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Type: derivational
Function: patronymic
Language: Lepontic
Phonemic analysis: -/al/- or -/āl/-
Attestation: )alui, )nialui, )uikalai, kaialoiso, klanalui, kualui, kuimpalui, maeśilalui, metalui, piuotialui, plialeθu, retalos, tekialui, telialui, terialui, tunal, ualaunal, uerkalai, uesa?ai


The suffix -alo/a- appears as second-name suffix, apparently forming patronyms; it is characteristic of archaic inscriptions and of inscriptions from the north-west of the Cisalpine Celtic area, for which reason it is usually considered to be Lepontic (in opposition to the Gaulish suffix -ikn- of the same function).

The formant has no clear IE/Celtic derivation. Pedersen 1921: 47 considered it a thematised loan from the genitive II ending -al of Etruscan. Thurneysen 1933: 6 f. concurred and adduced the forms tunal and ualaunal as attestations of the not yet thematised suffix in Lepontic; he, however, argued that the suffix was more easily explained as a loan from the neighbouring Raetic language. This theory was widely accepted (e.g. Krahe 1936: 247, Kretschmer 1943: 201–203 with discussion) and remains popular – cf. Risch 1970: 130, Risch 1984: 26, Stifter 2020: 26 – despite some issues on the Tyrsenian side: the details of the ending's development and exact form in Etruscan are somewhat foggy, and it is not clear whether it exists in Raetic at all (and if so, in which form). See TIR for details. Markey & Mees 2003: 142–144 consider the possibility that the suffix is of IE origin, but "mirrors the patronymic use of the Etruscan l-genitive".

Against the Tyrsenian loan theory: Pellegrini 1983: 34 ("prae-IE ligurian element"), Prosdocimi 1991, Prosdocimi 1992: 466–470. Argued to be an inherited suffix of appurtenance from PIE *-l- (cf. -l(l)- and Leumann 1977: 310) which became a patronymic suffix in Cisalpine Celtic due to its similarity of the Tyrsenian genitive by De Bernardo Stempel 1998: 609 f. and 1999: 226, 455 f. (cf. Kretschmer 1905: 106); the source of a in this case is unclear.

Not always certainly distinguishable from a North Italic onomastic suffix -alo- (Untermann 1959: 131–134, 152, Untermann 1961b: 123), cf. kaialoiso.


Distribution of inscriptions including the morpheme -al-:

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De Bernardo Stempel 1998 Patrizia de Bernardo Stempel, "Minima Celtica zwischen Sprach- und Kulturgeschichte", in: Peter Anreiter, Lázló Bartosiewics, Erzsébet Jerem, Wolfgang Meid, Man and the Animal World. Studies in Archaeozoology, Archaeology, Anthropology and Palaeolinguistics in memoriam Sándor Bökönyi [= Archaeolingua 8], Budapest: 1998, 601–610.
De Bernardo Stempel 1999 Patrizia De Bernardo Stempel, Nominale Wortbildung des älteren Irischen. Stammbildung und Derivation [= Buchreihe der Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 15], Tübingen: Niemeyer 1999.