DOI link for LINGUISTIC TRANSFORMATIONS
LINGUISTIC TRANSFORMATIONS book
The Celtiberian language is known partly from evidence in Roman literature and epigraphy – consisting almost exclusively of onomastic material – and partly from the more than one hundred surviving Celtiberian inscriptions, of which a comprehensive edition has recently appeared (Untermann 1997: 535-722). Since the Celtiberians had no writing system of their own, they used either the Iberian script (which was partly alphabetic, partly syllabic) or the Latin alphabet. The Iberian script was somewhat clumsy for this purpose, since it was designed for a non-Indo-European language with different phonetics. Thus the Iberian sign te had to stand for both te and de in Celtiberian, while Iberian ko could represent ko or go (as in the various toponyms beginning Sego-). Moreover, the Iberian sign s could have the value of either s or z (a sound midway between a dental and a sibilant, possibly pronounced ‘dh’ or ‘ds’), depending on its position in the word (F. Villar 1995: 68). Despite these shortcomings, it was evidently easier for the Celtiberians to adopt an existing script than to invent one ex nihilo; a similar situation obtains among the Gauls, who borrowed the Greek alphabet from their Massilian neighbours.