Proto-Indoeuropean language (p-IE) has been the subject of study for more than 200 years, and a great deal of work has been published has been written about p-IE reconstruction. In addition, there are ancient languages that have allowed the reconstruction of many details that in modern languages have been lost or are obscure.

But outside, the Indoeuropean language family, which other deep-level proto-languages have been reconsctructed with more details? I recently read that the last two reconstructions of Proto-Afro-Asiatic, for example, have very little resemblance and the number of common reconstructed lexical items is small and there are large differences between the two proposed reconstructions.

  • What do you mean by "deep level"? What is your metric of depth?
    – user6726
    Dec 5, 2021 at 16:56
  • 1
    The more recent a reconstruction, generally, the more certain it can be. Proto-Romance is much more certain than Proto-Indo-European, and Proto-Semitic is much more certain than Proto-Afro-Asiatic.
    – Draconis
    Dec 5, 2021 at 16:58
  • "deep level" excludes known subfamilies (proto-Germanic, proto-Slavic, proto-Italic). I meant languages groups not suspected to be part of a larger group from the available evidence.
    – Davius
    Dec 5, 2021 at 17:00
  • I assume you don't mean mere "suspicion" you mean "strong proof", otherwise PIE is not a deep level family.
    – user6726
    Dec 5, 2021 at 17:36
  • Proto-Semitic and Proto-Uralic are quite well reconstructed.
    – Anixx
    Dec 6, 2021 at 7:23

1 Answer 1


Indo-European, Uralic, Dravidian, Austronesian, Eskimo-Aleut, Algic, Austroasiatic, Arawakan, Sino-Tibetan, Salishan, Na-Dené. However, language families are constantly under attack so that even higher units are proposed that could knock out various phyla (Indo-Semitic or Indo-Uralic therefore IE is not in the set of top-level languages, and the Eurasiatic proposal would render most phyla technically "controversial"). Since Na-Dené was recently shown to be related to Yenisean, you could also argue for removing Na-Dené insofar as there hasn't been a full-scale re-reconstruction of Na-Dené + Yenisean. You can add Japonic, Quechua or Basque if you need 10 and don't find my initial list sufficiently satisfactory for your needs.

  • 4
    Indo-Semitic's been dead in the water since Afro-Asiatic got established. The only way a relationship between AA & IE is going to get established is if we've gone far enough back in the family tree we're also including a huge number of other (currently independent) families as well as those twoo
    – Tristan
    Dec 6, 2021 at 10:05

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