The Project

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Lexicon Leponticum (LexLep) is a web-based, interactive platform based on the MediaWiki open source application. The aim of LexLep is to set up an interactive online etymological dictionary of the Lepontic and Cisalpine Gaulish language that is freely accessible for all users. In addition to information about linguistic and etymological features of the Lepontic language, it includes substantial data about the epigraphic, archaeological and historical context of the inscriptions as well.

LexLep is a living lexicon comparably to other Wikis. Its content will constantly grow and be revised. In its current state LexLep is a valuable and innovative resource in Celtic historical linguistics; it must, however, be remembered that it is not a final, finished edition.


The project started with two distinctive objectives:

  1. to design a web-based interactive frame-work program to host etymological dictionaries and lexicons of Indo-Europaean and other languages;
  2. to write an etymological dictionary of the Lepontic language entitled Lexicon Leponticum (LexLep).

Combined in a single project, the results of LexLep present both scholarly and technological innovations.

The envisaged adaptation of MediaWiki to the requirements of an interactive etymological lexicon has been satisfactorily achieved within the first iteration of the project. The system was continuously refined, and it is now able to achieve some astonishing results.

Although it was not possible to finish the etymological dictionary in time, LexLep allows a broad access to the entire basic data about archaeological objects from culturally Celtic regions, carrying inscriptions in North Italic Script, the in­scrip­tions themselves, their locations, and a list of the dictionary headwords. In addition to this, a comprehensive bibliographic sec­tion was cre­ated and linked to the pages devoted to inscriptions and headwords. The work on the etymological dictionary of Lepontic will be carried on in future iterations of the project.

Project History

  • In the experimental phase 1 of the project, Sept. 1, 2009-Feb. 12, 2010, the technical possibilities of the website were tested and the system MediaWiki was adapted to the requirements of the lexicon. The technical work was undertaken by Marcel Schwarz and Martin Braun. The conceptual groundwork, carried out in particular by Martin Braun, consisted mainly in developing the formal structures and routines that enable the automatised functions of the lexicon. The primary goal of Eva Lettner during this time was to compile a basic list of Lepontic inscriptions. David Stifter and Eva Lettner presented the project at national and international conferences (see below). At the end of phase 1, the experimental version of the lexicon was deleted.
  • At the beginning of phase 2 in February 2010, the system was recreated from scratch and the basic data about the archaeological objects carrying the inscriptions, the inscriptions themselves, and the dictionary headwords was entered in the database. Against initial expectations, technical questions still cropped up, and Martin Braun had to constantly apply his ingenuity to refining and advancing the technical backbones of the site.
    • In December 2010, the official directorship of the project had to be transferred from David Stifter to Stefan Schumacher for administrative reasons. With the start of 2011, two new colleagues joined the project team, Mag. Michela Vignoli and Chiara Francesca Dezi, and two other colleagues added further support (Anna Adaktylos from Jan. 24-Feb. 28; Mag. Corinna Scheungraber from May-June); Eva Lettner left the project.
    • All objects had been entered into the database by the end of July 2010. Entering the inscriptions was finished in February 2011, under the responsibility of Martin Braun. Pages for the words were set up by Michela Vignoli, and filled in by herself and David Stifter. Chiara Dezi was in charge of filling the bibliography, and of adding further support in adding content to the site. Finally, Anna Adaktylos and Corinna Scheungraber checked the entries on the site for grammatical correctness. The entering of fundamental data to LexLep was finished by the end of June 2011, which also marked the official end of the initial project as funded by the FWF.
  • In March 2012, the Celtic Research Trust, located on the Isle of Man, dedicated money to LexLep which opened the way for the continuation of phase 2 in July 2012. The main tasks are attached to a revision and formal streamlining of the entire site. This means mainly correcting errors, and bringing the site into a formally consistent shape. This work is carried out by Michela Vignoli with the assistance of Martin Braun. In December 2012 Corinna Salomon added further support to the team. The inscription and word pages will be revised and filled with up-to-date information, and will receive a user-friendly layout. Additionally, pages devoted to general information about the history, cultural history and archaeology of Celtic Northern Italy will be filled with substantial content. Another task is the creation of explanatory pages to help users in understanding the concepts and principles of LexLep. After completion of the revision, the site will be easily navigable for all users without "dead ends".


  • Phase 3: the full version of the lexicon that will allow to retrieve full information about the remains of the Lepontic and Cisalpine Gaulish languages will be finished in a future iteration of the project. The completion of phase 3 will depend on the acquisition of further funding.
  • Phase 4: Additionally, it is planned to visit all museums, to examine all inscriptions ourselves and to take our own photographs for the lexicon where we are granted this right.



  • David Stifter, "Lepontische Studien: Lexicon Leponticum und die Funktion von san im Lepontischen", in: Akten des 5. Deutschsprachigen Keltologensymposiums, Zürich, 7.–10. September 2009. Herausgegeben von Karin Stüber, Thomas Zehnder und Dieter Bachmann [= Keltische Forschungen, Allgemeine Buchreihe A1], Wien: Praesens Verlag 2010, 359–374.
  • David Stifter, "Lenition of *s in Gaulish?", in: The sound of Indo-European. Phonetics, Phonemics and Morphophonemics. Edited by Benedicte Nielsen Whitehead, Thomas Olander, Birgit Anette Olsen and Jens Elmegård Rasmussen, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press 2012, 523–544.
  • David Stifter, "Schwund von auslautendem s als westeuropäische areale Erscheinung", Die Sprache 49/2 (2010/2011), 187–193.
  • David Stifter, "Die lepontische Schrift: Entwicklung in Interaktion", in: Schriftsysteme rund ums Mittelmeer. Kolloquium Jena 2012. Edited by Anja Busse and Sabine Ziegler, forthc.


  • In 2014-5, David Stifter served as an expert consultant for the revision and expansion of the Old Italic subset of the Unicode character set, culminating in a consultation meeting on 11 July 2015 at Glasgow University.

The Team

LexLep team 2011, from left to right: front A. Adaktylos, E. Lettner, M. Vignoli, Ch. Dezi; back M. Schwarz, M. Braun, D. Stifter
  • Anna-Maria Adaktylos (Supporting data entry during the second project phase (Jan. 24-Feb. 28 2011).)
  • Chiara Dezi (Assistant for data entry during the second project phase (Jan. 1, 2011-Jun. 30, 2011).)
  • Corinna Salomon (Supporting data entry since Dec. 2012.)
  • Corinna Scheungraber (Supporting data entry during the second project phase (May-June 2011).)
  • David Stifter (Project director)
  • Eva Lettner (Responsible for data entry and character variants in the first project phase (Sept. 1, 2009-Feb. 12, 2010).)
  • Marcel Schwarz (System administrator in the first phase of the LexLep project (Sept. 1, 2009-Feb. 12, 2010).)
  • Martin Braun (System administrator)
  • Michela Vignoli (Responsible for data entry since Jan. 1, 2011.)

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