Much of the resources I have for Proto-Indo-European itself (not etymological dictionaries for other languages) either use Laryngeal notation but are limited in scope (like Wiktionary) or are written in the styles used from before Laryngeal Theory. When I see an older dictionary, I may encounter a root presented with multiple ablauts with long vowels and schwas coming in and out of the root that I can't make sense of. I can recognize how some roots are affected by ablaut, such as the root deh₃ ablauting as and do, and I am getting familiar with how CeRH- roots will seemingly move between

CeRH-, CoRH-, CR̥RHV, and CRR̥HC

which seemingly makes e.g. telh₂ do a 'disyllabic ablaut' between (Proto-Greek)

tela, tola, tăla and tlā.

But an older and more accessible dictionary will have listed

*telə-, *tlēi-, *tlē-, *tlā-

And this is barely scratching the surface. There are different shapes, swaps, laryngeal colors (the 'a' here makes the 'h₂' easier to spot), more obscure roots, other not-gradation ablauts caused by resonants, incomplete attestations which might not give me the complete picture (e.g. whether it is a root or word that has a non-ablauting 'o'-grade in one place or a zero-grade-only attested root with an 'h₃' in a different place), and words that may-or-may-not be from a substrate or a foreign loanword. And where did that 'i' in '*tlēi' come from? Does anyone have a cheat-sheet for doing this quickly before I attempt to reinvent this wheel for myself, or cycle through several dictionaries looking for a probable reconstruction?

  • 3
    This is an excellent question, but unfortunately I don’t think there can really be such a cheat-sheet beyond what you already know about laryngeal colouring and vowel quality. The whole problem is that the cementation of the laryngeal theory profoundly changed not only how we transcribe roots, but also the base reconstruction of many roots and forms, so mapping from the old to the new isn’t really feasible. Your example of non-ablauting o-grade vs. zero-grade with *h₃ is a good example: before laryngeals, those were not separable. Oct 22, 2022 at 18:41
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I think that would be a good answer.
    – Draconis
    Oct 22, 2022 at 19:48
  • @JanusBahsJacquet zero grade with h3 is still distinct from o-grade in most branches (their single schwa doesn't merge with o). Do you mean e-grade with a preceding h3?
    – Tristan
    Oct 24, 2022 at 8:10


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