From: Antonio Sciarretta
In a message dated 30/08/02 15:16:57 GMT Daylight Time,
> Why people likes this "pre-IE" ? Wouldn't it be better "non-IE" ? or even
> "post-IE" ? In other terms, we don't have evidence that the non-IE language
> of ancient Mediterranean (and we have real evidence only of two, Etruscan -
> if it is really non-IE as it seems - and Basque, in the West)
I agree. There is a problem in English in that "Pre-IE" is ambiguous:
it can either mean an early stage of IE, or a language spoken before
the Indo-Europeans arrived. Pfiffig described the Tyrrhenians as
"vorindoeuropäisch". The latter would have been meant, as this term is
not ambiguous in German.
> The theory that Raetic was together with Etruscan a
> remnant of the Villanovian people is due to a nationalist point of view
> defended mainly by the archeologists.
So in your opinion the Villanovans were speakers of Umbrian?
I think that Umbri(ci) is the name given by the ''Pelasgians'' to the people found on the river of the Umbro fl. (today Ombrone, Tuscany), whose name shows two clear ''Pelasgian'' traits: the sonant *m > um, and *bh > b (this is rather common, indeed). Then, in the Bronze age those Umbri lived in Tuscany. It is not clear to me if these Umbri were already the speakers of the Tabulae Iguvinae language, which is eastern Italic (or Osco-Umbrian), or they spoke a different one, having been later submerged by the Eastern Italic speakers (beginning of the Iron age), possibly coming from the East, i.e., Illyria, which retained the ethnical name. There is evidence in the classical sources that the Umbri lived also on the northern side of the Appennines, in today's Romagna, so maybe previously (before the Etruscan, and then the Gaulish colonization) also in the region where the ''Villanovian'' villages were found.
> The Pelasgians are associated to the Bronze
> age, the Tyrrhenians to the period of the "catastrophes" at the end of it
> and after. Their arrival (for the Dionysian autochthonists,
> 'manifestation') in Tuscany is dated few centuries after 1000 b.C.
They would need to have been fairly well established by 700 BC.
> A new
> theory defended by Massimo Pittau would see the Lydians/Tyrrhenians leaving
> around XII sec. b.C., staying in Sardinia for a while (2-3 centuries),
> building the Nuraghes, being known as Tyrrhenians 'the people of the
> towers' and then colonizing Tuscany subtracting it to the poor Umbrians. In
> the classical sources, the oldest distinguish the two peoples, the most
> recent say they were the same. I can provide a better reference to these
> sources later.
I have often wondered about the particular architectural inclination
for towers in Italy. If this is something that dates back to Etruscan
times, this is very interesting. There are grammatical features and
lexical material in Etruscan that are reminiscent of certain languages
of the Caucasus whose peoples have also shown an inclination for tower
Which is this material for you ? Etruscan ci 'two' = Urartean ki(g) ?
And the dates for the Sardinian nuraghi (1500 BC onwards)
may be relevant.
> I am ready to change the term 'Pelasgians' into 'Tyrrhenians' if it will be
> proved that Etruscan was an Anatolian IE language, in which *g>k, *d>t and
> *b>p (and many other things).
But it wasn't, and when Etruscan borrowed from other languages it was
/g/ > /x/ (i.e. velar fricative), /d/ > /T/ (i.e. dental fricative)
and /b/ > /f/, or possibly aspirated stops instead of fricatives. I
think Pelasgian and Tyrrhenian have to be regarded as two different
I am also convinced of this. About the Etruscan borrowings, what I have found in the toponymy is (I quote myself):
To a Latin /p, t, c/ may correspond either /f, th, ch/ or /p, t, c/. The place-names showing the first spelling (Caere/cheizra, Sutrium/shuthri, Tarquinia/tarchna, Volci/velch) have been reconstructed from a "Pelasgian" shift, namely *b,d,g>p,t,k. The place-names showing the second spelling (Cortona/curtun, Clusium/clevsi, Telamon/tlamu, Tarquinia/tarchna, Capena/capna, etc.) have instead been reconstructed from original (IE) *p,t,k.
Can you suggest what this could mean ? I think this is a key problem to better understand the stratification of languages in Etruria, the relationship between Italic, ''Pelasgian'' and Etruscan, and the origins of Etruscan itself.
> Soon I will write about 'Ligurians' or, better, 'Liguro-Sicanians', another
> fancy result of the application of my (actually Georgiev-Zamboni-Duridanov)
> toponymy method.
Can you recommend any works on Ligurian?
The material is so scarse and speculative that I don't think there are entire books. I'm aware only of the book cured by V. Pisani, Le lingue dell' Italia antica oltre il latino, Torino, 1964. It's in Italian and covers all the languages of ancient Italy, with contributions of different specialists. There's a chapter on Ligurian and its problem. Worth of interest is also the chapter about Sicily, by Zamboni (I don't have here the book, so I can't check the exact reference of the single articles).
> But, again, who cares about the little Picenes ?
Oh, I care about them, but I have just no idea who they were. The
fact that the word "sut" keeps popping up in a funeral stele is
interesting, but the morphology is nothing like Etruscan. If I
understand you correctly, you think they were pre-Italic (there's that
dreadful affix pre- again!)
Exactly, pre-Italic. From my point of view, this would explain the toponymy that is clearly IE but not Osco-Umbrian, who spread out later from the Appennines. A 'Picene' language has been coined for a series of inscriptions (VI-IV sec.), including the famous 'stele di Novilara', that has been also interpreted as showing a "colonial" Greek language. These texts have not been translated, but the dominant archeological point of view decided that the Piceni were the counterpart of the Etruscans on the Adriatic, i.e., implicitly or explicitly saying they were a remnant of a pre-IE ('before the IE arrival') population.
Where does "Illyrian" and the Messapic
language fit into your theory?
The Illyrian language was not unique, but at least three languages can be identified. The most northern is close - or identical - to Venetic, and then, for some phonetic aspects, to Latin. The central shared something with Osco-Umbrian. The southern branch yielded in Italy the Messapic. Like this latter, it is possible that the carriers of the Italic branch came from Illyria also (or - who knows - spread from Italy to Illyria, since the Umbri were already in Etruria in the Bronze age if the Pelasgians found them and gave them their particular ethnical name). They shared Italy with other IE peoples: the Piceni, the Dauni, etc. in the east, and in the west (and north) many tribes speaking languages classifiable under the label "Liguro-Sicanian". I will show this in my web-pages about Latium, Liguria, Campania and Sicily.
Thanks for the useful discussion