The ablaut system was in Proto-Indo-European. It also is present in some English, German and Greek. Are there ablaut changes in romance languages such as Italian, French and Spanish?

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    Do you mean productive ablaut, or historical traces of ablaut? Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


All Romance languages have some historical traces of ablaut. For example from Spanish:

hacer"to do/make": infinitive with /a/
hice "I did/made": preterite with /i/
hecho "done/made": past participle with /e/

faire"to do/make": infinitive with /ɛ/
fis "(I) did/made": preterite (passe simple) with /i/
fait "done/made": past participle with /ɛ/

fazer"to do/make": infinitive with /a/
fiz "I did/made": preterite with /i/
feito "done/made": past participle with /ej/

a face"to do/make": infinitive with /a/
făcui "I did/made": preterite with /ɨ/
făcut "done/made": past participle with /ɨ/

fare"to do/make": infinitive with /a/
feci "I did/made": preterite (passato remoto) with /e/
fatto "done/made": past participle with /a/

However this now acts like root suppletion and is not productive with new words. Occitan and Catalan have productive vowel-altering processes sometimes called ablaut, but they are not derived from PIE ablaut and are not grammaticalized.

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    Do you consider the -ir stem-changers to have an ablaut change in the 3p preterite? There are zillions of these: morir > murió, dormir > durmió, pedir > pidió, sentir > sintió, advertir > advirtió, reír > rió, perhaps adquerir > adquiso. Also, when listing things in modern Romance, it might help to add the corresponding Latin, so one can see that the vowel changed there, too, like fácere, fáciō, fēcī in this case. ES saber > supe is another good one that tracks the Latin perfect sapuī well in other Romance tongues.
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 21:05
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    @tchrist. This is not about ablaut; it is about the fact that Latin /o/ and /e/ develop differently in penultimate and antepenultimate syllables.
    – fdb
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 10:04

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