A Phonetic Peculiarity of Vulgar Latin: Hesitation between the Letters B and V around Celeia

  • Julijana Visočnik ZRC SAZU, Inštitut za arheologijo, Novi trg 2, 1000 Ljubijana
Keywords: Roman inscriptions, Latin language, morphology

Abstract

The change of v to b and vice versa is a well-attested peculiarity of Vulgar Latin, which can also be found on monuments with Latin inscriptions. The area of the municipium Celeia has yielded three inscriptions where the expected vivus is replaced by vibus.The first two occur on cinerary urns, and their common features may be clue to the proximity of the finds (Vranje, Podvrh). Both are dated to the 3th or 4th century AD and share a style of writing close to the cursive. This writing style, as well as the numerous grammatical errors due to their rustic origin, makes them difficult to read. The third is from Šentjanž near Dravograd (Carinthia). This inscribed slab is better preserved, although the writing contains characteristics of the cursive. Dated to the 2th century AD, the slab already displays the spelling vibus in the inscription field, although the letter generally tends to replace v in later inscriptions. All three inscriptions were discovered far from the town of Celeia, the centre of administration, urbanisation, and - last but not least - Romanisation. Celeia itself was Romanised and Latinised to a degree that should have precluded such "errors". The names attested by the three inscriptions, by contrast, are also Latin or at least Latinised, but no person can be found to have possessed the tria nomina characteristic of Roman citizens. Evidently, we are dealing with indigenous inhabitants who had no special rights and were only superficially Romanised. The change of v to b may be attributed to their insufficient knowledge of Latin and their uncertainty about the spelling of certain sounds in the language. They were simply searching for the most appropriate spelling of the changing phonemes.

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Published
2005-12-06
How to Cite
Visočnik, Julijana. 2005. “A Phonetic Peculiarity of Vulgar Latin: Hesitation Between the Letters B and V Around Celeia”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 7 (2), 57-72. https://doi.org/10.4312/keria.7.2.57-72.
Section
Scholarly Articles