Old Italic alphabet


Old Italic alphabet

Infobox Writing system
name=Old Italic
type=Alphabet
languages=Italic languages, Etruscan, Raetic
time=8th to 1st centuries BC
fam1=Phoenician alphabet
fam2=Greek alphabet (Cumae variant)
children=Latin alphabet, Runic alphabet
sisters=Anatolian alphabets
iso15924=Ital

Old Italic refers to several now extinct alphabet systems used on the Italian Peninsula in ancient times for various Indo-European (predominantly Italic) and non-Indo-European (e.g. Etruscan) languages.

The alphabets derive from the Euboean Greek Cumaean alphabet, used at Ischia and Cumae in the Bay of Naples in the eighth century BC. Cumaean, in turn, showed strong similarities to the Phoenician alphabet, lending support to theories of Phoenician influence in the West-Central Mediterranean region.

Various Indo-European languages belonging to the Italic branch (Faliscan and members of the Sabellian group, including Oscan, Umbrian, and South Picene, and other Indo-European branches such as Venetic and Messapic) originally used the alphabet. Faliscan, Oscan, Umbrian, North Picene, and South Picene all derive from an Etruscan form of the alphabet.

The Germanic runic alphabet was most likely derived from one of these alphabets in about the 2nd century.

Etruscan alphabet

It is not clear whether the process of adaptation from the Greek alphabet took place in Italy from the first colony of Greeks, the city of Cumae, or in Greece/Asia Minor. It was in any case a Western Greek alphabet. In the alphabets of the West, X had the IPA| [ks] , Ψ stood for IPA| [kʰ] ; in Etruscan: X = IPA| [s] , Ψ = IPA| [kʰ] or IPA| [kχ] (Rix 202-209).

The earliest Etruscan "abecedarium," the Marsiliana d'Albegna (near Grosseto) tablet which dates to c. 700 BC, lists 26 letters corresponding to contemporary forms of the Greek alphabet which retained san and qoppa but which had not yet developed omega.

Alphabet of Nuceria

The "nucerian alphabet" is based on inscriptions found in southern Italy (Nocera Superiore, Sorrento, Vico Equense and others places). Is attested only between the 6th and the 5th century BC.The most important sign is the /S/ who is designed like an Abies, maybe a derivation from the Phoenician alphabet.

Alphabet of Lugano

The Alphabet of Lugano, based on inscriptions found in northern Italy and Canton Ticino, was used to record Lepontic inscriptions, among the oldest testimonies of any Celtic language, in use from the 7th to the 5th centuries BC. The alphabet has 17 letters, derived from the archaic Etruscan alphabet:

ee also

*Cumae alphabet
*Negau helmet
*Alphabets of Asia Minor

External links

* [http://etp.classics.umass.edu Etruscan Texts Project] : A searchable online database of Etruscan inscriptions.
* [http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U10300.pdf Old Italic Unicode]
* [http://www.omniglot.com/writing/etruscan.htm The Etruscan alphabet] (Omniglot)
* [http://www.omniglot.com/writing/olditalic.htm Old Italic alphabets] (Omniglot)
* [http://www.ancientscripts.com/etruscan.html Etruscan] (Ancient Scripts)
* [http://www.ancientscripts.com/oscan.html Oscan] (Ancient Scripts)
* [http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Fonts_OldItalic.html Unicode Fonts]


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