Variants and attestation
There are two special characters ("Sonderzeichen") in the alphabets used for Raetic. The two characters do not seem to be related to each other; instead, it is more likely that (once ) and were created independently in two different places in order to represent a sound for which the Venetic alphabets had no character. For the time being, the two characters have been defined as glyph variants of one character, which is probably not correct from a historical point of view and represents only a provisional solution. Both have been transliterated here with the letter þ (thorn), borrowed from Runic, to distinguish them from and to avoid confusion with characters for dentals going back to the Greek alphabet. (The theory that Runic /þ/ might be derived from the Magrè-variant is not particularly likely and did not suggest the choice.)
- In Magrè, and only there, the character (once ) occurs six times in six different inscriptions. Twice (MA-8, MA-9) it is used in the anlaut of the verbal form þinaχe, which can be directly equated with the Etruscan verbal form zinace. As a consequence of this equation, the phonetic value can be determined as a dental affricate. In MA-5 and MA-23, the letter seems to be part of an ending -(i)þu; in MA-10, it is probably used mistakenly to write the dental of the individual name piθie (in the same inscription, þinake is written with Pi in the anlaut). The inscription MA-3 is too much damaged to determine the context of . The character shapes and have a graphic parallel only in Camunic alphabetaria, where a character occupies the position of San (see Script), but this may be purely accidental.
- In the context of the Sanzeno alphabet, the character occurs twelve, possibly thirteen (SZ-19) times in as many inscriptions. The main reason for the assumption that this character denotes the same sound as is the inscription SZ-1.1, where we find , which can be read as þinaχe and thus be identified with þinaχe in MA-8 and MA-9 (consequently, it can also be equated with Etruscan zinace). Moreover, in SZ-4.1 we find þal, which can be equated with the Etruscan numeral zal "two". Four more attestations in certainly linguistic context are found in SZ-4.1 and SZ-30 (for the option of comparing the occurrence in the latter inscription with one of Zeta, see )auþile), on NO-15 and BZ-10.1. The attestations on SZ-33 and SZ-74 are qualified by the fact that we are probably concerned with factory marks (but see þine); SZ-32, SZ-34 and SZ-94 are unclear. Additionally, the letter occurs on one of the problematic Slovenian helmets, in an inscription clearly written in the Sanzeno alphabet, and in an inscription from the area of Verona, which displays both Magrè and Sanzeno features. The "arrow sign" is reminiscent of Tau, but Tau does not occur in this shape in Etruscan or regularly in any of the Transpadanian alphabets. The "arrow sign" does appear in two dubious inscriptions from the Gail valley (Gt 20, Gt 22, ascribed to the Venetic corpus), and on the Camunoid Castaneda flagon (here apparently Tau). Note also that /t/ is written in the Runic script.
Both the Magrè and the Sanzeno character seem to be creations from scratch, but a connection to some (marginal?) Camunic tradition cannot be excluded. For the question of why these characters were used/created, see Script.
/ corresponds to ¶ in Schumacher 2004.