Etruscan language

Extinct language of ancient Italy / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Etruscan (/ɪˈtrʌskən/ ih-TRUSK-ən)[2] was the language of the Etruscan civilization in the ancient region of Etruria[lower-alpha 1], in Etruria Padana[lower-alpha 2] and Etruria Campana[lower-alpha 3] in what is now Italy. Etruscan influenced Latin but was eventually completely superseded by it. The Etruscans left around 13,000 inscriptions that have been found so far, only a small minority of which are of significant length; some bilingual inscriptions with texts also in Latin, Greek, or Phoenician; and a few dozen purported loanwords. Attested from 700 BC to AD 50, the relation of Etruscan to other languages has been a source of long-running speculation and study, with it mostly being referred to as one of the Tyrsenian languages, at times as an isolate and a number of other less well-known theories.

Quick facts: Etruscan, Native to, Region, Extinct, La...
The Cippus Perusinus, a stone tablet bearing 46 lines of incised Etruscan text, one of the longest extant Etruscan inscriptions. 3rd or 2nd century BC.
Native toAncient Etruria
RegionItalian Peninsula
Extinct>50 AD[1]
  • Etruscan
Etruscan alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3ett

The consensus among linguists and Etruscologists is that Etruscan was a Pre-Indo-European[3][4][5] and Paleo-European language,[6][7] closely related to the Raetic language that was spoken in the Alps,[8][9][10][11][12] and to the Lemnian language, attested in a few inscriptions on Lemnos.[13][14]

Grammatically, the language is agglutinating, with nouns and verbs showing suffixed inflectional endings and some gradation of vowels. Nouns show five cases, singular and plural numbers, with a gender distinction between animate and inanimate in pronouns.

Etruscan appears to have had a cross-linguistically common phonological system, with four phonemic vowels and an apparent contrast between aspirated and unaspirated stops. The records of the language suggest that phonetic change took place over time, with the loss and then re-establishment of word-internal vowels, possibly due to the effect of Etruscan's word-initial stress.

Etruscan religion influenced that of the Romans, and many of the few surviving Etruscan-language artifacts are of votive or religious significance. Etruscan was written in an alphabet derived from the Greek alphabet; this alphabet was the source of the Latin alphabet, as well as other alphabets in Italy and probably beyond. The Etruscan language is also believed to be the source of certain important cultural words of Western Europe such as military and person, which do not have obvious Indo-European roots.