In the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages there is chapter on the Sabellian languages written by Rex E. Wallace. This text follows the usual transliteration convention:

According to standard epigraphical conventions, texts written in native Sabellian alphabets are transcribed in bold-face type; texts written in a Republican Latin alphabet appear in italics.

I was quite surprised to see on page 830 of this book the Umbrian word "treblanir" written in bold face:

The suffix -ano- is also used to form adjectives from nouns; most of the examples attested in inscriptions are formed from ethnic or topographical names, for example, Oscan Abellanús "from the city of Abella" (nom. pl. masc.), Umbrian Treblanir "leading to Trebula" (abl. sg. neut.).

In the texts of the Iguvine tablets, which I've read in the book Le tavole iguvine by Augusto Ancillotti and Romolo Cerri (edizioni Jama Perugia, 1997) – I would like to read the more detailed book Le tavole di Gubbio e la civiltà degli Umbri by the same authors, but it's completely unaccessible to me – I've found often this word, but always in the texts written using Latin scripts. However, the above cited excerpt seems to suggest that this word could have been found written in Umbrian epichoric alphabet (that is, locally adapted from Etruscan alphabet) in some other texts, maybe in an inscription. Is that way?

Something similar happens to the Umbrian word "pihatu" mentioned at pages 830 and 837 and written in bold face. This is an imperative verb form translated in Italian as "purifica" by Ancillotti and Cerri and as "let him purify" by Wallace. In the Iguvine tablets the imperative "pitahu" appears only in sections of the text written in Latin scripts. But the bold face in Wallace's text suggests that it has been found written in Umbrian alphabet. Taking into account that "pitahu" is an imperative verb form, this seems to me quite curious. The Iguvine tablets contain lots of imperatives either addressed to gods in prayers or used the huge amount of instructions for the officiants of religious ceremonies or in commands to be carried by the people who participated in such ceremonies.

It seems somewhat strange to me that these imperative forms could be found in the very short other known Umbrian inscriptions, but maybe I'm wrong. In tablet III 3, written in Umbrian characters, one finds the variant pehatu, but the spelling "pihatu" in the Iguvine tablets is only found written in the Latin alphabet.

So, these two words should be written in italics in Wallace's article? Or have them been found written with these particular spellings in Umbrian alphabet in some other (not the Iguvine tablets) minor Umbrian inscription?

There seems to be an spelling error in one of the instances given in Wallace's section about imperative mood verb forms at page 829: anserio should be aserio, or at least this is the spelling that can be found at tablet VI a 4.


1 Answer 1


I think this is a mistake. In the Iguvine tablets, treblanir appears only in tablet VI and VII, which are written in the Latin alphabet. This is verified in in Poultney's index.

In Wallace's Sabellic Languages of Ancient Italy (2007) p.45, he also has treblanir in italics, although he has the word in bold on p. 34 in what looks like a copy-paste job from his article with light editing.

In searching other inscriptions, neither treblanir nor treblaneir appear outside the Iguvine tablets in the Titus database, nor is it found at all in Donald O'Brien's collection of minor Umbrian inscriptions.

Jane Stuart-Smith in a 2000 article prints the word in italics, not in bold (p. 103), citing the Iguvine tablets in question (VIa 19).1 Similarly, in discussing the adjectives, Françoise Bader does the same, and even has ABELLANÚS in capital letters (which is another way of indicating the Umbrian alphabet.)2

Moreover, a review of Wallace's chapter by Jared S. Klein points out that this isn't the only mistake of the nature in the chapter.3 Elsewhere, Wallace prints tote and totam when he should have printed tote and totam. The only puzzling aspect of that review is that Klein, when pointing out that Wallace mislabels the Treblanir ("Treblanir should be labeled 'abl. pl.', not 'abl. sg.'"), keeps the bold. It's possible Klein overlooked this mistake, or maybe he knows of a new (or unpublished) inscription that post-dates 2000. Reaching out directly to him or Wallace will yield you better results.

I haven't found the same tell with pihatu as with treblanir, but given it also is not easily found in other Umbrian inscriptions that I see, it is probably a mistake here, too, and one easily made, since you have the exact same word with a different spelling written in the Umbrian alphabet.

Unless they confirm a source, though, it seems likely to me to just be a mistake.


  1. Stuart-Smith, Jane 2000. "Two South Picene Inscriptions Reread — CH.2 and AP.4." Papers of the British School at Rome 68: 95–109.

  2. Bader, Françoise 1988. "Génitifs-adjectifs et dérivés d'appartenance d'origine pronominale." Historische Sprachforschung 101.2: 171–210

  3. Klein, Jared S. 2005. [Review of An Encyclopedia of Ancient Languages]. JAOS 125.1: 91–97.

  • Sorry: I've now realized that my previous comment was wrong. The word treplanu from tablet I b 9 contains also the suffix -ano-, so it seems to be the same adjective in another case. In fact, both verufe treplanu (I b 9) and uerisco treblanir (VI a 19, your previous example) are translated in Italian by Ancillotti and Cerri as "porta Trebulana", that's is "Trebulana door", where I think "Trebulana" can be consider an adjective. The translation in my book is a little difficult to follow because I have the whole translated text without any reference to number lines of the original.
    – Charo
    Commented Jul 29, 2023 at 22:40
  • Anyway, your answer is now much more interesting.
    – Charo
    Commented Jul 29, 2023 at 22:41
  • @Charo No worries, I misunderstood what you were going for, which accounted for why I included the other examples.
    – cmw
    Commented Jul 29, 2023 at 22:52
  • I was under the impression that I was being misunderstood. For this reason, I decided to add the case of the imperative verb form pihatu, that I now see neither appears outside the Iguvine tablets in the Titus database nor in Donald O'Brien's collection of minor Umbrian inscriptions. So it seems that in Wallace chapter about "Sabellian languages" there are more errors than the ones mentioned in Klein's review.
    – Charo
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 14:42
  • 1
    By the way, I have found this Umbrian lexicon from Iguvine tablets, which seems to correspond to the contents of section 12 of Le tavole di Gubbio e la civiltà degli Umbri by Ancillotti and Cerri. I find it very useful.
    – Charo
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 14:44

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