31 Jul 2008

How Rhaetic should be translated with a methodology this time

Kontinuitäten und Brüche in der Religionsgeschichte, ed. M. Stausberg, Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde 31 (2001), p.365 (see link):
"Names, I-formulations, and invocations are early textual forms in Etruscan, but also in related, textually more primitive, languages such as Rhaetic. Helmut Rix has found and defined structures similar in Etruscan and in Rhaetic namely expressions in which words in an oblique case defined by him as the perternitive case, on -ale or -si, are linked to a word with a predicate form ending in -ku. Rix defines the latter as perfect-like passive verbal nouns building upon an active form on -ke, thus zina-ke 'has produced' and zina-k-u 'is produced'. Rix, therefore, can point to a complete formal agreement between Etruscan: mi zinaku Larthuza-le Kuleniie-si - 'I (am) produced by Larthuza Kulenie', and Rhaetic: Lasp-si elu-ku Pitam-nu-ale - '(am/is) dedicated by Laspa, the son of Pitamne'. The similarities between Etruscan and Rhaetic are essential while, among others, the Rhaetic alphabets are possible sources of inspiration for the runes inasmuch as Rhaetic inscriptions are known from the beginning of our era."
Here, the term I-formulation refers to the quirky scribal habit of giving an object an inscription in the first person such as "I am the vase of Aranth Veliana" or "I was given to Thufltha by Aule," for examples. These I-formulations are found in Faliscan, Latin and Greek languages as well and so one shouldn't assume that they're merely an Etruscan idiosyncracy.

Now, the reason why I'm quoting the above paragraph is to give people a contrasting example of the way in which translations are accomplished correctly with proper methodology, as opposed to being done incorrectly as in the pdf linked to my previous post. We read here that Rix isn't merely trying to equate words together at whim but is defining a common Etrusco-Rhaetic morphological structure. Rix doesn't go out of his way to offer inane translations but instead finds readings that are both respectful of the archaeological context of the inscription in question and yet also perfectly in line with grammar typical of Etruscoid languages like Etruscan and Lemnian. Rather than focussing on one word at a time, Rix successfully cross-correlates numerous historical and linguistic facts together to create a most-plausible solution that is fully coherent, consistent and thorough.

So stick that in your eyes, Drs Toth and Brunner.


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