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Attestation: TI·36.1 (slaniai:uerkalai:pala) (1)
Language: Lepontic
Word Type: proper noun
Semantic Field: patronymic

Grammatical Categories: dat. sg. fem.
Stem Class: ā

Morphemic Analysis: u̯erk/g-al-āi̯ or u̯er-k-al-āi̯
Phonemic Analysis: /ergalāi̯/ or /erkalāi̯/
Meaning: 'for the daughter of Uerkos'


ā-stem patronym in the dative derived with the suffix -alā from an o-stem personal name *u̯erkos or *u̯ergos; an on-stem variant is likely attested in Cisalpine Celtic uerkou. Multiple analyses are possible:

1. Base u̯erg- (Gaulish uergissa, ethnonym uergunni (?), see Delamarre 2007: 196, 236, KGP: 291 f.), either u̯ergā < PIE *u̯erHg̑-eh₂, OIr. ferc 'anger, wrath' (Zair 2012: 186 f.), or u̯erg- < PIE *u̯erg̑- 'work' (LIV²: 686 f.) as maybe attested in the Gaulish title (epigraphically) uercobretos / (Caesar) uergobretos (see DLG: 315). Thus Rhŷs 1913: 7.

2. Base u̯erk- (e.g. Gaulish uercus/-a, uercana, uercillus, riouercus, see Delamarre 2007: 195 f., 236, KGP: 291), difficult to keep apart from u̯erg- due to the graphic variation between ⟨c⟩ and ⟨g⟩ in Transalpine Gaulish (Gallo-Latin), thus maybe a variant of u̯erg-, also from PIE *u̯erg̑- (see DLG: 314 sub uercaria). Thus Eska 1998c: 69, n. 16.

3. Hypocorism of a compound name with first element u̯er- and second element kom- (e.g. uercombogios, uerkondaridubnos [Livy]), thus Lejeune 1971: 62, n. 192, Stüber 2005: 60, tentative Uhlich 1999: 279; see Delamarre 2007: 236 for further potential comparanda with second element in /k/-, including kass- and king-.

Undecided Motta 2000: 201. See Tibiletti Bruno 1978: 135 for comparanda in Latin inscriptions from Northern Italy. Prósper 2008: 74, n. 15 compares uerkalai with anthroponyms from the Iberian Peninsula: Celtib. urkala (K.1.3), VRCALONIS (Cáceres), VRCALOCO (Burgos), VRCALA (Toledo), under the hypothesis that Continental Celtic *u̯er < PC *uφer < PIE *Huper had ultimately resulted in /ur/ in pretonic position in Celtiberian (via the intermediate stages *u̯or and *u̯ur). Since, however, -al- in Lep. uerkalai is the patronymic suffix and is exclusive to this language (which Prósper herself points out), the Lepontic and Hispano-Celtic names cannot be compared.

David Stifter, Corinna Salomon


Delamarre 2007 Xavier Delamarre, Noms de personnes celtiques dans l'épigraphie classique. Nomina Celtica Antiqua Selecta Inscriptionum, Paris: Errance 2007.
DLG Xavier Delamarre, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise. Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental, 2nd, revised edition, Paris: Errance 2003.
Eska 1998c Josef Francis Eska, "PIE *p (doesn't become) Ø in proto Celtic", Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 58 (1998), 63-80.