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Italic leids

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EthnicityOreeginally the Italic fowk
Oreeginally the Italian peninsula an pairts o modren day Austria an Swisserland, Sooth Europe the day, Laitin Americae, Fraunce, Romanie, Canadae, and the offeecial leid in hauf the kintras in Africae.
Lingueestic clessificationIndo-European
  • Italo-Celtic ?
    • Italic
  • Latino-Faliscan (includin Romance)
  • Osco-Umbrian (Sabellic)
  • Venetic?
  • Sicel?
  • Lusitanian?
ISO 639-5itc
Main linguistic groups in Iron-Age Italy an the surroondin areas. Some o thae leids hiv leaved very little evidence, an thair classification isnae quite certain. The Punic leid broucht tae Sardinia bi the Punics coexistit alang wi the indigenous an non-Italic Paleo-Sardinian, or Nuragic.

The Italic leids form a brainch o the Indo-European leid faimlie. The earliest kent members war uised on the Italian Peninsula in the first millennium BC. The maist important o the auncient leids wis Laitin, the offeecial leid o auncient Rome, thit conquered the ither Italic peoples afore the common era. The ither Italic leids war extinct in the first yearhunners AD as thair spikkers war assimilatit intae the Roman Empire an shiftit tae some form o Laitin. Atweesh the third an eight yearhunners AD, Vulgar Laitin (mibbie influenced bi langage shift frae the ither Italic leids) spleet intae the Romance leids, thit are the anely Italic leids uised native the day.

Apairt fae Laitin, the kent auncient Italic leids are Faliscan (the closest tae Laitin), Umbrian an Oscan (or Osco-Umbrian), an South Picene. Ither Indo-European leids wanst uised in the peninsula, thit's eikin tae the Italic brainch is disputit are Venetic an Sicel. Thir lang-deid leids are kent anely frae inscriptins in archaeological findins.

In the first millennium BC, twa thee (ither) leids no Italic war uised in the peninsula, includin memmers o ither brainches o Indo-European (sic as Celtic an Greek) as weel as at least ane no Indo-European, Etruscan.

It is lairgely believed thit thae 1st millennium Italic leids descend frae Indo-European leids broucht bi migrants tae the peninsula sometime in the 2nt millennium BC.[2][3][4] Hounaiver, the soorce o thae migrations an the history o the leids in the peninsula are still debatit amang historians. In parteecular, it is debatit whether or no the auncient Italic leids aw descendit frae the ane Proto-Italic leid efter its arrival in the region, or whether or no the migrants broucht twa or mair Indo-European leids thit war anely distantly relatit.

Wi ower 800 million native uisrs, the Romance leids mak Italic the seicont maist uised brainch o the Indo-European faimlie, efter Indo-Iranian. Hounaiver, in academia the auncient Italic leids hiv a separate field o study frae the medieval an modren Romance leids.

Aw Italic leids (includin Romance) are generally scrieved in Auld Italic scripts (or the descend Laitin alphabet an its adaptations), thit descendit frae the alphabet uised tae scrieve the non-Italic Etruscan leid, an, at the hinder end, frae the Greek alphabet.

History o the concept

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On the hale, Historical linguists concludit thit the auncient Indo-European leids frae the Italian peninsula thit warnae airtit oot tae belang tae ither Indo-European brainches, sich as Greek, belanged tae the ae brainch o the family, like for exemple tae Celtic an Germanic. The foonder o this theory is Antoine Meillet (1866–1936).[5]

This unitary theory haes been criticized bi, amang ithers, Alois Walde, Vittore Pisani an Giacomo Devoto, thit pit forrit thit the Laitino-Faliscan an Osco-Umbrian leids made up twa sindry brainch o Indo-European. This view got acceptit in the seicont hauf o the 20t yearhunner,[6] tho pronents sic as Rix wad ding doun the ideae later on, an the unitary theory steys dominant in contemporary scholarship.[7]


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The follaein classification, pit forrit bi Michiel de Vaan (2008), is maistly greed on,[8] Awtho some scholars hiv rejectit Venetic bein wi-in the Italic brainch..[9]

  • Proto-Italic (or Proto-Italo-Venetic)[10][11]
    • Proto-Venetic[12]
      • Venetic (550–100 BC)[10]
    • Proto-Laitino-Sabellic[10]
      • Laitino-Faliscan[10]
        • Early Faliscan (7th–5th c. BC)[7]
          • Middle Faliscan (5th–3rd c. BC)[7]
            • Late Faliscan (3rd–2nd c. BC), strangly influenced bi Laitin[7][10]
        • Old Laitin (6th–1st c. BC)[10]
          • Classical Laitin (1st c. BC–3rd c. AD)[10]
            • Late Laitin (3rd–6th c. AD)[10]
          • Vulgar Laitin (2nd c. BC–9th c. AD)[3] evolved into Proto-Romance (the rebiggit Late Vulgar Laitin ancestor tae Romance leids) atweesh the 3rd an 8t yearhunner AD[13][14]
            • Romance leids, no mutually intelligible wi Laitin fae at the least the 9t yearhunner AD; the anely Italic leids still uised the day[15][3]
              • Gallo-Romance (attested from 842 AD), Italo-Dalmatian (ca. 960), Occitano-Romance (ca. 1000), Ibero-Romance (ca. 1075), Rhaeto-Romance (ca. 1100), Sardinian (1102), African Romance (extinct; spoken at least until the 12t yearhunner AD), Eastern Romance (1521)[3]
      • Sabellic (Osco-Umbrian)[10][16]
        • Umbrian (7th–1st c. BC), includin dialects sic as Aequian, Marsian, or Volscian[10][16]
        • Oscan (5th–1st c. BC), includin dialects sic as Hernican, North Oscan (Marrucinian, Paelignian, Vestinian), or Sabine (Samnite)[10][16]
        • Picene leids[16]
          • Pre-Samnite (6th–5th c. BC)[10]
          • South Picene (6th–4th c. BC)[10]
    • (?) Sicel[17][18]
    • (?) Lusitanian[19][17]


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Proto-Italic period

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Proto-Italic wis probably uised first bi Italic tribes north o the Alps. In parteecular, early contacts wi Celtic an Germanic uisers ur pit forrit bi linguistic evidence.[3]

Bakkum pits Proto-Italic as a "chronological stage" wioot an independent development o its ain, but stendin ower late Proto-Indo-European an the first stages o Proto-Laitin an Proto-Sabellic. Meiser's dates, 4000 BC to 1800 BC, weel afore Mycenaean Greek, are descrieved bi him, "as guid a guess as anyone's".[20] Schrijver argies for a Proto-Italo-Celtic stage, thit he suiggests wis "aroond the first hauf or middle o the 2nt millenium BC",[21] whaur Celtic spleet first, than Venetic, afore the lave, Italic, spleet intae Laitino-Faliscan an Sabellian.[22]

Italic fowk likely muived taewarts the Italian Peninsula aboot the seicont hauf o the 2nd millennium BC, peice an peice muivin tae the sooth pairts.[3][4] Awtho an equation atweesh archeological an linguistic evidence cannae be pinned doun certain, the Proto-Italic leid is generally associatit wi the Terramare (1700–1150 BC) an Proto-Villanovan culture (1200–900 BC).[3]

Leids in pre-Roman Italy an nearbi islands: N1, Rhaetian; N2, Etruscan: N3, North Picene (Picene of Novilara); N4, Ligurian; N5, Nuragic; N6, Elymian; N7, Sicanian; C1, Lepontic; C2, Gaulish; I1, South Picene; I2, Umbrian; I3, Sabine; I4, Faliscan; I5, Laitin; I6, Volscian an Hernican; I7, Central Italic (Marsian, Aequian, Paeligni, Marrucinian, Vestinian); I8, Oscan, Sidicini, Pre-Samnite; I9, Sicel; IE1, Venetic; IE2, Messapian; G1-G2-G3, Greek dialects (G1: Ionic, G2: Aeolic, G3: Doric); P1, Punic.

Leids in Italy in the Iron Age

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At the stairt o the Iron Age, aboot 700 BC, Ionian Greek settlers frae Euboea pit up colonies alang the coast o sooth Italy. Thay broucht the alphabet ai thaim, thit thay haed lairned frae the Phoenicians; tae be mair specific, whit we nou caw the Wast Greek alphabet. The invention spreid swift oothrou the hale peninsula, across langage an poleetical mairches. Local adaptatins (maistly wee letter shape chynges as weel as drappin or eikin twa three letter) gied ower twa three Old Italic alphabets.

The scrievins shaw thit, bi 700 BC, mony leids war uised in the region, includin memmber o twa three Indo-European breanch an twa three leids thit arenae Indo-European. The maist kenspeckle oot o the leids ootwi Indo-European wis Etruscan, attesttit bi evidence taen fae mair nor 10,000 scrievins an some short texts. Nae relation haes bin fund atweesh Etruscan an ony ither kent leid, an thare still isnae a clue aboot whaur it came fae (forby scrievins fae the island o Lemnos in the east Mediterranean). Ither possibly non-Indo-European leids aboot at the time were Rhaetian in the Alpine region, Ligurian arboot whaur Genoa is the nou, an some no kent leid(s) in Sardinia. Thae leids hiv left some detectable imprint in Laitin.

The maist muckle leid in sooth Italy, forby Ionic Greek in the Greek colonies, wis Messapian, kent acause o some 260 scrievins datin fae the 6t an 5t yearhunners BC. There is a historical connection o Messapian wi the Illyrian tribes, wikit on the archaeological connection in ceramics an metals existin atweesh baith fowk, thit motivatit the linguistic connection hypothesis. Bit the evidence fur Illyrian scrievins is doun tae personal names an places, that maks it difficult tae support sic a hypothesis.

It hes bin pit forrit thit the Lusitanian leid haed mibbie belanged tae the Italic faimlie an aw.[19]

Laitin Timeline

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In the history o Laitin in auncient times, thare are twa three period:

  • Frae the archaic period, twa three scrievin frae the 6t tae the 4t yearhunners BC, fragments of the oldest laws, crottles frae the sacral anthem o the Salii, the anthem o the Arval Brethren war preserved.
  • In the pre-classical period (3rd an 2nt yearhunners BC), the literary Laitin leid (the comedies o Plautus an Terence, the agricultural treatise fae Cato the Elder, crottles o wirks bi a nummer o ither authors) wis based on the dialect o Rome.
  • The period o classical ("golden") Laitin datit until Ovid's deeth in AD 17 (1st yearhunner BC, the development o vocabulary, the development o terminology, the elimination o auld morphological doublets, the flowerin o literature: Cicero, Caesar, Sallust, Virgil, Horace, Ovid) wis parteecularly distinguished.
  • Durin the classical ("silver") Laitin period, datit until the deeth o emperor Marcus Aurelius in AD 180, seein wirks bi Juvenal, Tacitus, Suetonius an the Satyricon o Petronius,[23] durin that time, the phonetic, morphological an spellin norms war formed at lang an last.

As the Roman Republic stendit its political dominion ower aw the Italian peninsula, Laitin went dominant ower the ither Italic leids, thit stappit bein uised, aiblins sometime in the 1st yearhunner AD. Frae Vulgar Laitin, the Romance leids kythed.

The Litin leid spreid ayont Rome piece an peice, alang wi the growth o the pouer o this state, jeein, stairtin in the 4t an 3rd yearhunners BC, the leids bi ither Italic tribes, alang wi Illyrian, Messapian an Venetic, etc. The Romanisation o the Italian Peninsula wis basicaly duin bi the 1st century BC; forby the sooth o Italy an Sicily, whaur the dominance fae Greek wis kept. The attribution o Ligurian is controversial.

Origin theories

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The main flyte concernin the origin o the Italic leids is sib tae the Greek leids' origins,[24] forby the fact thit thaere isnae ony record o ony "early Italic" to play the role o Mycenaean Greek.

Aw thit is kent the nou aboot the linguistic landscape o Italy is frae scrievins pit thegither efter the introduction o the alphabet in the peninsula, in aboot 700 BC efterwids, an frae Greek an Roman scrievers twa three yearhunner later. The auldest kent saumples come frae Umbrian an Faliscan scrievins from the 7th century BC. Thair alphabets clearly came frae the Etruscan alphabet, thit itsel came frae the Wast Greek alphabet no much earlier. Thare isnae ony reliable information aboot the leids uised afore that time. Some claims can be haed based on toponyms, but thay cannae be verified.

Thare isnae a guarantee thit the intermediate phases atweesh thae auld Italic an Indo-European leids will be fund. Whether or no Italic stairtit ootside Italy or developed bi assimilation o Indo-European an ither elements ben Italy, aboot on or ben its current range thare, steys pit.[25]

An extreme view o some linguists an historians is thit thare isnae sic a thing as "the Italic brainch" o Indo-European. Namely, thare wis nivver a sindry "Proto-Italic", thit's sindryness resultit in thae leids. Some linguists, sic as Silvestri an Rix, argie faurer thit a common Proto-Italic cannae be reconstructit sic thit:

  1. Its phonological seestem micht hiv developed intae thae yins fae Laitin an Osco-Umbrian throu consistent phonetic chynges.
  2. Its phonology an morphology cin be derived consistent frae the yins in Proto-Indo-European. Hounaiver, later on, Rix chynged his mind an became an ootspoken uphauder fur Italic as a faimlie.

Thae linguists insteid pit forrit thit the ancestors o the 1st millennium Indo-European leids o Italy war twa or mair different leid, thit descendit separate frae Indo-European in a mair remote past, an got intae Europe separate, possibly bi different routes an/or in different epochs. That view stems pairtly frae the difficulty in pyntin oot a common Italic hameland in prehistory,[26] or reconstructin an ancestral "Common Italic" or "Proto-Italic" leid thit thae leids coud hiv descendit frae. Some common featurs thit seem tae connect the leids thegither micht juist be a sprachbund phenomenon – a linguistic git-thegither due tae contact over a long period, as in the maust uised accepit version o the Italo-Celtic hypothesis. ]


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General an speceefic chairacteristics o the pre-Roman Italic leids:

  • in phonetics: Oscan (compared tae Laitin an Umbrian) haudit ontae aw poseetions o auld diphthongs ai, oi, ei, ou, in the absense o rhotacism, the absence o sibilants , in the development of kt > ht; a different interpret o Indo-European kw an gw (Laitin qu an v, Osco-Umbrian p an b); in the latter the preservin o s in front o nasal sonants an the reflection o Indo-European *dh an *bh as f; initial stress (in Laitin, it wis reconstructiy in the historical period), thit led tae syncopation an fewer vowels o unstressed syllables;
  • in the syntax: oany convergences; In Osco-Umbrian, impersonal constructions, parataxis, partitive genitive, temporal genitive an genitive relationships are uised mair aften;


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The maist sindry featur o the Italic leids is the development o the PIE vyced aspiratit staps.[27] In stairtin poseetion, *bʰ-, *dʰ- an *gʷʰ- pit thegither wiu /f-/, while *gʰ- turns intae /h-/, awtho Laitin haes *gʰ- > /v-/ an /g-/ an aw, in special environs.[28]

In medial poseetion, aw vyced aspiratit staps hiv a sindry reflex in Laitin, wi different oootcomes for -*gʰ- an *gʷʰ- gin pit efter a nasal. In Osco-Umbrian, thay generally hiv the same reflexes like in stairtin position, awtho Umbrian kythes a special development gin follaein a nasal, juist as in Laitin. Maist likely, the vyced aspiratit staps went throu an intermediate stage *-β-, *-ð-, *-ɣ- an *-ɣʷ- in Proto-Italic.[27]

Italic reflexes o PIE vyced aspiratit staps
stairtin poseetion medial poseetion
*bʰ- *dʰ- *gʰ- *gʷʰ- *-(m)bʰ- *-(n)dʰ- *-(n)gʰ- *-(n)gʷʰ-
Laitin[28] f- f- h- f- -b-




Faliscan[28] f- f- h- ? -f- -f- -g- ?
Umbrian[28] f- f- h- ? -f-




Oscan[28] f- f- h- ? -f- -f- -h- ?

The vyceless an plain vyced staps (*p, *t, *k, *kʷ; *b, *d, *g, *gʷ) steyed unchynged in Laitin, forby the minor shift o *gʷ > /v/. In Osco-Umbrian, the labiovelars *kʷ an *gʷ turnt intae the labial staps /p/ an /b/, e.g. Oscan pis 'wha?' (cf. Laitin quis) an bivus 'alive (nom.pl.)' (cf. Laitin vivus).[27]


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In grammar thare are basically three innovations skaret bi the Osco-Umbrian an the Latino-Faliscan leids:

  • A suffix in the imperfect subjunctive *-sē- (in Oscan the 3rd person singular o the imperfect subjunctive fusíd an Laitin foret, baith derived frae *fusēd).[17]
  • A suffix in the imperfect indicative *-fā- (Oscan fufans 'thay war', in Laitin this suffix became -bā- as in portabāmus 'we carried').
  • A suffix to derive gerundive adjectives from verbs *-ndo- (Laitin operandam 'which will be built'; in Osco-Umbrian there is the additional reduction -nd- > -nn-, Oscan úpsannam 'which will be built', Umbrian pihaner 'which will be purified').[17]

In turn, these skaret innovations are ane o the main argiements fur an Italic group, speired on bi ither authors.

Lexical comparison

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Amang the Indo-European leids, the Italic leids aw hiv a heicherer percentage o lexicon wi the Celtic an the Germanic yins, three oot the fower tradeetional "centum" brainches o Indo-European (together with Greek).

The follaein table kythes a lexical comparison o twa-three Italic leids:

Gloss Latino-Faliscan Osco-Umbrian Proto-



Faliscan Ald



Oscan Umbrian
'1' *ounos ūnus *unʊs, acc. *unu *𐌖𐌉𐌍𐌖𐌔


*oinos *oinos *ainaz
'2' du *duō duō *dos, f. *duas 𐌃𐌖𐌔


*duō *dwāu *twai
'3' tris trēs (m.f.)

tria (n.)
*tres 𐌕𐌓𐌝𐌔

𐌕𐌓𐌉𐌚 (m.f.)

𐌕𐌓𐌉𐌉𐌀 (n.)

trif (m.f.)

triia (n.)
*trēs (m.f.)

*triā (n.)
*trīs *þrīz
'4' quattuor *kʷattɔr 𐌐𐌄𐌕𐌖𐌓𐌀




*kʷettwōr *kʷetwares *fedwōr
'5' *quique quinque *kinkʷɛ 𐌐𐌏𐌌𐌐𐌄-


*kʷenkʷe *kʷenkʷe *fimf
'6' śex *sex sex *sɛks *𐌔𐌄𐌇𐌔


*seks *swexs *sehs
'7' *śepten septem *sɛpte 𐌔𐌄𐌚𐌕𐌄𐌍

*septem *sextam *sebun
'8' oktu octō *ɔkto *𐌖𐌇𐌕𐌏

*oktō *oxtū *ahtōu
'9' *neven novem *nɔwe *𐌍𐌖𐌖𐌄𐌍


*nowen *nawan *newun
'10' decem *dɛke 𐌃𐌄𐌊𐌄𐌍


*dekem *dekam *tehun

The asterisk is tae say thit reconstructit forms based on indirect linguistic evidence an no forms attestit direct in ony scrievin.

Map kything the approximate extent o the centum (blue) an satem (red) areals.

Frae the Proto-Indo-European pynt o view, the Italic leids are fairly conservative. In phonology, the Italic leids are centum leids bi pittin thegither the palatals wi the velars (Latin centum has a /k/) but haudin ontae the combined group separate frae the labio-velars. In morphology, the Italic leids haud ontae sax cases in the noon an the adjective (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative, vocative) wi traces o a sevent (locative), but the dual o baith the noon an the verb haes halely disappeared. Frae the poseetion o baith morphological innovations an uniquely skaret lexical eetems, Italic kythes the maist muckle seemilarities wi Celtic an Germanic, wi some o the skaret lexical correspondences bein fund in Baltic an Slavic an aw.[2]

P-Italic an Q-Italic leids

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Sib tae the Celtic leids, the Italic leids are spleet into P- an Q-brainches an aw, dependin on the reflex o Proto-Indo-European *. In the leids o the Osco-Umbrian brainch, * gave p, whereas the leids fae the Latino-Faliscan brainch kept it (Latin qu [kʷ]).

See an aw

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  1. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Italic". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
  2. a b Mallory & Adams 1997.
  3. a b c d e f g Bossong 2017.
  4. a b Fortson 2004.
  5. Villar 2000, pp. 474–475.
  6. Villar 2000, pp. 447–482.
  7. a b c d Poccetti 2017.
  8. de Vaan 2008
  9. Bossong 2017
  10. a b c d e f g h i j k l m de Vaan 2008.
  11. Fortson 2017.
  12. Polomé, Edgar C. (1992). Lippi-Green, Rosina (ed.). Recent Developments in Germanic Linguistics (in Inglis). John Benjamins Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 978-90-272-3593-0.
  13. Posner 1996.
  14. Herman 2000.
  15. Fortson 2004
  16. a b c d Baldi 2017.
  17. a b c d Vine 2017.
  18. Brixhe 2017
  19. a b Villar 2000.
  20. Bakkum 2009.
  21. Schrijver 2016
  22. Schrijver 2016
  23. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Fortson1326
  24. Leppänen, Ville (1 Januar 2014). "Geoffrey Horrocks,Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers (2nd edn.). Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, 2010. Pp. xx + 505". Journal of Greek Linguistics. 14 (1): 127–135. doi:10.1163/15699846-01401006. ISSN 1566-5844.
  25. Silvestri 1998
  26. Silvestri 1998.
  27. a b c Meiser 2017.
  28. a b c d e Stuart-Smith 2004.


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de Vaan, Michiel (2008). Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-16797-1.

Faurer readin

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  • Baldi, Philip. 2002. The Foundations of Latin. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  • Beeler, Madison S. 1966. "The Interrelationships within Italic." In Ancient Indo-European Dialects: Proceedings of the Conference on Indo-European Linguistics held at the University of California, Los Angeles, April 25–27, 1963. Edited by Henrik Birnbaum and Jaan Puhvel, 51–58. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
  • Coleman, Robert. 1986. "The Central Italic Languages in the Period of Roman Expansion." Transactions of the Philological Society 84.1: 100–131.
  • Dickey, Eleanor, and Anna Chahoud, eds. 2010. Colloquial and Literary Latin. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Joseph, Brian D., and Rex J. Wallace. 1991. "Is Faliscan a Local Latin Patois?" Diachronica 8:159–186.
  • Pulgram, Ernst. 1968. The Tongues of Italy: Prehistory and History. New York: Greenwood.
  • Rix, Helmut. 2002. Handbuch der italischen Dialekte. Vol. 5, Sabellische Texte: Die Texte des Oskischen, Umbrischen und Südpikenischen. Indogermanische Bibliothek. Heidelberg, Germany: Winter.
  • Silvestri, Domenico (1995). "Las lenguas itálicas" [The Italic languages]. Las lenguas indoeuropeas [The Indo-European languages] (in Spainish). ISBN 978-84-376-1348-2.
  • Tikkanen, Karin. 2009. A Comparative Grammar of Latin and the Sabellian Languages: The System of Case Syntax. PhD diss., Uppsala Univ.
  • Villar, Francisco (1997). Gli Indoeuropei e le origini dell'Europa [Indo-Europeans and the origins of Europe] (in Italian). Bologna, Il Mulino. ISBN 978-88-15-05708-2.
  • Wallace, Rex E. 2007. The Sabellic Languages of Ancient Italy. Languages of the World: Materials 371. Munich: LINCOM.
  • Watkins, Calvert. 1998. "Proto-Indo-European: Comparison and Reconstruction" In The Indo-European Languages. Edited by Anna Giacalone Ramat and Paolo Ramat, 25–73. London: Routledge.
  • Clackson, James, and Horrocks, Geoffrey. 2007. A Blackwell History of the Latin Language

Fremmit airtins

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  1. Also -b- in certain environments.