|Native to||Inland central-west Iberian Peninsula|
|Region||Beira Alta, Beira Baixa and Alto Alentejo Portugal and adjacent areas of Extremadura Spain|
|Extinct||2nd century AD|
Lusitanian (so named after the Lusitani or Lusitanians) was a Paleohispanic language that apparently belonged to the Indo-European family. There has been support for some relationship with the ancient Celtic languages of the Iberian Peninsula, either as a member or as a cousin sometimes termed "para-Celtic". It is known from only five sizeable inscriptions, dated from circa 1 CE, and numerous names of places (toponyms) and of gods (theonyms). The language was spoken in the territory inhabited by Lusitanian tribes, from Douro to the Tagus rivers, territory that nowadays belongs mainly to Portugal, but also to Spain.
Lusitanian is an Indo-European language but it was quite different from the Celtiberian languages of the Iberian Peninsula. Koch says it is not considered a Celtic language under existing definitions of linguistic Celticity. The Lusitanian inscriptions retain Indo-European p in positions where Celtic languages would not, most unambiguously in PORCOM 'pig' in one inscription, PORGOM in another, a feature considered non-Celtic. Prosper, in his Lusitanian etymologies (2002; 2008), demonstrates that not only does Lusitanian not agree closely with the usual Celtic reflexes but that it is closer to Italic, in which case there were two well-differentiated branches of Indo-European in the Iberian Peninsula before the Romans, with Lusitanian belonging to the non-Celtic branch. Villar and Pedrero (2001), like Prosper, also connect Lusitanian with the Italic languages. They base their finding on parallels in the names of deities and some lexical items, such as the Umbrian gomia, Lusitanian comaiam, and some grammatical elements. Prósper also sees Lusitanian as predating the introduction of Celtic and shows that it retains elements of Old European.
On the other hand, Koch says there is no unambiguous example of the reflexes of the Indo-European syllabic resonants l̥ r̥ m̥ n̥ and the voiced aspirate stops bʱ dʱ ɡʱ. Additionally, names in the inscriptions can be read as Celtic, such as AMBATVS, CAELOBRIGOI and VENDICVS. Dagmar Wodtko argues that it is hard to identify Lusitanian personal or place-names that are without question not Celtic. Some argue that the p- in PORCOM does not alone mark Lusitanian as not Celtic, and that it could be classed as a Celtic dialect, but one that preserved Indo-European p (or possibly an already phonetically weakened [ɸ], written 〈P〉) as an archaism. This is based largely on numerous apparently Celtic personal, deity, and place names.
Lusitanian also possibly shows p from Indo-European kʷ in PVMPI, pronominial PVPPID from *kʷodkʷid, and PETRANIOI derived from *kʷetwor- 'four'. (This is a feature found in numerous Indo-European languages from various branches, and by itself has no bearing on the question of whether Lusitanian is Celtic.)
Inscriptions have been found in Arroyo de la Luz (in Cáceres), Cabeço das Fragas (in Guarda) and in Moledo (Viseu) and most recently in Ribeira da Venda. Taking into account Lusitanian theonyms, anthroponyms and toponyms, the Lusitanian sphere would include modern northeastern Portugal and adjacent areas in Spain, with the centre in Serra da Estrela.
The most famous inscriptions are those from Cabeço das Fráguas and Lamas de Moledo in Portugal and Arroyo de la Luz in Spain. Ribeira da Venda is the most recently discovered (2008). All the known inscriptions are written in the Latin alphabet.
|Lamas de Moledo:||Cabeço das Fráguas:||Arroyo de la Luz (I & II):||Arroyo de la Luz (III):||Ribeira da Venda:|
A sheep [lamb?] for Trebopala
[- - - - - -] XX•OILAM•ERBAM
For (...) twenty (...). A pasture lamb to Harase. Ten lambs for
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- Lusitanian in LINGVÆ·IMPERII (Spanish)
- Detailed map of the Pre-Roman Peoples of Iberia (around 200 BC)
- Study of the Ribeira da Venda inscription (Portuguese)