An Historical Sketch Of The Indo-European Languages -- By: B. W. Dwight

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 015:57 (Jan 1858)
Article: An Historical Sketch Of The Indo-European Languages
Author: B. W. Dwight


An Historical Sketch Of The Indo-European Languages

Rev. B. W. Dwight

[Continued from page 769, Vol. XIV.]

2. The Italic family.— Three distinct races originally peopled Italy, namely: the Iapygian , Etruscan, and Italian. Of the Iapygian race we have but little knowledge. In the extreme part of South-eastern Italy, a considerable number of inscriptions has been found, whose language is essentially different from that of all the other dialects of the land. It possesses, like the Greek, the aspirated consonants. Its genitive forms aihi and ihi answer to the Sanscrit asya and Greek οιο, and indicate its origin, although not yet itself deciphered, to be quite certainly Indo-European. These inscriptions are regarded as Iapygian; and the race that spoke it are believed also to have prevailed, at an early date, in Apulia. As the emigrations of masses are, at the first, always landward — since seaward movements pre-suppose too great a knowledge of navigation for the first barbarous periods of history; and as the Iapygians occupied the outermost verge of the peninsula, it is natural to suppose, that they constituted the first race that ever came from the East into Italy. Like the Celts, dwelling at last on the flanks of Western Europe, they were pushed further and further from their first resting place, by each successive tide of emigration behind them, until they became lodged in the wilds and fastnesses of Messapia and Calabria, to be driven from these their last homes, rocky and ocean-bound, no more.

As to the Etruscans, it is a question of much doubt among scholars, what was the origin of this ancient and interesting tribe. Donaldson1 has a theory on the subject,

which he utters, like everything else of his own invention, with great assurance. He regards the Etruscan language, as, in part, a Pelasgian idiom more or less corrupted by the Umbrian, and, in part, a relic of the oldest Low-German or Scandinavian dialects. They were composed, accordingly, in his view, of two main elements as a people, namely: Tyrrheno-Pelasgians, more or less intermixed with Umbrians, and Haitians or Low-Germans: the former prevailing in the South, and the latter in the North-western parts of Etruria. But the origin of the Tuscans, notwithstanding this bold analysis of their elementary constitution, as a people, still remains an unresolved enigma. Some peculiarities, serving to identify and isolate their language, as a separate branch of the Indo-European family, are these: 1. They had none of the medial mutes (b, g, d,). Hence, they substituted the smooth mutes for them, in their equivalent forms of Greek wor...

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