What is the origin of the Latin suffix -alis/-alia? Can it be an Etruscan borrowing? Is Russian adjectival suffix -аль- a borrowing from Latin?

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    I'm afraid neither the Oxford Latin Dictionary nor Arnout give the etymology of -(a)lis. Consider that there is also -ilis, so that the true root of the suffix is probably -lis, not -alis. Just a guess: perhaps it could be related to English -ly, which is probably from some Germanic suffix -lik. Consider also the Greek suffix -ikos (root -ik-) with similar meaning. It could be that the Greek suffix comes from the Greek verbal root that is something like [w](e)ik- "appear", but I don't know.
    – Cerberus
    Oct 2, 2012 at 21:54

1 Answer 1


This is actually an very intriguing subject. I contend that, in fact, -alis/-alia are related to -ly/-lik/-lich, and that Hittite actually exhibits this feature in the autonym Nešili ([language of] Neša+ili). If you would like to ascertain whether Russian (about which I will confidently say I know very little) borrowed -аль from Latin, first look at the relationship the two languages have had over time. Then look at the words on which the morpheme is affixed. If they appear to be mostly borrowings, you could probable stop there. However, if you find them veritably Slavic, look to other Slavic languages for similar endings: start with Ukranian, then Belorussian, then go on to Polish (which is very conservative, and if there is any truly Slavic cognate to -alis, it would likely be in Polski), Slovak, or Czech. At this point, if you haven't found what you seek, chances are it won't be in the Southern Slavic languages either.

  • I suppose the origin is Etruscan because they has a feminine genitive -al. On the other hand it could be a Latin influence because the most ancient form is simply -a.
    – Anixx
    Oct 11, 2012 at 14:09

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