Old Italic script

Old Italic script
Old Italic
Masiliana tablet.svg
The Marsiliana tablet abecedarium, ca. 700 BC: ABGDEVZHΘIKLMNΞOPŚQRSTUXΦΨ, read right to left
Type Alphabet
Languages Italic languages, Etruscan, Raetic
Time period 8th to 1st centuries BC
Parent systems
Child systems Latin alphabet, Runic alphabet
Sister systems Anatolian alphabets
ISO 15924 Ital, 210
Direction Left-to-right
Unicode alias Old Italic
Unicode range U+10300–U+1032F
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols.

Old Italic refers to several now extinct alphabet systems used on the Italian Peninsula in ancient times for various Indo-European languages (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.

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 Celtic, 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 derived from one of these alphabets by the 2nd century.

Contents

Etruscan alphabet

Etruscan cippus (grave marker) from the necropolis Crocifisso del Tufo outside Orvieto, Italy, side view showing the inscription in the Old Italic (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 sound value [ks], Ψ stood for [kʰ]; in Etruscan: X = [s], Ψ = [kʰ] or [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.

Comparison of the Western Greek alphabet with archaic and classical Etruscan variants.

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