I've been interested in Historical Linguistics (as a hobby) for quite a while and one of the recent topics that caught my attention was the hypothesis of Kortlandt, Bomhard, and others that Indo-European languages originated through an amalgamation of a pre-Uralic phylum under Ponto-Caucasian influence.

I have been able to get to some free resources about this theory, but unfortunately they were not thorough. For this reason, I would like to ask, if somebody knows any, to direct me to an article /pdf, online-book/ that descibes how Indo-Uralists explain the fundamental differences between IE and Uralic phonology?

More precisely, how come (according to their theory) pIE had 3 series of plosives with free (probably pitch) accent, while pUralic is much more conservative with only one series of stops and a fixed stress on the root? I know some Uralic languages exhibit consonant graduation, however it is not semantic, so definitely cannot explain the difference between pIE *bʰendʰ- /bend, bond/ and *pent- ~ *pont- /pass, path/


2 Answers 2


Have you read this article by Kortlandt? http://www.kortlandt.nl/publications/art213e.pdf In it he explains how he understands the development of I-E stops from Indo-Uralic stops on the basis of stress patterns.

  • I've seen it, however, his explanation in my opinion cannot account for the development of distinct meanings in so many minimal pairs, differing only in voice, within IE. The consonant graduation in Uralic doesn't alter the fundamental meaning of stems, but simply changes their grammatical features (aspect, number, grammatical role, etc).
    – Newbie
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 12:52
  • 1
    It is amazing how root meanings change - the Proto-Germanic word *banja- meaning 'death' has become 'bane' (meaning 'bete noire') in English and 'Bahn' (meaning 'railway') in German. There are many such examples. Give a language two variants of a word and its users will introduce two meanings. Take Old English 'burh' with oblique root 'burg-'. Thes give modern English 'borough' (an administrative district) and 'burrow' (a rabbit's home).
    – Ned
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 19:55

When Indo-Uralic split up in 10,000 BC, some of them mixed with North Caucasians (Indo-Europeans), while the others mixed with Vasconic Samis (Uralo-Yukaghirs). The two halves migrated away from each other and became different. The original center of the Indo-Uralic people was the north shore of the Caspian Sea.

  • 2
    How does this bear on the question, about consonants? Or even on language?
    – user6726
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 1:02

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