Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Clear Example of Itacism Using Eta at the Time of Polycarp

(4) 'Aννία 'Pήγιλλα 'Hρώδοv γvνή, τὸ φως της οἰkίας τίνος τα υτα τά Xωρία γέγοναν
Annia Regilla Hirodis uxor lumen domus cuius haec praedia fuerunt.

Annia Regilla, wife of Herodes, light of the house, to whom this estate belonged.

An interesting feature in example (4) is the representation of the Greek eta in the Latin version (Regilla, Hirodis). Ῥήγιλλα is the conventional way of writing Regilla ... This is easy to understand, as other Greek onomastic models such as Herakles/Hercules were so familiar that confusion between (E) and (i) rarely appeared in similar names in spite of the pronunciation. Therefore, the itacism in Hirodis is unexpected. The inscription (and others of this kind) was set up by Herodes Atticus after his wife's death to commemorate her and perhaps to dispel doubts that he had killed her.' The itacism informs us that the person who wrote the text had difficulty in transferring the Greek eta into Latin (Ῥήγιλλα = Regilla where eta-/e:/, Ἡρῴδης = Hirodis, eta=/i:/),' although Herodes was usually spelt correctly in Latin. The text, or at least part of it ... may have been planned by Herodes himself, since other texts of this kind have been found (e.g. Ameling 1983: ii no. 147=/G iii. 1417). [Martti Leiwo, From Contact to Mixture in Bilingualism in Ancient Society: Language Contact Adn the Written Word p. 175]

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