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.