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

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bibliographical Addendum

To the bibliographical tips offered in the chapter on Vulgar Latin and Proto-Romance (pg. 503) add Kramer 1976, which is a very useful collection of grammatical and literary passages touching on the pronunciation of Vulgar Latin.

Kramer, Johannes. 1976. Literarische Quellen zur Aussprache des Vulgärlateins. Meisenheim am Glan: Anton Hain.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Add the following to fn. 48 on pg. 511:

For a detail treatment of prothesis before #sC as well as other later protheses see Sampson 2009.

Sampson, Rodney. 2009. Vowel Prosthesis in Romance. A Diachronic Study. New York: Oxford University Press.

Geminate Consonants

On pg. 66 I note that Latin had distinctive long or geminate consonants and give some minimal pairs, but I should have added some significant restrictions: 

First, the only geminates that occur morpheme-internally are the voiceless obstruents /p, t, k, s/ and the sonorants /m, n, l, r, j/.  Voiced geminate stops do occur, but only at a morpheme boundary (agger 'earthwork' < *ad-ger, ad-dō 'I add', ab-bibō ~ ad-bibō) and in loanwords (abbas 'abbot' post-classical from Greek from Aramaic, addax (a type of gazelle), an African word according to Plin. 11.124).  Geminate f has a similar limited distribution (of-ferō, suf(f)es 'chief magistrate of Carthage' from Punic), but there is offa 'small lump' whose origin is unknown.

Second, in Classical Latin geminates are limited to medial intervocalic position with the  exception of the neuter hocc < *hod-ke, which is always a heavy syllable in Latin poetry unless shortened by IS.  Priscian (Keil 1.592) claims et sic in antiquissimis codicibus inuenitur bis c scriptum, but Velius Longus explicitly contradicts this (Keil 7.54: unum c scribimus et duo audimus).  There don't seem to be any certain transmitted literary examples of this spelling in absolute final position but OCC is found on CIL 8.17938 from Thamugadas, present-day Timgad, Algeria. In any case hocc is at most a partial exception since it formed a phonological phrase with the following word.  In Old Latin there were more final geminates to judge from Plautine scansions like miless, ess, corr, etc. See Questa 2007:20 for examples.