One exciting way to track the evolution of our understanding of Proto-Indo-European is to look at the different versions of Schleicher's fable from different years. The more time we spend studying the language, the more 'precise' our reconstructions get, even though they might still be quite far off compared to what PIE actually looked like at any given point in its history. The majority of the reconstructions deal with the 'Classical' stage of PIE (many mainstream versions here), with some proposing versions of Scheicher's fable in Late PIE (somewhat questionable variations on the theme here).

Do we have enough information about the (hypothetical) ergative stage of PIE to, in theory, construct a simple, at least remotely plausible sentence in it?
If yes, how old would that be? What would that sentence look like? Is there any even older language that fits the criterion, e.g. maybe Proto-Afro-Asiatic?
If not, what is the oldest stage of PIE that we can feasibly say something in? When would that approximately be?

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    If it's hypothetical, we don't have any data; only interpretations and hypotheses.
    – jlawler
    Jun 27, 2018 at 15:22
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    Fair point @jlawler; edited. Jun 27, 2018 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


Sumerian and Egyptian are attested in texts from about 3000 BC onwards. These are real languages, not reconstructed ones like PIE.

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    Thanks for the answer. Do you not think PIE was spoken earlier than 3000 BC or do you not consider any constructed PIE sentences to be 'plausible'? Jun 27, 2018 at 13:44
  • @Simon Korneev PIE was spoken quite around 3000 BC +/- 500 years.
    – Anixx
    Jun 28, 2018 at 15:41
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    @Anixx. How do you know that?
    – fdb
    Jun 28, 2018 at 15:59
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    @Anixx. I contest that.
    – fdb
    Jun 28, 2018 at 16:11
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    Wikipedia: "PIE is estimated to have been spoken as a single language from 4500 BCE to 2500 BCE [2] during the Neolithic Age, though estimates vary by more than a thousand years." If you know better then please create a separate post with references so that Wikipedia can be updated with a proper estimate.
    – tripleee
    Jun 29, 2018 at 6:30

I have seen in one paper reconstructions of sentences in Proto-Uralic, and I was shocked how much that reconstruction resembled PIE. The most dfferences were in word order and kwe vs ke and the like.

If Proto-Uralic was so close to PIE, and the both had relatively free word order, one can imagine their common ancestor being very close as well, and those sentences very well resembling it.

It is a pity I cannot find that source again now. It had something about Proto-Uralic numerals or Proto-Uralic negative particle and word order.

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    "their common ancestor" - The Indo-Uralic hypothesis is speculative at this point, we should not talk about it as if it is fact. Jun 29, 2018 at 10:25
  • @A. M. Bittlingmayer I am not talking about Indo-Uralic, but either it or Eurasiatic or other groupping is true. When I saw those sentences it became obvious that the languages were closely cvonnected.
    – Anixx
    Jun 30, 2018 at 6:33

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