I read on wiki that

"Hittite retains laryngeals that disappeared entirely in Sanskrit (but left plenty of traces showing that it must once have existed). In Proto-Indo-Iranian, the laryngeals merged as one phoneme /*H/ and there are some instances of this /*H/ survived into Rigvedic Sanskrit and Avestan as unwritten glottal stops as evidenced by metrics"

Can somebody elaborate please. Thanks


2 Answers 2


According to Lehmann's 1951 Proto-Indo-European Phonology (which is admittedly somewhat outdated but is the best resource I have on this), there are three main reasons to postulate some sort of reflex of laryngeals in Vedic Sanskrit.

One, as Mellifluous mentions, is aspiration when laryngeals came after a stop, as in tíṣṭhati "stand" from the zero-grade of *steh₂. But this could have happened well before Vedic.

Another is lengthening in certain compounds. For example, abhí "to, for, on" generally has a short ĭ in compounds. But certain roots cause the vowel to lengthen: abhīsat "surpass" < *h₁es-. These roots also often have a lengthened augment.

Finally, and most convincingly, Vedic meter sometimes requires a long vowel to be read as two short vowels in hiatus; this is what the quote in your question is talking about. For example, yānti "go" (from *yeh₂) often needs to be read as three syllables, implying it was originally *yaHánti.

In particular, superlatives in -iṣṭha- tend to show this hiatus when applied to stems ending in a long vowel: déṣṭha "most generous" < < *deh₃ has to be read as *daHiṣṭha. And one general tenet of the laryngeal theory is that all roots in PIE consisted of two groups of consonants; stems which end in a long vowel, like , generally come from that second group consisting of a single laryngeal.


As far as I'm aware, yes. One of the origins of the Sanskrit voiceless aspirate is a PIE cluster of PLOSIVE + LARYNGEAL. I know only one word that illustrates this:

  • पृथ्वी pṛthvī́ ('earth') > PIE *pl̥th₂-éwih₂ > *pléth₂us ('broad land')

(This information comes from the Wikitionary article on the Sanskrit word पृथ्वी.)

  • 1
    An even clearer example is the word for ‘path’, where the cluster is paradigmatic: it shows up only in cases where the laryngeal-containing suffix is in the zero grade. See [the Wiktionary entry]() for a bunch of different suggested reconstructions. Granted, the voiceless aspirate has been generalised in Sanskrit there, but if you look at Avestan, it retains the plain stop in the nominative pantā̊ and the cluster in the genitive paθō. Jun 17, 2021 at 18:51
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    @JanusBahsJacquet. It is a good idea to mention your sources, linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/39086/…
    – fdb
    Jun 17, 2021 at 21:49
  • @fdb I’m not sure what that comment has to do with anything, but I did intend to give a source – I just forgot to edit the comment and add in the actual URL (pasting doesn’t work in the iOS app, and I was already halfway through typing when I remembered). I meant to link to PIIr. *pántaH- on Wiktionary. Jun 17, 2021 at 22:57
  • Just to confirm if i got this right: PIE cluster of t and h₂ turned into the sanskrit थ ? Do i get it right?
    – Nikkū
    Jun 18, 2021 at 0:40
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    @NikosPavlopoulos: Yep! Jun 18, 2021 at 16:47

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