan words for: plow, goat, cow, or wheat? Thank you. By the way Etruscan has a large number of Lydian words in it even though Lydian is an Indo-European language and Etruscan isn't. For example, Lydian ovie and Etruscan oveli both of which are cognate with Latin ovis "sheep". Judith Jones

  2. Unfortunately I don't know what any of these words are. What you see in the pdf is what I have so far. However, if I were to wager a guess, I'd think that these words were probably loanwords from Anatolian or Ugaritic anyway. And as you say, Lydian is an Indo-European language but I don't believe there would be a direct connection between Lydian and Etruscan. Any loanwords from the Anatolian group would rather be from Luwian or Hittite.

    Your Etruscan *oveli is totally make-believe nonsense and in fact, Etruscan doesn't even have the vowel "o". I expect commenters to cite their sources instead of making up hogwash.

  3. I googled this *oveli myth and it brought me straight to Mel Copeland, the frenetic author of the maravot.com website (see link) but his idées fixes about a relationship between Latin and Etruscan lack the level of methodological rigour expected from serious academia.

  4. I've been wondering if there is a full list somewhere - online or off - of IE and Semitic words with a putative relation (however one would like to explain them, whether via a common protolanguage or via language contact)? I have been looking for something like this and the closest I have come to something online is your blog and short list. I am pretty sure I have read - probably in Bomhard or other Nostraticist literature - of correspondences such as PS *k'-l-b 'heart' and PIE *gwelbh 'womb', or PS *klb 'dog' and PIE *kwelb 'young dog, whelp' (I may be getting some points of detail wrong: this is just a question to try and point to the existence of literature somewhere.) I was trying to locate something like this because of my curiosity about the clear similarity of Hebrew xayyim 'life' and Arabic 7ayaat 'life' < 7ayawa+at (root 7yw) to the PIE root of the same meaning that would have a shape something like *H2eiwon. (I use the 7 to represent the voiceless pharyngeal fricative because of its similarity to the corresponding Arabic grapheme.) The PIE root has numerous reflexes in modern languages, including Skt ayu- (cf. ayurveda), Gk aion, Lat. aewum, Gothic aiws, German ewig 'everasting'', Dutch eeuw 'age, era', and apparently English aye and the vowel in no < *ne+a: 'not ever'. I am quite curious to see how many correspondences have been uncovered by researchers, but there seems to be no list that can easily located.

    A couple of other correspondences that seem to point to contact at some point or other during the history of contact between the language groups: Arabic gabal 'mountain' beside Gk kephalos 'head' (semantic similarity: 'top, high point'), Arabic burj 'fort' and Germanic words such as borough, bury, burg... It's all very interesting to find such intriguing similarities but I find it a bit frustrating to find no references to in-depth research on the history of possible borrowings from more recent early borrowings to those plausibly attributed to the earliest periods of contact...

  5. Kiwehtin: "I was trying to locate something like this because of my curiosity about the clear similarity of Hebrew xayyim 'life' and Arabic 7ayaat 'life' < 7ayawa+at (root 7yw) to the PIE root of the same meaning that would have a shape something like *H2eiwon."

    I agree that PIE *h₂éiu- "life force, life duration" (cf. Meier-Brügger, Indo-European Linguistics (2003), p.135) and Semitic *ḥwy "to live" (cf. Huffmon, Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts (1965), p.191) are suspiciously similar. Note also Etruscan avil "year, age" which may also be from a root *av- "to live(?)" using the nominalizing suffix -il. If related, the question is whether the Etruscan and PIE forms are ultimately cognates (via pre-Neolithic Proto-Indo-Aegean) or whether they are independently borrowed from West Semitic and its descendents. The problem seems to be that there isn't much investigation in this matter which is the reason why I decided to get pro-active and to share what I find online.

    Don't feel alone. I'm frustrated too but there's an answer in this mess somewhere.

  6. For possible links bewteen PIE and PS (probably mostly borrowings), see:

    Semitic and Indo-European II: Comparative morphology, syntax and
    phonetics (= Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 226). By Saul Levin.
    Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2002. Pp. xvii, 592.

    This is the continuation of Levin’s Semitic and Indo-
    European: The Principal Etymologies (1995).

    "Tawr" (bull) and its close PS equivalent is a famous example.

  7. This comment is probably ill-placed and would be better on one of my entries concerning PIE however, I would not consider Saul Levin an authority on anything and his book is amateurish. He directly compares Indo-European languages with Hebrew. The absence of any mention of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European or Proto-Semitic roots gives me the strong impression that he's not fully educated on the subject.

    That being said, I still think that exploring the links between PIE and PSem (in the context of the neolithic) is something that deserves exploration. It's just that it needs to be done in a more thorough manner.

  8. JkellyMap: "'Tawr' (bull) and its close PS equivalent is a famous example."

    Yes, this is best demonstrated by directly comparing the Indo-European root *tauro- and Proto-Semitic *θawru.

    Etruscan has a related word however this is no doubt a late loanword, probably from Ugaritic ṯr or even Phoenician.

  9. Thanks, Glen, for your thoughts on Levin. I apologize for posting in the wrong thread.

  10. Any chance you could append an overview of what you've figured out so far in regards to Etruscan grammar in the next update? I, for one, would find it a welcome inclusion.

  11. Indeed, the information on verb forms is currently more confusing than anything. I see you take the individual suffixes and ascribe meanings of aspect and voice but then don't explain how to apply that to the meaning of the verb. I for one have no idea what the function of the "middle perfective" of "to be blessed" should be. Except that in the context the form appears in it suddenly is a transitive verb!

    Honestly, I have not been able to translate any longer text convincingly with the help of your dictionary, so I would like to know what rules you apply to make it work for yourself.

    I read (I think) all of your blog entries on Etruscan and the bits and pieces you offer seem to make sense but it's not enough for me to get the full picture. And that's frustrating because the other resources on Etruscan I have found on the Web so far were totally useless. I would contact you directly for questions but I don't really know how to.

  12. Moritz Macke: "I see you take the individual suffixes and ascribe meanings of aspect and voice but then don't explain how to apply that to the meaning of the verb."

    I'd probably have to go into a long essay to explain it, but to understand Etruscan at all, we have to discuss "split-ergativity". A phrase like Mi turuce means "I have given", An turuce means "He/She has given" and Methlum Rasnal turuce signifies "The Etruscan people have given" (all active in mood). Yet In turuce means "It has been given" and Hetrn turuce means "The jug has been given" (passive mood) without difference in marking. This is both because agents of transitive verbs cannot be inanimate, just as in Hittite, and also because there is no marked distinction between an indefinite nominative noun (subject) and an accusative one (object).

    As for the Etruscan "middle", it seems to me that passivity isn't the defining nature of it. Rather it denotes an action that is caused to be done by someone else. Perhaps I should be calling it "causative" but I have to ponder more on the subtleties of its attested usage.

    So... for example, the instances of the verb trin (from tra 'to pour' + -in-) in the Liber Linteus are to be read in the passive mood (due to their inanimate subjects) and imply that something was poured on behalf of someone else (as, for example, by a priest on behalf of the gods or the people offering to the gods).

    "I would contact you directly for questions but I don't really know how to."

    My email address is on the first page of my dictionary drafts that you're already perusing! :-) Feel free to contact me. I avoid placing my email address directly on my blog to cut down on spam and whatnot.