1. It is generally accepted that traditional Proto-Indo-European reconstructs late PIE to the exclusion of Anatolian (PS: not! see most recently Craig Melchert, "The Position of Anatolian"). We may call this PIE for simplicities sake. Some declare they mean core, proto-nuclear, etc. when saying PIE throughout.

  2. The earlier stage respectively with Anatolian evidence taken into account may also be called PIE. Kloekhorst eg. uses the terminus Proto-Indo-Anatolian, formerly Proto-Indo-Hittite, because tree models of PIE branches generally agree that Anatolian branched off first, and because PIE is often used in the first definition.

  3. The prefix pre- as in pre-PIE generally suggests an older, not savely determined of language. Pre-proto- is to be distinguished from a mere pre- that suggests unidentified substrates.

In sum, 1 and 2 are often conflated, but 3 is held strictly distinct. So far so good?

The pertinent question though, if we have to work strictly backwards in time, concerns what may be called a late Proto-Indo-European dialect continuum. The idea is known, but I don't think there was a substantial theory to take that name. Is it to be subsumed under "late PIE" or is it yet too early for this?

  • Can you clarify what the question is? I don't understand how the last paragraph relates to what precedes it.
    – TKR
    Sep 26, 2021 at 22:23
  • 1
    I've never heard of PIE excluding Anatolian, and frankly that makes no sense at all. Early PIE theories may not account for Anatolian, but updating our theories as we learn more about the language family (such as the existence of a new branch) is like the entire point of historical linguistics - to provide the best model of a language family based on all the data we have. So from our modern perspective, of course PIE includes Anatolian.
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 27, 2021 at 13:46
  • @curiousdannii people tend not to say it explicitly, but a lot of people will refer to "the PIE verbal system" to refer to a system that doesn't seem to have applied prior to Anatolian splitting off
    – Tristan
    Sep 27, 2021 at 14:30
  • @TKR see f. ex. "... If the PIE word did exist, it is probably a Wanderwort across Eurasian languages; see Proto-Sino-Tibetan *k-m-raŋ ~ s-raŋ for more." (en.WT: PIE *márkos) "horse", "(possibly) wild horse (Equus ferus przewalskii or Equus ferus ferus)", "Usage notes: Possibly denoting only a "wild horse" as opposed to the *h₁éḱwos (“domestic horse”)."
    – vectory
    Oct 21, 2021 at 12:59
  • see also in one recent paper: "Internal branchings that may have occurred between the Anatolian split-off and the formation of the aforementioned recent clades (Germanic, Albanian etc.) still remain a matter of debate among experts. The opinions are so controversial that the majority of Indo-Europeanists prefer not to discuss Inner IE branchings at all", as this thread inadvertantly confirms (the quality of the paper itself notwithstanding)
    – vectory
    Oct 22, 2021 at 5:17

1 Answer 1


You're asking a very interesting question.
Before the discovery of Hittite, things were quite clear: Indo-Europeanists had reconstructed a fairly satisfactory model for PIE.
To a large extent, the discovery of Hittite before WW2 has thrown Indo-European Studies into a kind of crisis, because Hittite does not fit into the old model, especially as regards verbs.
At one point, it was proposed to consider Hittite to be a separate family and call the whole thing Indo-Hittite. This was unfortunately rejected.
So the current situation is that the words "Indo-European" and "PIE" are ambiguous (nearly to the point of being fraudulent). In practice, you never know if the words "Indo-European" and "PIE" refer to the whole family (Anatolian and Non-Anatolian) or only to the Non-Anatolian branch.
Terms like core PIE, late PIE or disintegrating PIE, etc. are all smokescreens that try to hide the basic fact that the old (pre-WW2) model is fundamentally not representative of PIE, understood as the mother-tongue for both Anatolian and Non-Anatolian.
It's as if there were no distinction between Uralic (FU + Samoyedic) and Finno-Ugric. That's the fundamental epistemological issue with Indo-European Studies: a pervading and nearly fraudulent ambiguity.

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