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Venetic
Quick Facts
TypeC&V Alphabetic
GenealogyProto-Sinaitic > greek
LocationEurope
Time700 BCE to 100 BCE
DirectionLeft to Right

The Venetics were a people that inhabited the northern coast of the Adriatic Sea during the Iron Age, roughly from 1000 BCE until domination by the Roman Empire. Known as Veneti to the Romans and Enetoi to the Greeks, they gave their name to the region of Veneto and also to the city of Venice (even though at this time Venice was still a swampy lagoon). They left over two hundred inscriptions in their distinctive script, which is very obviously related to the Etruscan script and ultimately derived from the Greek model. The Venetic script might even be the source of Futhark.

The following is the Venetic alphabet. Some of the letters have multiple forms that correspond to regional differences. Also, note that the sound [f] is represented by a combination two letters, either hv, or vh, which is a trait found also in Etruscan and early Latin.

Venetic was usually written from right to left, but it could also be written from left to right. In the previous chart, the shapes of the letters imply a right-to-left writing direction. When writing from left to right, the "mirror images" of the letters in the chart would be used. And in some cases, writing direction was boustrophedon, meaning that the direction switched between right-to-left and left-to-right on every alternate line of text.

The Venetic language is undoubtly Indo-European, but efforts have so far proven unsuccessful to place it into any of the established branches of Indo-European. Theories for placement within Italic, Germanic, Illyrian, Slavic, or its own independent branch have been postulated and argued, but there is no strong evidence to point one way or another. Part of this problem stems from a corpus of short inscriptions, which means that extensive comparison of vocabulary and syntax with other languages becomes very difficult. (Note: Do not confuse the Venetics with the Veneti, a Slavic tribe who inhabited regions north of the Danube river, between Poland and Ukraine.)

The Venetics were absorbed by the Roman Empire, and the Venetic script ceased to be used by the 1st century BCE.

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