Wiktionary:About Proto-Italic

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Proto-Italic is the common ancestor of the Italic languages. This includes most notably Latin, but also all others such as Faliscan, Oscan, Umbrian, South Picene and so on. The status of Venetic is unclear; it may or may not be an Italic language.

Proto-Italic is not attested, its terms are reconstructed through linguistic methods. Proto-Italic terms do not meet WT:CFI and its entries are not allowed in the main namespace, but they can be placed in the Appendix: namespace, preceded by Appendix:Proto-Italic/.


The following notation is used for Proto-Italic words on Wiktionary.

  • Sonorants: *l, *r, *m, *n
  • Approximants: *j, *w
  • Voiceless plosives: *p, *t, *k, *kʷ
  • Voiced plosives: *b, *d, *g, *gʷ
  • Voiceless fricatives: *f, (*þ), *h, (*hʷ), *s
  • Voiced fricatives: *β, *ð, *ɣ, *ɣʷ, *z

The voiceless and voiced fricatives were allophones of each other. The allophony is important for the later development of the Italic languages, so it is shown in entry names. In particular, the voiced symbols , , *ɣʷ, *z are used when they occur word-medially, where they are usually reflected as Latin b, d, v, r. The status of and *hʷ is unclear; while they may have existed in Proto-Italic, their reflexes are completely indistinguishable from those of *f.

*j is not written between vowels, as it disappeared there within Proto-Italic and is not reflected in any descendants. The vowels that came to stand to stand in hiatus were often still distinct, as reflected in Oscan where -āō is not yet contracted to as in Latin. They did contract if they were of the same quality, giving a long vowel. The sequences -ijV- and -uwV- should probably be written as -iV- and -uV-, as this seems more consistent. Note, however, that there was a distinction between -CjV-/-CwV- and -CiV-/-CuV-, which is not indicated in Latin spelling, but it is often noted in the native alphabet of Oscan for example. This distinction should be indicated in Proto-Italic appropriately. If it's unclear whether to use *j/*w or *i/*u, use the former. There was apparently some allophony in this case, which is why we have both diēs (with *dj- > *di-) and Iuppiter (with *dj- > *j-) from the same Italic word *djous!

  • Short vowels: *a, *e, *i, *o, *u
  • Long vowels: *ā, *ē, *ī, *ō, *ū
  • Short diphthongs: *ai, *ei, *oi, *au, *ou
  • Long diphthongs: *āi, (*ēi?), *ōi, (*āu?), (*ōu?)

The long diphthongs occur only in word-final position, primarily in case endings. They can be reconstructed because they are affected differently by vowel reduction in Latin: word-final *ai and *oi both appear as ī, while final *āi appears as ae and final *ōi as ō.