Schleicher's Fable Proto-Italic corrections [moved Admin]

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Schleicher's Fable Proto-Italic corrections [moved Admin]

Postby administrator on Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:57 pm

Originally posted by Etienne in the Indo-European language news:

1) In the proto-Italic version you have forms such as OINUM, OWJUM and AGRUM, which exhibit the raising of IE syllable-final short /o/ to /u/: this is certainly too recent to be proto-Italic (indeed, we have Old Latin texts with -OM, -OS).

2) Also, I don’t quite understand on what basis you assume aspirate /bh/ to have become voiceless in PHERONTEM and remained voiced in WIDENTBHUS.
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From Proto-Indo-European to Italic dialects

Postby indoeuropean on Wed Feb 06, 2008 6:44 pm

Hi and thank you for your comments, Etienne!

Firstly, I am (mostly) responsible for the Schleicher Fable translations, and therefore they might very well be wrong. Some of them are just word-by-word translations based on the available vocabulary or proto-language phonetic reconstructions :oops:

However, I've been promised some weeks ago a thorough revision of the Fable by Indo-Europeanist F. López-Menchero, who revised our grammar's Proto-Indo-European reconstruction. I hope we can get then a more correct, sufficiently commented fable in the different proto-languages in the next weeks.

Answering your corrections:

1) I knew that the shift from -o- to -u- was late in the Italic development; in fact, I think I wrote about the oblique cases in Old Latin in the book (and possibly some Old Latin words) with -o-.

We have nevertheless (at least) O.Lat oinos (posibly /öinös/? that evolved to Lat. ūnus), Osc. uinus, Umb. uns. Therefore, we have a common, old trend of a shift from IE -o- to Italic -u- (through an intermediate closed -ö-?), which began after the Proto-Italo-Celtic division - if there was such a linguistic community.

I deemed it better to show the differences between Italic and Celtic concerning the -o-, specially in endings. I considered the possibility of writing *uinus, or even *öinös, but I thought it was more easily understood if left so, i.e. Ita. oinus (read it "oinös" if you like), as it seems that the closed -ö- succeeded in word endings in all Italic dialects, while it didn't appear in other positions in Latin.

More or less the same can be said of Lat. owis, Umb. uwem, or Italic ager.


2) About the evolution of PIE -bh- in Italic, I just tried to show the following:

2.1) -bh- generally gave -f-, hence we can assume that it evolved (as in Greek) from -bh- to -ph- and then to -f-, as in Lat. fero, Umb. fertu.

2.2) While -f- is the common output of PIE -bh-, there is a diverse evolution in Latino-Faliscan, as the common ending -bhos shows, giving mostly -bus in Latin.

I tried to show both phonetic evolutions, giving a hypothetic intermediate (common Italic) stage with an undecided output:

2.2.A) where the PIE *-bh- that gives always -f- is not yet -f- (and is thus -ph-, as in "phero"),

2.2.B) where the PIE *-bh- that evolved differently in Italic dialects (as Lat. -b- or Osc.-Umb. -f-), as in case endings, appears as an (hypothetic) oscillating, archaic -bh-. Thus, widentbhus could give Lat. [/i]widentbus[/i] and Osc.-Umb. widentfus.


And that's it. It might very well be a wrong interpretation of how a Proto-Italic version should look like. If you have a suggestion for the version, or a direct critic to one of the above reasons, please share!

Thank you again.
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Indo-European Schleicher's Fable: Proto-Italic revised

Postby indoeuropean on Mon Mar 17, 2008 11:57 am

The Schleicher's Fable has been corrected by Fernando López-Menchero using the knowledge we have about Archaic Latin and the rest of Italic dialects, and following Etienne's criticisms too. The phonetic shift IE -o- -> Ita. -u- is left for other proto-dialects translations (viz. Latin, Oscan, Umbrian, etc.).

Some other mistakes have been corrected in the new document, especially in the Proto-Indo-European III, Proto-Greek and Proto-Celtic versions. The newest version might be read or downloaded (in PDF and HTML) at

The King and God's Fable has also been revised accordingly:

There are still some questions to solve, and we may release a newer version shortly.

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