Please recommend a recent book that summarizes and critiques the current state of knowledge and speculation on PIE and older proto-languages. (book, please, I will have no electronic contact with the world for 2 weeks.)

  • You're asking for an opinion, not a fact. Also, please phrase your question as a complete sentence. . Jan 3, 2017 at 19:24

3 Answers 3


Benjamin Fortson, Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction

James Clackson, Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction

Both are recent, well-balanced treatments by scholars of repute.


That's mostly just Greek, but maybe you'll find this useful: Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, G.K. Giannakis (ed.). Also -- but this is more research, not review -- Pre-Greek by R.S.Beekes, trying to reconstruct the non-Indo-European substrate. And maybe his Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction.

  • The book on Pre-Greek looks good. I am still hoping for a critical summary of state of knowledge of pre- PIE.
    – user9732
    May 9, 2015 at 1:48
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    That wouldn't be pre-PIE. "Pre-Greek" means the non-IE languages that were spoken in Greece and the islands before the early Greeks invaded; they've left words (famously, mint) in Greek and later languages whose etymology stops there. But that was at least a thousand years, and more likely two thousand years, after the Indo-European tribes started migrating, which is the end of PIE.
    – jlawler
    May 9, 2015 at 2:20
  • @jlawler: My understanding was that ab2 asked for ``older proto-languages'' as well, that's why. May 9, 2015 at 2:59
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    Beekes's reconstruction of pre-Greek is highly controversial. There is no consensus about this.
    – fdb
    May 9, 2015 at 9:18
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    By "older proto-languages", I meant to say "older than PIE", but the pre-Greek also is interesting. As for highly controversial, I am getting the feeling from browsing this forum that anything on the subject of old proto-languages worth reading is controversial.
    – user9732
    May 9, 2015 at 13:28

My pick would be:

Mallory, James P., and Douglas Q. Adams. The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2006.

There is a great lexical material inside, including sub-groupings of Indo-European e.g. Graeco-Aryan etc. The style of writing is literally 'easy reading'. I like the book a lot and so do people who bought it if you judge from the reviews.


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