Native toItaly
Era6th–5th centuries BCE[citation needed]
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Pre-Samnite was an ancient language spoken in southern Campania, in Italy. The name Pre-Samnite refers to the fact that the language was spoken in early times in an area that was later colonized by Samnites, who spoke Oscan.[1] Pre-Samnite is recorded in a few short inscriptions[1] dating from around 500 BC.[2] The language belongs to the Osco-Umbrian group of languages, and may be closely related to Oscan, but shows a number of archaic features which were lost from Oscan.[3] However, the material is too scant to enable a precise determination of the relation of Pre-Samnite either to Oscan or to the other Sabellian languages.

Sample text

The following text is a proposed reconstruction of a Pre-Samnite inscription found in Tortora:[4]

"[πον/πονν]ει ι[ι]οϝιιοι

fεfικεδ [ε]κ[υ] ρε[κ]

[τ]ισυμαδ αματες

[ν]ε πυσμοι αυνοι ϝι[τλοι]

[ε]ντρο[σ]δ οσερϝια[τοδ]

[2]ενς [ν]ει ϙοβετι[ϝ]το α [h]ιρνενι[α]

[ν]οι ϝολαισυμος fυfϝοδ ο fρι

ϙτο[ς] αστ εσ[μ]ι τερμανι[ν]

[πραι]τοϝτιδ νεπ ιες

σ[ϝ]εδ ϝολος fυfυϝοδ

νεπ ιστα[κ] ιοσϙτοδ

αα [h]ιρνενια"

The proposed translation for this text reads:[4]

"Whenever one sacrificed (a yearling lamb) to Jovius, thus they very rightly decreed: no one shall observe this yearling lamb’s entrails by speaking; no one shall libate in the vase nor on the flawless roasted (entrails) by uttering words; and at this border sign before the city no one shall libate on these flawless (entrails) or pour broth on this vase."

Another proposed reconstruction of the Tortora inscriptions reads:[4]














Another Pre-Samnite inscription which was probably from Capua reads:[5]

niumsies tanunies est paplam tens atriiam fufuhud niumsis tanunis eises ulsu dunum dedum

The original text was written in scriptio continua and was written in the Oscan alphabet.[5]


  1. ^ a b Sabellian Languages, R. E. Wallace, in The Ancient Languages of Europe, Ed. R. D. Woodward.[page needed]
  2. ^ Formations of the perfect in the Sabellian languages with the Italic and Indo-European background. D. Piwowarczyk.[page needed]
  3. ^ Sabellian Demonstratives: Forms and Functions, Emmanuel Dupraz.[page needed]
  4. ^ a b c Calabrese, Matteo (2021-01-01). "The sacred law from Tortora". Latomus.
  5. ^ a b Ignasi-Xavier Adiego, Lajara. Some remarks on the new Opic "Pre-Samnite" inscription of Niumsis Tanunis ( corrected proofs).