Liburnian language

Liburnian language

states=Western Croatia
region= NorthWestern Balkans
extinct=during 1st century AD

The Liburnian language is an extinct language which was spoken by the ancient Liburnians, who occupied Liburnia in classical times. The Liburnian language is reckoned as an Indo-European language, in the Centum group. It appears to have been on the same Indo-European branch as the Venetic language.

No writings in Liburnian are known however. The grouping of Liburnian with Venetic is based on the Liburnian onomastics. In particular, Liburnian anthroponyms show strong Venetic affinities, with many common or similar names and a number of common roots, such as "Vols-", "Volt-", and "Host-" (<PIE "*ghos-ti-", "stranger, guest, host"). Liburnian and Venetic names also share suffixes in common, such as "-icus" and "-ocus".

These features set Liburnian and Venetic apart from the Illyrian onomastic province, though this does not preclude the possibility that Venetic-Liburnian and Illyrian may have been closely related, belonging to the same Indo-European branch. In fact, a number of linguists argue that this is the case, based on similar phonetic features and names in common between Venetic-Liburnian on the one hand and Illyrian on the other.

The Liburnians were conquered by the Romans in 35 BC. The Liburnian language eventually was replaced by Latin, undergoing language death probably very early in the Common era.



The single name plus patronymic formula common among Illyrians is rare among Liburnians. In a region where the Roman three-name formula ("praenomen", "nomen gentile" , "cognomen": "Caius Julius Caesar") spread at an early date, a native two-name formula appears in several variants.Personal name plus family name is found in southern Liburnia, while personal name plus family name plus patronymic is found throughout the Liburnian area, for example: "Avita Suioca Vesclevesis", "Velsouna Suioca Vesclevesis f(ilia)", "Avita Aquillia L(uci) f(ilia)", "Volsouna Oplica Pl(a)etoris f(ilia)", "Vendo Verica Triti f(ilius)".
*Avitus (masc.), Avita (fem.)
*Hostiducis (gen.)
*Plaetor, gen. Plaetoris. Found among the Veneti as "Plaetorius"; among the Illyrians as "Plator", genitive "Platoris". Attested as "Pletor" in an inscription found in the area of Ljubljana in Slovenia.
*Velsouna (fem.)
*Volsetis (gen.)
*Volsounus (masc.), Volsouna (fem.)
*Voltimesis (gen.)

The majority of the preceding names are unknown among the eastern and southern neighbors (Dalmatae, etc.) of the Liburnians, yet many have Venetic complements. The following names are judged to be exclusively Liburnian, yet one ("Buzetius") is also attested among the neighboring Iapodes to the north and northeast:

*Caminis (gen.)
*Granp (...). Attested only in abbreviated form.
*Lastimeis (gen. ?)
*Vesclevesis (gen.). The etymology is established. It is a compound, the initial element "Ves-" from PIE "*wesu-", "good"; the second element "-cleves-" (genitive suffix "-is") from PIE "*kleu-", "to hear".


*Anzotica. The Liburnian Venus.


ee also

*Venetic language
*Illyrian languages


*Wilkes, John. "The Illyrians." Blackwell Books, 1992.
**Untermann, J., "Venetisches in Dalmatien", Godišnjak (Annuaire) CBI, Sarejevo. 5, 5-22.

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