Messapian language

Messapian language

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Messapian is an extinct Indo-European language
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 of South-eastern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, once spoken in the region of Apulia
Apulia
Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises , and...

. It was spoken by the three Iapygian
Iapyges
The Iapyges or Iapygians were an Indo-European people who inhabited the heel of Italy before being absorbed by the Romans.-Identity:The Iapyges have unknown origins but could have been from Illyria....

 tribes of the region: the Messapians
Messapii
thumb|220px|Messapic ceramic, Archaeological Museum of [[Oria, Italy|Oria]], Apulia.The Messapii were an ancient tribe that inhabited, in historical times, the south-eastern peninsula or "heel" of Italy , known variously in ancient times as Calabria, Messapia and Iapygia...

, the Dauni and the Peucetii
Peucetii
The Peucetii were a tribe who were living in Apulia, southern Italy, in the country behind Barion...

.

The language has been preserved in about 300 inscriptions dating from the 6th to the 1st century BC.

Messapian may have been one of the Illyrian languages, which were spoken mainly on the other side of the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

. This speculation is based on personal names found on tomb inscriptions and on classical references, since hardly any traces of the Illyrian language are left.

Messapian became extinct after the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 conquered the region of Apulia and assimilated the inhabitants.

Inscriptions


Few if any Messapic inscriptions have been definitely deciphered.

From the Vaste inscription (Corpus Inscriptionum Messapicarum 149), a passage that probably consists mostly of personal names:
klohi zis thotoria marta pido vastei basta veinan aran in daranthoa vasti staboos xohedonas daxtassi vaanetos inthi trigonoxo a staboos xohetthihi dazimaihi beiliihi inthi rexxorixoa kazareihi xohetthihi toeihithi dazohonnihi inthi vastima daxtas kratheheihi inthi ardannoa poxxonnihi a imarnaihi


For this other Messapic inscription (Grotta della Poesia, Melendugno,
Lecce
Lecce
Lecce is a historic city of 95,200 inhabitants in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the second province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Puglia...

), a translation is given from Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

:
klauhi Zis
Dekias Artahias
Thautouri andirahho
daus apistathi vinaihi

Hear Zeus,
Dekias Artahias
to the infernal Thaotor
set up (the rest untranslated)


Here, klauhi probably means "hear" (<PIE
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 *kleu-, "to hear"); Zis has been interpreted as the Messapic Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

; Dekias is a first name (compare Latin Decius); Artahias is a patronym or nomen gentile with the Messapic genitive -as suffix; Thautori is inferred to be an infernal god because of its placement next to what appears to be an adjective, andirahho (perhaps from PIE *ndher-, "under"). The name is similar to Tartarus, a classical name for the realm of Hades.

Another Messapic inscription from Galatina
Galatina
Galatina , known before the unification of Italy as San Pietro in Galatina, is a town and comune in the Italian province of Lecce in Apulia.Among the most important cities in Salento, it is situated some 21 km south of the city of Lecce....

 is dated to the 2nd century BC:
klohi zis anthos thotorridas ana aprodita apa ogrebis


The separation of the last two elements is uncertain (apa, ogrebis, as shown here). Klohi (as klauhi in the preceding inscription) probably means "listen, hear". Zis may be the Messapic Zeus, as in the preceding inscription. Aprodita is a loanword from Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

. Anthos Thotorridas is a Messapic anthroponym, showing a personal name plus patronymic or nomen gentile in the genitive (-as). It may be related to "Thautori", mentioned in the Vaste inscription.

The Messapian language is preserved in a scanty group of perhaps fifty inscriptions, of which only a few contain more than proper names, and in a few glosses in ancient writers collected by Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen was a German classical scholar, historian, jurist, journalist, politician, archaeologist, and writer generally regarded as the greatest classicist of the 19th century. His work regarding Roman history is still of fundamental importance for contemporary research...

 (Unteritalische Dialekte, p. 70). Unluckily very few originals of the inscriptions are now in existence, though some few remain in the museum at Taranto. The only satisfactory transcripts are those given by:
  1. Mommsen (loc. cit.)
  2. John P Droop in the Annual of the British School at Athens (1905–1906), xli. 137, who includes, for purposes of comparison, as the reader should be warned, some specimens of the 'unfortunately numerous class of forged inscriptions.


A large number of the inscriptions collected by Gamurrini
Gian Francesco Gamurrini
Gian Francesco Gamurrini , an Italian archeologist and historian, bibliophile and connoisseur from an aristocratic Aretine family, found his interest in history initially piqued when he was selected by lot, at the age of 25, Rector of the Fraternità dei Laici, an ancient confraternity of Arezzo,...

 in the appendices to Fabretti's Corpus inscriptionum italicarum are forgeries, and the text of the rest is negligently reported. It is therefore safest to rely on the texts collected by Mommsen, cumbered though they are by the various readings given to him by various authorities. Despite these difficulties, however, some facts of considerable importance have been established.

The inscriptions, so far as it is safe to judge from the copies of the older finds and from Droop's facsimiles of the newer, are all in the Tarentine-Ionic alphabet (with for v and for h). For limits of date 400-150 BC may be regarded as approximately probable; the two most important inscriptions—those of Brindisi and Vaste may be assigned, provisionally, to the 3rd century BC. Mommsen's first attempt at dealing with the inscriptions and the language attained solid, if not very numerous, results,
chief of which were the genitival character of the endings -aihi and -ihi; and the conjunctional value of inthi (loc. cit. 79-84 sg(1).

Since 1850 little progress has been made. The Norwegian scholar Alf Torp
Alf Torp
Alf Torp was a Norwegian philologist and author. He is most known for his work with Indo-European and Nordic language history and meaning of ancient languages.-Biography:...

 (1853–1916) in Indogermanische Forschungen (1895), V, 195, deals fully with the two inscriptions just mentioned, and practically sums up all that is either certain or probable in the conjectures of his predecessors. Hardly more than a few words can be said to have been separated and translated with certainty--kalatoras (masc. gen. sing.) "of a herald" (written upon a herald's staff that was once in the Naples Museum); aran (acc: sing. fem.) "arable land"; mazzes, "greater" (neut. acc. sing.), the first two syllables of the Latin maiestas; while tepise (3rd sing.
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 aorist indic.) "placed" or "offered"; and forms corresponding to the article (ta = Greek to) seem also probable.

Some phonetic characteristics of the language may be regarded as quite certain:
  1. the change of PIE
    Pie
    A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

     short -ǒ- to -ǎ- (as in the last syllable of the genitive kalatoras)
  2. of final -m to -n (as in aran)
  3. of -ni- to -nn- (as in the Messapian praenomen
    Praenomen
    The praenomen was a personal name chosen by the parents of a Roman child. It was first bestowed on the dies lustricus , the eighth day after the birth of a girl, or the ninth day after the birth of a boy...

     Dazohonnes vs. the Illyrian
    Illyrian languages
    The Illyrian languages are a group of Indo-European languages that were spoken in the western part of the Balkans in former times by groups identified as Illyrians: Ardiaei, Delmatae, Pannonii, Autariates, Taulanti...

     praenomen Dazonius; the Messapian genitive Dazohonnihi vs. Illyrian genitive Dasonii, etc.)
  4. of -ti- to -tth- (as in the Messapian praenomen Dazetthes vs. Illyrian Dazetius; the Messapian genitive Dazetthihi vs. the Illyrian genitive Dazetii; from a Dazet- stem common in Illyrian and Messapian)
  5. of -si- to -ss- (as in Messapian Vallasso for Vallasio, a derivative from the shorter name Valla)
  6. the loss of final -d (as in tepise), and probably of final -t (as in -des, perhaps meaning "set", from PIE *dhe-, "to set, put")
  7. the change of voiced aspirates in Proto-Indo-European
    Proto-Indo-European language
    The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

     to plain voiced consonants: PIE *dh- or *-dh- to d- or -d- (Mes. anda < PIE *en-dha- < PIE *en-, "in"; compare Gr. entha) and PIE *bh- or *-bh- to b- or -b- (Mes. beran *bher-, "to bear")
  8. -au- before (at least some) consonants becomes -ā-: Bāsta, from Bausta
  9. the form penkaheh—which Torp very probably identifies with the Oscan
    Oscan language
    Oscan is a term used to describe both an extinct language of southern Italy and the language group to which it belonged.The Oscan language was spoken by a number of tribes, including the Samnites, the Aurunci, the Sidicini, and the Ausones. The latter three tribes were often grouped under the name...

     stem pompaio--a derivative of the Proto-Indo-European numeral *penkwe-, "five".


If this last identification be correct it would show, that in Messapian (as in Venetic) the original labiovelars (kw, gw, ghw) were retained as gutturals and not converted into labials. The change of o to a is exceedingly interesting, being associated with the northern branches of Indo-European such as Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

, Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

 and Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

, and not appearing in any other southern dialect hitherto known. The Greek Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

appears in the form Aprodita (dat. sing., fem.). The use of double consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

s, which has been already pointed out in the Messapian inscriptions, has been very acutely connected by Deecke with the tradition that the same practice was introduced at Rome by the poet Ennius
Ennius
Quintus Ennius was a writer during the period of the Roman Republic, and is often considered the father of Roman poetry. He was of Calabrian descent...

 who came from the Messapian town Rudiae (Festus, p. 293 M).

The proper names in the inscriptions show the regular Italic system of gentile nomen preceded by a personal praenomen; and that some inscriptions show the interesting feature that appears in the Tables of Heraclea of a crest or coat of arms, such as a triangle or an anchor, peculiar to particular families. The same reappears in the Iovilae of Capua
Capua
Capua is a city and comune in the province of Caserta, Campania, southern Italy, situated 25 km north of Naples, on the northeastern edge of the Campanian plain. Ancient Capua was situated where Santa Maria Capua Vetere is now...

 and Cumae
Cumae
Cumae is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy , and the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl...

.

Messapian words

Messapian lexical item Proposed cognates
Bréntion (from Messapian bréndon, bréntion) (Brindisi
Brindisi
Brindisi is a city in the Apulia region of Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, off the coast of the Adriatic Sea.Historically, the city has played an important role in commerce and culture, due to its position on the Italian Peninsula and its natural port on the Adriatic Sea. The city...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

)
Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 brinde "elk", Latvian
Latvian language
Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

 briêdis "deer", Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

 briedis, "elk", Old Prussian
Old Prussian language
Prussian is an extinct Baltic language, once spoken by the inhabitants of the original territory of Prussia in an area of what later became East Prussia and eastern parts of...

 braydis, "elk", Thracian
Thracian language
The Thracian language was the Indo-European language spoken in ancient times in Southeastern Europe by the Thracians, the northern neighbors of the Ancient Greeks. The Thracian language exhibits satemization: it either belonged to the Satem group of Indo-European languages or it was strongly...

 Brendike http://soltdm.com/geo/arts/eisdikaia/eisdikaia_r.htm (which was a Thracian toponym located just east of Dikaia
Dikaia
Dikaia is a village in the northwestern part of the Evros Prefecture in Greece located west of Turkey and Edirne, southeast of Ormenio and Svilengrad, Bulgaria, north of Alexandroupoli and east of Kurdzhali, Bulgaria. Athens, the Greek capital, is nearly 1,100 km southwest...

) Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

 bri, brî (pl. brirë, brinë) "horn; antler" [< late Proto-Albanian *brina < earlier *brena], or the Albanian word Dren for Deer. The Messapian word is glossed early as "deer", then narrowed in meaning to a deer's head (cf. Strabo caput cervi), then possibly by metonymy to its antlers in early Albanian, and by extension any excrescence, thus modern "horn".
Menzana cf. Albanian mëz "colt"
penkaheh Torp identifies this as the Messapian word for the number "five", from PIE *penkwe-, "five" (Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

penki - five)

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