10 Feb 2011

More on the Rhaetic inscription

As per the promise of a previous post, I'll now share my own analyses of the above inscription which I transcribe in more familiar Roman letters below (nb. σ represents the M-like letter, san).
upiku : tauke
avaσuerasi : ihi
Following Schumacher, Rex Wallace quotes a translation that makes me cringe a little: "Upiku dedicated (this object) to Kleimunte on behalf of Arvashuera". I suppose I find myself cringing because I know all too well how easy it is to simply assume that hard-to-analyse words are names when they're not. And here, there are far too many quirky names involved that hang in thin air and without any clear historical connection. To be fair though, the translation probably approaches the essential meaning intended by the Rhaetic dedicant.

It's presumed that upiku is a name yet others consider it a noun referring to a religious offering or perhaps a participle in -u meaning 'dedicated' in other contexts. Wallace then quickly classifies kleimunteis as some unknown genitive noun even though -is is normally a marker of the directive case. After correcting Wallace's previously mentioned transcription error, he divides avaσuerasi into avaσue-ra-si interpreting it as a "plural pertinentive". He offers little comment on the significance of the trailing word ihi.

And now for something different

I take the first legible word, upiku, to be both a participle 'offered' and a noun meaning '(that which is) offered; an offering'. I reject Wallace's facile suggestion via Schumacher that this is a personal name. The next word, tauke, is transparently a perfective preterite verb containing the stem tau-. This stem reminds me of a presentive form tva 'shows, demonstrates' (< *taw-a) in the Etruscan inscription TLE 399, written on the back of a mirror with the depiction of Herakles suckling the breast of his mother Uni (the Etruscan equivalent of Greek Hera). So the first two words can immediately be read as '[someone] has presented (tauke) an offering (upiku)'.

In grappling with the next problematic item, kleimunteis, Wallace may have overlooked a possible preposed locative demonstrative klei followed by a noun marked with two case suffixes as per the rules of Suffixaufnahme. This way, it might be read klei mun=te-is 'to [that] in this plot' (cf. Etruscan cle 'at this', muni 'plot', -θi 'in', and -is 'to, towards').

The next line starts with avaσuerasi which is certainly an animate plural in -er (< -ar) with case marker -asi 'for, on behalf of'. This implies an unmarked noun *avaσu which strongly looks to me like a transitive particle in -u of a stative verb in -as- built on a basic verbal root *au. In fact, I've been predicting this verb's existence for a while based on Etruscan avil 'year', seemingly derived from this same verb with common noun formative -il. If *au meant 'to pass on' or 'to depart', avil would literally mean 'that which passes', hence a period of time or 'year', while avaσuerasi would be a reference to 'the departed ones', ie. the ancestral dead. After this, ihi is a cinch to crack when set beside Etruscan ei 'here, there', a locative particle with general dexis. Unfortunately this word is all too often mistranslated as a negative particle leading to much confusion.

When I put all this together, the following translation emerges from the fragmented inscription: "[Someone] has presented an offering to that in the plot on behalf of the departed here."


  1. Wallace's translation in his next post is even more weird.

    Yesterday I commented on it. Today comments are not possible.

  2. Zu, are you speaking about Etruscan Inscription from Campo della Fiera? I'd like to dissuade people from hanging statements like "the translation was weird". State why you feel it's weird so that details may be discussed.

  3. Yes, I was speaking about "Etruscan Inscription from Campo della Fiera".

    I feel I should not have commented here this way.
    I was annoyed by Wallace not posting my comment and making further commenting impossible.
    I apologize.

    My translation (roughly):
    Freedwoman Aranthia, wife of Pinie, donated this "uta" of the L. (family?) to the "M" seas/depths at/during "8".

    I split "kanuta".
    I don't know what "uta" means.
    I have no idea what "marvethul" is (a name?)
    Also, I have no idea what "8aliathera" is.

  4. Wallace's interpretation of the first line of that Etruscan inscription is correct. There's very little leeway to goof that up anyway.

    If you're going to interpret the sequence kanuta as two words, kan uta, then you must read it as Kan uta Larecenas lauteniθa
    = "This offers Laricena's freewoman." (OVS word order), followed by Aranθia Pinies puia turuce... = "Aranth Pinie's wife has given...". A verb uta could only be the presentive form of , a verb written in the Liber Linteus.

    Your idea's almost possible except that then we'd have a curious omission of the donor's name which one would think would be one of the most important pieces of information to inscribe. So I favour the identification of kanuta as an Oscan feminine name Kanuta as Wallace explains. I don't know offhand the etymology of this name but the Oscan city of Canusium comes to mind.

    I have some issues with how Wallace has handled the second line. However, as you can see in my online dictionary, I haven't come across some of these words yet either so it probably deserves a special entry. I have some interpretations that I'd like to share and tinker with.

  5. I must say I am surprised!

    When I saw this text I thought it was very easy Etruscan.
    I read it almost as if it were Dutch (except of course for the unknown words).

    The slightly unusual OSV order does not bother me.
    The n in kan made it clear
    kan uta
    must be an object (assuming of course kanuta is not a name of some person).
    This text is about the
    That imo is why
    kan uta
    are the first words
    I like to compare this with of the Pyrgi text; here the first words:
    ita tmia icac heramasve
    are what the text is about.
    I had (and have*) some doubts about
    but decided it must say something about the uta.
    I think "freedwoman of the Larece house" would have been
    lautenitha larecena (without the s).
    I (still) am convinced aranthia,
    (wife) of
    is the one who
    (donated) an uta.
    imo is the only verb in this text.
    I don't remember ever having seen puia in between two parts of the name of the husband.
    Also, I can't see a reason for a form
    aranthIA for aranth.
    "Canuta, wife of Aranth Pinie", would imo have been:
    kanuta puia aranths pinies
    or perhaps
    kanuta aranths pinies puia.
    As for the rest of this text:
    looks like a normal indirect object.
    I don't know what marvethul is.
    I guess it is the name or specification of the tluschva, and I guess
    is a normal locative of place or time.
    Alternatively it may be
    "of the marvethu".
    If there is some verb hidden in marvethul
    the locative(?) 8aliathere may be connected with it in much the same way as
    zil goes with a locative in thi.

    I hope all of this makes sense!

    * more on this later

  6. Let's logically peck off some of your hypotheses. First, Laricena is a gentilicium literally meaning 'Of Larice' and translating it as 'of the house of Larice' is as silly as translating the Swedish name Magnusson as 'house of Magnus' instead of just leaving it as a last name. Second, Aranθia is the commitative case meaning 'with' (nominative Aranθ) and may be used to mark possession. So Aranθia Pinies puia is certainly "wife with Aranth Pinie" or "Aranth Pinie's wife" (or most literally 'wife with Aranth from [the family of] Pinie').

    As I said, with Kanuta broken down into two words, we have an unnamed dedicant and I find that quite odd. So, clever as your interpretation is, surely the dedicant's name is Kanuta because it can't be anything else.

    And by the way, *lauteniθa Larecena would mean 'Laricena freewoman' and not 'freewoman of the house of Larice' which would instead be more like *lauteniθa estal Larices or *lauteniθa paral Larices. The suffix -na is the Etruscan equivalent of O'- in Irish names, -sen in Danish names, or De- in French names.

  7. I translated with "house of" to avoid the genitive in English; the idea of possession of a freedwoman did not appeal. A bad translation.

    In my translation aranthia is the one who turuce.
    turuce needs an object:
    kan uta.
    If I remember well, aranthia is a perfectly normal woman's name.
    If aranthia were a comitative, then why the genitive pinies.
    And where is your object?

    I don't see a compelling reason why
    kan uta can't be an object and why
    lautenitha aranthia pinies puia can not be the subject

    If we accept kan uta as the object, freewoman Aranthia must be the subject.

    As I said, I read this text as if it was almost as easy as Dutch.
    I honestly tried to follow your thoughts, but I still think this is very easy Etruscan. I did not need any "cleverness" to translate it.

    The text starts with the object (a little unusual, but imo kan explains why) and after that everything is normal:
    Ditransitive verb
    Indirect object

    --- --- ---

    I am studying Etruscan genitives, and also the "-na"-"ending". I hope later I can tell you more.

  8. Zu: "If I remember well, aranthia is a perfectly normal woman's name. If aranthia were a comitative, then why the genitive pinies."

    Definitely not. If female, her name could only be written Aranthia Pini with a name in the locative, not genitive as among males. A man received a genitive name because he was always defined as being "from" his family of birth whereas females were given locative names to emphasize the fact that they were either "with" their own family or residing with her husband and his family (look up patrilocality).

    "And where is your object?"

    You assume too much. An accusative object isn't grammatically required and the physical context of this inscription makes it quite clear to the reader what the donated object is... since this sentence was written on it!

    "I don't see a compelling reason why kan uta can't be an object"

    Surely grammar and context must compel you against it by now. Your interpretation as you've stated it is wrong. Aranth is a male. This is for certain. This means that it can *only* be read "Aranth Pinie's wife". It's silly for you to insist on this inaccurate interpretation further. Read more on Etruscan names if you don't believe me.