Oscan language
Italic mapOscan belongs to the Osco-Umbrian subgroup of Italic languages, which was brought to Italy, as believed, either from the North through Istria and Venetia, or from Illyria through the Adriatic. The first Italics to settle on the peninsula were Oscans with there major dialectal groups: Samnitian, Marrucinian, Paelignan, Vestinian. Oscans spread over the Central and Southern regions of Italy, gradually assimilating different non-Indo-European tribes living there. In the 5th century BC, Oscan language was the most widely spoken on Italic lands.

Oscan assumes a pre-eminent position among the group, because of the political power and geographical extent of its' speakers. The Oscan orthography is descended from the Etruscan model, and thus lacks a letter O; in approximately 300 B.C., two letters - Í and Ú - were added to the alphabet, the latter of which was used for the sound /o/. For the voiced consonants /g/ and /d/, the symbols C and R were used, respectively.

As far as the grammar is concerned, Oscan was the most archaic and conservative among Italic languages. It preserved practically all Indo-European diphthongs, most of noun endings were quite close to Indo-European ones. Oscan is believed to be the only Italic tongue who did not know rotacism (s > r between vowels), and the Common Italic structure of declension was kept there with its significant endings -asôm (gen. pl. of â-stems) and -ód (ablative sg. of o-stems). Oscan had a famous Osco-Umbrian p instead of Indo-European kw (which took Oscan close to Celtic tongues). The verb had a structure similar to that in Latin and other Italic languages: infect and perfect times, passive endings in -r, future imperative. The infinitive in Oscan ended in -um.

Oscan language was assimilated by Latin since the 4th century BC, when Rome began to conquer Samnitian lands. But still, much is known about the language because of some texts found in Italy (Cippus Abellanus and others). But in fact, there is much unknown also.

Oscan Links