05 June 2013

Cisalpine Gaulish karnitu 'he built' (updated)

The funerary inscription of Todi (Umbria) is a bilingual Gaulish-Latin which contains two Cisalpine Gaulish texts written in the Etruscan alphabet: Ateknati Trutikni karnitu artuaś Koisis Trutiknos, [At]eknati Truti[k]ni [kar]nitu lokan Ko[i]sis [Tr]utiknos 'Koisis son of Drutos, has built the tomb of Ategnatos son of Drutos'1.

The verb karnitu is translated in the Latin text as locauit et statuit '(he) placed and erected', whose object lokan /longan/ 'tomb, cinerary urn' (accusative) corresponds to Celtic *longā 'vessel' (see here). Although specialists have proposed an etymology from *karno- 'heap of stones'2, in my opinion we're dealing with a non-Celtic word. In fact, karnitu can be readily compared to Lepontic karite '(he) made' in the funerary inscription Pelkui pruiam Teu karite, iśos kalite palam 'Devos made (this) tomb for Belgus, he himself raised the tombstone', where we've got the forms bruia 'tomb'3 and pala 'tombstone'.

I link these verbs to Etruscan car- 'to build, to make'ceriχu- 'to build', a loanword from IE *kʷer- 'to make'4 (Sanskrit karóti, kr̥ɳóti), with the typical delabialization of *kʷ in satem IE languages. In some branches5, this verb developed a secondary meaning related to magic, as in Old Irish creth 'poetry' (Ogamic Qritti 'poet's (gen.)') and cruth 'shape, form', Middle Welsh pryd < Celtic *kʷritu-, and Welsh prydydd, Old Cornish pridit 'poet' and the Gaulish personal name Prittius < P-Celtic *pritijo- < Celtic *kʷritjo-6.
1 X. Delamarre (2008): Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise, p. 105-106.
2 R. Matasović (2009): Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic, p. 191.
3 Usually linked to Gaulish brīvā 'bridge'.
4 Attested in Middle Welsh peri 'to cause, to create, to make'.
Sanskrit kártra-, kr̥tyá: 'enchantment, charm', kárman- 'sacrifice', Lithuanian kerė́ti, keraĩ 'charms, enchantments', kerų žodžiai 'magical formules', Old Church Slavonic čaro-dĕjĭ 'magician'.
X. Delamarre, op.cit., p. 252.

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