While trying to answer an etymological question, I was looking through several different online resources about Etruscan vocabulary. Annoyingly, although these resources use mostly the same transcription system, there are a few significant differences.

Specifically, some sources use «th ph kh» for 𐌈 𐌘 𐌙, while others use Greek «θ φ χ» (sometimes substituting Latin «þ» and «x»). And some seem to mix the two styles: Wikipedia "Etruscan language" mentions both zilaχ and zilath as words for "praetor".

When a source uses both digraphs and Greek letters for the Etruscan aspirates, is there a reason for this? For instance, do inscriptions distinguish between 𐌈 «θ» and 𐌕𐌇 «th»? (If so, are there theories on what the distinction could mean phonologically?) Or is it just inconsistent editorial preference, like macrons on Latin vowels?

  • 4
    𐌈 𐌘 𐌙 is what you can find in the actual Etruscan texts but since it is time-consuming and typographically challenging, they are transliterated as Greek θ φ χ - cf. "Etruskische Buchstaben, die im lateinischen Alphabet fehlen, aber im griechischen Musteralphabet vorhanden waren, naemlich Theta, Chi und Phi transkribiert man griechlich" (Etruskische Texte, v. 1, p. 20).
    – Alex B.
    Feb 5, 2017 at 23:11
  • a nice table books.google.com/…
    – Alex B.
    Feb 5, 2017 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


Searching through Glen Gordon's database of attested Etruscan word forms, I haven't found any instances of transcribed th (tau + eta), even as variants or hapaxes. This leads me to believe that it's just Wikipedia's inconsistent editing again, occasionally substituting digraphs for non-Latin letters without rhyme or reason.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.