Douglas G Kilday acnasvers at
Sun Mar 25 10:26:43 UTC 2001

David L. White (15 Mar 2001) wrote:

>Geography is becoming confused.  I believe Hamp's original words (it
>was 10-15 years ago) were something like "mountains of central Italy".  The
>Alps have nothing to do with anything.  I would gues the phenomenon must be
>the same thing recently pointed out as existing in Tuscan, though if it is
>truly general to Tuscan we must wonder why it did not become established in
>standard Italian.  My point was that aspiration is known from that general
>area, and might one way or another explain the evident /th/ of "Thouskoi".

In your earlier posting, you must have intended "Apennine" instead of
"Pennine". I don't know whether the modern aspiration goes all the way back
to Pelasgian substrate (to whose influence I have tentatively ascribed
<Thouskoi>), but I doubt it. I am inclined to regard the modern aspiration
as a post-ancient result of heavy recessive stress-accent in these dialects,
itself the legacy of Etruscan substrate or adstrate.

(Those with elephantine memories may recall that I once said "Etruscan does
not qualify as a substrate". In that posting I was dealing with the
situation circa 700-450 BCE, not with later Latin or Italian dialects.)

>But I could have sworn I saw "Thoursk-" cited (as Umbrian) at one
>point.  What is this?

It's nothing _I_ cited; the Umbrian example is <Turskum numem> 'the Etruscan
nation' = Lat. <Tuscum nomen>. I won't point fingers, but _someone_ appears
to have conflated Umbr. Tursk- with Late Gk. Thousk-.

>I would say _originally_ a small elite.  People can easily shift
>their ethnic identity.  The genetic evidence shows that this clearly
>happened in Turkey, where people who now think of themselves as Turks had
>ancestors who thought of themseves as Greeks (who in turn probably had
>ancestors who thought of themselves as Phrygians, etc... )  I note that
>class divisions in Etruscan society seem to have been unusually rigid, with
>no true middle class.  This might be because class divisions went back to
>earlier ethnic divisions re-analyzed, there being great efforts to keep the
>conquered in their place by erecting uncrossable class barriers.  Otherwise
>the failure of Etruscan society to develop a middle class comparable to
>what existed among the Greeks and Romans is somewhat strange.

Onomastic evidence indicates that class-barriers could be overcome. "Lethe"
was a name sometimes bestowed on freedmen, and there are examples (such as
the famous Larth Felsnas of Tarquinii) showing that sons of "Lethe" were
considered free citizens with their own "nomina gentilicia". Furthermore,
the very common occurrence of Etruscanized Italic gentilicia and cognomina,
ranging from Early Archaic (7th cent.) up to Late Etruscan (1st cent.) shows
that ethnic background was no bar to acquiring wealth and status.

There had to be a considerable middle class in Etruria. You can't expect
slaves or serfs to function as the artisans, merchants, and clerks required
by this type of society. To our knowledge, the Etruscan middle class never
acquired the political clout of its counterparts in Athens or Rome, but that
is not strange. It takes centuries of experimentation with riots,
assassinations, banishment of plutocrats, plebeian secessions, and the like
for any middle class to achieve significant political power, and to forge
the uneasy power-sharing arrangement with the upper class that some of us
take for granted. As you know, once Rome became powerful, its leaders did
whatever they could to maintain the upper-class political monopoly in the
Etruscan city-states, squelching whatever experimentation was taking place.
Likewise, in the good old USA, we (I don't mean "you" and "me") spend a good
chunk of disposable GDP pulling strings in other parts of the world, usually
attempting to preserve the "status quo".

>> I don't see any compensatory lengthening in Epic genitives like
>> <megaroio>, where we have /oyo/ < */ohyo/ < */osyo/.

>Nor in the ancestor of /naio/, from /nasyo/.  With dentals followed
>by /y/ it appears (to me) that what happend was (in effect) metathesis, as
>in /melaina/ from /melanya/, followed, where applicable, by /s/-loss:
>/nasyo/ -> /naiso/ -> /naio/.  In such a sequence compensatory lengthening
>would not be expected, as the /s/, by the time it is lost, has ceased to be
>         The process I posit would have to be later than the change of
>original /sy/.  But as the word for Troy was clearly not part of the IE
>inheritance, I see no great problem with that, not counting ad-hocness.
>But for foreign borrowings to have unique sequences, regarded as at least
>awkward, is not unheard of.  There would have been a second loss of /sy/
>phonologically parallel with the loss of /sw/, which _did_ involve
>compensatory lengthening, probably because it did not involve (de facto)
>metathesis.  I admit that this probably did not happen, preferring option
>#2 below, but I do think there is nothing _fatally_ wrong with it.

Your proposal was /trosy-/ > /trohy-/ > /trooy-/ with later loss of /y/ when
not re-analyzable as suffixal. The first form, being foreign, evaded your
postulated metathesis, so no /troys-/. Now if memory serves, Archaic
Corinthian preserves <hw> (i.e. heth + waw) for earlier */sw/, so I'm not
about to disagree with your general treatment of lengthening. I just don't
like the necessity of invoking foreignness in order to evade one
sound-change, then insisting on "naturalization" in order to obey subsequent

>In sum, for Etruscan /o-u/ to have sounded like short /u/ to some Greeks (or
>other people) of one period and dialect and like long /o/ to other Greeks (or
>other people) of another period and dialect would be not at all suprising.

Different-sounding _quality_ wouldn't surprise me. Different-sounding
_quantity_ would surprise me a lot. We're talking about languages in which
long and short vowels were distinct.


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