SALAVS – Learn Oscan online

Welcome to Salavs – a series of resources for learning the basics of Oscan online.

Oscan is a language spoken and written in central and southern Italy from around 500 BCE to 50 BCE. It is closely related to Latin, but is a language in its own right – they were about as similar as English and Dutch are today. Oscan was in use in many areas that are now of great archaeological importance, including Pompeii and Herculaneum.

This short course includes some help learning the alphabets used to write Oscan, basic vocabulary and grammar, and some exercises for you to complete. This is not a linguistics-heavy introduction – hopefully it should be helpful whether you want to learn Oscan because you are interested in history, archaeology, linguistics, or random ancient languages generally. If you spot any mistakes or have any comments to pass on, please email

If you’ve found this useful or fun, please let me know!

Lesson 1 – Writing and alphabets

Lesson 2 – Nouns (first and second declensions)

Lesson 3 – Nouns (names and third declension)

Lesson 4 – Verbs

Lesson 5 – Pronouns

Lesson 6 – Inscription Spotlight 1

Latest Update

After some feedback, I’ve made sure all the questions have answer keys available.


If you want to learn about Oscan in more depth, you might find the following helpful:

  • Carl Darling Buck (1904) A Grammar of Oscan and Umbrian (available online). Slightly out-of-date now, in that new inscriptions have been found – but a very good linguistic introduction, and includes grammatical tables.
  • Rex E. Wallace (2007) The Sabellic Languages of Ancient Italy. A good linguistic introduction to the languages.
  • Michael Crawford (2011) Imagines Italicae. The most up-to-date collection of the inscriptions in Oscan, Umbrian, South Picene, with images, translation into English, indexes, and extensive bibliography.
  • Jürgen Untermann (2000) Wörterbuch des Oskisch-Umbrischen. Oscan and Umbrian dictionary (in German).
  • Helmut Rix (2001) Sabellische Texte. – Transcribed texts of all the Oscan and Umbrian inscriptions.

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