4 Jul 2014

CII 307; ET Vt G.1; TLE 405


(Etruscan gem showing a haruspex examining a liver; Volaterrae; 4th century BCE)


  1. Whenabouts did "natis" shift to "netś"?
    I ask because if this inscription represented the pronunciation of the time, as did the bilingual of the previous entry, that implies a span of just 3 centuries for a large shift. (That said, of course, dialectical variants and deliberate archaisms would complicate dating)

    Also I figure you might be interested by a newly-found pottery shard from Pompeii with what the poster says is Etruscan writing: PAPESA

  2. A shift of /a/ to /ɛ/ isn't that grand of a shift. Consider English's Great Vowel Shift, a much more radical sound change.

    Also, from what I see, the Etruscan pottery shard you mention shows a clan name Papaie. We may presume it's an individual's name but the preceding first and last name has broken away from this piece.

    1. Actually… when viewing the shard, the first letter isn't even clearly a "p". The ending -sa however still suggests a name of some sort.

    2. I wasn't sure it was a "p" either at first, but I think there's a slight curve just at the same point as on the later "p".
      On that point, what other letters would match a line of that shape in that position? "A" would, but "AAPESA" doesn't look particularly Etruscan.

      I was actually referring not just to the vowel shift, but also the elision of unstressed vowels. I'd add the conditioning of "s" to "ś" around "i", but didn't that happen earlier?

    3. Yeah, you're right, Casey. Searching through my database, PAPESA seems the most probable. The name Pape is attested on a vessel (ET Cm 2.80).

      The Etruscan "elision" was caused by a strong stress accent starting about 500 BCE. I wouldn't call that a big change either. French did something more drastic by dropping many consonants in words deriving from Latin (eg. augustus > août; aqua > eau; nivix > neige). So did Mandarin from the time of Middle Chinese. And then there's Armenian, the black sheep of Indo-European with some of the most radical sound changes. By comparison, Etruscan seems relatively tame.

  3. Oh damn, I meant Latin nix > neige 'snow'. That'll teach me to ramble from memory.