Slovene word "klicati" of Etruscan and perhaps Anatolian Venetic rather than Slavic origin
Author: Igor Pirnovar


Slovene word "klicati" and Etruscan word "titi"

Venets or Etruscans may have shared the word with Akkadians

Etruscan verb suffixes may indeed be the closest to Slavic


To a non Slovene reader the title of this article may not seem interesting, but it in fact is like saying the German word "essen" is not of Germanic origin, or the English word "mad" is not a of English nor Germanic but of Venetic origin. But still as a Slovene I feel that the title sounds more ridiculous to us Slovenes than the above German and English references to Germans or English speakers. Perhaps this is because Slavs despite all the differences feel a greater affection for common Slavic roots than what is our perception about the affiliations of different Germanic nations, and to suggest that our words are not of Slavic origin may to many sound alarmingly discomforting.

My research of Etruscan language, is convincing me more and more, that Slovene language and perhaps Slovak as well as Czech too, have formed similarities, that make Slovenes so distinctly different from Croats.

I did not use the words "other South Slaves" because, the Macedonians and Bulgarians evolved into an even more different Slavic dialect due to their proximity to Greece, where one can recognize a distinctly Greek melody as well as Greek language patterns in Macedonian and Bulgarian languages. Similarly, one who is familiar with South Slavs may be surprised, I did not bundle with Croats also Serbs, or just in the reverse order the Serbs with the Croats, and of indeed the Montenegrians. Again, Serbs are the nation who greatly influenced the evolution of the South Slavic languages. However, this obviously is a new topic, which needs a more serious consideration, due to its systematic neglect and misrepresentation for a very long time.
Contrary to what some would like to believe, in the past Veneti in the Balkans were much more alike than the present day South Slavs. It is fair to assume that Slovenes and ancient Macedonians spoke very similar Venetic dialects, which after Serbs and Bulgarians drew a wedge between Veneti in the Balkans, they started to diverge both linguistically as well as culturally. That Veneti at the beginning spoke much more homogeneous dialects than are the current Slavic languages, one may be surprised to find the evidence for it in the Etruscan language, which according to most of the western linguists could not have had any relationship, whatsoever, with any of the ancient or modern Slavic languages. The proof of the opposite is the fact that Etruscan language contains many Venetic / Slavic words not found anymore in the modern Slovene language. Namely, the words like the following:

Etruscan Slovene / Slavic English
put pot, steza / put road, path
mari skrbeti / marit to care
znat vedeti / znat to know
muti kaliti, motiti / mutit disturb, to trouble
cupi nabira, kupuje / cupit to gather, buy
leš truplo / leš body, corpse

There are many other words like these, and of course others that that are unique to other Slavic languages, like kiša, zmija, prozor, kuca, čemodan, ..., and provide a wealth of linguistic information about the evolution of Slavic languages. Trouble is not much research is known to have ever been done in this area, particularly because all nationalism was either suppressed or meticulously controlled by ruling nations Russians in former Eastern Block countries and Serbia in former Yugoslavia, during the communist era. We all know what happened on the Balkans, where suppressed nationalist feelings boiled over, when unhealthy Yugoslav unitarianism, in order to forcefully equalize ethnically very rich and diverse country, did not allow true history to be revealed.

Stigma and fear was attached to any kind of serious linguistic study, that would reveal the evolution of South Slavic nations and their languages, which to this day believe they were distinct from their very inception since the times immemorial.

How can these Venetic (Slavic) words found in Etruscan language but which have since disappeared from the vocabulary of the closest Etruscan neighbours – Venets (Slovenes) provide a proof that ancient Slavs (Veneti) spoke more homogeneous language than today? Well, they (these words) are still found in most other Slavic languages, but were since over a millennial replaced in Slovene either due to the influence of the official Latin state and church language, or due to a gradual Germanization. Slovene language, due to the close proximity of Rome, and due to the fact that Latin also evolved from Venetic language, was more readily influenced by its distant Latin cousin than other more distant Slavic groups, much like Macedonian language was influenced by its distant cousin - the Greek language. But it is also true that Etruscan influences are also present in South Slavic languages, and particularly in Central European Slovak, Check, Polish and Ukrainian languages, and some may be surprised all the way to the north in Russian Novgorod region.
Some may be asking now, what am I talking about, what are these influences? Beside the fact that already before as well as during and after Etruscan period there existed a very well established trade connections along the famous Amber Road and along, for the bronze production vital tin exporting route, from Northern Adriatic, through Central European Bohemia, to Baltic Sea, as well as along Danube river down to Anatolia, I mostly rely on the linguistic similarities, I as a Slovene find, in all of the above mentioned Slavic languages, and dialects. Also in Novgorod there still exist evidence of the earliest Venetic presence, very similar in organization, language, and habits to Slovenes, in fact the local population there calls themselves Slovenes!

Slovene word "klicati" and Etruscan word "titi"

There are many words that all Slavs share or used to share with Etruscans, but on the other hand, in Slovenian language today one can find words not encountered in any other Slavic language, but which are shared with Etruscans. Such a Slovenian word is klicati (to call). That this word is not of Venetic, or Slavic origin, is supported by the fact that every other Slavic language uses in place of the Slovene klicati a different word for which the root is zov-, zva- as in zovu, zovut, zvati, zvanje.

I am now sure that Slovene unique word klicati is related to the Etruscan word titi. However, when I first encountered "titi" in Etruscan inscriptions, I immediately thought of Latin titulus, and Slovene words "klicati, klic, poklic" never entered my mind. When I encountered large numbers of inscriptions which contained this word, the obvious association of Latin semantic value with the naming, calling, addressing or plainly setting a title or a name for an object, encouraged me to start using this semantics in my attempts to decipher the scripts, which yielded very promising translations for a large number of the inscriptions. I started to believe the translation for the Etruscan word "titi", indeed, is "to call". After using it as such for a while I was pleasantly surprised about the similarities piled up and around the semantics as well as the use of this word in many Romanic languages as well as in the Slovene and even English language, and also in some Croatian dialects. Then I realized that the meanings "to call" and "to name" are interchangeable not only in the above mentioned languages but also in all other Slavic languages where there is a single word for both, and indeed, also in, Latin where the words "nomino, appello" are found in Latin dictionary under "to call". However, the icing on the cake came, when realizing that "titi", indeed, sounds a lot like "kliči".

Needless to say, when Etruscologists translated "titi" they ran for help only to their Latin mama, as if Romans or some Latin speaking indigenous population was there already before the arrival of the Etruscans, from whom upon their arrival to Apennines Etruscans then borrowed many of their words. From a linguistic point of view, the word "titi" shows a much broader semantics, than that found in Latin language, which not only has a rather meagre presentation of choices in Latin vocabulary, but even what is available is split between three totally unrelated meanings which seem to be of the same root or stem "tit-", or either "titi-, titub-, titul-".

Which by the way makes a great example for a language forged up from a number of different sources (other languages) i.e. a flat, young, evolving language organization, where words of similar roots were introduced, rather than to have been "home-grown", by applying suffix / prefix rules to carefully selected and well distinguishable roots.

Latin English
titillio tickling, provoke; stimulate sensually
titubo stagger, totter, falter
titulus placard, tablet, label; inscription; title; pretext; distinction, honour

When I said "meagre presentation of choices in Latin vocabulary", I was referring to the meanings { title, inscription, label, ...}, because, these are just a few from a much richer set of meanings associated with the Etruscan root tit- that were actually accepted into Latin, unlike in the Slovene language, which as we will see retained that original tree, cluster or Etruscan word structure built upon this root. Again, you may ask how can we be sure that these words did not travel in different, and indeed, the opposite direction, namely, from Latin to Etruscan, instead? Well, again Venetic in this case Slovene language, which Etruscologists completely dismiss as irrelevant, delicately supported by the modern Romanic, other Slavic, as well as English languages comes to the rescue. Not only it confirms the semantic value title, caption, name, honour, calling arrived from the ancient root titi, but it also shows, that based on these meanings the same verb, namely "to call, to cry out" in different languages is used, to refer to the name of an object or a person in a very similar (Etruscan) manner, though there exist perfectly natural other variations indigenous to all these different languages.

Language Literate translation
French Je m'appelle Jacques ( I am called Jacques. )
Italian Come ti chiami ( What do they call you? )
Slovene Kličem se Janez Jama ( I am called Janez Jama )
Where: titim ----[t>kl]---- klitim ----[t>č]---- kličim
Like in Greek dentals turn into a softer sigma [ τ/δ/Θ > ς ]
Russian Kak tebya zovut ( What do they call you? )
Serb, Croatian Zovu me Nenad ( They call me )
English It is called "The Untouchable". What do they call you?
What's your title? to call, be called; tile ~name; vocation ~vox=shout, cry, ...

Of course focus here should be on the Slovene word klicati, klici, kliči, which I believe is the remnant from Etruscan titi. It was a subject of sound transformations reminiscent of the changes in Greek where dentals "τ", "δ" and "Θ" turn into a softer "ς" sigma (i.e.: nom.: gigantes / gen.: giganton / dat.: gigansi ( γιγαντες / γιγαντον / γιγανςι ).

Venets or Etruscans may have shared the word with Akkadians

There are other etymologies that can show the Etruscans word titi is derived from Venetic klicati, klici, tici, titi, where tici, tiči means "a bird", or titi, ti-ti, is translated as "you! you!", both of which semantically are a possible candidates for the origin of Slovene word klicati. Besides, there exists a similar word as Slovene klicati in the ancient Akkadian language, namely, kalu, kalinu, which suggests that Slovenes inherited the word klicati from ancient Veneti, who used to live next to Akkadians in Anatolia, and by some accounts even Etruscan may have originally arrived from that area in Anatolia.

Regardless of the origin of the Etruscan word titi, it does seem to be related with the Latin word titulus (placard, tablet, label; inscription; title; pretext; distinction, honour), rather than Latin word titillio (tickling, provoke; stimulate sensually), which is the choice of Etruscologists.

Let's look at some Etruscan inscriptions which contain this word:

Etruscan inscriptions which contain the word titi
Etruscan English / Slovene Loves life, life cals.
Življenje ljubi življenje kliče
fa.titi.hermia.SeX.cestn[ Guests call Hermes on all roads.
Gostije kličejo Hermesa na vseh poteh Fasting talks, let the majesty appear.
Post govori bogataš naj se utelesi (uresniči)
fasti.puia.lX.sicleS To who fasts the lier promises underworld.
Postiti se v onstranstvu lažnivec obljublja
hasti.titi.aule.marcni The sacrifice calls to mark the life.
Žrtveni dar narekuje, da se življenje zaznamuje
larO.secu.titialisa Spirit (secu) the caller.
Duh (secu) klicajočega
lariOi.titi.helesa Spirit calls for Greeks / the enemy.
Duh kliče Grka / sovražnika
larOi.titi.naXrnisa Spirit calls the naked.
Duh kliče nagca
lO.seOre.titia Spirit of the dead calls the spirit of the living.
Duša mrtvega dušo živega kliče
meinei.papaslisa.vl.titialc.sec The fallen majesty called for my milk
Padli veluša je od mene prosil=(klical) mleka
Oa.titi.latuni.ucrislan[esa] Goddess calls to crucified slave.
Boginja kliče križanemu sužnju
Oa.titi.precusa Goddess calls the newcomer
Gospod (OanXvil) kliče prišleka (prišleka preko)
Oana.titi.secuS Think of the goddess who hits others
Ovna (boginje) se spomni ti ki tepeš
Oana.pesnei.titial The goddess called the dogs; The goddess called / sang the songs
Boginja je pse poklicala"; "Boginja je pesmi pela (klicala)
Oania.titi.cazrtunia.tlesnasa For magic potion call / pray and throw it on funeral-pile.
Božjega napoja kliči in k žrtveniku vrži
Oania.titi.vescunia For magic potion calls the hang(ed) man.
OanXvila / Božjega napoja kliče obešenec
All who die the gods for a new spiritual meeting (séance) call.
Vsi, ki umro bogove na novo seanso pokličejo
sO.purni.titias The pusher who's ploughing you call (sexual meaning).
Porivača, ki orje kličeš Remember / mention (call) the three free man.
omeni/spomni se treh prostih/svobodnih ljudi
titi.verusa Call the believer.
kliče vernika
titi.unia Junona calls.
Tinija in Junone"; "Klče Junona
velia.seianti.hanunia.titial Majesty to the spiritual meeting (séance) called the sleeping in the underworld.
Velija je seanse v Hadu spečega klical
velia.titia.laut[niO]a Majesty calls the free man.
Velija kliče svobodneža
veliea.titi.vetusa Majesty calls the the spirit.
Velija kliče duha (vetusa)
venza.zemni.titialisa Take the magic potion mourner.
Nebeškega napoja vzami zaljujoči

Finally, it is time we look for this Etruscan word in the dictionaries devised by Etruscologists, and their respective Slavic versions, as proposed by this analysis here. As you can see, Etruscologists truly believe in Latin dictionary whereby they base most of their translations on Latin word titillio (tickling, provoke; stimulate sensually), but to cover a large gap of unexplainable occurrences of this word in a very large number of places, they throw in their standard schema, namely, that a word is simply a name, for which in the case of “titi” they triumphantly show us the famous Titus. Where I just couldn't help but to sarcastically add, that most likely the famous Etruscan system of capitalizing the words representing names must have aided them tremendously at their work!

The dictionary by the Etruscologists
Etruscan English / Slovene
tita female name, "good (F) - from Latin:tickling ?:-)"
žemsko ime, "dobra, srečna (verjretno od žgečkati)"
tite male / family name; "good, happy (M) - from Latin:tickling ?:-)"
moško ime, družinsko ime; "dober, srečen (verjretno od Lat.žgečkati)"
titi goodness, bounty
dobrota, radodarnost, obilje - (to je pa korajžno ?:-)
titia family name (female)
družinsko ime (žensko) - (še bolj korajžno, kar enospolni zakon ?:-)
Tities Latin equitês name of Etruscan origin; / see Latin Titus
Latinsko ime Etruščanskega izvora (Z veliko začetnico ?:-)
titulni, titlni one who touches lightly, tickles, touch, tickle
nežni, žgečkajoče, žgečka, dotik, žgečkati

Putting the jokes aside let's look at my suggestions for a better, or at least augmented Etruscan dictionary. You will notice that some meanings are identical for some of the suffixes, particularly the -is and -iS, which are both equivalent to Slavic -iš, namely for the verbs in 2nd person conjugation singular. This and some other inconsistencies are sometimes possible due to poor or no control and indeed no central authority or any kind of linguistic standardization in the early days of writing.

The dictionary inspired by our Slavic analysis
Etruscan English / Slovene
titi to mention, to name, to call; to remember
omeni, imenuj, kliči; spomni se
tita one who calls; one who names, adresses, speaks
klicajoči - tisti ki titi
metiti call me, he calls me
me pokliče, me pokliči
titias you are calling, mentioning, naming
kličeš, omenjaš, imenuješ
titiaš you are calling, mentioning, naming
imenuješ, kličeš
titia he is calling, mentioning, naming
kliče, omenja, imenuje
titie one who calls, mentions, names; called, mentioned
klicajoči, omenjajoči; klical, omenjal
titis you are calling, mentioning, naming
imenuješ, kličeš
titial called, mentioned, named
omenil, imenoval, klical; spomnil se
titialisa one who is remembering, who is mourning
žalujoči, spominjajoči se

Etruscan verb suffixes may indeed be the closest to Slavic

If we quickly look at the endings in the above list without too much of a formatting fuss, we'll notice the following suffixes:

-i, -a, -as, -aš, -is, -ia, -ie, -al, -alisa

titi : omeni, imenuj, kliči; spomni se (to mention, to name, to call; to remember)
tita : klicajoči - tisti ki titi (one who calls; one who names, adresses, speaks)
metiti : me pokliče, me pokliči (call me, he calls me)
titias : kličeš, omenjaš, imenuješ (you are calling, mentioning, naming)
titiaš : imenuješ, kličeš (you are calling, mentioning, naming)
titia : kliče, omenja, imenuje (he is calling, mentioning, naming)
titie : klicajoči, omenjajoči (one who calls, mentions, names)
titis : imenuješ, kličeš (you are calling, mentioning, naming)
titial : omenil, imenoval, klical; spomnil se (called, mentioned, named)
titialisa : žalujoči, spominjajoči se (one who is remembering, who is mourning )

It is interesting to know that all of these suffixes actually exist in Slovene and many other Slavic languages. Let's look at the Slovene version, which I used in the translations in the above list. Let's see some of the possibilities:

Suffixes -i, -a, -as, -aš, -is, -ia, -ie, -al, -alisa Explained
Suffix As used in Slovene Grammar
-i, -a kliči, klica
Both (-i) and (-a) conjugation suffixes are used as imperative (velelnik), (-a) is an older form but is still in use in Croat and Serb languages. In Dalmatian dialect (-a) may be used as past tense for all three persons in singular.

Vowel endings is possible to interpret very freely in Slovene and Dalmatian dialects. in fact also (e), (o), and (u) can be used at the end depending on a dialect or region. For instance the sentence "What did you work on" can be pronounced in Slovenian dialects as : Kaj si dela?, Kaj si delo?, Kaj si delu?, or Dej no deli! which means "Come on let's work!".

-as,-aš,-is kličeš, lkicaš, klicič
All the three endings denote verb conjugation second person singular in indicative voice (povedni naklon), present time. While in modern Slovene (-as) and (-aS) both map to the same (-aš), (-is) is simply used when root ends in (-i) rather than (-a).
-ia, -ie klicaja (I called), klicaje (he called)
While (-ia) most often in dialects is conjugation ending for all three persons for singular past tense. But it can also be interpreted as klic-a=(past tense), hence: klic-a-ia where -ia=ja (English: I), and klic-a-ie where -ie=je (English: was [i.e.:he]).

The above is hard to understand without knowing Slovene conjugation of auxiliary verb "to be", which unlike English conjugation uniquely identifies the person. Compare English (am, are, is, are, are, are) with Slovene (sem, si, je, smo, ste, so). Indeed, in all Slavic languages one can tell exactly in which number a verb is used merely by looking at the conjugation suffix or the auxiliary verb, without the need to explicitly state the subject or object in a sentence.

NOTE: (-e) may also be interpreted as auxiliary verb is (je) in present time.

-al klical
Here we have a very well defined and universally used Slovene past participle for all three persons in singular.
-alisa klicališa, licaroša, lkicareš, klicar
This is more often encountered in South Slavic languages but can also be found in Slovene. It is very similar to the English (-er, -man), or Latin (-or) ..., however, in South Slavic version it is in addition has a more personal attribute expressing closeness or friendliness to the named person.


©2005 Igor H. Pirnovar
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