Questions tagged [indo-european]

The language family covering the majority of the languages of Europe and the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent.

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Why did early Indo-European languages seem to be morphologically complex?

Apparently there is a general trend that languages lose morphological marking over time. For example, according to this question PIE had 8 noun cases (nominative, accusative, genitive, etc), Latin 5, ...
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Subtypes of Standard Average European

I was looking at a sprachbund called Standard Average European, which seems to include Germanic, Romance and Slavic languages. I will not list all the features here since they can be found on ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
35 votes
6 answers
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Can Modern Hebrew be considered an Indo-European language?

According to this Wikipedia page Zuckermann argues that Israeli Hebrew, which he calls "Israeli", is genetically both Indo-European (Germanic, Slavic and Romance) and Afro-Asiatic (Semitic). He ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
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22 votes
3 answers
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What did the Greeks and Romans believe about language relationships?

The ancient Greeks and Romans had no concept of historical linguistics or of the Indo-European language family. However, it would have been noticeable to anyone who spoke even a little of both Greek ...
TKR's user avatar
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Why Germanic languages are not generally as soft as other Indo-European languages? [closed]

Let me clarify what I mean by "harsh" and "soft" with an example: Suppose that you've just arrived in a strange planet and an alien is approaching you repeating just one vowel! ...
QED's user avatar
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25 votes
3 answers
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Is Sanskrit really the mother of all languages?

Hindus believe that "Sanskrit is the mother of all Languages". It is a fact that Sanskrit has enriched most Indian Languages including the Dravidian Languages such as Telugu, as Latin enriched some ...
Jvlnarasimharao's user avatar
16 votes
5 answers
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Do any Indo European languages reflect noun class types other than gender?

In the comments of another question about animate as noun gender in some Slavic languages an interesting point was raised. Many if not most Indo European languages exhibit grammatical gender for ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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Origin of articles in European languages

I read that PIE, Latin, old English, and even old German did not use articles, yet current English, German and Romance languages all use articles. Is it true that articles developed in all these ...
Martin Konicek's user avatar
11 votes
0 answers
340 views

What kind of features support the claim that Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages?

Inspired by this answer to a different question, I ask what kind of features justify a claim that Balto-Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages. The features ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
8 votes
6 answers
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Which Indo European language best preserves the features of Proto Indo-European?

Among all attested Indo European languages, which one best preserves the features of Proto Indo-European? Which is most useful in the reconstruction of PIE?
Valandil's user avatar
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1 answer
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What is the proper way to write Hindi phonetically in English?

I've noticed that when Hindi is I guess transliterated phonetically transcribed to the English Alphabet many of the letters are doubled to represent the correct sound that one would make if you were ...
Patrick G's user avatar
22 votes
7 answers
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What is the origin of non-natural grammatical genders in Indo-European languages?

Non-natural grammatical genders in Indo-European languages: What is their origin (assuming that there is a single origin, if there are many origins)? Or what are the origins? How and for what ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
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20 votes
3 answers
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Since when did Indo-European languages start associating noun genders with male/female sexes?

Since what point in time did noun classes in Indo-European languages become associated with the sexes? I read that greek/latin used words that translate to "kind" to describe the noun ...
minseong's user avatar
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17 votes
6 answers
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Is "Kent" in Tashkent of Turkic origin or Indo-European?

In Turkish there is this word Kent which means city. Some Turkic city names have this as a suffix, like Başkent and Tashkent. In Azerbaijani the same word, with the spelling of Kənd (Kand) means ...
Mousa's user avatar
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14 votes
4 answers
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Is there any agglutinative Indo-European language?

It seems like Indo-European languages are always stuck between throwing away complicated fusional grammar (like English) or retaining most of it (like Russian). Are there any Indo-European languages ...
ithisa's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
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Indo-European prepositions: whence did they come?

What manner of theories are there on the origin of Indo-European case-like prepositions (usually; they were originally postpositions, and a handful of languages still have postpositions)? They seem ...
Justin Olbrantz's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
850 views

Difference between "Leiden school" and "mainstream" Indo-Europeanists?

Recently, I've been asked what the difference between the "Leiden school" and "mainstream" Indo-Europeanists is. The asker is planning to study in Leiden and has been concerned with the many vague ...
Pavel Jetušek's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
2k views

Stable words in the Indo-European language family

(I am not a linguist, so I don't know proper terminology) When studying Spanish and French, I quickly learned that many very common verbs have irregular forms; the reason given was that common usage ...
Arcanus's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
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How is it that such varied sounds (in major European Languages) came to be represented by the same letter "j"?

The letter "j" is pronounced differently in the following major European languages: English:  just  /d͡ʒʌst/ Spanish: justo /ˈxus.to/ German: junge /ˈjʊŋə/ French:  juste  /ʒyst/ How is ...
Curious's user avatar
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10 votes
4 answers
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Origin of *-k- "extension" in (aorist of) some IE verbs?

In Greek, the PIE verbal roots *dheh1 'put' or 'do', *Hieh1 'throw', and *deh3 'give' show up with an unexpected -k- in some aorist forms: ἔθηκα, ἧκα, ἔδωκα. In Latin, the reflexes of the first two ...
TKR's user avatar
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Is there a comprehensive account of the development of laryngeal theory?

The laryngeal theory proposes that Proto-Indo-European contained a number of consonants that are absent in (almost) all daughter languages. Their existence was proposed (by Saussure, under the term ...
user avatar
7 votes
4 answers
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How and when did some European languages acquire retroflex d and t?

It seems the retroflex d and t are present in some Germanic languages but not in most Romance, Slavic, and other IE languages. I know that it occurs in IE languages of Asia, like Sanskrit, Pashto, ...
vin's user avatar
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2 answers
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What is the best linguistic term for describing the kw > p / gw > b change, and its usual companion s > h

Celtic, Italic, Greek and several other IE languages have a P- and a Q-variety (from kw > p and gw > b). The P-variety usually also has h for ancient s. What would be the best linguistic term for ...
Eduard Selleslagh-Suykens's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
365 views

Numeral-noun number agreement - how popular it is

I am interested in the feature of number agreement for simple cases of "several nouns" in various languages. Some languages featuring this agreement are e.g. English or Slavic languages (I don't know ...
zefciu's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
264 views

Etymology of Latin suffix -ālis

What is the etymology of the Latin suffix "-ālis" (and related forms like "-āris") as in "nātūrālis"? Do we know any corresponding suffix in other Indo-European languages?
cyco130's user avatar
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3 votes
4 answers
258 views

In what sense are terms for "white/shining" and for "swamp/marsh" "semantically connected" in many languages?

Although a closed question, reading THIS we find a link to Wictionary with the text: From Proto-Albanian *baltā (“marsh”), hypothetically from a Proto-Indo-European *bʰolHto- (“white > marsh”), a ...
cipricus's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
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The "close front rounded vowel" mainly used in Germanic, Altaic and far Asian languages

Why is the "close front rounded vowel" /y/ mainly used in Germanic, Altaic and far Asian languages but rare in Latin*, Indo-Iranian and Slavic languages? Can we say that Germanic phonetics is less ...
user2045's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
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What are these "unexplained similarities" between Celtic languages and languages from North Africa?

In the section "The linguistic relationship of Welsh" from the book "Modern Welsh: a comprehensive grammar" by Gareth King we can find the following quote: Celtic also shows ...
Ergative Man's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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Do Old Indian words with voiceless aspirated stops have cognates in other branches of Indogermanic?

Inspired by this answer I have this question: Do Old Indic (Vedic, Sankrit) words beginning with a voiceless aspirated stop (like ph, th, or kh) have cognates in other branches of Indogermanic? What ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
311 views

Two and Three; Four and Five; Six and Seven are paired by their first letters T, F, S

What I said in the title above seems to be roughly true in the European languages that I have checked, so my question is: Could ancient Indo-European, or a precursor of it, used a suffix that meant "...
Richard Peterson's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
159 views

Inherited kinship term that is attested only in a Scandinavian dialect out of all Germanic languages

This is again a memory refreshing question. I am looking for a specific kinship term that is considered to be inherited into a Scandinavian dialect despite the fact that no other Germanic language has ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
0 votes
4 answers
1k views

Why does Latin, Turkish, and Albanian share common words?

Latin and Albanian are Indo-European languages so it makes sense that those two languages share many words with each-other. But why is it that Turkish — a non-Indo-European language — shares words ...
Get Chimp's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
258 views

Is it accurate to say that the Spanish language has no connection whatsoever with the Greek language?

Is it accurate to say that the Spanish language has no connection whatsoever with the Greek language? If not, and if possible, about how much can we safely say there is?
E. Cardona's user avatar