Questions tagged [indo-european]

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

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
64
votes
10answers
14k views

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, ...
33
votes
10answers
3k views

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 ...
32
votes
6answers
12k views

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 ...
26
votes
5answers
1k views

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 ...
25
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
24
votes
3answers
17k views

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 ...
23
votes
9answers
7k views

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 ...
23
votes
3answers
3k views

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 ...
20
votes
3answers
6k views

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 ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

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 ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

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 ...
15
votes
5answers
5k views

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 ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

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 ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

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 ...
13
votes
1answer
3k views

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, ...
13
votes
4answers
7k views

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 ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
12
votes
5answers
501 views

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 ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

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 ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

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 '...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

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/...
11
votes
2answers
653 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
416 views

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 ...
10
votes
4answers
890 views

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 ...
10
votes
2answers
453 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
533 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," ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

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"....
9
votes
3answers
1k views

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. ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
8
votes
6answers
4k views

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?
8
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
8
votes
4answers
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
674 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 ...
8
votes
0answers
162 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
534 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-...
7
votes
1answer
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
219 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) ...
6
votes
4answers
756 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, ...
6
votes
1answer
906 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),...
6
votes
1answer
420 views

Noun inflection in which IE language is close to PIE noun inflection?

Which modern IE language is most conservative in noun inflection and in this aspect is most similar language to PIE?
6
votes
1answer
553 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Are Armenian գունդ (gund) and Sanskrit गिन्दुक (ginduka) related?

I was just looking at the words for "ball" in many languages. I noticed that Armenian has a word գունդ gund and Hindustani has a word गेंद / گیند gẽnd. I didn't spot any other language with a ...
6
votes
2answers
247 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
660 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
333 views

Why are there so many 'a' sounds in Sanskrit?

I noticed that in Sanskrit (as well as in many Indo-Aryan languages), the vowel /a/ appears much more frequently than any other vowel. Many words have only have /a/ as a vowel. Is there any reason ...
6
votes
1answer
202 views

What is the relation of PIE *wers (“to confuse, mix up; to beat, thresh, grind”), *wert ("to turn, to rotate"), and *werb (“to bend, to turn”)?

From *wers we get English war, worse, worst. From *wert we get English versus, verse, version, vertex, vortex, vertical, revert, invert, divert,..., worth, -ward, weird. From *werb/p we get ...
6
votes
1answer
433 views

Is there any similar verb negation in other Indo-European languages?

In the northern part of Iran, in Mazandaran, we negate like this (this is the only verb being used like this as far as I'm aware of): bɜtʊ̈ndɜ: he/she can bætʊ̈ndɜ: he/she can't is there anything ...
6
votes
1answer
293 views

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 ...