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Etrscan alphabet (was: Value of Latin _x_)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Monday, April 16, 2001, 19:03
At 8:39 am +0000 14/4/01, Raymond Brown wrote:

>6 was certainly occasionally used [in Etruscan] as /f/, but this probably >came about from >the convention of using FH (i.e. {wh}) to denote /f/ rather than an actual >sound change. We know from inscriptions that the early Romans did the >same. Later, when the original pronunciation of F is forgotten, the H is >simply dropped from the spelling.
Gosh - I thought something wasn't quite right when I wrote that. It was the Romans who first used FH = /f/ and then dropped the H, writing just F. The Etruscans, in fact, retained F = /w/. It is true that at first they wrote /f/ as FH, but later invented a special symbol for /f/ which they placed at the end of their alphabet, namely:
>But, in fact, /f/ is more commonly >denoted in Etrscan by a symbol remarkably similar to our {8} of unknown >origin and placed by the Etruscans at the end of the alphabet.
As there's been so much interest in the Etruscan alphabet (even tho the X with which this thread began wasn't taken by the Romans from the Etruscan alphabet!), I thought this might help. I've looked more carefully at my sources. The Etruscans adopted an a late 8th cent. BC version of the western Greek alphabet from Euboian settlers in Italy. This was a very early version of the western alphabet and retained many archaic features, in particular the right-to-left direction of writing which the Etruscan retained throughout their history. The western Greek alphabet, if you recall, retained all the Phoenician symbols except _samk_ with the addition of the symbol for /u/ which was common to all Greek alphabets anf placed after _tau_. In addition the western Greeks had three more signs denoting /ph/, /ks/ and /kh/ (the eastern Greeks used the same symbols for /ph/, /kh/ and /ps/ respectively). The Etruscans adopted this late 8th western Greek alphabet, but dropped /b/, /d/, /o/ (the Etruscan had only one back vowel which they denoted as /u/) and /ks/. To begin with, they used FH ( i.e. {wh} ) to denote /f/, but soon devised a separate sign _8_ to denote this sound. So: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 A: ? b g d h w z X\ t` j k l m n s ?\ p s` q r S t B: a b g d e w z h th i k l m n - o p s k r s t C: a - k - e w z h th i k l m n - - p s' k r s t 23 24 25 26 27 A: - - - - - B: u ph ks kh C: u ph - kh f Where: A shows the values of the original 22 Phoenician letters B shows the values of the western Greek alphabet C shows the values of the Etruscan alphabet The symbols are SAMPA except that: (a) Semitic emphatic are shown as t` and s` rather than t_?\ and s_?\; also _shin_ is conventionally shown as /S/ tho Steg suggests it might have been a lateral sibilant, i.e. SAMPA [K], Welsh {ll} (b) the Greek & Etruscan aspirates are shown as /th/, /ph/ and /kh/ rather than /t_h/ etc. (c) 18 is shown conventionally in Etruscan as /s'/ since it is usually transcribed as s-acute. We do not know what the difference was between the two sibilants 18 and 21 in Etrscans, except they do appear to be phonemically distinct. /s/ 18 and 21 were used indifferently by the Greeks to denote /s/; the Etruscans used them for separate sounds as I said above. /k/ The Greeks (both western & eastern) originally used 19 before /o/ and /u/, and 11 elswhere. Later, they dropped 19 entirely, and used 11 exclusively for /k/. The Etruscans used 19 before /u/, 11 before /a/ and 3 elswhere. Eventually they dropped 3 and 19, using only 11 for /k/. Finally: The Roman X = /ks/ has nothing to do with the later standard Greek ksi, which was an eastern Greek development of 15; neither the western Greeks nor Etruscan used this symbol. The Roman letter is 25 which was used by western Greek settlers in southern Italy, but dropped by the Etruscans. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================