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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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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Is the connection between 'right' in the sense of direction and concepts like 'correct' limited to Indo-European languages?

I'm now familiar with enough Indo-European languages to know in almost all of them there's an etymological connection or outright homonymy between the word(s) for 'right' in the sense of direction and ...
user3482545's user avatar
27 votes
2 answers
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Are there any non-Indo-European languages with go-periphrasis?

Some Indo-European languages have a construction called go-periphrasis, by which some form of the verb go is used in conjunction with the main verb to mark tense. Most languages that have this feature ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
26 votes
5 answers
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Are consonant mutations in Indo-European languages specific of the Celtic group?

Consonant mutations are a strong characteristic of the Celtic languages. An example in Breton would be: Khaz /kaz/: cat Ar c'haz /aʁ.xaz/: the cat The /k/ is altered to /x/ after ar. According ...
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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
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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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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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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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 ...
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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
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5 answers
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What are the reasons to count Armenian as an Indo-European language?

Often I encounter arguments that Armenian is in fact not an Indo-European language. The claims assert that the regular correspondences between Armenian and PIE are too unrealistic, too rare and too ...
Anixx's user avatar
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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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Has any language ever borrowed an interrogative or relative pronoun?

One of the lexical similarities between reconstructed Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Uralic is in the interrogative and relative pronouns. For the former, in PIE there's a family of interrogatives ...
TKR's user avatar
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13 votes
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Is the Indo-European language family made up?

Question Which European Languages are not Indo-European? on History.SE got this peculiar comment from user mathreadler: None of them are. Indo-European is completely made-up language family by ...
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Are the Finnish pronouns related to their Indo-European counterparts?

Although not belonging to the Indo-European family, Finnish has personal pronouns that resemble (to a layperson, at least) the corresponding pronouns in Indo-European languages. For example, the ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
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Do the words "angst" and "anxiety" share a common root?

The English word angst, taken from German Angst, seems to ultimately originate from Proto-Germanic *angustiz. This word has descendants in many Germanic languages, including, but not limited to, ...
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What is necessary to decide if Lusitanian is a Celtic language?

The Lusitanian language was almost certainly an Indo-European language, but whether or not it was a Celtic language is still uncertain. Some features, as the presence of the initial p- (as in porcom '...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
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
12 votes
2 answers
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Current status of the controversy on the date of Indo-European dispersion

There are two conflicting theories about the dispersion of the people speaking proto-Indo-European (by which I mean the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, excluding Hittite and other ...
Joël's user avatar
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1 answer
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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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Earliest recognition that Germanic and Romance languages are related

A recent question here, Earliest recognition that Romance languages are related asks for when in history it was first noted that individual Romance languages were recognized as ... similar/related/...
Mitch's user avatar
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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
0 answers
354 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
10 votes
4 answers
3k views

Is there a general consensus on what modern language is the closest relative of Albanian?

I'm off to Albania tomorrow so starting to get more and more interested in the language. It's one of the outliers on the Indo-European family tree. It's not hard to see a relationship but it's not ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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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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4 answers
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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
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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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Why is "No" more universal than "Yes"?

I apologize if this has been asked. I'm a little surprised if not. I don't have much experience with non-European languages, but regardless, I see that "No" is almost always with "N", but "Yes" is ...
Chuckk Hubbard's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
567 views

Did PIE *h3 cause voicing in any other words than the "drink" word?

The Proto-Indo-European "third laryngeal", *h3, is often assumed to have been a voiced sound based on the fact that some reflexes of the "drink" root *peh3- appear to show voicing assimilation of p to ...
TKR's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
637 views

What is the sound law to describe the etymology of “helix” and “vulva”?

What confused me is the transition from "w" in PIE *wel- to "h" in E. helix . And what's the sound law applied to the word E. "vulva",which has the change from "w" to "v"? helix "a spiral thing," ...
archenoo's user avatar
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9 votes
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Did Uralic borrow basic vocabulary from PIE, and if so why?

This section of the Wikipedia article on laryngeal theory lists proposed IE-to-Uralic loanwords containing laryngeals. Several of these have quite basic meanings: "woman", "person", "do", "give", "go"....
TKR's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
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Discontinuous morphemes in Indo-European languages

Indo-European is not a language family known for discontinuous morphology, but there are occasional examples. I can think of two: The German and Dutch past participle formants, ge-en and ge-t, e.g. ...
TKR's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
733 views

Help me find an early Old Norse dictionary (or even a grammar)

For some time I've been looking for a dictionary of Old Norse that reflects an early situation in the language; this kind of resource has been amazingly hard to find, for some reason. Most ...
Darkgamma's user avatar
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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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8 votes
1 answer
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Indo-European languages that have innovated a nominative-accusative distinction for neuter nouns

One ubiquitous and ancient feature of Indo-European languages is a lack of contrast between the nominative and accusative for neuter nouns. I'll restrict attention to nouns here and not independent ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
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8 votes
4 answers
2k views

Indo-European prepositions: why prepositions?

In a related but different question to Indo-European prepositions: whence did they come?, why do just about all modern Indo-European languages have prepositions rather than postpositions? PIE is ...
Justin Olbrantz's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
97 views

Does Northern Kurdish actually have a paucal number?

For the past 10+ years, the Wikipedia article "Grammatical number" has stated: Of the Indo-European languages, Kurmanji (also known as Northern Kurdish) is one of the few known languages ...
John Fortnight's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
605 views

How do proponents of Indo-Uralic explain the major differences between the consonant systems of pIE and pUralic?

I've been interested in Historical Linguistics (as a hobby) for quite a while and one of the recent topics that caught my attention was the hypothesis of Kortlandt, Bomhard, and others that Indo-...
Newbie's user avatar
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7 votes
4 answers
1k views

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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7 votes
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
7 votes
2 answers
279 views

Is it normal for only one verb class to be productive in Indo-European languages?

In another question on this site, there is some discussion on the view that the so-called "strong verb" class in English is no longer "productive" - that is, newly formed or coined words (neologisms) ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
1k views

What are cognates of "fuck" in other Indo-European languages?

I am not asking for translations, but how the word itself is related to words in other languages and what those words have come to mean like how "shit" is related to "science". I would really ...
Andrew James's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
995 views

What rule governs the vowel alternations in Latin caput/capit-/-cep(t)-/-cipit-/-ciput?

In different forms, the Latin root caput "head" appears with different vowels: a-u: caput (nominative singular); a-i: capitis (genitive singular), capitī (dative singular), capita (nominative plural),...
imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

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
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

s / h change in Indo-European languages

There are many words where Latin and Germanic begin with s– but the Greek begins with an aspirate (h–). How does this shift come about? They do not seem to be formed in the same part of the mouth at ...
RobMat's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
317 views

Good recent historical grammar of Sanskrit, preferably in English?

Does there exist a reliable, reasonably up-to-date historical-comparative grammar of Sanskrit written in English? Failing that, what are the standard works for historical Sanskrit phonology and ...
TKR's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
468 views

How widespread across language families is the root, krt, meaning cut/short?

How widespread across language families is the root, krt, meaning cut/short? This root is prevalent across the Indo-European and Semitic language families. It may have spread across languages like ...
Perry Webb's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
840 views

Sources for etymologies of Ancient Greek proper names and placenames?

There are good etymological dictionaries for Ancient Greek: if you're searching for the origin of a word, you'll probably find information in Frisk, Chantraine, or Beekes. But if you're looking for ...
TKR's user avatar
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