|Native to||Inland central-west Iberian Peninsula|
|Region||Beira Alta, Beira Baixa and Alto Alentejo Portugal and Extremadura and part of province of Salamanca Spain|
|Extinct||2nd century AD|
Lusitanian (so named after the Lusitani or Lusitanians) was an Indo-European Paleohispanic language. There has been support for either a connection with the ancient Italic languages or Celtic languages. It is known from only five sizeable inscriptions, dated from circa 1 CE, and numerous names of places (toponyms) and of gods (theonyms). The language was spoken in the territory inhabited by Lusitanian tribes, from the Douro to the Tagus rivers, territory which today falls in central Portugal and western Spain.
Lusitanian is an Indo-European language believed different from the Hispano-Celtic languages of the Iberian Peninsula. The specific language-group classification of Lusitanian has been inconclusive. According to some academics like Prósper, based on one small Lusitanian inscription found, it would not be considered a Celtic language under existing definitions of linguistic Celticity because it retains Indo-European p in positions where Celtic languages would not, specifically in PORCOM 'pig' and PORGOM in another inscription, a feature considered non-Celtic. This is disputed by Anderson who links PORCOM, the accusative form of *porkos- to Middle Irish orc. Villar and Pedrero (2001) on the other hand, connect Lusitanian with the Ligurian language. They base their finding on parallels in the names of deities and some lexical items (e.g., the similarity of Umbrian gomia and Lusitanian comaiam), and some grammatical elements. This once again, raises more questions about the relation of the Lusitanian language with Celtic, because the ancient Ligurian, in many ways like Lusitanian; is considered Celtic by some and non-Celtic by others. Prósper also sees Lusitanian as predating the introduction of Celtic and shows that it retains elements of Old European, making its origins possibly even older. This adds to similar proposals by academics like Mallory and Koch et al. who believe the ancient Lusitanians originated from either Proto-Celtic or Proto-Italic populations who spread from Central Europe into western Europe after new Yamnaya migrations into the Danube Valley. While Proto-Germanic and Proto-Balto-Slavic may have developed east of the Carpathian mountains, in present-day Ukraine, moving north and spreading with the Corded Ware culture in Middle Europe (third millennium BCE). Alternatively, a European branch of Indo-European dialects, termed "North-west Indo-European" and associated with the Beaker culture, may have been ancestral to not only Celtic and Italic, but also to Germanic and Balto-Slavic.
Scholars like Jurgen Untermann have identified toponymic and anthroponymic radicals which are clearly linked to Celtic materials: briga 'hill, fortification', bormano 'thermal', karno 'cairn', krouk 'hillock, mound', crougia 'monument, stone altar', etc. Others, like Anderson after inscriptional materials of Lusitania, Galicia and Asturias have been under closer scrutiny, with the results suggesting albeit somewhat indirectly; believe that Lusitanian and Galician-Asturian formed a fairly homogeneous linguistic group displaying closely affiliated inscriptions. Indigenous divine names in Portugal and Galicia frequently revolve around the gods or goddesses Bandu, Bandi, Cossu, Nabia and Reve:
The Lusitanian-Gallaecian divine name Lucubos for example, also occurs outside the peninsula, in the plural, in Celtic Helvetia where the nominative form is Lugoves. Lug was also an Irish god, and the ancient name of Lyon was Lug dumum and may have a connection with the Lusitanian-Galician word. Suggesting therefore a Northwestern Iberian Sprachbund with Lusitanian as a dialect, not a language isolate. Prominent linguists such as Ellis Evans, believe that Gallaecian-Lusitanian were one same language (not separate languages) of the "P" Celtic variant.
While chronology, migrations and diffusion of Hispanic I.E peoples are still far from clear, there seems to be justification for assuming a Celtic dialect for ancient Portugal and Galicia-Asturias. Linguistic similarities between these Western Iberian Indo-Europeans, Celtiberians, Gauls and the Celtic peoples of Great Britain, indicate affiliation in vocabulary and linguistic structure.
Furthermore, scholars such as Koch say there is no unambiguous example of the reflexes of the Indo-European syllabic resonants *l?, *r?, *m?, *n? and the voiced aspirate stops *b?, *d?, *. Additionally, names in the inscriptions can be read as undoubtedly Celtic, such as AMBATVS, CAELOBRIGOI and VENDICVS. Dagmar Wodtko argues that it is hard to identify Lusitanian personal or place-names that are actually not Celtic. These arguments contradict the hypothesis that the p- in PORCOM alone, excludes Lusitanian from the Celtic group of Pre-roman languages of Europe and that it can be classed as a Celtic dialect, but one that preserved Indo-European *p (or possibly an already phonetically weakened [?], written P as an archaism). This is based largely on numerous Celtic personal, deity, and place names. Lusitanian possibly shows /p/ from Indo-European *k? in PVMPI, pronominal PVPPID from *k?odk?id, and PETRANIOI derived from *k?etwor- 'four', but that is a feature found in many Indo-European languages from various branches (including P-Celtic), and by itself, it has no bearing on the question of whether Lusitanian is Celtic. Bua Carballo suggests that pairings on different inscriptions such as Proeneiaeco and Proinei versus Broeneiae, and Lapoena versus Laboena, may cast doubt on the presence of a P sound in Lusitanian. Some scholars have proposed that it may be a para-Celtic language, which evolved alongside Celtic or formed a dialect continuum or sprachbund with Tartessian and Gallaecian. This is tied to a theory of an Iberian origin for the Celtic languages.: It is also possible that the Q-Celtic languages alone, including Goidelic, originated in western Iberia (a theory that was first put forward by Edward Lhuyd in 1707) or shared a common linguistic ancestor with Lusitanian. Secondary evidence for this hypothesis has been found in research by biological scientists, who have identified (firstly) deep-rooted similarities in human DNA found precisely in both the former Lusitania and Ireland, and; (secondly) the so-called "Lusitanian distribution" of animals and plants unique to western Iberia and Ireland. Both of these phenomena are now generally believed to have resulted from human emigration from Iberia to Ireland, during the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic eras.
Inscriptions have been found Cabeço das Fráguas (in Guarda), in Moledo (Viseu), in Arroyo de la Luz (in Cáceres) and most recently in Ribeira da Venda. Taking into account Lusitanian theonyms, anthroponyms and toponyms, the Lusitanian sphere would include modern northeastern Portugal and adjacent areas in Spain, particularly Galicia, with the centre in Serra da Estrela.
The most famous inscriptions are those from Cabeço das Fráguas and Lamas de Moledo in Portugal, and Arroyo de la Luz in Spain. Ribeira da Venda is the most recently discovered (2008).
All the known inscriptions are written in the Latin alphabet. It is difficult to determine if the letters have a different pronunciation than the Latin values, but the frequent alternations of c with g (porcom vs. porgom) and t with d (ifadem vs. ifate), and the frequent loss of g between vowels points to a lenis pronunciation compared to Latin. In particular, between vowels and after r, b may have represented the sound /?/, and correspondingly g was written for /?/, and d for /ð/.
REAICOI PETRANIOI R[?]
ADOM PORGOMIOUEA [or ...IOUEAI]
Cabeço das Fráguas:
INDO PORCOM LAEBO
COMAIAM ICONA LOIM
INNA OILAM USSEAM
TREBARUNE INDI TAUROM
A sheep [lamb?] for Trebopala
and a pig for Laebo,
[a sheep] of the same age for Iccona Loiminna,
a one year old sheep for
Trebaruna and a fertile bull...
SECIAS ERBA MVITIE
AS ARIMO PRAESO
INI AVA INDI VEA
VN INDI VEDAGA
INDI NVRIM INDI
LOEMINA INDI ENV
PETANIM INDI AR
M INDI TEVCOM
Arroyo de la Luz (III):
Ribeira da Venda:
[- - - - - -] AMoOILAMoERBAM [---]
IFATEoXoBANDI HARACVI AV[---]
MVNITIE CARIA CANTIBIDONEo[--