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Lombardic language: Wikis


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Spoken in Pannonia and northern Italy
Language extinction Middle ages
Language family Indo-European
Writing system Runic script
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 gem
ISO 639-3 lng

Lombardic or Langobardic is the extinct language of the Lombards (Langobardi), the Germanic speaking people who settled in Italy in the 6th century. The language declined from the 7th century, but may have been in scattered use until as late as ca. AD 1000. The language is only preserved fragmentarily, the main evidence being individual words quoted in Latin texts.

In the absence of Lombardic texts, it is not possible to draw any conclusions about the language's morphology and syntax. The genetic classification is necessarily based entirely on phonology. Since there is evidence that Lombardic participated in, and indeed shows some of the earliest evidence for, the High German consonant shift, it is classified as an Elbe Germanic or Upper German dialect. The Historia Langobardorum of Paulus Diaconus mentions a duke Zaban of 574, showing /t/ shifted to /ts/. The term stolesazo (the second element is cognate with English seat) in the Edictum Rothari shows the same shift. Many names in the Lombard royal families show shifted consonants, particularly /p/ < /b/ in the following name components:

  • pert < bert: Aripert, Godepert
  • perg < berg: Perctarit, Gundperga (daughter of King Agilulf)
  • prand < brand: Ansprand, Liutprand

It has been suggested that the consonant shift may even have originated in Lombardic.[citation needed]

Formerly, Lombardic was classified as Ingaevonian (North Sea Germanic), but this classification is considered obsolete. The classification of Lombardic within the Germanic languages may be complicated by issues of orthography. According to Hutterer (1999) it is close to Old Saxon. Tacitus counts them among the Suebi. Paulus Diaconus (8th century) and the Codex Gothanus (9th century) wrote that the Lombards were ultimately of Scandinavian origin, having settled at the Elbe before entering Italy.

Longbardic fragments are preserved in runic inscriptions, in Latinized forms, and in transcriptions influenced by Old High German orthography. This Lombardic alphabet, as commonly transcribed, consists of the following graphemes:

a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q(u), r, s, ʒ, t, þ, u, w, z

The qu represents a [kw] sound. The ʒ is [s], e.g. skauʒ [skaus] "womb". The z is [ts]. h is [h] word-initially, and [x] elsewhere.

Among the primary source texts are short inscriptions in the Elder Futhark, among them the "bronze capsule of Schretzheim" (ca. 600):

On the lid: arogisd
On the bottom: alaguþleuba : dedun
("Arogisl/-gast. Alaguth (and) Leuba made (it)"[1], less likely "Arogis and Alaguth made love")

And also the two fibulae of Bezenye, Hungary (mid 6th century):

Fibula A: godahid unj[a]
Fibula B: (k?)arsiboda segun
("To Godahi(l)d, (with) sympathy (?), Arsiboda's bless"[2])

There are a number of Latin texts which include Lombardic names, and Lombardic legal texts contain terms taken from the legal vocabulary of the vernacular, including:

In 2005, there were claims that the inscription of the Pernik sword may be Lombardic.


  1. ^ J.H. Looijenga, Runes Around The North Sea And On The Continent Ad 150-700, PhD diss. Groningen 1997, p. 158. Download PDF
  2. ^ J.H. Looijenga, Runes Around The North Sea And On The Continent Ad 150-700, PhD diss. Groningen 1997, p. 134. Download PDF

External links


  • Adolf Bach, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, 8th edn, (Heidelberg 1961)
  • Claus Jürgen Hutterer, Die germanischen Sprachen, Wiesbaden (1999), 336–341.
  • J.M. Wallace-Hadrill, The Barbarian West 400-1100, 3rd edn (London 1969), Ch. 3, "Italy and the Lombards"
  • Nicoletta Francovich Onesti, Vestigia longobarde in Italia (468-774). Lessico e antroponimia, 2nd edn (Roma 2000, Artemide ed.)


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