The Proto-Indo-European "third laryngeal", *h3, is often assumed to have been a voiced sound based on the fact that some reflexes of the "drink" root *peh3- appear to show voicing assimilation of p to b: e.g. Sanskrit pibati < *pi-ph3-, Latin bibit similarly with further regressive assimilation.

But whenever I've seen this argued, this "drink" verb is the only piece of evidence presented. Are there other words that show assimilatory voicing of a consonant next to *h3? It's true that *h3 seems to have been the least frequent of the laryngeals, but still, you'd think that more than one data point should be adducible for this process.

2 Answers 2


Turns out there's at least one other suggested, but controversial, case of voicing by *h3, involving the "Hoffmann suffix" *-Hon- or *-h3on-. Piotr Gąsiorowski discusses it here. The same suffix may be responsible for the voicing alternation in Latin pairs like vertex, vertic- vs. vertigo. I don't know how far these ideas are currently accepted, though.

  • Byrd (PIEan Syllable 2015:11,22,25) posits a rule of feature assimilation and says specifically "This form (among others) suggests that laryngeal coloring was blocked across a morpheme boundary; cf. Weiss 2009:50." In this view the Hoffmann-suffix does not work as an example, I guess, unless vowels and consonants behaved differently.
    – vectory
    Oct 1, 2023 at 16:40

One theory is that it was a labialized sound [xʷ] similar to [kʷ]. Weill would you call [kʷ] a voiced sound? I think, no because such compound sounds are usually assigned voicity according the first component.

  • 2
    Right, but another theory is that it was a voiced labialized fricative like [ʕʷ]. I'm not sure whether to believe this, which is why I'm asking for more evidence that it was (fully) voiced.
    – TKR
    Oct 16, 2015 at 2:02
  • 1
    @TKR for what it worth, in my analysis of PIE roots I noticed that many roots reconstructed with h3 in fact related to the roots reconstructed with u̯ in the same place. Like, say, o̯eron/u̯oron (a kind of bird), o̯rta̯/u̯ertmn (wheel), o̯rdhos (heght, uprightness)/u̯ers (top, peak). Some roots have different reconstructions in different sources.
    – Anixx
    Oct 16, 2015 at 2:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.