R: Suffixal -sk-

Douglas G Kilday acnasvers at hotmail.com
Sun Mar 4 07:14:09 UTC 2001

Alberto Lombardo (9 Feb 2001) wrote:

>>> I'd like just add that the suffix -asko is the more typical
>>> locative Ligurian suffix; it seems to have had IE links.
>>> The meaning must have been "high, elevated place".


>> Could you elaborate on the semantic assessment? If it is the suffix of
>> Italian bergamasco "from Bergamo", I find it hard to see that the
>> adjective is any higher or more elevated than the base-word
>> itself.


>There's a big difference between the ligurian and the italian suffix. The
>first one is attested in the name of many locations in the big ancient
>ligurian area, and it also still exists in many names of mountains and
>elevated countryside villages, like Carasco, Amborzasco, Borzonasca and so
>on. The italian suffix, like in "bergamasco", must have had a more recent
>source, and many different meanings too. It sounds as the general adjective
>for the substantive "Bergamo". It means "from Bergamo", "of Bergamo" and
>also "the area around Bergamo" (in this case it's obviously a subst.)


As someone has already pointed out, the _Ligurian_ suffix was also used to
form hydronyms (Neviasca, Vinelasca, Veraglasca, Tulelasca in the Sententia
Minuciorum, CIL I{2}.584) which are not "high" or "elevated". The apparent
association of the suffix with high places is best explained by selective
preservation. Invaders usually take charge of the lowlands first, and their
more intensive agriculture allows a higher population density there. Hence
it is not surprising that altitude favors survival for substratal toponyms.

The hydronym Tulelasca is particularly interesting because the first element
appears to be the substratal word for 'boundary', occurring in Umbrian as
<tuder> and in Etruscan as <tular>, as well as in other toponyms. The
meaning is thus 'belonging to the boundary', and the suffix is purely
generic, used to form substantives from simple nouns. This harmonizes with
proposed etymologies of <carrasco/a> in terms of a root meaning 'stone',
'stony ground', 'barren place', or the like.

Ligurian -asca seems to be the counterpart of Pelasgian -ssos, in that the
latter was also used to form toponyms, hydronyms, and phytonyms (Parnassos,
Ilissos, kuparissos, etc.).

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