in short: Is there any discussion available online of the following reinterpretation (due to Alwin Kloekhorst) of the stops in the Indo-European phoneme inventory?

classical inventory    reinterpretation
p  t  ḱ  k  kʷ      →  p: t: kʲ: k: kʷ
b  d  ǵ  g  gʷ      → ˀp ˀt ˀḱ  ˀk ˀkʷ
bʰ dʰ ǵʰ gʰ gʷʰ     →  p  t  kʲ  k  kʷ

what are the arguments backing up Alwin Kloekhorst's statement ?

full details :

I read in Alwin Kloekhorst's monumental thesis, from the Leiden University, about the Hittite lexicon that, speaking about the "Proto-Indo-European phoneme inventory" (title after 1.1, p.29):

(...) I follow Kortlandt (2003: 259) who argues that the traditional 'voiceless' series (*p, *t, *ḱ, *k and *kʷ) in fact were plain fortis stops [p:, t:, kʲ:, k:, kʷ], the traditional 'voiced' series (*b, *d, *ǵ, *g, *gʷ) were lenis (pre-)glottalized stops [ˀp, ˀt, ˀḱ, ˀk and ˀkʷ] and the traditional 'aspirated voiced' stops (*bʰ, *dʰ, *ǵʰ, *gʰ, *gʷʰ) were plain lenis stops [p, t, kʲ, k, kʷ] (1.1, p.30)

It should be noted that although I tried to copy exactly what Kloekhorst wrote, I had to modify the symbols for (pre-)glottalized stops and; I also avoid, for technical reasons, italicizing as the author did. As as sidenote, I think it's worth noting that Kloekhorst's views seem to have nothing to do with the glottalic theory even if Kloekhorst graduated from Leiden University, where the

"proponents [of the glottalic theory] today are historical linguists at the University of Leiden" (source)

Since Alwin Kloekhorst doesn't justify his allegiance to Kortlandt's assumption, I followed the given reference, namely "Kortlandt (2003; 259)" which leads to the article An Indo-European substratum in Slavic? (Languages in Prehistoric Europe (edd. A. Bammesberger & T. Venneman), Heidelberg, 253-260), but this article seems to be out of my reach. Full bibliography here.

So far, I've only read another article from Frederik Kortlandt, From Proto-Indo-European to Slavic, 1994. But what I read is somehow different from Alwin Kloekhorst's views: Proto-Indo-European would have fortes (p, t, ḱ, ...), glottalic (b, d, ǵ, ...) and aspirated (bʰ, tʰ, ǵʰ, ...) stops and "Dialectal Indo-European" (namely Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Albanian, Armenian, Armenian, Indo-Iranian and probably Tocharian) would have fortes (p, t, ḱ, ...), (pre-)glottalized (ˀb, ˀd, ˀǵ, ...) and voiced (bʰ, tʰ, ǵʰ, ...) stops.

Hence my question: what are the arguments backing up Alwin Kloekhorst's statement?

1 Answer 1


If I remember correctly, a major argument in favour of the reinterpreted consonant system is the suspicious rareness of *b in the protolanguage. The absence of /b/ in the presence of /p/ and /bʰ/ is more difficult to explain than the absence of /ˀp/ in the presence of /p:/ and /p/.

The problem is that no Indogermanic language has preserved glottalised stops (they are present in Armenian but this can be explained as a later acquisition due to areal influence of Caucasian languages).

  • 1
    That is the basic argument that started off the glottalic theory in itself; I’m not sure it’s really a central argument in Kloekhorst’s particular view, though. Oct 24, 2017 at 13:56

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