Monday, December 13, 2010

Hungarian Linguists Sing "We are the World"

In honor of the 20th anniversary of theoretical linguistics at Eötvös Loránd University.  I believe the dark-haired, bearded fellow who sings second is noted Latin linguist András Cser. Congratulations!

Friday, December 3, 2010


To the bibliography for Old Frisian given on pg. 11, fn. 5 add Bremmer 2009.

Rolf H. Bremmer. 2009. An introduction to Old Frisian. History, grammar, reader, glossary. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Addendum and Corrigendum: the non-present stem of iterative-causatives

On pg. 439 in discussing the origin of the p.p.p. in -itus < *-etos of 2nd conjugation verbs I wrote:

At an early date, probably in western dialectal Proto-Indo-European, (fn. 55) the following analogy took place:
*kap-ye- : *kap-to- :: *moneye- : X, X = *mone-to-.
In other words, the suffix *-eye- was reanalyzed as stem in e- plus suffix *-ye-. In the formation of the verbal adjective in *-to- the suffix *-ye- was truncated.

In fn. 55 thereto I wrote: The same analysis and analogy is evidently reflected in the Germanic past participles of the first weak class, e.g. Goth. nasiÞs* ‘saved’ < *nosetos.

This is not quite sufficient and not entirely correct either.  First, it was not just the p.p.p. that the stem in e- is found but also in the perfect active in -  from *e-w-ai, e.g. monuī  < *mone-wai. Second, the Gothic evidence is inconclusive since i can of course reflect either *e or *i and in general the union vowel of p.p.p. copies the stem vowel of the present. As a matter of fact the isolated ON mettr 'full, satiated' from the verb *matija- 'to satiate' with i-umlaut points to a proto-form *matiđa- with an *i. So it seems that Germanic did not partake of this innovation. Third, Celtic did partake in this innovation.  This is clear from Old Irish W 2 a verbs (old iterative-causatives) which contrast raising in the present stem, e.g. do luigi < *-log-ī- < *-logeye-ti vs. no raising in the s-preterite, e.g. do loig 'forgave' < *-loge-st, and in the pret. pass. -logad < *-loge-to-, an old verbal adjective. Identical facts are seen in Middle Welsh where ī-presents with o-grade roots have pret. stems in -es. This seems to be a a significant but under-appreciated common innovation of Italo-Celtic. See Schulze-Thulin 2001:86-9 with earlier literature.

Schulze-Thulin, Britta, 2001. Studien zu den urindogermanischen o-stufigen Kausativa, Iterativa und Nasalpräsentien im Kymrischen. Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rasenna Blog

I want to call your attention to the new Rasenna Blog  just launched by my esteemed colleague and fellow Beech Stavite, Rex Wallace. The blog about Etruscan language and inscriptions promises to be fascinating.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don't buy my book!

from here.  The Book Depository (I hope not located in Dallas) is selling my book for $152.15.  I don't know why you'd buy it from them and pay double what you could pay if you bought it from Beech Stave directly unless you just do whatever Amazon tells you to do.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Kevin Muse of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee alerts me to this mistake on p. 68 3. b "For this statement..." should read "From this statement..."  Kevin has also compiled a page-consecutive file of the corrections and additions to OHCGL made thus far which I intend to post soon—only the serious ones are included, not the silly ones. This way you will be able to print it out and keep it with your hard copy.  Thanks, Kevin! 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ligurrio etc.

On pg. 79 fn. 58 I cite the form ligūriō in connection with the development of medial *gh.  However, the best attested spelling for this verb and apparently for its close relatives scaturriō and scalpurriō is with two r's.  Not surprisingly none of these verbs or their derivatives are attested in inscriptions, but the oldest codex of Terence the 4th/5th century Codex Bembinus has geminate -rr- at lines 235 (ABLIGURRIERAT) and 936 (LIGURRIUNT) of the Eunuchus. I don't yet know what to make of these forms from the historical point of view.  Given my stated views on the littera rule, I'm not keen on deriving them from -ūriō.  The image of l. 235 above is scanned from Sesto Preste, 1970. Il codice di Terenzio vaticano latino 3226. Vatican City: Biblioteca apostolica vaticana.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A surprising mismatch

On pg. 467 I mention the word ōvum 'egg' which seems not to have been affected by whatever rule changed *oktōwos into octāvus.  This may have been due to the ō occurring in the initial, i.e. in the Proto-Italic stressed syllable, as I said in the book, or, as Alexis Manaster Ramer suggests to me, due to the absolute initial position of the ō. In any case AMR also calls my attention to the strange fact that the Romance languages reflect Proto-Romance open o (Ital. uovo, Sp. huevo, Fr. oeuf), which normally is the reflex of a Latin short o. There is no absolutely satisfactory explanation for this.  Meyer-Lübke suggested ōvum became ōum by regular loss of w before a back vowel and that became oum by pre-vocalic shortening.  The w was then restored from the genitive ōvī.  Rohlfs also starts from  ōum  but since the reflexes of long ō and short u would both have been a close o he suggest that the first of the two identical vowels was dissimilated to an open o.  This seems a bit more straightforward and has the parallel of Ital. tuo < *tuoo, cf. the plural tuoi, reflecting an open and not the expected  close o in the first syllable.  In any case the long vowel of Latin ōvum is very well established starting from Ennius' Ova parire solet genus pennis condecoratum.

A New Lemnian Inscription

Through the kindness of Professor Carlo de Simone I've learned of a significant new inscription in the "Tyrsenian" language of Lemnos.  The inscription from the site of Efestia is on a rectangular stone block once probably supporting a dedicated object. It reads

soromš : aslaš hktaonosi : heloke

The interpuncts actually have three points.  The form heloke is almost certainly a preterite 3rd sg. verb form and hktaonosi probably a pertinentive. soromš and aslaš are probably the subject phrase.

See de Simone, Carlo. 2009. La nuova iscrizione tirsenica di Efestia. In Aglaia Archontidou, Carlo de Simone, and Emanuele Greco (eds.) Gli scavi di Efestia e lanuova iscrizione ‘tirsenica’. Athens: Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bibliographical Addendum

To the basic bibliography for Romance given on pg. 503 add the new book by my Cornell colleagues Ti Alkire and Carol Rosen: 

Alkire, Ti, and Carol G. Rosen. 2010. Romance languages: a historical introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Linguistics Professor/Movie Star

How many professors of historical linguistics have also been the lead actor in a major motion picture? To my knowledge only one: Carlo Battisti (1882-1977), the co-author of Battisti and Alessio 1950–7 Dizionario etimologico italiano and a professor of glottologia at Florence, was also the star of the Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D, a  neorealist classic about an old man (Umberto D.) and his dog (named strangely Flaik). Battisti plays the part marvelously.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

pons, pontis

Filip De Decker alerts me to a confusing formulation on pg. 316 where I identify a subclass of -ti-stems with o-grade including frons, frontis; fons, fontis; mons, montis and pons, pontis. Synchronically this is of course true, but in the case of pons the root is *pent- (cf. Gk. πόντ-ος ‘sea’ and PDE find) and hence the morpheme boundary was originally after the t (pont-) and not before it (pon-t-).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

inserinuntur and solinunt

Michiel de Vaan points out that on pg. 386 fn. 39 where I list the OL alternative 3rd plural forms in -nunt, e.g. danunt, redīnunt, etc. I give the forms inserinuntur and solinunt with long i's, but this is incorrect. There is no positive evidence for a long vowel in either case and a long i in inserinuntur might  adversely affect the scansion of the Saturnian in which it occurs.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Response to Comments

Dear Commentors,

Somehow I've failed to see a few comments posted long ago until today!  I'm afraid I appeared ungracious. Thanks especially to Zsolt Simon, Bulbul, and Docente for their helpful comments. Of course, I am delighted if anyone reads this blog and takes the time to comment.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bibliographical Addendum

To the general bibliography for Germanic given on p. 11, n. 5. add

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More on More on Root Aorists

Apropos of fūdī, Alan Nussbaum reminds me that the root is *gh'ew- and that the -do/e- (an extension also seen in Goth. giutan 'to pour') of the Latin verb is in origin a present-forming suffix ( cf. pellō < *pel-dō vs. perf. pepulī < *pe-pol-). But if *-do/e- was a present formant, then the perf. fūd- has its -d- analogically from the present, and this favors an analogical explanation for fūdī, e.g. winko/e- : wi:k- = fundo/e- : X.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Scansion of dat. sg. ei in Classical Latin

In his review James Clackson points out correctly that it is misleading to say, as I do on pg. 342, that the monosyllabic scansion of dat. sg. ei is typical for Classical Latin. All forms of is, ea, id were less common in Classical (Augustan) poetry than prose and the oblique forms were especially rare. See Meader 1901 for some statistics. The dative singular is not used at all by Vergil or the Elegaic poets. There are, however, a number of instances of ei in Late Republican and Imperial poetry:

At Catull. 82.3 (eripere ei noli, multo quod carius illi) ei must be a monosyllable, but at Ps.-Ov. Hal. 34 (semper ei similis quem contegit, atque ubi praedam) it must be an iamb. Similarly at Germanicus' Arat. 333 (talis ei custos aderit canis ore timendo) and 457 (lactis ei color, et mediis via lucet in umbris). The form ei also occurs in epigraphic poetry once as a long monosyllable at CIL 3.10501 (= Buecheler CLE 489, Aquincum): vox ei grata fuit, pulsabat pollice cordas and once as an iamb at CIL 3.754 (Buecheler CLE 492:15, 3rd cent. CE, Nicopolis): intima nulla ei quae non mihi nota fuere, a poem which Buecheler says is omni genere vitiorum deformatum.  There are some other instances of ei in CLE but the scansions are uncertain.  Since the form was so rare it hardly makes sense to say that any scansion was typical.

Meader, Clarence Linton. 1901.  The Latin pronouns: is, hic, iste, ipse. A semasiological study. London: Macmillan.

Monday, September 20, 2010

-ĕrunt is Not Absent from Classical Poetry

As Clackson points out, I made a mistake in representing the statistics for the 3rd plural perfect endings.  I followed the presentation of Bauer 1933, but Bauer lumped together -ērunt and -ĕrunt in his counts whereas I separated them.  This creates the misleading impression that -ĕrunt  is not attested in Vergil or Horace, but that is wrong.  According to Pye 1963 -erunt is attested at Verg. E. 4.61, G. 2.129, 3.283, Aen. 2.774, 3.48, 3.681 and 10.334. So the figures for Vergil should be corrected to -ērunt 22 vs. -ĕrunt 7. In Horace according to Pye there are three examples of -ĕrunt (Epod. 9.17, S. 1.10.45, Ep. 1.4.7). So the figures for the Satires should be corrected to -ērunt 10 vs. -ĕrunt 1.  The figures for Plautus, Terence, and Juvenal are correct.

See D. Pye. 1963. Latin 3rd plural perf. ind. act. endings in verse usage. TPhS:1-27.

Osc. pui

The Oscan form pui at Cp. 37.1, as Clackson points out, is not exactly attested.  The sequence actually reads according to Rix's edition pụ[i: / pu].  The lithograph produced by Buecheler in RhM 1878 shows just the tail of something that could be an i. If the restoration is correct we have a virtual pui, but a more important issue is whether pui is the nom. sg. as I interpreted it or the dat. sg. = Lat. cui. (so Vetter p. 424).  Looking at the context again (the so-called Curse of Vibia) it seems more probable to me now that pui if correctly restored is a dat. sg. If that is the case it could not be an exact morphological match for cui, but a simple remodeling of the inherited form on the basis of the thematic dat. sg. So at p. 351 pui should simply be stricken and at p. 470 the Umb. form poi or the Osc. nom. sg. fem. paí should be substituted.


As James Clackson points out the form meddíks that I cite at pp. 75 and 238 ( but not at 159. n. 5  where I cite the Latinized form meddix as at Liv. 23.35.13) is a nominative plural < *med(o)-dik-es with final syllable syncope of the old athematic nom. pl. ending *-es.  The nom. sg. is meddíss (Cm 10 etc.) with assimilation from < *med(o)-dik-s.

More Root Aorists in Latin

In his review James Clackson correctly points out that I underestimated the role of the root aorist in the formation of the Latin perfect system.  I said on pg. 412 that "Latin does not continue any clear traces of the root aorist".  In the footnote thereto I mentioned the possible explanation of the lengthened grade of vēnī as generalized from 1st sg. *gwēm < *gwem-m and 2nd sg. *gwēn < *gwem-s. It's true that no personal ending of the perfect system can be directly traced to a root aorist, but there are a number of perfect forms that I failed to mention that most plausibly continue root aorists.  The best cases are:

1. OL fūī ' I was' matches Ved. ábhūt.

The True Cost

The BMCR review gives the cost of OHCGL as $110, but that is the "list price".  If you purchase the book directly from Beech Stave Press (the best way to get it) the cost is $75.  Not cheap, I know.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The First Review is In

A nice review of OHCGL at Bryn Mawr Classical Review by James Clackson of Cambridge. 
Professor Clackson has found some more things for me to correct.  I will post those here in the next few days. Thanks!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ex Anatolia Lux!

I'd like to take the opportunity to announce the publication of Ex Anatolia Lux: Anatolian and Indo-European studies in honor of H. Craig Melchert. Ann Arbor: Beech Stave Press of which I was one of the four editors (the others being my esteemed colleagues Ron Kim, Elisabeth Rieken, and Norbert Oettinger). The volume was presented at the recent UCLA meeting of the Indogermanische Fachtagung on the Indo-European Verb.  I'm happy to say that the volume was (apparently) a complete surprise to the honorand! Most articles are naturally Anatolo-centric, but Olav Hackstein's "Latenisch omnis" (pp. 75–84) takes the etymology of omnis from *opnis <— op- 'abundance' (mentioned in passing at OHCGL, p. 140) from possible to very probable. Incidentally, a cognate of omnis appears in the Venetic Tavola da Este in the phrase to ommni opedon. I also have an article about an Italic subject: "Two Sabellic Praenomina" (pp. 363–374).

Saturday, September 4, 2010


On pg. 410 I mention that Aulus Gellius (6.9) attests the form spepondī as an archaic but still classical variant for the regular spopondī. I should also have noted that the e-reduplicated form is also attested inscriptionally in the form SPEPODI in the wax tablets discovered in Moregine near Pompeii and composed by C. Novius Eunus (1st cent. CE, 15.2.11, 16.3.3, 17.3.5, 18.3.7). Interestingly some of these documents (15 and 18) exist  in two versions, one by Eunus himself with many spelling "errors", and one by a professional scribe with correct spellings. In the case of this particular word the scribe uses the standard form spopondi at 15.5.9, 18.5.16.

See Adams, J. N. 1990. The Latinity of C. Novius Eunus. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 82:227–247.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Umbrian-inspired jewelry

Haven't found any new mistakes or missing refs. recently so I thought I'd post this beautiful piece of Umbrian-inspired jewelry made by Paula Ardis Weiss of Peoria, Arizona, AKA my sister. I see a few real words in the last line and the bird must be a peica mersta!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


An invaluable resource for the study of the language of Latin inscriptions from Rome (De Gruyter 2006):

CIL VI. Inscriptiones urbis Romae Latinae. pars VI, fasc. III. Grammatica quaedam erroresque quadratarii et alias rationes scribendi notabiliores. Composuit A. E. GORDON† adiutante J. S. GORDON†. Auxerunt et edenda curaverunt U. JANSEN et H. KRUMMREY. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two Addenda from Solin

On pg. 202 fn. 33 I give a list of some Republican epigraphical examples of the alternate consonant-stem gen. sg. ending -os or -us, but I didn't know that according to Solin 1991:354 forms in -us are found as late as the the Augustan period, e.g. AERVS (CIL 4.2440, 3 BCE), CAESARVS (i.e. Octavian, CIL XI 6721.13).

On pg. 213–4 I discuss the replacement of the o-stem locative for place names by the ablative and note that this replacement begins to turn up in the late 1st century BCE, however, I didn't say anything about the replacement of the a-stem ending -ae by -a. Löfstedt, Syntactica II, pg. 76 claimed that the ending -ae hung on tenaciously for many more centuries and dates the first certain cases of the locatival ablative for place names to the 5th century.  But Solin 1997:143 points out that epigraphical examples are known from at least the 1st century CE, e.g. Q. VIBIVS P. F. QVI(RINA) KANIO TREBVLA, where some editors erroneously emend to TREBVLAE. Whether Löfstedt's point in modified form is still valid requires further investigation.

Solin, H. 1991. Analecta epigraphica. (CXLIII. Zu republikanischen Inschrfifen 146–54). Arctos 25:139–56.

———. 1997. Analecta epigraphica. (CLXVIII. Ablativ statt lokativ in Städtnamen 142) Arctos 31:135–147.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Etruscan o

ᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟᛟOn pg. 27 I wrote "Since Etruscan did not have a contrast between /o/ and /u/ they eliminated the sign." This sentence needs some elaboration.  First of all, archaic Etruscan alphabets do retain the letter as a dead letter.  See Wallace 2008:17–18. Second, while it is true that there was no contrast between /o/ and /u/ in Etruscan it now seems pretty clear that the Etruscans did have a way of writing /o/. In addition to the well known case of the bilingual inscription from Pesaro which has the form frontac (Um 1.7, 1st BCE), there is now also a form cnovies in an 5th century BCE inscription for Civita Castellana (CIE II, 1, 5). The inscription reads cnovi{e}ies mi "I am of cnovie". Given its location the inscription is probably recording a Faliscan praenomen—hence the attempt to represent the "exophoneme" /o/—but mi and the genitive ending -es shows the text was Etruscan.  The shape of the o in both these examples is like a vertical fish (see this image of the Pesaro bilingual here.) and this is precisely the shape that o has in the (indirectly) Etruscan-derived Runic alphabet as illustrated above.

See Maras, D. F. 2009. Note in margine al CIE II, 1, 5. Studi etruschi 74:237–47.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Addendum and Corrigenda

To the basic bibliography for Tocharian given on pg. 21 fn. 79 add Malzahn, Melanie. 2010. The Tocharian Verbal System. Leiden: Brill. This book will be an invaluable resource for years to come. It provides an overview and synchronic and diachronic analysis of the categories of the Tocharian verb and a lexicon of the attested Averbo of each Tocharian verbal root. Checking my index against Malzahn I uncovered a few imprecise statements and errors on my part.

On pg. 82 as a cognate of luō I cite the TA present stem lunā- with the gloss 'release' ('send' would have been better). According to Malzahn p. 854 the present stem is not actually attested in TA although it was restored as lun(āmäs) in one fragment by Sieg and Siegling.  The TB present is the Class III form lyewetär, which I should have cited instead.

On pg. 407 as the cognate of Lat. escit I cite a non-existent TB ske.  The 3rd pl. of the copula is indeed skente < *h1s-sk'onto, but the singular is ste which may come from *h1s-sk'e-to. See Pinault 2008:642 for more details.

On pg. 408 fn. 31 I discuss whether Lat. cūdō and TB kaut- 'split' can be reconciled via *kewh2dhe-, but Malzahn prefers to analyze the Tocharian form as a denominative in which case the question is moot.  In the last sentence in that note change the possible proto-form of kaut- from *keh2dh- (a typo) to *keh2udh-.

On pg. 413 fn. 13 following others I compared Lat. lēgī to TB lyāka 'I saw' but see Malzahn p. 838–9 for some of the difficulties involved in that comparison.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Apologies for failure to blog for last three weeks.  I was co-teaching (with Jeremy Rau) a two-week seminar in Greek comparative grammar and Greek dialects.  In the course of preparing for that class I got my first good look at the volume A History of Ancient Greek:  From the Beginnings to Late Antiquity, edited by A.-F. Christidis with the assistance of Maria Arapoloulou and Maria Chriti. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.   This book was first published in Greek in 2001 and translated by various hands in 2007.  Overall, the book is similar in conception to the Bakker volume, but more extensive (the first subsection on "the language phenomenon" seems out of place to me).  I have read only a fraction of the work, but some standout chapters are the ones by Claude Brixhe (History of the alphabet: Some guidelines for avoiding oversimplifications) and Julian Mendez Dosuna (on Doric and Aeolic).  Particularly relevant for Latin are the chapters on Greek and Latin contact by Robert Coleman and on evidence for Vulgar Latin from modern Greek dialects by N. Katsanis.  

Thursday, June 24, 2010


On pg. 144 following Benedetti 1996 I tried to limit the so-called littera or Iuppiter rule to high vowels of diphthongal origin, but the facts are more complicated and interesting. I refer you to the handout of a recent talk of mine. Thanks to Michiel De Vaan for useful comments.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


To the bibliography for "semi-direct" sources of Vulgar Latin given on pg. 504 add Hanciaux 1989-95 (Hanciaux, René. 1989-95. Graphies latines vulgaires et variantes orthographiques tirees des manuscrits. Mons: Atelier Offset de l'Université de l'Etat à Mons.) This work of which seven volumes have appeared to date is an alphabetical listing of "incorrect" spellings found in the manuscripts of various classical and late antique authors. It is all very undigested, but valuable if one is trying to find examples. For example, the spelling calligat 'is dark' for cālīgat
is attested in ms. H of Aetna 312.  Ms. Helmstadtiensis 332 dates from the 15th century, but the geminate l spelling is not worthless since we know that calligo for cālīgō was stigmatized in the Appendix Probi and some Romance forms, e.g. Nuor. gaḍḍíndzu ‘the staggers’—a form of mad cow disease—continue the geminate l.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Multiple Corrigenda in One Sentence

On pg. 25 I write "A favorite locus for the alphabet transfer was one of the Greek trading posts like Posidonios (El-Alalakh) in Syria."  This is wrong in a number of ways.  First, of all the Greek city in Ancient Syria mentioned by Herodotus (3.91) is called Posideion not Posidonios, which, of course, is the name of the famous Hellenistic philosopher (155-51 BCE).  Second, the site sometimes thought to be of possible importance in the transfer of the alphabet is Al-Mina, a coastal site a little south of Samandağ, Turkey not Alalakh, which is a bronze-age site some 50 kilometres inland. Third, it is not clear that the site of Al Mina is the Posideion mentioned by Herodotus. Other have suggested Ras Al-Bassit in the present-day country of Syria. Finally, see the chapter by Roger Woodard in Bakker's Companion to the Ancient Greek Language for some doubts about the importance of Al Mina. This mistake rivals the worst mistake discovered yet for pure and total confusion!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


To the bibliography for Italian given on pg. 503 add Michel 1997. This is a very interesting account of the historical grammar of Old Italian with a good selection of commented texts in a variety of dialects.  From this book I learn that the historical interpretation of the Italian masc. sg. article il that I give in the book (p. 522) , i.e. < *illī is probably not correct. Instead il is prothetic from form earlier (')l as in dove 'l sol tace (Dante Inf. 1.60) < *ubi illum sole tacet. Another form found in Tuscan until the 16th century is el, which perhaps is from illum with apocope, although this too is not certain.

Michel, Andreas, 1997. Einführung in das Altitaliensche. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Addendum to Bibliography

To the basic bibliography for Greek add Bakker 2010.  I wrote the chapter on morphology and word formation, which I think is a pretty good sketch of the overall system, although the section on word formation is ridiculously short.  Other chapters worth mentioning as especially relevant to the Latin book are Phoinikeia Grammatika (Roger Woodard) Greek and Indo-European (Jeremy Rau), Phonology (Philomen Probert), Greek and Latin Bilingualism (Bruno Rochette). I will take the opportunity to correct one inaccuracy in my chapter. In explaining the concept of analogy I write "the past tense of the verb strive in many forms of present-day English is strove, not strived, which continues the Old English form."  Of course, strive is a loanword from Old French estriver and does not go back beyond the 13th century in English.  Ultimately, OF estriver is thought to be of Germanic origin, but there is no Old English ancestor of strive.  Furthermore, as a loanword we would expect strive to join the productive paradigm, i.e. the weak verbs, and strived in found from the 14th century on, but the first attested past tense is indeed strove. So in the case of strive the adoption of the strong verb pattern on the model of drive : drove vel sim. was pretty much instantaneous as soon as the word got into the Middle English lexicon.  

Bakker, Egbert, ed. 2010. A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language. Malden MA:Wiley-Blackwell.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Typo in Bibliography

Dariusz Piwowarczyk calls my attention to this error in the bibliography. In the entry for Matasović, Ranko. 1997 change latinskogo to latinskoga.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A False Quantity in the OLD

The OLD gives the verb sariō (sometimes written sarriō) 'I hoe' with long a.  As far as I can tell, this is wrong.  The verb apparently only occurs in verse one time at Plautus Captivi 663. The line is transmitted as nam semper occant prius quam sarriunt rustici, but sar- cannot be a heavy syllable and Nonius, who quotes the line, preserves the form sariunt and in fact this must be correct since the line only scans (ia6):

nam semper occant prius quam sariunt rustici
A      B    c       D   A    b b     C        d d A    B  c D

Why the spelling with a geminate r is so common and how it arises is another question, but there is no evidence for the macron of the OLD.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The Latin word for 'feather' is penna, which is undoubtedly a derivative of the PIE root *pet(h2)- 'fly'. If we knew nothing else it would be assumed that penna was from *pet-na, but the picture is complicated by the existence of the forms pesnis (Fest. p. 222L) and pesnas (Fest. p. 228 L). This has led some scholars, e.g. Meiser 1998:118, to suppose that penna is from *petsna and that the outcome of *-VtsnV- was not -V:nV-, as one might have expected, but -VnnV-. This is not totally impossible since pullus < *putslo- (cf. pusillus) shows that at least one *-VtsRV- sequence could lead to -VRRV-.  Szemerényi's idea, on the other hand, that penna is from *pēna by the Iuppiter rule is totally impossible.  But I think the Festus passage at 228 suggests a solution other than the one favored by Meiser.  The passage reads in Lindsay's edition:

Pennas antiquos fertur appellasse †peenas† ex Graeco quod illi πετηνὰ quae sunt volucria, dicant. Item easdem pesnas ut cesnas.

It is evident that what stands between the obels must be emended to pet(V)nas, as suggested by Mueller, since only if the form had a t in it would the derivation from Greek πετηνὰ make sense. The second sentence (item easdem pesnas ut cesnas) means that  Festus' source also knew an old form with s. Thus there were two old forms floating around petna and pesna, just like *putslo- (Lat. pullus) beside *putlo- (Osc. puklo-). Thus nothing stands in the way of deriving penna from *petna.  Whether *petsna would have given penna too or *pēna cannot be answered with certainty. The upshot is that I agree with what I wrote on pg. 168 fn. 3.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lesser-known Historical Grammars of Latin XV

Here is a work I have not been able to get my hands on: Σκάσσης, Ερρίκος Α., vol 1, 1969; vol. 2 1977. Ιστορικη γραμματικη της Λατινικης γλωσσης: μετα διαγραμματος της ιστοριας των Λατινικων γραμματικων ερευνων. Athens.

This work is available apparently only at the Library of Congress and the University of Sydney. The author, whom I have never heard of otherwise, was a Greek classicist who wrote, among other works, De Macrobii placitis philosophicis eorumque fontibus, and Observationes criticae in quosdam locos primi Ciceronis libri qui est de divinatione, both published in 1915. According to the Modern Greek Virtual Prosopography Skasses was born in 1884 at Ερμούπολη on the island of Syros and died in 1977 at Athens. This work appears to be the only treatment of Latin historical grammar in Greek. Has anyone ever seen this book?  I intend to take a look at it when I am in Washington, next month.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Too good to be true

A 2000 article by Pensabene et al. publishes a collection of inscribed archaic and Republican ceramic fragments discovered during excavations on the southwest of the Palatine.  Mainly they are one or two letters long and not very interesting, except for the history of the alphabet, but one (p. 198) reads [---]IEVS + [---]. Could this be restored as DIEVS? i.e. the old nominative of the  name for the sky(-god) which we know Latin inherited (e.g. nudius tertius).

Pensabene, Patrizio, et al. 2000. Ceramica graffita di età arcaica e repubblicana dall'area sud ovest del Palatino. Scienze dell'antichità. 10:162–247.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More on Zeta

On pg. 29, fn. 22 I mention that according to the testimony of Velius Longus the letter Z was not aliena (Latino) sermoni and was used in the Carmen Saliare.  Subsequently it was banished, perhaps by Appius Claudius Caecus, yielding its place in the alphabet to G, only to be reintroduced at the end of the alphabet in the 1st cent. BCE. In addition, I should have noted that there is one probable epigraphic example of original Z from the Very Old Latin period. A bowl found on the Esquiline in the area of the Villa Altieri in 1876 and dated not later than the VIIth century BCE bears the inscription ZKA.  If this text is Latin—the null hypothesis for a inscription of this date and time— this would be, to my knowledge, the sole epigraphical example of Z in its first run in the Latin alphabet. Colonna 1980 suggests that ZKA stands for SKA with Z for S as in Faliscan.

Colonna, Giovanni, 1980. L'aspetto epigrafico del Lapis Satricanus, in Lapis Satricanus (Archeologische Studien van he Nederlands Institut te Rome, Scripta Minora V) 's Gravenhage 41–69.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bibliographical Addendum

To the bibliography for Sabellic quoted on pg. 13 fn. 23 and pg. 14 fn. 28 add Triantafillis 2008.
This work, Le iscrizioni italiche dal 1979: Testi, retrospettiva, prospettive, takes Poccetti's 1979 collection as its starting point for updating.  It includes the major discoveries—really not that many truly qualify as major—in Sabellic epigraphy with comparison of earlier editions and some epigraphical and linguistic commentary.

Poccetti, Paolo, 1979. Nuovi documenti italici: a complemento del manuale di Emil Vetter. Pisa: Giardini.

Triantafillis, Elena. 2008. Le iscrizioni italiche dal 1979: Testi, retrospettiva, prospettive. Padua: Unipress.

A Curious Coincidence

In fn. 20 pg. 264 I mentioned that the form PRIMOɔENIA from Praeneste appears to use an inverted C to indicate a segment resulting from the palatalization of a velar.  In reading Alfred M. Tozzer's, A Maya Grammar, I learned that some early Spanish works represented the Mayan glottalized affricate /tsʔ/ with inverted c, i.e. ɔ.  In fact, this usage is found already in Juan Coronel's Arte en lengua de Maya (1620). Could this practice have been inspired by the conventional view that Claudius' symbol for /ps/was an antisigma, i.e. a reversed sigma? Coronel doesn't discuss the alphabet he uses.  According to Oliver 1949:253, who incidentally—I take the liberty of saying on my blog—was a thoroughly despicable person, the shape of this Claudian letter as transmitted in the manuscripts of Priscian was approximately  ɔc not ɔ, which was introduced by emendation of Buecheler.  If this is correct then the early Spanish padres could not have been directly inspired by Claudius' practice.  Oliver is certainly not correct in attributing the interpretation of antisigma as ɔ to Buecheler.  It goes back at least to A. L. Schneider according to Fr. Osann, but how much beyond that I can't say.

Oliver, Revilo P. 1949. The Claudian letter Ⱶ, American Journal of Archaeology 53:249–57
Tozzer, Alfred M. 1921. A Maya Grammar. Cambridge MA: Peabody Museum