15 Sept 2007

Etruscan Dictionary Draft 002 now available

Yesterday, I started my audit of the current version of my database to prepare for a less messy "Draft 002" of my Etruscan Dictionary. I should have started earlier but I'm such a lazy jackass. Phew! What a job that was. This list is getting huge!

Download Etruscan Dictionary Draft 002 for free.

And as you know, the project is ongoing, possibly neverending, as I try to hone the list and collect for each word plausible etymologies, claims from various scholars, brief reasons why a popular translation may not work and what alternatives there are, and any relevant Aegean cognates (in Lemnian, Rhaetic, Eteo-Cypriot, etc). If anyone is familiar with managing data, knowledge is more like a network than a consecutive list. Each piece of information connects with any number of other pieces of information. So if you change one thing, it can cause an exhilarating cascade of changes in related items that only a logical stoic would appreciate.

I try to keep consistency and data integrity in check. I'm thinking of adapting my database program to display interrelated words better. My system doesn't yet allow hyperlinked items to other words in my language databases but I'm going to have to start. The Perseus website does this and aside from the unintuitive layout and visually blinding hideousness of the site, it's functional as long as you have the patience to wait five minutes to upload just one of their pages. (Um... is there something wrong with their tech people?) At any rate, linked information makes things simpler than traditional notes, so I'm going to have to start coding like the dickens in the next few weeks.

I will schedule Draft 003 next month: Oct 15 2007. Seems fair enough. Plus, I really like the lunar cycle.


  1. Glen!
    I have just discovered your blog and spent 2 hours "glancing" through the archive. Wow! A real gold-mine. Please see my profile at
    http://www.librarything.com/profile/hnn and browse the tags to see my interests for example etruscan, etruscans or historical linguisics. (Although I have to confess that I am more of a bookaholic than educated layman)
    I have just put aside Mayani. You confirmed my suspitions that he was "way off". Which is the best current description of the grammar (syntax and morphology) of the etruscan language? Is any up to your strict standards ;-) ? Or will you write one?

    Please reply to me at

  2. Thanks a bunch! It's so funny. You see, I go through these "emotional cycles" where I come to think that nobody is paying attention, then out of the blue, I get an encouraging comment that makes me feel I'm doing something right. Haha, up down up down. I should take anti-anxiety pills. Anyways, thanks for the feedback ;)

    As for grammar, I keep promoting the pdf provided by Dr. Weiss of Cornell University (see my article Dr Weiss delivers up Etruscan grammar or simply click here for his pdf). While his speciality is in fact "Italic" languages of the Indo-European family (Latin, Umbrian, Faliscan, etc.) rather than "Aegean" ones (Etruscan, Rhaetic, Lemnian), he represents the grammar reasonably enough and offers sources like Helmut Rix.

    Personally, I would alter a few things and translations (e.g. un cannot be a personal pronoun at all because of its attested inanimate plural unχva). Maybe I should try creating my own pdf on Etruscan grammar to give a slightly alternative view and to iron out the errors I perceive in other's accounts of the language. Possibilities, possibilities...

  3. Maybe I should give a preliminary rundown on Etruscan grammar as I see it, for teasers. Etruscan has two genders (animate vs. inanimate) like in Swedish or Proto-Indo-European. It's also seems to be an active-stative language. There are two genitive markers, -s and -l. The s-genitive often goes with animate gender and l-genitive with inanimate however there is some overlap. The nominative and accusative lack case endings in nouns but may be explicitly distinguished by adding nominative demonstratives (ca or ta) or accusative ones (can or tan). Cases may be further elaborated with the use of postpositions like -θi, -pi or -tra.

    Etruscan marks a verb for tense, aspect and voice but does not mark person. Person is marked explicitly by using a seperate pronoun that normally precedes the verb (as in English). Etruscan's unmarked word order is SOV as in most world languages (e.g. Turkish, Japanese, etc.) However there are instances where SVO is favoured and this concerns transitivity. Verbs with inanimate subjects appear to have a passive connotation while animates require the use of participial markers (-u or ) or the passive voice marker -aχ-.

    I would say that all of the above things which I don't see explained by the experts would really help everyone read Etruscan a heckuvalot better than they do now.

  4. Glen,

    I think it is a good idea for you to make a short pdf document, summarizing your knowledge of etruscan grammar. Weiss article is a lot of other things also: describing sources, vocabulary etc. A few pages of compact grammar would be really great! Your dictionary and your grammar: what more does one need?? ;-))


  5. I'm way ahead of ya, Hans :) Actually, the problem that I see with this field in particular is that there have been a bunch of scholars, whether from respected universities or independent ones, who have their own very different versions of translations and grammars. For me, this is frustrating to my sense of logic since there should only be one version.

    So, I'm as much concerned with the translation and structure of the language as I am with the logical deduction and reasoning behind the translations and grammatical claims. This is really the reason why I haxored out my own personal database - to handle not only information on vocabulary, but also to note other popular claims and the clear logical refutations of those claims that are implausible. I've also been collecting etymologies, or theorizing my own. Then also, I've been collecting the sources of borrowings (often borrowings from Doric Greek) as well as cognates in Rhaetic, Lemnian, Eteo-Cypriot, Eteo-Cretan and Minoan. The world doesn't need yet another dictionary. A dictionary doesn't help us piece through all the hearsay and gobbleygook; it only adds to it. There needs to be something far more detailed that goes beyond empty assertions and smashes them for good. Background information on some items, deities and personnages would also be much more helpful than just a dictionary.

    (Speaking of empty assertions: Has anyone found the word *unu that Rix claimed was a form of the second person pronoun? I've never found it yet. This is another problem. Some scholars have been inventing words that are entirely mistranscribed, adding to more confusion.)

    Anyways, the list you see in my pdf is only a sample of the entire database that I have. For now, I'll keep it in "draft status" until I'm satisfied that I have something more to offer. Who knows, I could be at this until I'm 50, hahaha. Such a sad life ;)