So, I have a question about the reconstruction of PIE consonants.

According to the Etymological Dictionaries, the words "rape" and "raven" have the same PIE root *ker- however how did "k" change into "r"? How did that come to be? I'd love to know if somebody could explain. Thank you in advance.


2 Answers 2


The idea is that the zero-grade of IE *ker, *kor, *kr gives Germanic hraben, with subsequent loss of the initial h-.


To add on to fdb's answer:

The change of initial PIE *k (and *) to Proto-Germanic *h is well-known (part of Grimm's Law), so that part of the derivation is completely expected and regular.

"Rape" might instead descend from Latin rapiō, in which case a different PIE root *h₁rep- "take away, snatch" has been proposed (compare Greek ἐρέπτομαι); Latin didn't have the same change of initial *k to *h (compare corvus > corvid).

  • 1
    I thought he was thinking of "rape(seed)", which is believed to be from the same Germanic origin as "raven".
    – fdb
    Mar 7, 2021 at 21:43
  • @fdb Ohh, that would make significantly more sense.
    – Draconis
    Mar 7, 2021 at 21:46

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