Questions tagged [reconstruction]

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How to reconstruct pre-PIE from PIE? (and possibly other IE languages for help)

I have seen in Wiktionary that the word mother was derived from the PIE word *méh₂tēr. However, I saw something fascinating. The etymology said that it came from *méh₂ters, the pre-PIE word for mother....
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5answers
197 views

Could Proto-Indo-Uralic be reconstructed?

I am interested in linguistics and how words spread from place to place. I have seen that there are two language families, and that there are signs that they might be related. Proto-Indo-Uralic is the ...
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1answer
69 views

When was Proto-Austronesian spoken?

I read on Wikipedia that the language that Hawaiian comes from, distantly, is called Proto-Austronesian. It says that it had more sounds/phonemes was spoken around Taiwan and Southern China. However, ...
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Are there any unattested, reconstructed Middle English words?

Are there any unattested Middle English words that were attested in Early Modern English? I'm asking this because, on Wiktionary, I saw that there are only 2 words: the F word and halibut that have ...
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2answers
135 views

Can computational techniques solve historical problems that couldn't otherwise be solved?

Recently I've read that machine learning has been used to apply the Comparative Method (example with references here). Also, there are other mathematical approaches that have been applied to the ...
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2answers
235 views

If *h1 were a glottal stop, and virtually all German word initial vowels have an implicit glottal stop

If *h1 were a glottal stop, and virtually all German word initial vowels have implicit glottal stop then would the claim about regular laryngeal loss have to be revised? There's a rather recent ...
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2answers
282 views

Are any of the Old Chinese reconstructions for「能」plausible descendants of Proto-Sino-Tibetan /*dɣwjəm/?

(Apologies if this is off-topic.) The Chinese character「能」was originally a picture of a kind of bear. The character was once used to represent a word meaning bear, but this word doesn't appear to ...
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1answer
131 views

Homophones in Proto-Germanic

Does anyone know reconstructed homophones in Proto-Germanic or where I could look them up? I am interested in clear homophones, not polysemes.
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2answers
265 views

What are some of the most divergent cognate word forms?

I'm looking for examples like this pair: Russian for 'grass snake' — уж, [uʂ] Classical Latin for 'snake' — anguis, likely [ˈaŋ.ɡᶣɪs] These word forms are both masculine nouns in the nominative, and ...
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383 views

What is the oldest language that we know enough about to construct a plausible sentence in it?

One exciting way to track the evolution of our understanding of Proto-Indo-European is to look at the different versions of Schleicher's fable from different years. The more time we spend studying the ...
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140 views

What are the different schools of PIE reconstruction?

I have read some works on Proto-Indo-European which mention different schools that advocate for different paradigms of reconstruction, such as the Leiden and the Erlangen schools. I'd like to know if ...
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359 views

Why Is It That Ancient Greek Reconstructed Pronunciation Is Always Used For Koine?

By the time of Koine greek, in general, it was much the same as today, but I always see the Ancient Greek pronunciation being taught, why is this? Is is it because most people learning koine in ...
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446 views

The naturalness principle for [a] and [e]?

I am trying to doing an exercise that requires me to reconstruct a proto language from two languages that has a difference in the [a] and [e] phonemes. I know I cannot use the majority rule because ...
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2answers
369 views

Understanding the reflexes of PIE *ǵneh3- in Sanskrit, Latin and Greek

Today I was trying to reconstruct some PIE roots by myself and I came across the word for '(to) know' in different indo-european languages. Here are some examples: Eng. (to) know It. conoscere Lat. (...
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3answers
181 views

Potential gaps in the pIE phonological system?

The phonological system of proto-Indo-European (and of any other proto-language without written records) is reconstructed via the comparative method, which inevitably leaves some questions open. One ...
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2answers
331 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 ...
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79 views

Literature on the reconstruction of proto-Greek

I usually find scattered proto-Greek word reconstructions, but I never came across literature that focus on the reconstruction of that language. Do you know of any?
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419 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 ...
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1answer
157 views

What do [ ] mean in the middle of a reconstructed pronunciation?

While looking up Old Chinese reconstructions, I often find square brackets [] in the middle of an reconstruction. For example, Baxter-Sagart system says 寺's old Chinese pronunciation is /*s-[d]əʔ-s/. ...
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2answers
1k views

Is Austronesian the closest relative to PIE?

Austronesian is usually regarded as a separate family, not related to any other. It is never groupped into Eurasiatic or Nostratic. Yet it seems to me that it may be related to PIE. I wonder whether ...
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2answers
156 views

Could a language be reconstructed from a dictionary and lots of natural text?

Let's say aliens (someone completely new to the language) want to talk with users of it. They've obtained a complete dictionary, and a large selection of natural text (for this hypothetical situation, ...
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507 views

Were the so-called aspirates of PIE ever aspirated?

In the thread Is unvoiced & unaspirated a category of speech? it was pointed out to me, that the aspirates in Indic languages, notably Sanskrit, are from a truly phonetic perspective not aspirates,...
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501 views

Why can verbal roots in PIE only contain the vowel e?

Verbal roots of PIE are generally reconstructed as (C5) (C3) C1 e C2 (C4) (C6); with certain phonetical restrictions, especially on the outmost consonants. I wonder why only "e" should be allowed as ...
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204 views

Would it be possible to discover through linguistics if any non-human languages influenced known language families?

Suppose some recent hominins such as Neanderthal had a spoken language (currently, as far as I'm aware, we are uncertain if they did, but suppose we knew they did). If this were the case, would it be ...
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1answer
184 views

Use of forks/chopsticks and sound change?

Apparently [European] humans had an ape-like bite until relatively recently, with our top and bottom incisors aligned along their edges. With the invention of the fork around 250 years ago, our ...
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875 views

Third-person singular suffix [eth] in Middle English

Related: Grammaticalization of third person singular -s in English According to responses to this question, there was a dichotomy between northern -s and southern -th in Middle English. What I am ...
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3answers
896 views

Did Ancient Greek have a rising intonation for questions?

Unlike English, Ancient (e.g. Attic) Greek does not reorder words to formulate a question. The particle "ἆρα" does modify a statement into a question, but is not always present. In that case, I ...
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1k views

Pre-Proto-Basque: is there a methodology to establishing its vocabulary?

For example, say I have a list Basque/Euskera words, is there a way I can reconstruct these modern Basque words into a Pre-Proto-Basque version? beo (hot) lur (earth) izotz (ice) izuga (fear) ...
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4answers
747 views

How does a linguist determine whether a pattern is grammatical in a language?

How does a linguist determine whether a pattern is grammatical in a language? Is there some kind of standard test? This is assuming that there is little documentation of the language and no authority. ...
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223 views

To what extent has Martha's Vineyard SL been reconstructed?

Martha's Vineyard had a large deaf population and a native sign language. I read that this had been partially reconstructed by looking at the differences between ASL and LSF, as modern ASL is ...