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Reviving Oscan as a romance language

Discussion in 'Languages' started by Rubiks, May 14, 2019.

  1. Rubiks

    Rubiks armchair linguist

    United States
    For those who aren't familiar with Oscan, here is a good source.


    Oscan is the sister language of Latin, together with Umbrian, and Faliscan make up the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family. The Italic languages have 2 divisions: Osco-Umbrian (also called P-Italic), and Latino-Faliscan (also called Q-Italic). The common ancestor of all Italic languages is called Proto-Italic. With the rise of the Roman empire, pretty much all Italic languages other than Latin went extinct. The modern descendants of Latin are called Romance languages, which include Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, and many more.

    Map created by Wiktionary user Dbachman

    Key distinguishing features of Oscan (as well as P-Italic in general) include:
    1. An original /*kw/ becomes /p/, whereas in Latin it remains /kw/ (e.g. Oscan pis, pid; Latin quis, quid; meaning "who?," "what?"
    2. Original /*gw/ becomes /b/, whereas in Latin it becomes /v/ (e.g. Oscan biv-; Latin viv-; meaning "alive")
    3. /*s/ is retained before l,r,n,m, whereas in Latin, it is lost (e.g. Oscan sna-, Latin, na-; meaning "to swim")
    4. /*s/ is retained between vowels, whereas in Latin, it becomes /r/ (Oscan kas-, Latin car-; "to lack")
    5. /*f/ is retained, whereas in Latin, it becomes /b/ between vowels, and /f/ in all other cases. (Oscan tfei, Latin tibi; "you" (dative))
    6. /*θ/ becomes /f/ everywhere, whereas in Latin, it becomes /f/ initially, and /d/ between vowels (Oscan mefi-, Latin medi-; "middle")
    7. /*pt/ becomes /ft/, whereas in Latin, it is retained (Oscan scrift-, Latin script-; "written")
    8. /*kt/ becomes /ht/, whereas in Latin, it is retained. (Oscan ehtrad, Latin extra; "outside")
    Nouns & Adjectives

    Both Latin and Oscan had complex case systems for their nouns, although the Romance languages have eroded them entirely, with the exception of Romanian. For revived Oscan, case endings will be derived from the nominative case. Also, the neuter gender has been lost, just like in Romance languages (with the exception of Romanian and debatably Italian.

    1st Declension (a-stems)

    Oscan had -u in the singular, and -as in the plural. This remains unchanged in revived Oscan.

    On the basis of Oscan <touta> (people, tribe)
    • singular: todu
    • plural: todas

    2nd Declension (o-stems)

    Oscan had -s in the singular, and -us in the plural. In revived Oscan, -s in the singular is lost, but the final consonant is devoiced, if possible.

    On the basis of Oscan <bravus>: "heavy" (masc. nom. plural)

    • singular: braf < *brafs < *brav-s
    • plural: bravus

    3rd Declension (i-stems and root nouns)

    Just as in Latin, the Oscan 3rd declension is a partial merger of 2 earlier classes. In revived Oscan, they have merged completely. Oscan had -s in the singular, -s in the root noun plural, and -is in the i-stem plural. In revived Oscan, the -s is removed in the singular followed by devoicing (like in the second declension), and -i in all plurals.

    4th Declension (u-stems)

    In the Romance languages the 4th declension merged with the 2nd, due to the case system collapsing. Considering the nominative case for the 4th declension is not attested in Oscan (or even in Umbrian), revived Oscan will not use this pattern.

    5th declension

    Just like the 4th declension, revived Oscan will not use this due to it being poorly attested. Even in Latin, the fifth declension is pretty rare aside from 2 to 3 words.

    The Comparative Adjective

    the comparative is formed by -is in Oscan in the nominative singular. Since the comparative in Latin is formed by the 3rd declension, it is reasonable it is the same in Oscan. Therefore, in revived Oscan, it will be formed by -s in the singular and -si in the plural.

    The Superlative Adjective

    The superlative in Oscan was formed with -(e)m- (as opposed to -issim- in Latin), using the 1st declension for feminine nouns and 2nd for masculine & neuter nouns. In revived Oscan, the feminine ends in -mu in the singular and -mas in the plural, whereas the masculine ends in -m and -mus, respectively.

    Full declension for the adjective 'big'
    • Positive: grant (plural: grandi)
    • Comparative: mas (plural: masi)
    • Superlative:
      • Masculine: mem (plural: memus)
      • Feminine: memu (plural: memas)

    I will add more later.
    Last edited: May 16, 2019 at 3:37 PM
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  2. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

    What do you mean by 'revive'? Is this an attempt to recreate a living community of speakers, like Cornish or Hebrew? Or to attempt a reconstruction? Oscan has not been spoken for almost 2 millenia, and we have no substantial texts in the language - just some inscriptions and votary tablets and the like. So any reconstruction would likely lean heavily on Latin anyway, basically. Many words would just be hypothetical forms based on the Latin equivalent or assumed archaic forms, not having much extent text. For much of the later spectrum of inscriptions though, we have longstanding and sustained Latin influence as it was replacing Oscan, so how do we know where Latin ends and Oscan starts?

    As a reconstruction it may be interesting - especially in relation to the Samnites and the early Republic.
  3. Rubiks

    Rubiks armchair linguist

    United States
    I wanted to create a hypothetical scenario that Oscan never died out and developed parallel changes with the Romance languages. Since the Romance languages borrowed words from Germanic languages this can help somewhat with lexical gaps.

    Also, probable Osco-Umbrian words can be identified in Latin, with "rufus" and "popina" being loanwords and "rubeus" and "coquina" being the native Latin words.

    Anyways here are the cardinal numbers I came up with:
    1. vin (feminine: vinu) (Proto-Italic /*oi/ becomes ui in Oscan, and oe in early Latin (later ū)
    2. dus (from attested dus)
    3. tris (from attested tris)
    4. pedor (from attested petora) (lenition of -t- to -d- between vowels found in most Romance languages)
    5. pump (from attested pumpe-)
    6. ses (from expected *sehs)
    7. sefte (from expected *seftem)
    8. utu (based on attested uhtavis "Octavius")
    9. nuvi (based on Umbrian nuvime "ninth")
    10. dece (from attested deke-)
    For the definite article and 3rd person pronouns, the Romance languages derive theirs from Latin ille, illa. The Oscan cognate with this is ul-.

    Definite article:
    • Masculine: ul, plural lus
    • Feminine: lu, plural las
    Personal pronouns
    • Masculine:
      • Nominative: ul, plural ulus
      • Accusative: ulu, plural uluss
    • Feminine:
      • Nominative: ulu, plural ulas
      • Accusative: ula, plural ulass
    (Note that -ss- is pronounced like English <sh>)
  4. Rubiks

    Rubiks armchair linguist

    United States
    Verbs in Oscan have the same 4 conjugations in Latin. Now the Indo European word for drink was pi- or pib- (Sanskrit pibati, Gaulish ibetis, Greek pino, Old Church Slavonic piti). In Latin this assimilated to bibo; In Faliscan this took the opposite direction and resulted in pipo. The Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Italic doesn't list an Oscan form, but it does list pibe as a cognate in the Sicel language. this source lists pibi- as a possible, but uncertain Oscan cognate. With the Romance languages general tendency to lenite -b- to -v- between vowels, here is the modern conjugation of the simple present tense.
    • 1st singular: pivu
    • 2nd singular: pives
    • 3rd singular: pive
    • 1st plural: pivum
    • 2nd plural: pived
    • 3rd plural: piven
    Infinites were formed in -um, in contrast to Latin -ere.
    • Infinitive: pivu
    • Present participle: pivent (plural: piventi)
    • Past participle: pivet (feminine: pivedu)
    The imperfect is similar to Latin, with only -f- infixed instead of -b-
    • 1st singular: pivifa
    • 2nd singular: pivifas
    • 3rd singular: pivifa
    • 1st plural: pivifam
    • 2nd plural: pivifad
    • 3rd plural: pivifan
    The future was infixed with -s-. Equivalent to Latin tenses infixed with -r-. Oscan inscriptions show signs of syncopated vowels.
    • 1st singular: pivisu
    • 2nd singular: piviss (note <ss> pronounced like English <sh>)
    • 3rd singular: pivist
    • 1st plural: pivisum
    • 2nd plural: piviste
    • 3rd plural: pivisen
    Present subjunctive
    • 1s: piva
    • 2s: pivas
    • 3s: piva
    • 1p: pivam
    • 2p: pivad
    • 3p: pivan
    Imperfect subjunctive. The endings had long ê here, which results in the stem vowel becoming syncopated in revived Oscan.
    • 1s: pifsi
    • 2s: pifsis
    • 3s: pifsi
    • 1p: pifsim
    • 2p: pifsid
    • 3p: pifsin
    In Oscan the copula in the present tense is nearly identical to that of Latin, except the 3rd person plural is sent instead of sunt. The imperfect has the root fufa- and the future has fus-. Due to this verb's irregular nature, the Romance languages heavily remodel it. This is the conjugation I came up with, but just about anything could potentially work.
    • 1s: su
    • 2s: es
    • 3s: e
    • 1p: sum
    • 2p: esed
    • 3p: esen
    The imperfect has the reduplicated root fufa-. However, by the time of classical Latin, reduplicated verbs were already falling out of usage. Compare 7th century B.C. Latin FHEFHAKED (attested on the Praeneste Fibula) with classical Latin fēcit (perfect of facit). In revived Oscan we should expect the same.
    • 1s: fa
    • 2s: fas
    • 3s: fa
    • 1p: fam
    • 2p: fad
    • 3p: fan
    For the first conjugation, the stem is -a-. Combining the first person singular suffix forms -au (In Latin, the -a- is elided in this case.) In revived Oscan, au monophthongizes to o. From the attested Oscan dun- "to give":
    • 1s: duno
    • 2s: dunas
    • 3s: duna
    • 1p: dunam
    • 2p: dunad
    • 3p: dunan
    Last edited: May 17, 2019 at 11:10 AM
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  5. Rubiks

    Rubiks armchair linguist

    United States

    Latin egô became eo in Proto-romance. In Oscan long ô became û. The Oscan and Umbrian second person singular pronoun was tiu(m). There doesn't seem to be a difference between the nominative and accusative cases.
    • 1st singular:
      • Nominative: iu
      • Accusative: me
    • 1st plural: nus (in all cases)
    • 2nd singular: tiu (in all cases)
    • 2nd plural: vus (in all cases)
    • Reflexive: siu
    • Interrogative:
      • Animate: pis
      • Inanimate: pi
    • sue (from attested svaí) - if
    • ini (from attested íním) - and
    • od (from attested auti) - or
    Last edited: May 16, 2019 at 1:02 PM
  6. Rubiks

    Rubiks armchair linguist

    United States
    Familiar relations
    • madri (from attested matír) - mother
    • padri (from attested patír) - father
    • suesur (based on Latin soror, Sanskrit svasar, Lithuanian seserys) - sister
    • frat (plural: fradi) (from attested fratrúm) - brother
    • fudri (from attested futír, cognate with English daughter, Greek thugater) - daughter
    • puil (based on attested puklúm) - son
    • finnu (based on Latin femina) - woman
    • nir (from attested nír, cognate with Greek anêr, Sanskrit nara) - man
    Last edited: May 17, 2019 at 5:37 PM