Monday, September 30, 2013


The Triballian Dialect and Metre

E. Lobel, review of J.M. Edmonds, ed., Lyra Graeca (London: William Heinemann, 1922), in Classical Review 36 (1922) 120-121 (in a couple of words I could not reproduce the macron together with breathing and accent):
It has hitherto been the view of scholars, both ancient and modern, that Sappho and Alcaeus (whose remains are exposed on pp. 182-307, 318-428) normally composed in the Aeolic dialect of Lesbos. Mr. Edmonds evidently does not unreservedly share this opinion. In many of his emendations and restorations there appear words, forms, and metres which are quite alien to normal Aeolic usage. As he has nowhere divulged to what dialect they belong, and I have been unable to discover for myself, I will refer to them for convenience as Triballian. That Aeolic and Triballian are quite distinct may be seen by simply turning over the pages. For instance, Aeolic has πρὸϲ, Triballian adds προτὶ (S. 110, 8215, 1642, etc.). Aeolic says ϲὺ, ϲὲ, ἔγω, Triballian adds τὺ, τὲ, ἔγων (S. 27, 3815, 839, 151). Aeolic says ἒων, Triballian adds εἴϲ and ὢν (S. 58, A. 277, etc.), Aeolic πόηϲαι, Triballian also ποίηϲαι (S. 891; the -οι- forms of ποιεῖν are never found in Alcaeus or Sappho). Aeolic has only φάοϲ, ἔργον, κάλα, γᾶν, Triballian also φαῦοϲ (S. 8514), ὄργον (A. 273), κᾶλα, (S. 653), and γάαν (e.g. S. 943; it appears to have a special taste for this word). There are, of course, some Triballian words which never occur in Aeolic at all. Again, in Aeolic the imperfect of ἀλέομαι would appear as ἀλήμαν, in Triballian it is ἀλλόμαν (p. 252 n.), and similarly ἤλγει (S. 411) seems to be Triballian for ἄλγη. Aeolic has infinitives in -ην, as πώνην, Triballian also in -εμεν, as πώνεμεν (A. 1645). In Aeolic ο + α contract to ω, as in ὤνηρ (for ὁ ἀνήρ), but the Triballian form resembles the Attic; thus τὸ αἴρητον becomes ταἴρητον (S. 8513). Aeolic rejects hiatus; Triballian welcomes such collocations as κεὖ ἐποίηϲαϲ (S. 891) and ἄνευ ἀρέταϲ (S. 1001). Finally, for a specimen of Triballian metre I may refer to his number 82 of Sappho, unless indeed that is a prose poem. These facts will have to be investigated by students of Greek dialects with more attention than they have hitherto received.
I find this very funny, although I realize that my sense of humor isn't shared by everyone. A Triballian god appears in Aristophanes' Birds and speaks gibberish barely resembling Greek (1615, 1628-1629, 1678-1679).

Hat tip: Eric Thomson.

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