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The so-called tau gallicum was a character used in Gaulish, written Đ, ð or even a Θ. Its name comes from the only commentary on it that we have, by Vergil (Appendix Vergiliana, Catalepton II, 4).

Every study I have read on Gaulish states that it was pronounced as the affricate [t͡s] or the reversed [s͡t]1, but there are occurrences of geminated tau gallicum, in the Chamalières' lead and in this epitaph.

I am really not comfortable with a [t͡st͡s]`in snIeððic or aððedillI, so I wondered if there are others hypothesis for the pronunciation of this character. Maybe [Θ], since Θ and Greek Θ are obviously close, at least in writing.

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1. See, for example, Lambert's la langue gauloise "The affricate /st/ in snies-ti-c is written striked d, as usual in Gaulish."

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    The existence of a double-ð does not necessarily imply that the affricate was released twice, any more than other doubled stops are released twice. More likely the stop portion of the affricate was geminated, but the affricate was only released once. – JSBձոգչ Sep 14 '11 at 19:57
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    Why can’t ðð be a geminated [t͡s], e.g. [t͡s:] or perhaps [t͡:s]? – Timwi Sep 14 '11 at 19:59
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    I think one of those comments ought be promoted to an answer. – tdhsmith Sep 15 '11 at 0:37
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    @thdsmith: done :). – JSBձոգչ Sep 15 '11 at 11:50
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    Interesting. By the way, it is unlikely that the Appendix Vergiliana was actually written by the man himself. – Cerberus Feb 22 '12 at 18:48
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The existence of a double-ð does not necessarily imply that the affricate was released twice, any more than other doubled stops are released twice. More likely the stop portion of the affricate was geminated, but the affricate was only released once. For comparison, consider modern Italian orthography, in which the letter z represents /ts/, but double zz is extremely common. This double letter does not indicate [t͡st͡s], but rather [t:s].

With that in mind, I see no reason to dispute the standard reconstruction of the tau gallicum. In particular, I find the suggestion that it could be [θ] to be very unlikely, given the available evidence.

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