This study is dedicated to the memory of József Herman who in 1983 first introduced2the idea of examining the possibility of a Vulgar Latin isogloss in the provinces of the Alps-Danube-Adria region, based on the historical analysis of Jürgen Unter- mann’s study.3 35 years later, this study is the first attempt4 to analyze all of the provinces of the Alps-Danube-Adria region, Venetia et Histria, Raetia, Noricum, Pannónia Inferior, Pannonia Superior and Dalmatia together as a linguistic unit according to the vision of Herman, relying on the statistical methodology devised by Herman, and using the LLDB database, conceptualized also by Herman. Untermann pointed out that the provinces of the Alps-Danube-Adria region constituted an organic and coherent social, economic and political unit within the Roman empire, and Herman proposed that this region could be a good candidate as a larger geographic area for future research in Latin dialectology, since socio-political geographical units often shape linguistic boundaries.
In this study, we are comparing all of the provinces belonging to the Alps- Danube-Adria region, and we are also contrasting the data of the provincial capitals with those of their countryside. All these results will be interpreted in the framework of the statistics of large regional samples of Vulgar Latin. In our methodology, the spelling mistakes of the inscriptions were divided between an early period of the 1st to 3rd centuries and a late period of the 4th to 7th centuries, except in the case of Noricum and Raetia where I had to lower the dividing line to 250 AD due to the sparse numbers of data from the late period. I counted for both periods those data which couldn’t be dated precisely to only one of the two periods, and in the case of Noricum and Raetia, I included the data in the category labeled as “fortasse recte” in the LLDB, which are those inscriptional errors that potentially might be explained as correct. I didn’t include archaic spellings which could have distorted especially the statistics related to the misspelling of velar vowels. For the examination of consonant changes, I calculated the relative frequencies of all inscriptional errors which cannot be classified as purely orthographical or technical mistakes5 of the lapicida. We must note that the number of linguistically relevant data in certain territories was very low, but we shall consider this presentation as a hypothetical evaluation of the Vulgar Latin in the Alps-Danube-Adria region.
The present paper was prepared within the framework of the project NKFIH (National Research, Development and Innovation Office) No. K 124170 entitled “Computerized Historical Linguistic Database of Latin Inscriptions of the Imperial Age” (see:http://lldb.elte.hu/) and of the project entitled “Lendület (‘Momentum’) Research Group for Computational Latin Dialectology” (Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences).
Herman, J.: Le latin dans les provinces danubiennes de l’Empire romain. Problemes et perspectives de la recherche. In ANRWII.29.2 (1983) 1089-1106 (= Herman, J.: Du latin aux langues romanes. Études de linguistique historique réunies par Sándor Kiss avec une préface de Jacques Monfrin. Tübingen 1990, 164-182).
Untermann, J.: Alpen-Donau-Adria. In Die Sprachen im Römischen Reich der Kaiserzeit [Bonne4 Jahrbücher, Beiheft 40]. Köln-Bonn 1980, 45-63.
There have been made partial attempts in our previously published studies which covered only certain territories of the Alps-Danube-Adria region, such as Gonda, A.: Changes in the consonant system of Pannonia Inferior, Dalmatia and Venetia et Histria. Graeco-Latina Brunensia 22.2 (2017) 165-181 and Gonda, A.: The Aquincum-Salona-Aquileia Triangle: Latin language in the Alps-Danube-Adria region. Acta Antiqua Hung. 57.1 (2017) 99-123.
Purely orthographical misspellings are the errors like the confusion between the letters C∼K∼Q and X∼CS, and technical errors of the lapicida are errors like the carving of an E instead of F.
Tamás, L.: Einführung in die historisch-vergleichende romanische Sprachwissenschaft. Würzburg 1983, 45-48. Neither the unstressed /o/ nor the unstressed short /i/ changed to /u/ and /e/ in all instances, but, in the case of unstressed short /i/ > /e/, it is a detectable tendency in all Romance languages, and the unstressed /o/ > /u/ is indeed testified by the Eastern Romance languages such as Romanian and Dalmatian.
The statistics of these four regional typology samples for velar and palatal changes were calculated from the data of the indicated provinces between the 4th-9th centuries in the LLDB according to the state of the database on 6th September, 2018. Archaisms like SERVOS < servus were excluded. Data which were dated to a wider period, possibly belonging to the 4th-9th centuries but also possibly earlier, were included in the statistics in order amplify the size of the samples.
Our two Italian regions, which are related to Eastern Romance and in some analyses they grouped together with the Eastern Romance languages, have very low proportions of stressed short /ú/ represented by the letter O. This might suggest that the center of this conservative phenomenon could be Italy originally, and it seems until the collapse of the Roman empire neither the Eastern Romance nor the Western Romance vowel system took their definite forms that are now recognized as such according to the testimony of the Italian and Romanian languages.
See n. 7. The statistics have been calculated according to the same methods as it was done for the vowels, and our regional Vulgar Latin samples don’t include the data from the provinces of the Alps- Danube-Adria region.
See Tamás (n. 6) 66-68, or Herman, J.: Vulgar Latin. Pennsylvania State University Press 2000, 45-47, and Loporcaro, M.: Phonological Processes. In Maiden, M. et al. (eds): The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages I. Cambridge 2011, 154.
Cf. Gonda: Changes (n. 4) 171. Romance languages inherited the Latin voiced consonants generally in voiced form, exceptions from under this rule are usually medieval Gallo-Italian, Gallo-Romance and Catalan developments, for example, the final obstruent devoicing in Gallo-Italian dialects, see Benin- cà, P. - Parry, M. - Pescarini, D.: The Dialects of Northern Italy. In Ledgeway, A. - Maiden, M. (eds): The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages. Oxford University Press 2016, 185-205; 190, and in Catalan, see Lloret, M.-R.: The Phonological Role of Paradigms: The case of insular Catalan. In Auger, J. - Clements, J. C. - Vance, B. (eds): Contemporary Approaches to Romance Linguistics: Selected Papers from the 33rd Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages [Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 258]. Philadelphia 2004, 275-298, here 278-280.
See Vaananen, V.: Introduction au latin vulgaire. Paris 1981, 58-60, Tamás (n. 6) 83-85 and Loporcaro (n. 10) 150-153.
Because degemination is always and in every territory at least two times more frequent than gemination.
Tamás (n. 6) 74-83, Herman (n. 10) 47-48, and Loporcaro, M.: Syllable, Segment and Prosody. In Maiden, M. et al. (eds): The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages I. Cambridge 2011, 50-108, here 91-94.
For a recent and exhaustive dialectological analysis of the omission of word-final /-s/, see Adamik, B.: The Problem of the Omission of Word-final -s as Evidenced in Latin Inscriptions. Graeco- Latina Brunensia 22.2 (2017) 5-21.
Adamik, B.: On the Vulgar Latin Merger of /b/ and /w/ and Its Correlation with the Loss of Intervocalic /w/: Dialectological Evidence from Inscriptions. Pallas 103 (2017) 25-36.
Vaananen (n. 12) 50-51 on intervocalic /w/ drop and 56-58 on B∼V fusion. Also compare Tamás (n. 6) 61-62 and Herman (n. 10) 45-47.
That the degree of V∼B confusion was not as preeminent as we would expect - even though it was an ever increasing tendency - in the Hispanic provinces, it was confirmed by Adamik: On the Vulgar Latin Merger (n. 16). We can assume that the /w/∼/b/∼/ß/ merger known from modern Ibero-Romance was fully developed only in the early Middle Ages.
Our data after the collapse of the empire are scarce, which means that even though we conducted the database search for data between the 4th-9th centuries, in reality, data after the 5th century are usually sporadic.