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Review of  Sabellian Demonstratives

Reviewer: Nicholas Zair
Book Title: Sabellian Demonstratives
Book Author: Emmanuel Dupraz
Publisher: Brill
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Subject Language(s): Italian
Language Family(ies): Indo-European
Issue Number: 23.3015

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AUTHOR: Emmanuel Dupraz
TITLE: Sabellian Demonstratives
SUBTITLE: Forms and Functions
SERIES TITLE: Brill’s Studies in Indo-European Languages & Linguistics
YEAR: 2012

Nicholas Zair, Peterhouse & The Faculty of Classics, Cambridge University


This work is devoted to the system of demonstratives used in the Sabellian (also
known as Sabellic or Osco-Umbrian) languages of ancient Italy. The Sabellian
languages, whose best-attested members are Oscan, Umbrian, and South Picene, are
Indo-European languages often assumed to be closely related to Latin (and
Latin’s sister language, Faliscan). The majority of the work is devoted to the
collection and analysis of all uses of demonstratives, divided according to stem
type, in the Sabellian languages, from the point of view of their pragmatic,
syntactic and semantic usage. One chapter is devoted to a reconstruction of the
diachronic developments of the system of demonstratives.

The book contains ten chapters, including the introduction and conclusion.
Preceding the contents page is an explanation of the abbreviations and
conventions used in the book; at the end of the book is a bibliography, an index
locorum, and an index verborum. The Introduction and Acknowledgements provide a
brief introduction to the inscriptional sources of the Sabellian languages,
particularly with regard to their suitability for discussion of demonstratives.
Chapter 1, “Some Theoretical Issues”, introduces theoretical approaches to the
pragmatic, syntactic and semantic properties of demonstratives, with examples
taken from Latin literary and inscriptional sources.

Chapters 2-5 collect the evidence for, and discuss the use of four Sabellian
demonstrative stems, devoting a chapter to each stem. Chapter 2, “*Esto-/*Esmo-:
Exophora, Text Deixis, Discourse Deixis, and Suppletion”, discusses the evidence
for the stems *esto and *esmo . Dupraz concludes that both *esto and *esmo
are used exophorically in Umbrian, South Picene and ‘Pre-Samnite’, with text
deictic usage also found in the more text-structurally complex context of the
Umbrian Iguvine Tables. Exophoric examples have a proximal meaning, i.e., they
point to a referent close to the speaker. The stems are never used
anaphorically. Furthermore, *esto- is only attested in the nominative or
accusative singular or plural, while *esmo- is found only in oblique cases.
Consequently, Dupraz follows earlier scholars in arguing that these two stems
should be seen as suppletive parts of the same demonstrative paradigm.
Strikingly, neither *esto nor *esmo- is found in Oscan inscriptions, but Dupraz
suggests that this preposition did exist in Oscan. As a comparandum for the
avoidance of a particular demonstrative for pragmatic reasons he points out the
infrequency of ‘iste’ in Republican Latin inscriptions. He also observes the
presence of *esto- in a single ‘Pre-Samnite’ inscription. Dupraz considers
‘Pre-Samnite’ to have been particularly close to Oscan (although this is not
based on strong evidence, as he himself acknowledges, p. 60, fn. 120).

Chapter 3, “*Eko-/*Ekso-: Exophora, Text Deixis, Discourse Deixis, and
Grammaticalisation”, involves the stems *eko- and *ekso-, which form a
suppletive paradigm in Oscan. According to Dupraz, following the traditional
view, only *ekso is found in Umbrian, in the form ‘es ’. He argues against the
contention of Penney (2002), that Umbrian only had a single proximal
demonstrative, and that Umbrian ‘es ’ belongs in a single, highly suppletive
paradigm with the forms of the *esto-/esmo- demonstrative, and comes from
something like *estso-. Dupraz acknowledges that *eko-/ekso- and *esto-/esmo-
are both proximal demonstratives which can be used both exophorically and as a
discourse deictic form. However, he identifies differences in their text deictic
uses, with *ekso- only being used in Umbrian to point to linguistic expressions
following the sentence containing it, while *esto-/esmo- can refer both
backwards and forwards. When used in discourse deixis, adnominal and pronominal
*ekso- always point to a preceding antecedent, while *esto-/esmo- is again free
to refer in both directions. According to Dupraz, *eko-/ekso- is considerably
more grammaticalised than *esto-/esmo-, with discourse deictic adverbs only
being derived from the former in Oscan and Umbrian, and also used much more in
formulaic environments than *esto /esmo .

In Chapter 4, “*Ollo-: Distance and Anaphora”, Dupraz discusses the Umbrian stem
*ōlo and the Oscan *ollo . In Umbrian, *ōlo- is found only in a locational
adverb, while *ollo- in Oscan is an anaphoric demonstrative; in both Umbrian and
Oscan it is used particularly in contexts referring to punishments, judgments or
curses, and consequently, probably had semantics which expressed distance
between speaker and referent.

Chapter 5, “*I-/*Eyo-/*Eyso-: Anaphora, Discourse Deixis, and
Grammaticalisation”, is the longest chapter, since demonstrative forms of this
stem are by far the best attested, and are found in both Umbrian and Oscan.
Unlike *esto-/esmo- and *eko-/ekso-, *i-/eyo-/eyso- cannot be used
exophorically, and is the only available anaphoric pronoun, except for the
semantically marked *ollo-. Most interestingly, it can also be used as a
discourse deictic, and in official texts, only refers to a clause in the same
sentence. This may be an example of genre-based stylistics in Sabellian.

Chapter 6, “Obscure Forms: Stems and Uses”, collects and discusses various other
forms which have been argued to be demonstratives or derived from
demonstratives. Chapter 7, “Sabellian Demonstratives: A Synchronic Comparison”,
compares various types of Republican Latin epigraphical and literary data for
the use of demonstratives with the equivalent genres in the Sabellian languages.
Dupraz concludes that, for similar types of genre, the use of the stems
*esto-/esmo-, *eko-/ekso-, *ollo- and *i-/eyo-/eyso- is largely similar to that
of Latin ‘iste’, ‘hic’, ‘ille’ and ‘is’, with the exception of the South Picene
use of *esto-/esmo- in poetic epitaphs rather than the expected *eko-/ekso-
found in the ‘North Oscan’ languages and paralleled by the Latin ‘hic’. This
parallelism allows Dupraz to speculate about uses of demonstratives which are
poorly or not at all attested in the Sabellian data.

Chapter 8, “Sabellian and Latin Demonstratives: A Diachronic Reconstruction”,
concerns the reconstruction of a Common Italic system of demonstratives, whence
developed the Sabellian and Latin-Faliscan systems. According to Dupraz, Common
Italic inherited two demonstratives and various particles which could be used to
draw a hearer’s attention to a referent. One demonstrative had a paradigm
*i-/ey-/e-sy-/e-sm-, and the other had a stem *so-/to- (still attested as such
in early Latin). The first demonstrative underwent a paradigm split and
elaboration to give *i-/ey-/e-sy- and *esto-/esmo-, while Sabellian *eko-/ekso-,
Latin ‘hic’, Sabellian *ollo and Latin ‘olle/ille’ arose from referential

Finally, a brief Conclusion sums up the findings of the previous chapters.


This book is a valuable contribution to the study of Sabellian grammar. Dupraz’s
analyses of sometimes very obscure passages of Sabellian texts are clear and
well argued. He is careful to emphasise problems caused by uncertainty of
interpretation, lack of data, and different genres of texts. Sabellian grammar
is often explained on the assumption that it is identical to that of Latin.
Dupraz’s concentration first on the data presented to us by Sabellian, followed
by a careful comparison with that of Latin, is a model for this kind of work,
demonstrating that while there are similarities between the systems of the
Sabellian languages and Latin, there are also important differences. In the rest
of this review I will focus particularly on the arguments put forward in
Chapters 2, 3 and 8 regarding the stems reconstructed by Dupraz as *esto-/esmo-
and *eko-/ekso-, followed by a few more minor points.

The key argument in Chapters 2 and 3 is for the existence in Common Sabellian -
and in both Umbrian and Oscan - of two suppletive paradigms *esto-/esmo- and
*eko-/ekso-, to be distinguished both formally and syntactically/pragmatically.
In this regard, Dupraz argues against the position of Penney (2002), who
concludes that all the proximal demonstrative forms in Umbrian belong to a
single paradigm with the stems *es-so-, *es-to- and *es-t-so-, and that
*eko-/ekso- is not attested in Umbrian. For Penney, Umbrian forms with the
historical stem ‘es-’ are to be explained as reflecting either the nominative
singular stem *es-so- or the oblique stem *es-t-so-. Two problems for Penney’s
view (as argued by Dupraz, pp. 111-115) are that there needs to be subsequent
levelling between the stems to get forms like nominative/ accusative plural
neuter ‘eso’ for expected ‘estu’ < *es-to-, and that this ‘estu’ is in fact
attested beside ‘eso’, giving two allomorphic neuter plurals. The first of these
is not particularly surprising, given such a suppletive paradigm, but the second
is unquestionably a serious problem.

Another of Dupraz’s arguments against Penney is the morphological complexity of
his proposed suppletive demonstrative stem, which, in addition to the stems
*es-so-, *es-to-, and *es-ts-o-, also has, according to Dupraz, a stem
*est-so-mo-, which Dupraz considers to be a “recharacterisation” of the original
oblique stem *es-t-so- in the dative and locative. However, in this regard I
think Dupraz has accidentally misrepresented Penney. Penney (2002: 140-141)
argues that the second part of *es-so-/*es-to- comes from the inherited
Indo-European pronoun *so-/to-, whose dative, ablative and locative singulars
were *tosmo:y, *tosmo:d and *tosmi, respectively (see Weiss 2009: 335-338), with
a formant *-sm- between root and ending. Penney calls the sequence *-smo:y an
“ending”, whereas Dupraz considers *-sm- to be part of a stem. It could be
argued that this terminological discrepancy is just hair-splitting, but the
point is that if one accepts Penney’s derivation of the *esto-type stem from
*so-/to-, the Sabellic forms in *est(s)osm- > *essmo- > *esmo- come for free, as
it were, by inheritance, and do not represent a new, recharacterised stem.
Furthermore, the pronominal stems/endings in *-sm- are not unique to *esto- in
Sabellian, but appear also in the relative pronoun dative singular Umbrian
‘pusme’, and perhaps ‘Pre-Samnite’ ‘pusmoi’, which are surprisingly not
discussed in this connection by Dupraz (this analysis of ‘pusme’ is doubted by
Cowgill 1970: 139, but accepted by Untermann 2000: 595-597; for the
‘Pre-Samnite’ form see Lazzarini & Poccetti 2001: 90-92). Interestingly, this
type of ‘stem’ in the dative, locative, and ablative in *-sm- is argued to be at
the base of the creation of the *esto-/esmo- pronoun at a Common Italic level by
Dupraz in Chapter 8 (pp. 296-303). He considers that a stem *e-sm- originally
formed part of the *i-/ey-/e-sy-/e-sm- demonstrative, but was then reanalysed as
a separate pronoun, *es-m-, to which *es-to- was added as a suppletive stem
created by adding *es- to forms of the pronoun *to-. Although this theory does
explain where the formant *es- came from in the first place, it does not provide
a reason why a suppletive paradigm was created by adding forms of the pronoun
*to- to *es-, for which no analogical model is supplied. Dupraz emphasises that
his proposed developments are extremely hypothetical; any attempt at an
explanation of highly suppletive paradigms, such as those that characterise the
demonstratives, is bound to assume a complicated path of different analogical
remodellings for which there is no direct evidence. Nonetheless, I find this
chapter the weakest part of the book.

One of the striking discoveries made by Dupraz is, as mentioned in the summary,
the claim that in Umbrian text, deictic *esto-/esmo- can refer both backwards
and forwards, while *(eko-/)ekso- can only refer forwards. All of the supposed
examples of text deictic *ekso- in Umbrian consist of the accusative plural
neuter ‘eso’, largely in a formulaic context involving a verb of saying in the
future imperative. Formally, ‘eso’ could equally belong to Penney’s proposed
stem *estso-, and therefore be part of the *esto-/esmo- stem (although Penney
does not mention the form ‘eso’). Another of Dupraz’s arguments against Penney
is this difference in text deictic and discourse deictic usages. However, it
seems to me that just as it is at least possible for ‘eso’ to belong with
*est(s)o- formally, the same is true of its syntax/pragmatics; since
*esto-/esmo- can refer both backwards and forwards, the distinction between the
behaviour of *esto-/esmo- and ‘eso’ arises only if we have already decided to
assign ‘eso’ to *eko-/ekso- rather than *esto-/esmo-. Although other cases of
text deictic *esto-/esmo- in Umbrian show a 5:2 ratio of backward: forward
reference, while all 20 instances of ‘eso’ are forward, this can be attributed
to the fact that ‘eso’ is almost entirely found in a single formulaic context.
Besides, the numbers are hardly large enough for us to draw certain conclusions
about the relative frequency of reference direction. The same goes for the
discourse deictic usages.

Further discussion of *eko- and *esto- and their various stem formants in
Sabellian still seems to be required. Although not all Dupraz’s arguments in
favour of his analysis are equally compelling, he has made a very valuable
contribution to the debate, especially by making available a full collection of
data, and providing strongly-argued support for traditional views regarding the
pronouns, against the views of Penney.

I discuss here a few minor points. Dupraz’s interpretation (pp.103-104) of Oscan
‘ekass viass’ (‘these streets’) as exophoric, referring to the streets nearest
to the inscription, seems to me less plausible than the alternative anaphoric
reading, since two streets have already been referred to earlier in the
inscription, and since this produces a less vague referent. Dupraz suggests (p.
182) an etymology of Umbrian ‘itek’ (‘thus’) as *ita (cf. Latin ‘ita’, ‘thus’)
plus a particle *-i, plus *ke, which is perfectly plausible; but an alternative
approach, if we were to accept Haug’s (2004) claim of raising of *-a- to -e- in
unstressed syllables in Sabellian, would be to posit simply *ita - identical to
Latin ‘ita’ - plus *ke. Dupraz translates (pp. 217-218) lines 6-7 of the Oscan
Tabula Bantina “inim. idic. siom. dat. senate[is] / tanginud. maimas. carneis.
pertumum” as ‘and that as to this he forbids by decision of the senate, the
major part of it’, with ‘idic’ being taken as a discourse deictic demonstrative
pointing to the previous clause and meaning ‘as to this’. Dupraz points out that
‘idic’ cannot refer back to the noun ‘comono’ (‘assembly’) in the previous
clause, since ‘comono’ is neuter plural, while ‘idic’ is neuter singular.
However, it seems possible to me that ‘idic’ is meant to refer back to ‘comono’,
with singular for grammatical plural, in a constructio ad sensum - there is a
similar case of this in line 9, where the singular noun ‘touto’ (‘people’) takes
a 3rd plural verb, ‘deicans’ (‘let them swear’). We would then translate this as
‘and he forbids it (the assembly) by decision of the senate, the major part of
it’. Dupraz (p. 286, fn. 5) derives Oscan ‘ionc’ (‘this’, accusative singular),
from *ey-om-ke; it would also be possible to see this as coming from *yom-ke,
with recharacterisation of the expected *im (perhaps found in South Picene) with
the o-stem accusative singular marker *-om.


Cowgill, Warren. 1970. Italic and Celtic superlatives and the dialects of
Indo-European. In G. Cardona, Henry M. Hoenigswald & Alfred Senn (eds.),
Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans, 113-153. Philadelphia: University of
Philadelphia Press

Haug, Dag. 2004. On unaccented short vowels in Sabellian and the morphology of
the Italic 2nd conjugation. Indogermanische Forschungen 109. 235-249

Lazzarini, Maria Letizia & Paolo Poccetti. 2001. Il mondo enotrio tra VI e V
secolo a.C. Atti dei seminari napoletani (1996-1998). L’iscrizione paleoitalica
da Tortora. Napoli: Loffredo Editore

Penney, John. 2002. Notes on some Sabellic Demonstratives. In Ina J. Hartmann &
Andreas Willi (eds.), Oxford University Working Papers in Linguistics, Philology
& Phonetics, 131-142. Oxford

Untermann, Jürgen. 2000. Wörterbuch des Oskisch-Umbrischen. Heidelberg:
Universitätsverlag C. Winter

Weiss, Michael. 2009. Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of
Latin. Ann Arbor & New York: Beech Stave Press

Dr. Nicholas Zair is a Research Fellow in Classics at Peterhouse and Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Classics, Cambridge University. He is currently working on the relationship between orthography and phonology in Oscan. His book ‘The Reflexes of the Proto-Indo-European Laryngeals in Celtic’ will be out this year, published by Brill. His research interests include the Italic and Celtic languages, Proto-Indo-European phonology and morphology, sound change and linguistic sub-grouping.

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