Italian languages

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Peoples on the Italian Peninsula at the beginning of the Iron Age
  • Ligurians
  • Veneter
  • Etruscan
  • Picener
  • Umbrian
  • Latins
  • Oscar
  • Messapaper
  • Greeks
  • Languages ​​on the Italian Peninsula in the 6th century BC BC (Italian languages ​​and others)

    The Italian languages form a subgroup of the Indo-European language family . A suspected closer relationship with the Celtic languages has not yet been proven; but at least there are indications of a prehistoric language contact between Italian, Celtic and Germanic. The Italian languages ​​were spoken by Indo-European or Indo-Germanized ancient peoples and tribes who immigrated to Italy and are grouped together as Italians .

    The Italian languages ​​were spoken in ancient times on the Italian peninsula and in Sicily . All have been displaced by Latin , which also belongs to this group . Its successors, the Romance languages , form the modern branch of the Italian languages.

    Italian languages ​​in ancient times

    More extensive literature is only preserved in Latin , Oskish and Umbrian . The other Italian languages ​​are only documented by a few short inscriptions. When the Italian languages, with the exception of Latin, died out cannot be determined with certainty, but certainly in ancient times , most of them probably before the turn of the century .

    In the context of linguistics, the term “Italian languages” does not include all the languages ​​and dialects attested in ancient Italy, but only two groups of the Indo-European languages, which in turn were split into many subgroups and dialects. The allocation of most of the mostly hardly attested languages ​​is unclear.

    The Venetian is now usually counted as Italic, but occasionally also counted as a separate branch of the Indo-European language family. The Messapic in Puglia was, according to some theories, an Illyrian dialect . The Lepontische was a mainland Celtic language .

    In addition, there was Etruscan and Rhaetian on the soil of ancient Italy , which, according to the prevailing opinion, are not included in the Indo-European language family. The affiliation of Ligurian is also uncertain .

    Surviving descendants

    The modern branch of the Italian languages ​​are the Romance languages , which descend from Latin via Vulgar Latin (folk Latin). They are mainly found in Italy , France , Spain , Portugal , Romania and Latin America as well as in parts of Switzerland , Belgium , Canada and the USA (see Spanish in the United States ).


    The close relationship of Latin with Faliski and that of Oscar with Umbrian is responsible for the division of the Italian languages.

    Latino-Faliscan languages:

    Oscar-Umbrian languages (often also called Sabellian languages ):

    From the distribution area of ​​Italian languages, some other languages ​​have survived fragmentarily, but it is unclear whether they belong to the Italian languages ​​or whether they are independent branches of Indo-European:

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ Paul Roberge: Contact and the History of the Germanic Languages . = Chap. 20 in: Raymond Hickey (Ed.): The Handbook of Language Contact . John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2010. (See Section 5 in the referenced chapter).
    2. On the Oscar-Umbrian language group see Giacomo Devoto: History of the Language of Rome . Translated from the Italian by Ilona Opelt. Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, 1968, pp. 62–70.
    3. On the penetration and spread of the Indo-European languages ​​in Italy cf. Massimo Pallottino: Italy before Roman times . Translated from the Italian by Stephan Steingräber. Munich: Verlag CH Beck, 1987, pp. 45-50.
    4. On the Etruscan language cf. especially: Massimo Pallottino: The Etruscans . Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt / Main, 1965, pp. 183-220.
      Ambros Josef Pfiffig: Introduction to Etruscology. Problems, methods, results . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 1972, pp. 11-23; Jacques Heurgon : The Etruscans . Translated from the French by Irmgard Rauthe-Welsch. Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam Jun., 1971, pp. 310-377.


    • Michiel Arnoud Cor de Vaan: Etymological dictionary of Latin and the other Italic languages. Brill, Leiden 2008, ISBN 978-90-04-16797-1 .
    • Giacomo Devoto: History of the Language of Rome . Translated from the Italian by Ilona Opelt. Heidelberg: Carl Winter University Press, 1968; especially pages 9–70, ISBN 3-533-00587-9
    • Massimo Pallottino : Italy before Roman times . Translated from the Italian by Stephan Steingräber . Munich: Verlag CH Beck, 1987 (236 pages), ISBN 3-406-32012-0 ; Original edition: Storia della prima Italia . Milan: Rusconi Libri, 1984, ISBN 88-18-70031-6
    • Rex E. Wallace: The Sabellic Languages ​​of Ancient Italy. (Languages ​​of the World / Materials 371) LINCOM Europa, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-89586-990-7 .