I was going to write initially about Dionysius of Halicarnassus and his gloss Rasen(n)a but as I was writing it, I realized that this would either require a 15-page essay on all the issues inherent in the topic and that I pull my hair out, or require me to break down the topic into mini-rants. I wager that you, the reader, would rather a mini-rant (and quite frankly so would my fingers). So I'll try to make this as mini as I can. Let's first talk about what's wrong with the translations commonly given for Rasna and why this is another reason why we should always question what we read.
Case in point, the Bonfantes (Larissa and her now-deceased father) who offer no precise definition of the term, flipflopping wildly in The Etruscan language (2002). If one consults their glossary in the rear of the book on page 218, they give the following translation:
Rasna = 'people; Etruscan, of Etruria'On page 99 however they give this translation:
Rasna = 'Etruria, the Etruscan people'Yet on page 180, this equation is employed for their very partial translation of the Tabula Cortonensis:
Rasna = 'people'Now, how are we to understand the everchanging nature of this lexemic enigma? Does it have the value of 'of Etruria' or simply 'Etruria'? Is it just 'people' or specifically 'Etruscan people'? Is it a noun, an adjective or both? Neither?? And how can something mean both 'Etruria' and 'Etruscan'? This would be tantamount to someone in English describing someone living in the country called "United States" a "United States" as well! Am I a "Canada" just because I live in "Canada"? Obviously not. I've never encountered a language that behaves this way. So which one of these translations is appropriate for which context and how can we possibly know if the translation is justified at all? For some reason, these authors are unable or unwilling to give a consistent, logical account of anything and I personally expect much more from someone who is a historical expert to keep their book much more organized than this, particularly if I am to be compelled to buy it. If they are so unsure about how Etruscan grammar works, they should stop writing books about it.
Naturally, these erratic translations are too carefree and unscientific. This is unacceptable in the field of linguistics. So in order to navigate this academic minefield, we should go straight to the source and investigate how this word was actually used by Etruscans themselves. We must note on grammatical patterns as well as the proper context surrounding the word (ie. both textual and archaeological context). It's time to pull out my own database and see where we find this word and how.
The bare word is found only once, as far as I know, in the Liber Linteus (LL 11.xxxiii). Other than that, we have a proponderance of declined forms such as rasnal [TCort v, xxiv; TLE 632], raśnal [ET Ta 7.59], rasne [CPer A.xxi], rasnes [CPer A.v, A.xxii], rasneas [TLE 233], and rasnas [TLE 137]. Based simply on the forms found, we must conclude with certainty that the word is overwhelmingly a noun since Etruscan adjectives, which postpose the nouns they modify (just as in Modern French, for eg.), are never declined unless used as nouns by themselves. A clear example of this is Θefariei Velianas sal 'by the great Tiberius Veliana', inscribed in the Pyrgi Tablets where we should note that Θefariei is declined in the locative case (-i) while the adjective sal 'great, noble' is clearly not similarly declined at all). This grammatical feature is quite unlike Latin and many other languages of Indo-European descent. (Etruscan is, of course, a non-IE language.) Further, this then opposes attested meχl Rasnal (TLE 87) where Rasna, being declined in the type-II genitive (-(a)l), cannot be an adjective at all, unless of course we wish to throw consistency out the window. Thus any adjectival value assigned to this word such as 'Etruscan' must be rejected at once, even though this happens to be the most common value misassigned to this term!
The above deduction is quite unfortunate for Rex Wallace, author of Zikh Rasna: A Manual of the Etruscan Language and Inscriptions (2008) whose very book title betrays the purpose of his work. At most, ziχ Rasna can only awkwardly mean 'Etruria Text' or even 'People Text' but never what he no doubt intended to write, 'Etruscan Texts', which would be better translated as ziχcva Rasnal. Wallace's title would depend on a usage of the Etruscan term that, as far as I know, is completely unattested.