27 Jun 2008

A self-indulgent trip down memory lane

Rasmussen's O-Fix theory has been on my mind lately as I finally am ironing out a pdf detailing the changes that I think have occurred in Pre-IE. I'll offer that pdf shortly and will be making updates on it in the future. In the meanwhile, I finally found an old post of mine, back in my more impetuous days, where I first offered my reinterpretation of Rasmussen's theory in order to make the sound changes feel more natural to me by invoking more commonplace linguistic processes and incorporating Allan Bomhard's plausible thoughts on Pre-IE. Enjoy:
Cybalist (Yahoogroups), "a-Epenthesis: hybrid proposal" (Feb 14 2004)
Please be warned that while the basic idea remains, a few details of my proposal have changed over the years as I adapted to new facts.

22 Jun 2008

Rasmussen's consonantal *o and laryngeal deletion

Here's a link to Jens Rasmussen's theory, the Consonant Infix Theory: Selected Papers on Indo-European Linguistics: With a Section on Comparative Eskimo Linguistics (1991). Essentially, Rasmussen proposes that there is an underlying Pre-IE uvular fricative /ʁ/ which has produced instances of *o in words that he deems should not have had this vocalism. I have strong doubts about his interpretation of the data but the patterns he analysed seem to be real nonetheless and require explanation.

Overall, the thing that I object to here is the less-than-plausible sound changes that he claims to have occurred. I like theories to be optimally efficient and maximally plausible however I'm unaware as yet of any realworld examples or credible reasons behind the linguistic processes that are invoked. This is an example of his version of Pre-IE sound changes:
*h₃lOig-é'- > *lOigé'- > *loig-ó-s
I want to talk more on this but essentially my reinterpretation of this is that the "consonant" that Rasmussen perceives was never a phoneme at all but rather the absence of one. So in other words, I reinterpret the above to the following:

MIE *hʷalaig̰ása
> *hʷᵊlᵊig̰ásᵊ (Reduction)
> *lᵊig̰ásᵊ (Laryngeal Deletion)
> *laig̰ásᵊ (a-Epenthesis)
> *laig̰ás (Syncope)
> PIE *loigós
By changing things like this, we can explain an apparent addition of *o (from earlier unstressed *a) as the simple result of phonotactic readjustment during the stage when Reduction (i.e. the reduction of most unstressed schwas to supershort schwas) happened. Here, a-Epenthesis is caused when a resulting onset of CCC- (i.e. **lyg̰-) threatens to rear its awkward head during Syncope. So before Syncope can kick in, *a is inserted into the first available position from the lefthand side of the word in order to optimize syllabics and avoid this icky clustering. Clever, no? I thought so. [Glen pats himself on the back.] The Laryngeal Deletion rule preceding a-Epenthesis is yet another phonotactically motivated rule to avoid complex clusters which Rasmussen also explains was first discovered by Monsieur de Saussure. And so far, I've found little reason to think otherwise but this account seems to make more sense to me than what Rasmussen has published.

Unlike a completely assumed uvular-fricative-turned-vowel, I figure that this idea would treat the attested evidence more as it is and gives it linguistic motivations that are far better attested in other languages in the world. I think I might talk about this further later[1] but enjoy these brief thoughts for now. As always, you're all welcome to share your constructive criticisms to what I've suggested because maybe I've overlooked something.

[1] This link may be of further interest concerning Rasmussen's theories: click here.

18 Jun 2008

Etruscan araχ: a falcon, a hawk, both?

Ever since I've cracked the significance of the epithet of the goddess Vanth, Sal Aracuneta, I've been trying to do some research on the etymology of the underlying word *araχ. I noticed that both Larissa Bonfante and Massimo Pallottino were translating it liberally as either 'falcon' or 'hawk'. I figured out why.

The Greek word hierax (ἱέραξ) was equated with an Etruscan gloss, which was Hellenized in the text as arakos, by Hesychius. Since the word hierax can refer to a 'hawk', a 'falcon' or pretty much any bird of prey according to some, it's difficult to ascertain the limit of usage of this word in Etruscan. The apparent etymology gives us no clue either since if this is a native word, it would divide into ar 'to lift up' and -aχ, a derivational suffix with a patientive meaning. Presumably, the word would literally mean '(that which) is lifted up (by the wind)', which naturally could be descriptive of pretty much any bird. However, I noticed too that if you compare the Greek root hierak- with the Etruscan word, they are vaguely similar. They are even more similar, it seems, in the Doric dialect where we find hiarax (ἱάραξ) although the Perseus database entry tells us that this word which is found in Epaenet. ap. Ath.7.329a was referring to a type of fish rather than to the bird in question. Hmm.

Oh well. All in all, I think it's simpler to presume that the word is native and that the phonetic similarity between the Greek and Etruscan words is coincidental, but I still can't be sure whether it's a 'falcon' or a 'hawk'. Maybe it doesn't matter and I'm stressing out for nothing. It's a good stress though and that's the important thing.

16 Jun 2008

Precising on a new rule to explain Pre-IE word-final voicing

I'm still not done with the curious word-final voicing in Pre-Indo-European (Pre-IE) but I also remain unsure if I've completely ironed out the problems. For those following along with my anal rants, I've been searching for a better alternative to my Final Voicing rule which was meant to explain the nominative singular *-s (whose original voicing is suggested by the reflex of *-o- in the thematic vowel normally reserved before voiced phonemes) and pronominal inanimate ending *-d (from MIE deictic *-ta from whence also PIE *to- 'that'). Since word-final voicing is very rare in languages worldwide, it seems to me that if an alternative exists, it would require that this voicing be pushed back in time to before the event of Syncope when word-final vowels were deleted. This is because, with the presence of word-final schwa in places that later disappeared, the word-final voicing may be explained as word-medial voicing and this isn't so linguistically rare at all. I think of Syncope as the marker of the beginning of the Late IE period situated approximately 1000 years before PIE proper.

In the previous post, I've already defined the voicing rule as occurring in unstressed sequences of word-final *-VCᵊ#. However, I've also been pondering today on the possibility that the voicing here also involves laryngealization (aka creaky voicing)[1]. So now I will run some examples by you all to explain how this might explain not only word-final voicing in Late IE, but also the reflex of the thematic vowel, Szemerenyi's Law and maybe even the development of Narten presents. I know, I know, that's a lot on my plate but hear me out with a few examples showing the diachronic development:

Examples where voicing/laryngealization appears to occur:

*kahʷánasa 'dog (nom.)'
*[kᵊ'wanᵊsᵊ] (Reduction)
*[kᵊ'wanᵊz̰ᵊ] (Laryngealization)
*[kwa:nz̰] (Syncope)
*kwānz (> PIE *ḱwōn)

*ʔékwasa 'horse (nom.)'
*['ʔekwəsᵊ] (Reduction)
*['ʔekwəz̰ᵊ] (Laryngealization)
*['ʔekwəz̰] (Syncope)
*ʔékwəz (> PIE *h₁éḱwos)

*bérata '(s)he carried'
*['berᵊtᵊ] (Reduction)
*['berᵊd̰ᵊ] (Laryngealization)
*[be:rt] (Syncope + Analogical Levelling with presentive 3ps *bḗrti)
*bērt (> PIE *bʰērt)

*nákʷtasa 'night (nom.)'
*['nakʷtᵊsᵊ] (Reduction)
*[nakʷtᵊz̰ᵊ] (Laryngealization)
*[nakʷts] (Syncope; Lengthening blocked by consonant cluster; Assimilation)
*nakʷts (> PIE *nokʷts)

*kʷaisa/*kʷaita 'who?/what?'
*[kʷisᵊ]/*[kʷitᵊ] (Reduction)
*[kʷiz̰ᵊ]/*[kʷid̰ᵊ] (Laryngealization)
*[kʷiz̰]/*[kʷid̰] (Syncope)
*kʷiz/*kʷid̰ (> PIE *kʷis/*kʷid)
Examples where voicing/laryngealization does not appear to occur:

*pad̰sa 'foot (nom.)'
*['pad̰sᵊ] (Reduction)
*[pa:d̰z] (Syncope + Assimilation)
*pād̰z (> PIE *pōds)

*napátasa 'grandson (nom.)'
*[nə'patᵊsᵊ] (Reduction + Resistance)
*[ne'pa:ts] (Syncope)
*nepā́ts (> PIE *nepōts)

*bératai '(s)he carries'
*['berᵊti] (Reduction)
*['be:rti] (Syncope)
*bḗrti (> PIE *bʰḗrti)

In the last example of the examples showing voicing/laryngealization, I show an instance of voicing in a completely unstressed word. The zerograde vowel *i in PIE *kʷid demonstrates that the word was unstressed during Syncope and this works well for the purposes of my new rule since apparently the preceding vowel is not as important as the vowel that follows it, which must be a supershort schwa. I presume that the difference in length between word-final supershort schwa and regular schwa is what triggered this change in the first place. The example of *h₁éḱwos 'horse' is meant to show the evolution of a thematic stem in the nominative. Its thematic vowel naturally then surfaces as *-o- because the nominative singular became voiced since the stage of Syncope. You may be skeptical of a voiced *-z contrasting with *-s in early Late IE (as I've been for some time) however it explains why PIE *-s is dropped in nominative singular *ḱwōn 'dog' while the *-s remains in the accusative plural ending *-ns. This can be solved by positing earlier *kwānz (from MIE *kahʷánasa with word-medial *-s-) and *-ns (from MIE *-am-as with word-final *-s) respectively. You may also note that certain vowels lengthen during Syncope in my above examples. I believe this is caused by the reduction of two supershort schwas in adjacent open syllables (i.e. *-V́C₁ᵊC₂ᵊ -> *-V̄́C₁C₂) via compensatory lengthening. This might then help to explain the rise of Narten presents which Jay Jasanoff considers to be most ancient. Personally, I don't believe that long vowels existed in the Mid IE period at all.

So whaddya say, people?! Isn't that dandy??? Sorry, it's getting me excited but all this is very complicated and making my head spin. I think this can work but we'll see what my fellow commenters say.

[1] Compare with RESTLE, D., ZAEFFERER, D., & VENNEMANN, T. (2002). Sounds and systems: Studies in structure and change: A festschrift for Theo Vennemann. Trends in linguistics, 141. Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter. p.24 (see link): "Since only word-internal tense plosives were preglottalized, the Old Danish apocope produced such pairs as WJut. kat - kat' 'cat - cats' [kat - kaʔt] corresponding to St.Da. kat - katte." It's not quite the same but still eerily similar to the PIE examples.

(Jun 16 2008) I found a sweet Danish parallel involving similar laryngealization just a few hours after I posted this entry which I've added as a footnote. Enjoy!

14 Jun 2008

Pre-Proto-Indo-European and phonemic *z in the Late IE period

I only have a brief amount of time to delve into this and I promise that I will discuss this later but I've been recently contemplating the very thing I thought I would never contemplate. That thing is Jens Rasmussen's voiced sibilant *z in Pre-Proto-Indo-European (Pre-PIE) as was discussed on the Cybalist forum on Yahoogroups a couple of years ago. I would also like to thank Tropylium for sharing a comparison between the apparent word-final voicing in Pre-PIE that I mentioned in a recent post and Balto-Finnic gradation which also involves voicing based on syllable structure.

So, long story short, I'm devising an alternative account of my theory on Syncope and late Mid IE such that voicing of sibilants and stops arises in an unstressed sequence of word-final *-VCᵊ#. (The final superscript character is meant to represent a supershort schwa which would have existed just before Syncope deleted instances of them altogether.) In this scheme, voicing would only occur before a word-final supershort schwa and not before a word-final full schwa or other vowels in word-final position. Also, the preceding first vowel can be any vowel, including zerograded *i and *u which arose at precisely this time. The final syllable must be open as well and only one consonant can be involved in this sequence for it to work. I figure the reason for this restriction implies a relationship between the duration of the word-final vowel and voicing. I'll explain more later on how this would work with examples and how this changes a few things that I've held dear up to now. Maybe I'm still wrong, but I think this is worth exploring nonetheless.

10 Jun 2008

The early Indo-European case system and definiteness

A simple structure can be seen in the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) case system between animate and inanimate nouns and pronouns:


We can see first of all a syncretism between the nominative and accusative cases in the inanimate declension which might be of some interest to people who have nightmares at night about object agreement and grammatical case like I do. While it's popular to derive the animate nominative from the genitive singular *-ós by way of ergative voodoo, I try to buck the trend in order to take advantage of a simpler explanation of the above pattern. It sometimes strikes me that these "ergative Pre-IE proponents" are simply intoxicated by the mere exoticness (or should we say apparent exoticness) of ergativity, seduced by a fashion that will some day pass (hopefully). In the global scheme of things, ergativity isn't exotic or rare; it's natural and common! So get used to it!

Anyways, back to PIE, the opposition between the animate subjects in *-s and inanimate pronouns in *-d can be quite satisfyingly compared to a similar opposition between the demonstrative stems *so-, likewise used strictly for animate subjects, and *to- used for inanimate subjects as well as for cases other than the nominative for either gender.

The fact that both *so and the nominative singular *-s are used only for animate gender is too coincidental to pass up. A deictic origin of this case ending seems painfully obvious to me and it surely is the simplest solution available by far. It however would then suggest that the nominative ending was originally optional for nominative subjects, being used more specifically to mark the definite subject as opposed to an originally endingless indefinite one. This solution works quite well considering that the pronominal inanimate ending *-d can likewise be sourced to the deictic *to- in somewhat symmetrical fashion. Adding to this, we should realize that the Indo-European accusative *-m is technically only the definite accusative case form since indefinite objects are often given other case forms (such as genitive, ablative, partitive, etc.) in many languages around the world.

If we factor in definiteness into the Pre-IE declensional system, we get the following structure that will hopefully inspire and enlighten. This is what I theorize for the Mid IE case system that preceded the PIE stage:


As you can see, I propose that the PIE declensional system originally specified definiteness for only animate subjects and animate direct objects. For all other cases (genitive, locative, etc.) and for all inanimate nouns and pronouns, definiteness was not conveyed by the case system at all. This then may explain the later pattern in the PIE system and explains how the nominative came to be marked when the tendency in languages is for nominatives to be unmarked. By this solution, I'm also suggesting that the case system was governed by an underlying animacy hierarchy[1] of definite animate > indefinite animate > inanimate.

[1] For related information, read Woolford, Animacy effects on Object Agreement (1999), University of Massachussetts (see pdf).

7 Jun 2008

Szemerenyi's Law and Mid IE

I've been recently thinking about a problem concerning Proto-Indo-European (PIE) that I probably should have dealt with a long time ago. It involves an issue that I had been having regarding "word-final voicing" in the Late IE period (i.e. the stages of Pre-IE following Syncope up to PIE itself). I just thought of a nifty idea that brings Szemerenyi's Law aboard for an intellectual thrillride while simultaneously explaining why the thematic vowel behaves as though the nominative singular *-s was voiced /-z/!

Here's the idea that I'm exploring. Perhaps, the "word-final voicing" that I'm perceiving in Pre-IE wasn't word-final at all. Afterall, phonemes don't normally voice in word-final positions at all. It's so rare that the only example of it I've found is in Lezghian but I'm not even sure whether this is even a valid example. It's a typological dilemma. So one way to get rid of this problem is to suppose that the voicing occured word-medially instead. However, this then could only have occured before Syncope. That means that the voicing of the nominative singular *-s, the ablative singular *-od and the pronominal inanimate *-d would then have occurred in Mid IE (MIE).

What does that have to do with Szemerenyi? Well... let's explore this. Let's take the ablative singular *-ód which I've traced back to MIE *-áta [-'atə]. Now, let's say that when the slow reduction of most unaccented vowels to short schwa was taking place (i.e. the event I call Reduction immediately preceding Syncope), compensatory length *was already* being transferred to the previous vowel if accented. So this first gives us *[-'a.tᵊ] with a slightly lengthened accented vowel. This is where the fun comes in: Let's now say that this added length also became perceived by MIE speakers as a sign of a following voiced consonant. The association between longer vowels and the presence of voice in the following phoneme is a commonplace phenomenon, even occurring in English. So now we have *[-'a.d̰ᵊ]. With Syncope, we end up with *-ád̰ [-'a.d̰].

Now that we got that covered. Let's explore the nominative singular which should go back to the postposed deictic *-sa in MIE. If we take an MIE stem declined in the nominative singular like napáta-sa [nə'patəsə] 'grandson', lengthening during Reduction would first produce *[nə'pa.tᵊsᵊ]. Let's now say that the nominative ending temporarily survives Syncope via the Suffix Resistance exception, producing *[ne'pa.tsᵊ]. Then, immediately following Syncope, the remaining vowel of the nominative ending is "clipped" while leaving behind even more compensatory lengthening. Since the preceding vowel is already half-lengthened, it lengthens even more to a long vowel. Hence we get the result we're looking for in early Late IE: *nepāts.

Nifty, nej? I have to still think about this to make sure that everything is consistant logically, but it's getting me excited so far. (And yes, I'm still at Bar Italia as per my last entry, hahahaha!)

(Jun 9 2008) I forgot the IPA wavy diacritic underneath the *d denoting creakiness (as in MIE ablative ending *-ad̰ above). This doesn't affect what I wrote; it's just more accurate since plain MIE *d becomes PIE *dʰ (although I personally now believe that this stop only became "breathy" after the fragmentation of the PIE-speaking community had already occurred).

Is the falcon or hawk a symbol of Vanth?

Today I find myself sitting in Bar Italia, one of several cafés on a strip of road called Corydon Ave. It's the place to be here in Winnipeg during the summertime and so I sit here, caught between people-watching and pensive typing on my laptop which I've nicknamed Electrohyperion or E.H. for short. Yes, I'm a geek and proud of it.

Anyways, there are many ideas that I continue to pursue concerning the Etruscan language. Many times, the proper translation of words is intertwined with all other aspects of this subject of history. One of the phrases that's peaking my curiosity lately is the epithet Sal Aracuneta. which was written next to an image of a winged female. She's reclined with wings extended on the lowest tier of the scene. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the three tiers in this scene represent the three layers of the cosmos: the heavens, the earth and the underworld. So the seated female sitting in the tier of the underworld can only sensibly represent Vanth.

The literal meaning of the phrase Sal Aracuneta seems to me self-evident now but something which nonetheless appeared nebulous up until I researched further. Word for word, it appears to mean "The (-eta) Great One (sal) of the Falcons/Hawks (Aracuna)". To add to the validity of this translation, there is a classical Greek gloss of the Etruscan word for "hawk" or "falcon": arakos (no doubt for actual *araχ as similarly believed by Larissa Bonfante and her father). What does this mean? What does Vanth have to do with these birds? At least it would explain her wings, if nothing else.

Fortunately for us, it turns out that there happens to be a Greek mythical character mentioned in Homer's Odyssey named Circe. Her name, lo and behold, means "falcon" in Greek[1]! She is the daughter of Helios, the sun god, and there's a good historical case for ultimately associating her with death and the underworld[2]. Her cult is connected with the Etruscans and Italy[3]. There's even a potential Anatolian origin to her cult in the deity Kubaba who pops up as early as 950 BCE[4]. So now I'm thoroughly intrigued because De Grummond, Jannot, Bonfante and all the other more notable scholars appear to be largely uninformative on this interesting goddess. Are they even aware of this yet or the full linguistic and mythological implications? I'll just let you good readers chew on that for a while.

[1] Yarnall, Transformations of Circe: The History of an Enchantress (1994), p.28 (see link).
[2] Yarnall, Transformations of Circe: The History of an Enchantress (1994), p.29 (see link): "This tradition is particularly relevant to Circe. According to Gimbutas, birds of prey, when they appear in prehistoric art, 'are omens of death and epiphanies of the Death Wielder.'"
[3] Wiseman, Remus: A Roman Myth (1995), p.47 (see link).
[4] Mary Jane Rein, "Phrygian Matar" in Cybele, Attis and Related Cults: Essays in Memory of M.J. Vermaseren, ed. by Eugene Lane (1996), p.226 (see link): "In Luwian hieroglyphic, the writing used in the late Hittite period at Karkemish, Kubaba is spelled with the phonetic element KU - followed by a logogram of a hawk.".

4 Jun 2008

On the origin of the Etruscan word lautun

Just a quick note on this puzzling Etruscan word, lautun, translated as 'family' by Larissa Bonfante[1]. I notice that Douglas Kilday has beat me to the punch on the etymology of the word which I'm currently obsessed with at the moment. He has more or less made the same observations on the sci.lang forum that I also have: that it's a borrowed term, that it's not from Italic, and that it's nonetheless surely derived from a word based on the root *h₁leudʰ- from an Indo-European language[2].

So far, unless anyone can think of anything better, I'm convinced that Proto-Germanic is the likeliest the source. Proto-Germanic already contains the word *leudiz 'people' so it would be nice if I could find a word that looks like **leudōn lying around. So far, I haven't found anything and yet I can't help but think there's got to be a clue here somewhere.

[1] Bonfante/Bonfante, The Etruscan Language: An Introduction (2002), 2d ed., originally published in 1983, p.217 (see link).
[2] Douglas G. Kilday, sci.lang: "Some non-italic IE loanwords in Etruscan" (Dec 06 2002 10:46).

Nominative Lengthening and a reinterpretation of Szemerenyi's Law

There's a long-standing belief, popularized by our dear Oswald Szemerenyi, that long vowels in nominative forms of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) nouns are caused by the loss of the nominative ending *-s after certain consonants (*m, *n, *r, *i). Yet there's just a few snags: *népōts 'nephew, niece', for one. It's accusative case form (used for the object of an action) is *népotm̥ and it's genitive form is *neptós 'of the nephew'. It seems that the long vowel is exclusively in the nominative case, that the nominative ending has not disappeared, and that the root is not monosyllabic! However, Szemerenyi explains this away by claiming that the assimilation of word-final *-ts in the nominative to *-s caused compensatory lengthening of the preceding vowel. And yet there's also the example of *dyēus 'sky' (confirmed by Sanskrit dyaus which, if the stem vowel were short, would presumably have become *dyos[1]) and even though one might argue that the reconstructed accusative form *dyēm (> Sanskrit dyām) could likely derive from earlier *dyēum just as well as *dyeum, the genitive form *diwós shows that the underlying vowel can only be short *e by all the normal rules of PIE ablaut (i.e. long alternates with short *e while short *e alternates with zerograde). If the underlying vowel of the stem were long , then we would have expected genitive **deiwós instead (cf. Sanskrit divás) and yet the nominative form shows a long vowel anyway. This upsets the applecart nicely, don't you think?

This is why I choose to believe that the lengthened vowel of the nominative case is not caused by the loss of the nominative ending but rather by its prehistorical presence. I figure that the lengthening occurred right after Syncope when *-sa was "clipped" to *-s with additional compensatory lengthening[2]. Normally, such monosyllabic suffixes of the form CV should retain their vowel according to the rules I've formulated so far, so this compensatory lengthening would be evidence of the nominative singular's unusual violation of the Suffix Resistance exception of Syncope. A kind of exception of an exception, if you will.

A while later, something totally unrelated happened in the language, the loss of *-s in certain paradigms. The last time I left the problem, I had deduced that word-final *-s was voiced to /-z/. This was a stubborn compromise I made after speaking with Jens Rasmussen on the Cybalist forum where he insisted that a phoneme *z existed in an earlier stage of PIE. I couldn't be moved to reconstruct an extra phoneme because it seemed to me to mitigate against peak theoretical efficiency (i.e. it was Occam's-Razor-unfriendly) but I had to concede that there was at least an added voiced allophone of *s at work.

This original voicing of word-final *-s appears to be indicated, for one thing, by the fact that the thematic vowel, which is known to alternate between *o and *e, becomes *o before nominative *-s instead of expected *e. Elsewhere *o regularly surfaces before a voiced consonant while it is *e that surfaces before an unvoiced one (e.g. *kʷer-o-més 'we would make' yet *kʷér-e-s 'you would make'). So the loss of the ending after certain coincidentally voiced resonants may also indicate the presence of an allophone /z/ that presumably merged back to /s/ in other environments such as after a thematic vowel. After voiced resonants, however, such a merger by devoicing would be difficult and so word-final /-mz/, for example, would instead become /-m/ (e.g. mid Late IE *dgāms /dga:mz/ > PIE *dʰǵʰōm 'earth').

[1] Szemerenyi, Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics (1999), Translated from Einfiihrung in die vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft, 4th ed, p.181 (see link).
[2] For a brief definition of the term compensatory lengthening and some interesting examples of it, see an abstract of Campos-Astorkiza, "A Typological analysis of compensatory consonant lengthening", Phonology and Phonetics in Iberia (June 2005) (or view the pdf here).

2 Jun 2008

The origin of the cityname Arretium still bugs me

This etymological puzzle is starting to consume my daily thoughts. The Etruscan name for Arretium, as I mentioned earlier, appears to be Aritim, at least according to Steinbauer[1]. I now think he's correct. However, if this is so, any distinctly Etruscan connection that Pallottino had claimed existed between the Roman urbonym Arretium and the modern German word for 'ore', Erz, is smashed. Yet there are more nagging details about these etymologies that I just don't find convincing.

For example, the claim that the Germanic words for 'ore' derive from Arretium seems like the reverse of what I personally would deduce from the evidence. It's the Germanic terms that are shorter than the name from which they purportedly derive, afterall, and this is mightily suspect to me. One would almost reckon instead that the name of Arretium derived from the Germanic words for 'ore'. And why not? It seems to me that Etruscologists are obsessed with the thought that Arretium must have been founded by Etruscans. Yet beyond the fact that the city was Etruscan from the most ancient historical times, what evidence exists that the Etruscans also established it in prehistory as opposed to taking it over from indigenous peoples like the Italic or Germanic population? All I see so far is a city positioned remotely in the interior of Italy in the northernmost region of Etruria that by all accounts has been shaped from the earliest times by not only Etruscans, but Italic-speaking and Germanic-speaking populations as well.

So I was thinking the other day, “What if 'Arretium' was originally a Germanic name?” It's a delicious thought that I can't pass up. I'm tempted to posit a form like *Arutjōn signifying 'Ore Town' (< *arutja- 'ore' plus derivational suffix *-ōn as in *bijōn- 'bee'). The city was known for its bronze and so such a name would be apt. From there, Latin-speaking people could have assimilated the name as Arretium very easily. The Etruscans would in turn have borrowed it directly from the Latin speakers, as indicated by the word-final -m. Aritim is not an analysable name in Etruscan terms, so I'm entirely convinced that it's a foreign name one way or another and that regardless of the Etruscan political history of this town, the whole thing is making me believe that the cultural mix of Arretium in prehistoric times was much more complex than currently appreciated.

[1] Steinbauer, "Zur Grabinschrif der Larthi Cilnei aus Aritim/Arretium/Arezzo", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 121 (1998), p.263–281 (see pdf).