Lusitanian

Lusitanian is an ancient language of the western Iberian Peninsula. It is known from inscriptions and from onomastics. The inscriptions come from a delimited area and are written in the Roman alphabet. As an example, we may take the following excerpt from a text from Cabeço das Frágoas:

oilam trebopala
indi porcom labbo
comaiam iccona loim
inna oilam usseam
trebarune indi taurom

The theonyms (names of gods) appearing in Lusitanian inscriptions are found over a much wider area than actual Lusitanian-language inscriptions themselves are. It is generally agreed that Lusitanian is an Indo-European language (Cólera 2004: 15), but where exactly the language fits in the Indo-European family has been a matter of controversy. It remains unclear whether or not Lusitanian should be classed as a Celtic language or not. Some of the other theories that have been proposed have identified Lusitanian as an Italic language, or as a language belonging to its own, independent branch of the Indo-European language family. The Lusitani or Lusitanians, the local ethnic group after whom the language is named, were prominent figures in ancient history and produced one of the most successful resistance-leaders to the Roman invasions, Viriathus. Lusitania, the ancient name for the land or territory of the Lusitanians, is still today used as a poetic term for Portugal. Interestingly, the Roman author Pliny the Elder (Naturalis Historia 3.1.13) referred to the presence of ‘Celtiberians’ in Lusitania.

Pre-Roman Languages of Spain and Portugal, after Cólera 2004: 16


References and Further Reading

Cólera, Carlos Jordán
2004 Celtibérico (Monografías de Folología Griega – 16 [sic!]). Zaragoza: Departamento de Ciencias de la Antigüedad, Universidad de Zaragoza.

D’Encarnação, J.
2001 Teonímia da Lusitânia romana. In F. Villar and M. P. Fernández Álvarez (eds.), Religión, lengua y cultura prerromanas de Hispania. Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca; pages 363-72.

Villar, F. and Pedrero, R.
2001 La nueva inscripción lusitana: Arroyo de la Luz III. In F. Villar and M. P. Fernández Álvarez (eds.), Religión, lengua y cultura prerromanas de Hispania. Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca; pages 663-98.

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