22 Jul 2010

Etruscan tular and a Venetic look-alike

Lately, being more focused on the obscure, ancient Northern Italian languages previously mentioned, I've noticed a Venetic verb variously spelled toler, tolar or tuler, and translated as a 3ps form of 'to bring'. I notice it has the appearance of Etruscan tular which is likewise a verb shown by the transitive participle form, tularu, as attested in the Cippus Perusinus (CPer A.viii). The Venetic verb is often cited by Indo-Europeanists as an example of a mediopassive relic in -r- with connections to Italic and Anatolian branches. (Some also consider Venetic merely a part of the Italic branch making the topic a little confusing.)

This makes me contemplate because I had assumed up to now that tular is connected to tul 'boundary stone', equivalent to the Latin word terminus. Rightly too, since everyone else in the field, including the Bonfantes and Massimo Pallottino have done so. It's a rational hypothesis afterall. Admittedly however, the -ar termination is left unexplained by these same experts. It seems unlikely that it represents an animate plural ending, contradicted by the existence of tularu with its extra participial ending -u. Tular simply acts like a verb stem, pure and simple. So lacking direction from others, I invented my own answer: it represents a fossilized phrase *tul ar 'to raise/establish a boundary' and thus 'to demarcate'. Thus this explanation has remained in my database for a year or more.

However this Venetic verb is tempting to link to the Etruscan look-alike, isn't it? It might even provide a source for this odd verbal affix -ar. In PyrT 1.ix, I think we could even get away with assigning tulerase the meaning '(they) brought' instead of 'demarcate'. Likewise tularu in CPer A.viii may be interpreted as '(was) brought' given the context. Yet the bare form tular in TLE 515, 530, 571, 632, 675 and 676 puts a bad snag in our revisions since the word is clearly referring in all these contexts to the boundary stone on which the word's inscribed. To add to this, we have the epithet Selvansl Tularias, which certainly means "for Silvanus of the termini" (cf. the Roman god of boundary stones, Terminus).

Alas, despite the temptation, it looks like we only have an Etrusco-Venetic pair of faux amis. Fool's gold. I'll have to keeping panning by the river yet.


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