Venetic language

Venetic language

region=Northeastern Italy
extinct=1st century AD

Venetic is an extinct Indo-European language that was spoken in ancient times in the North-Italian Veneto and modern Slovenia [The Illyrians by J. J. Wilkes [,M1 Page 77] ISBN 0631198075] , between the Po River delta and the southern fringe of the Alps.

The language is attested by over 300 short inscriptions dating between the 6th century BC and the 1st century. Its speakers are identified with the ancient people called "Veneti" by the Romans and "Enetoi" by the Greeks. It became extinct around the 1st century when the local inhabitants were assimilated into the Roman sphere.

Venetic should not be confused with Venetian, a Romance language presently spoken in the same general region.

Linguistic classification

Venetic is a centum language. The inscriptions use a variety of the Northern Italic alphabet, similar to the Old Italic alphabet.

The most prominent scholars who have deciphered Venetic inscriptions or otherwise contributed to the knowledge of the Venetic language are Carl Pauli, Hans Krahe, Giovan Battista Pellegrini, Aldo Luigi Prosdocimi and Michel Lejeune. In recent years, Loredana Calzavara Capuis and Anna Maria Chieco Bianchi have further contributed to Venetic studies.

The exact relationship of Venetic to other Indo-European languages is still being investigated, but the majority of scholars agree that Venetic, aside from Liburnian, was closest to the Italic languages (a group that includes Latin, Oscan and Umbrian). Venetic may also have been related to the Illyrian languages once spoken in the western Balkans, though the theory that Illyrian and Venetic were closely related is debated by current scholarship.

Some important parallels with the Germanic languages have also been noted, especially in pronominal forms:

:Venetic: "ego" = I, accusative "mego" = me :Gothic: "ik", accusative "mik":(Latin: "ego", accusative "me")

:Venetic: "sselboisselboi" = to oneself:Old High German: "selb selbo":(Latin: "sibi ipsi")

:(Pokorny 1959: 708-709, 882-884)

For a detailed discussion on the position of Venetic within Indo-European, see Lejeune (1974; Chapitre VIII: La position du vénète, p. 163-173).


Venetic had about six or even seven noun cases and four conjugations (similar to Latin). About 60 words are known, but some were borrowed from Latin ("liber.tos." < "libertus") or Etruscan. Many of them show a clear Indo-European origin, such as "vhraterei" < PIE "*bhraterei" = to the brother.


In Venetic, PIE stops "*bh", "*dh" and "*gh" developed to /f/, /f/ and /h/, respectively, in word-initial position (as in Latin and Osco-Umbrian), but to /b/, /d/ and /g/, respectively, in word-internal intervowel position (as in Latin). For Venetic, at least the developments of "*bh" and "*dh" are clearly attested. Faliscan and Osco-Umbrian have /f/, /f/ and /h/ internally as well.

There are also indications of the developments of PIE "*gw-" > "w-", PIE "*kw" > "*kv" and PIE "*gwh-" > "f-" in Venetic, all of which are parallel to Latin, as well as the regressive assimilation of PIE sequence "*" > "*", a feature also found in Italic and Celtic (Lejeune 1974: 141-144).

Language sample

A sample inscription in Venetic, found on a bronze nail at Este (Es 45):

:Venetic: "mego donasto śainatei reitiiai porai egeotora aimoi ke louderobos":Latin (literal): "me donavit sanatrici Reitiae bonae Egetora [pro] Aemo liberis-que":English: Egetora gave me to Good Reitia the Healer on behalf of Aemus and the children

:(Prosdocimi in Pellegrini 1967: 149-150)

Another inscription, found on a "situla" (vessel such as an urn or bucket) at Cadore (Ca 4 Valle):

:Venetic: "eik goltanos doto louderai kanei":Latin (literal): "hic Goltanus dedit Liberae Cani":English: Goltanus sacrificed this for the virgin Kanis

:(Prosdocimi in Pellegrini 1967: 464-468)

See also

* Venedes
* Liburnian language
* Italic languages
* Illyrian languages
* Indo-European languages


* Michel Lejeune, "Manuel de la langue vénète". Carl Winter - Universitätsverlag. Heidelberg, 1974.
* Mallory, Adams, "Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture", 1997.
* Julius Pokorny, "Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch". Bern (1959).
* Giovanni Battista Pellegrini, Aldo Luigi Prosdocimi, "La Lingua Venetica". I- Le iscrizioni, II- Studi. Padova, 1967.

External links

* [ Venetic Grammar] from the Ancient Languages Wikia
* [ Venetic] from Voices of Stone site.
* [ Víteliú: The Languages of Ancient Italy] .
* [ Venetic inscriptions] Adolfo Zavaroni.
* [ Indo-European database: The Venetic language] Cyril Babaev.

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  • Venetic — /veuh net ik/, n. an Indo European language of NE Italy, possibly belonging to the Italic branch, known from inscriptions from the 4th to 2nd centuries B.C. [1875 80; < L Veneticus, equiv. to Venet(i) the Veneti + icus IC] * * * …   Universalium

  • Venetic — ISO 639 3 Code : xve ISO 639 2/B Code : ISO 639 2/T Code : ISO 639 1 Code : Scope : Individual Language Type : Ancient …   Names of Languages ISO 639-3

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