Frank Quipley returned from a long stay at a lavish villa in Tuscany. We thought that the villain1 was over there for one of his many extended vacations, but it turns out he was also digging into the past of one of the region’s most famous former languages. We were planning to skip the talk until we saw Josh wheel in a case of Castello di Quipley wine. The consensus is that it is overpriced (price: free and all-
The origins of the Etruscan language are shrouded in mystery. Some hypothesize that it may be related to undeciphered languages in the Aegean, such as Eteocretan.2 “Others believe that it obviously comes from a different language,” said Quipley. “Russian...” he paused.
One of our more adventurous students offered up an alternative hypothesis: “Hurrian?”
Quipley looked at him bemusedly. “That’s what I was trying to say before you interrupted me. Rushin’ to conclusions about its origins is a fool’s game. Nevertheless, it has left clear traces in nearby languages.”
Most of these Etruscan traces have been lost to the sands of time, with only indirect connections to the present. For instance, Etruscan is known not to have made a written distinction between /o/ and /u/, which may initially have been a single vowel. Later Etruscans, themselves unsure of how previous generations pronounced this/
We tuned (blacked?) out when Quipley turned to hypotheses that are truly absurd. We can’t actually disprove that the character “Mini-
1 One of our nicknames for him.
2 Homophonous with another of our nicknames for Dr. Quipley.
3 There’s a really good sandwich shop on the other side of campus, but most days we eat the slop in the dining hall downstairs.
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