Thursday, November 4, 2010

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.


  1. Why do you separate aslaš from hktaonosi and ignore the interpuncts?

    Why call hktaonosi a "pertinentive" when its connection to the Etruscan type-I dative -si, expressing 'for' or 'to', is transparent?

    The claim that "soromš and aslaš are probably the subject phrase" is impossible. These terms are marked with the type-I genitive. Surely you don't believe Etruscan is an Indo-European language. Tyrrhenian languages are *not* Indo-European and one of the many ways they prove this is by consistently leaving nomino-accusative nouns bare.

  2. [i]...l’iscrizione, realizzata bustrophedon, è disposta su due linee...[/i]

    I found this on many places on the Internet.
    This explains the "missing" interpuncts.

    Frustrating: I could not find a picture.
    The first two words look like type-I genitives. Do we know enough of Lemnian to be certain that (unmarked) nomino-accusative nouns ending in sh can not exist?

  3. Zu, even Lemnian shows the same lack of nominative case ending as Etruscan if tavarśiu is interpreted as the accusative object of a verb aker (cf. Etruscan verbs in -ri). Also, marking nominatives in accusative-type languages is more typologically unusual than leaving them bare.

    From much evidence in Etruscan, the nominative and accusative cases were only ever distinguished in pronouns and demonstratives. Here again, however, the nominatives were always bare. Thus mi 'I' (subject) versus mini 'me' (object) and ca 'this' (subject) versus can (object).

  4. Glen, I know in Etruscan nouns have no ending for the nomino-accusative (and from Paleoglot I understood that in recent Etruscan enclitic demonstratives sometimes act as case endings).

    So I suppose neither did Lemnian.

    My question was if final -sh was strictly forbidden for a nomino-accusative.

    e.g.: My name, Hans, a normal Dutch nominative name, looks like a genitive of Han, also a normal Dutch nominative name*.

    The -sh in soromsh looks like a case ending, but if it is not, soromsh simply is a nomino-accusative. If it is a noun at all, of course. We need a picture. Vacat something?


    *The genitive of my name is written with an apostrophe after the s (Hans'). To avoid confusion the genitive of Han is sometimes "wrongly" written Han's. There is no difference in pronunciation.

  5. Zu: "My question was if final -sh was strictly forbidden for a nomino-accusative."

    It's not a priori impossible for such a thing to occur, no. But naturally a lack of proof would forbid the claim. The ample evidence for endingless nominatives in Etruscan further dooms it.

    Noun stems in -is are too often mistaken as "nominatives", yet corresponding genitive forms in -isal disprove this (eg. nomino-accusative natis [TLE 405] vs. genitive natisal [TLE 419]).

  6. Apparently, the main verb is hel-o-ke, with -o corresponding to the Etruscan past participle suffix -u, and -ke corresponding to the Etruscan past suffix -ce.

    However, I disagree with the translation of hel- as 'to slay, to kill' which Glen does in his blog:

  7. There is no interpunct between aslaš and hktaonosi but they are on separate lines, as I should have indicated. As for the interpretation and terminology you will have to take that up with de Simone whose views I am merely reporting. de Simone,at any rate, does not identify the š as a marker of any case.

  8. With the photo nicely buried on some printed page rather than online where it belongs, "on separate lines" can mean little to me. Depending on the context, soromš and aslaš may be two genitive objects or a single object with Suffixaufnahme.

    "de Simone,at any rate, does not identify the š as a marker of any case.

    Is De Simone the only scholar now? I read multiple sources. The genitive is on the Lemnos Stele: Hulaieš naφuθ "Hulaie's grandson".

  9. See? This is precisely my complaint about academia. Photos are helpful but often hidden or take their sweet time to trickle down to the masses. This is unacceptable in the internet age and universities seem to be falling behind.

    We now see that the above inscription was improperly recorded since the first two items of the above transliteration are in fact the *last* two. Nonetheless, this changes nothing about heloke (or more accurately heluke since omikron is /u/) being a preterite verb or that it's to H(e)kta(i)un that the object is dedicated. Now if only we could find the accompanying statue. Where, I wonder, did that run off to? (I know, I know. The black market probably. Grumble, grumble, grumble! Hehe.)