Latino-Faliscan languages

Originally Latium in Italy, at maximum extent as a living language, throughout the Roman Empire, especially in western regions.
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
Linguistic Landscape of Central Italy.png
Latino-Faliscan languages and dialects in different shades of blue.

The Latino-Faliscan or Latino-Venetic languages are a group of languages spoken by the Latino-Faliscan people of Italy, belonging to the Italic languages, and are a group of the Indo-European languages.

Latin and Faliscan belong to the group as well as two others often considered to be archaic Latin dialects: Lanuvian and Praenestine.

Latin eventually absorbed ideas from the others and replaced Faliscan as the power of Ancient Rome grew. All of the other languages other than Latin went extinct as Latin gained more followers. Latin, in turn, via Vulgar Latin, developed into the numerous Romance languages, which are now spoken by more than 800 million people worldwide, largely due to the influence of the French, Spanish and Portuguese Empires.

Linguistic description

Latin and Faliscan have several innovations with Italic:

  • The late Indo-European sequences /*ə, *eu/ evolve into a, ou.
  • The Indo-European syllabic liquids /*l̥, *r̥/ develop an epenthetic vowel o giving in Italic ol, or.
  • The Indo-European syllabic nasals /*m̥, *n̥/ develop an epenthetic vowel e giving em, en.
  • Fricativisation of aspirated stops of Indo-European at the beginning of the word /*bʰ, *dʰ, *gʰ/ into f, f, h.
  • Assimilation of the sequence /*kʷ...p/ into kʷ...kʷ (Proto-Indo-European *penkʷe 'five' > Latin quinque)

Some differences are that Latin and Faliscan retain the Indo-European labiovelars /*kʷ, *gʷ/ as qu-, gu- (they would later become velars + semivocal), while in Osco-Umbrian, they become labial p, b. In addition, Latin presents the evolution of ou into ū (Latin lūna < Proto-Italic *lousna < PIE *leuk-sna 'luminosa').


The consonant inventory of Proto-Latino-Faliscan would be basically identical to that of archaic Latin:

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Labio-
Plosives voiceless *p *t *k *kʷ
voiced *b *d *g *gʷ
Fricative *f *s *h
Sonorants *r, *l *j *w
Nasal *m *n

The /kʷ/ sound still had to exist in archaic Latin when the alphabet was developed where the minimum pair comes from: quī /kʷī/ ("who", nominative) - cuī /ku.ī/ ("to whom", dative). Note that in other positions no attempt is made to distinguish between diphthongs and hiatuses: persdere ("to persuade") is a diphthong but sua ("his"/"her") is a hiatus. For reasons of symmetry, it is quite possible that many sequences of gu in archaic Latin will in fact represent a voiced labiovelar /gʷ/.