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Umbrian(ŭm`brēən), extinct language belonging to the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. See Italic languagesItalic languages,
subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages that may be divided into two groups. The first group consists of the ancient Italic languages and dialects that were once spoken in Italy.
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the language of the Umbrians; it was spoken in the Umbrian district. Umbrian, the closely related Volscian dialect, and the Oscan language belong to the Osco-Umbrian group of the Italic branch of Indo-European, as contrasted to the Latin-Faliscan group.
Umbrian is represented by about 12 brief inscriptions and by the inscriptions on seven bronze tablets found near the city of Iguvium (modern Gubbio), which constitute the most extensive early linguistic record (some 5,000 words, dating from between the fourth and first centuries B.C.) in Italy, with the exception of Latin and Etruscan. The inscriptions on the first four tablets and on part of the fifth are written in a local Umbrian alphabet of Etruscan origin, and the rest are in Latin.
Distinctive features of Umbrian include monophthongization of Indo-European diphthongs, rhotacism, loss of most final consonants, assimilation of palatalized consonants, and perfect verb forms with the suffixes -l- and -nki-. The speakers of Umbrian were completely romanized by the beginning of the first century A.D. Certain phonetic features and lexical elements in the modern Italian dialects are believed to have originated in the Umbrian substratum.
REFERENCESTronskii, I. M. Ocherki iz istorii latinskogo iazyka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1953.
Poultney, J. W. The Bronze Tables of Iguvium. Baltimore, Md., 1959.
Ernout, A. Le Dialecte Ombrien. Paris, 1961.
Devoto, J. Tabulae Iguvinae. Rome, 1962.
A. A. KOROLEV