by Tom Patterson
According to “The Dangers of Publishing Preliminary Findings” in Babel Volume I, Number 3, by Pablo Palabras—written in response to Rodrigo Diaz’s “Classifying an Andean Language”, Babel Volume I, Number 2—there are a number of issues with Tileni as related to Etruscan, and he proposes a creole. I disagree. Due to the COVID pandemic, I could not travel myself, but since their two papers came out over 30 years ago, I was surprised that no research has been done on it since, especially since it could be invaluable to historians in reading Etruscan. This paper seeks to relate the two.
I have also designed an orthography for the language; here is a table of the vocabulary, both as orthography and as pronunciation:
|priest | harutspex
Since Diaz did not provide a proto-form of each word that he gave in his paper, I have taken the liberty to create one myself. Immediately of note is the fact that /z/ in Tileni corresponds to /t͡s/ in Etruscan. Also interesting is that Etruscan /s/ also corresponds to also Tileni /z/. Thanks to Palabras’ paper, it is also known that the affricate /t͡s/ exists in Tileni as well. Also interesting is the correspondence of Tileni geminate /l/ to /tʰl/ in Etruscan, suggesting that it went through a stage as /t͡ɬ/. Likewise, Etruscan /ʃ/ seems to correspond quite well to Tileni /s/.
As for grammar, I was at first inclined to believe that most of what Palabras claimed was false, or the artifact of a regional accent where /r/ had been labialized and then colored by the sounds around it. However, talupu (/talubu/)—which he claims to mean “to be dyed”—is clearly a unique word. I honestly believe that besides this word, we can entirely disregard Palabras’ results—because of the 3.5 second velar fricative—as being biased by mischief from his participants. This velar fricative, I believe, is the result of Spanish interference, or maybe a reflex of Etruscan “χ”, but is not a trigeminate.
Vowel length in Tileni is derived by compensatory lengthening. /ai/ in Etruscan corresponds to /e:/ in Tileni, /akʰ/ at the end of a word in Etruscan is a long /a/ in Tileni, and /iw/ from Etruscan is /i:/ in Tileni. Additionally, where Etruscan has “θl”, Tileni has a geminate “l”. I am unsure what happened to Etruscan /f/, because none of the words in Diaz’s paper were cognates to words with /f/ in Etruscan. If I were able to learn the word for “cloak” in Tileni, it would be reconstructable, but as of yet, Tileni /f/ may correspond to /f/ in Etruscan, or even /pʰ/. If Diaz had gotten to 7 with the Tileni, then I could conclude this correspondence, and we would be able to work backwards when reading Etruscan; I would not be surprised if Tileni was mutually intelligible.
Finally, after a bit of research—and after I had made my table—I was able to find a few more words. After getting in contact with a native speaker who claimed to be from a town called “Clalla”, I was able to uncover a few new words. For example, the word for child is hus (/huz/), and children are known as husivl /huzi:l/. I am proud to demonstrate the existence of another word in this language. I would also like to say that the accent the speaker had when speaking English suggests that indeed, when one considers he said “fings”—oh well, it’s probably nothing. But I would like to conclude by suggesting that Tileni adopt spelling such that it looks even more like Etruscan.