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Volscian language

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Title: Volscian language  
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Volscian language

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Location of the Volsci.

Volscian was a Sabellic Italic language, which was spoken by the Volsci and closely related to Oscan and Umbrian.

It is attested in an inscription found in Velitrae (Velletri), dating probably from early in the 3rd century BC; it is cut upon a small bronze plate (now in the Naples Museum), which must have once been fixed to some votive object, dedicated to the god Declunus (or the goddess Decluna). The language of this inscription is clear enough to show the very marked peculiarities that rank it close to the language of the Iguvine Tables. It shows on the one hand the labialization of the original velar q (Volscian pis = Latin quis), and on the other hand it palatalizes the guttural c before a following i (Volscian facia Latin faciat). Like Umbrian also, but unlike Latin and Oscan, it has degraded all the diphthongs into simple vowels (Volscian se parallel to Oscan svai; Volscian deue, Old Latin and Oscan deiuai or deiuoi). This phenomenon of what might have been taken for a piece of Umbrian text appearing in a district remote from Umbria and hemmed in by Latins on the north and Oscan-speaking Samnites on the south is a most curious feature in the geographical distribution of the Italic dialects, and is clearly the result of some complex historical movements.

In seeking for an explanation we may perhaps trust, at least in part, the evidence of the ethnicon itself: the name Volsci belongs to what may be called the -co- group of tribal names in the centre, and mainly on the west coast, of Italy, all of whom were subdued by the Romans before the end of the 4th century BC; and many of whom were conquered by the Samnites about a century or more earlier. They are, from south to north, Osci, Aurunci, Hernici, Marruci, Falisci; with these were no doubt associated the original inhabitants of Aricia and of Sidicinum, of Vescia among the Aurunci, and of Labici close to Hernican territory.

The same formative element appears in the adjective Mons Massicus, and the names Glanica and Marica belonging to the Auruncan district, with Graviscae in south Etruria, and a few other names in central Italy (see "I due strati nella popolazione Indo-Europea dell'Italia Antica," in the Atti del Congresso Internazionale di Scienze Storiche, Rome, 1903, p. 17). With these names must clearly be judged the forms Etrusci and Tusci, although these forms must not be regarded as anything but the names given to the Etruscans by the folk among whom they settled. Now the historical fortune of these tribes is reflected in several of their names (see Sabini). The Samnite and Roman conquerors tended to impose

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