Oscan according to SIL International standards has two definitions. As the "Osco-" member of the Osco-Umbrian group, it has itself been expanded into a group, Oscan, whether of dialects or of languages. One member of the Oscan group is Oscan, the language of southern Italy under the Roman Republic.
The Osco-Umbrian, or Sabellic, family is a branch of the Italic language family, which is a branch of Indo-European. The Italic family includes Latin-Faliscan.
In the SIL classification, the other members of the Oscan group are Hernican, Marrucinian and Paelignian, all variants appearing in one or a few inscriptions of the Hernici, Marrucini and Paeligni, minor tribes of eastern central Italy.
Oscan, the specific language, was spoken mainly by the Samnites, a people of southern Italy and a formidable opponent of Rome in the second half of the 4th century BC. They called their language Oscan, but they called themselves Samnites after the name of their country, Samnium. Oscan speakers also included a group of tribes of Campania and Latium, the Aurunci, the Sidicini and the Ausones, who were generally known as the Oscans.
Oscan is known from inscriptions beginning in the 5th century BC. The most important Oscan inscriptions are the Tabula Bantina and the Cippus Abellanus.
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