30 votes

Why are the orthographies of Ancient/Proto Languages so Impractical?

First, it's worth noting that these are transcriptions, used by linguists, not actual orthographies used by native speakers. The ancient Sumerians didn't write their word for "god" as diĝir; they ...
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  • 50.9k
21 votes

What is the meaning of the number 2 in Proto-Indo European reconstructions? e.g. As in *tewtéh₂, meaning "people" or "tribe"

The numbers are specific to Proto-Indo-European. Scholars aren't sure how PIE was pronounced: after all, there are no native speakers around now, or records from the time. All of the sounds in ...
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  • 50.9k
21 votes

Does knowing PIE roots help with vocab?

Not really. English has a lot of words borrowed directly from Latin, or through a close relative (Norman French), which are still spelled almost exactly as they were two thousand years ago. It's easy ...
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  • 50.9k
19 votes
Accepted

Which Indo European language best preserves the features of Proto Indo-European?

There are many possible answers to this question. Historically, the comparative method was born from observing the regularity of phonological and morphological correspondences between Classical ...
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18 votes
Accepted

Why do neuter nominative and accusative always agree in IE languages?

I was going to write you an e-mail but I'll write my answer here instead ;) First, most Indo-European scholars disregard the ergative hypothesis. However, I do not know any other reason for the ...
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  • 196
16 votes
Accepted

How different were Proto-Italic and Proto-Germanic?

As you noticed, there is something common between modern Romance and Germanic languages which is not shared by other Indo-European languages. It does not come from their ancestral languages (Latin and ...
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16 votes

Why are the reconstructed forms of PIE root in Etymonline and Wiktionary different?

The main problem with these particular reconstructions is that the author of "etymonline" does not use diacritics. In fact, there is a very significant difference between *g and *ǵ (they develop ...
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  • 22.6k
16 votes

Reconstructed PIE grammar? Could we be able to speak in Proto-European?

Just a set of words, or is there also a reconstructed grammar letting us speak in Common Proto-European? Absolutely! In fact, one of the best ways to show that a language is Indo-European is through ...
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  • 50.9k
16 votes

Why was India as the homeland of PIE abandoned?

When a word can be reconstructed to a proto-language, it is generally assumed that there was such a word in the proto-language. Then if the meaning of the word can also be reconstructed, it is ...
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  • 66.6k
15 votes

Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Yeniseian paper

From your paper: Chance is ruled out by probability, because two unrelated language families can’t have 74 accidental resemblances. The problem is, this simply isn't true. Here are 109 accidental ...
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  • 50.9k
14 votes

Is there evidence that "proto-" languages actually existed?

This question seems confused. For one thing, you never define what you mean by “such languages”. A precise formulation of the concepts is important. No reasonable linguist would support the idea that,...
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  • 16.5k
14 votes

Why are the reconstructed forms of PIE root in Etymonline and Wiktionary different?

Proto-Indo-European has gone through different stages of development historically, which represent higher levels of abstraction. In particular, the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laryngeal_theory, ...
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14 votes

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) words with IPA

The problem is, nobody is quite sure how PIE was pronounced! When we talk about PIE phonemes like /*d/, we don't mean it was actually IPA [d]. We mean that "there seems to have been a phoneme, which ...
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  • 50.9k
14 votes

What language branch of PIE does Kartvelian belong to? (Georgian language)

Kartvelian is not part of Indo-European, and in fact is not known to be related to any other language family. Some linguists have connected it with IE as part of a proposed larger family called ...
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  • 10.4k
13 votes
Accepted

Why does Greek "ναι" mean "yes" while it comes from a PIE root meaning "no"?

Lat. nē 'really, true' and Tocharian B nai 'indeed, surely' seem to be the IE-parallels. The IE demonstrative *(h1e-)no- 'he there, that one' seems to be the root according to Beekes (with a ...
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  • 2,544
13 votes

Why does it seem that all Proto-Germanic words have PIE roots?

It is not the case that pretty much all PGmc words are from PIE. Many well-known linguists have turned their attention to the problem of precisely why PGmc had such a large proportion of non-IE ...
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  • 707
12 votes

Proposed binary divisions of Proto-Indo-European

As for the centum-satem distinction, nowadays indoeuropeanists usually don't think of it as a west-east dialect division but they rather view the satem palatalisation as an innovation which took place ...
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  • 1,378
12 votes
Accepted

Does knowing PIE roots help with vocab?

Yes. I subscribe to Ed Klima's theory about practical language learning. That is, you learn by being exposed to examples of the language while you're paying attention. And nothing else really counts....
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  • 12.3k
11 votes

Spelling of laryngeals in Proto-Indo-European

Typing these characters is fairly straightforward, if you have an appropriate keyboard (or can customize yours): they're simply the lowercase Latin letters <e a o>, followed by the character U+032F ...
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  • 50.9k
11 votes

Is there evidence that "proto-" languages actually existed?

Proto-languages are indeed theories, the way that Evolution or Gravity is a theory. Confirmation of theories comes through their fit of the data, as @sumelic argues. As theoretical constructs, they ...
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10 votes

How different were Proto-Italic and Proto-Germanic?

Even if these languages belong to the Indo-European family, there's a huge gap of time and space standing between Pre-Italic and Pre-Germanic languages. "A probable cladistic tree of the IE family"(a)...
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  • 1,941
10 votes
Accepted

What is the contribution of Tocharian to the reconstruction of Proto-Indogermanic?

Generally speaking, Tocharian was not quite a game changer. Tocharian languages are the most-eastern IE languages; and yet they belong to the centum group, although they share with the satǝm group at ...
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  • 234
10 votes
Accepted

Was language invented only once or several times?

The question raises three terminological issues: what is "language", what is "invented" and what is "once"? It does presuppose that there was a prior state without language, and a later state with it (...
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  • 66.6k
10 votes
Accepted

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

A simply approach to the question is to find which language (if any one language can be determined) has the most similar noun paradigm to PIE. The phonology of the suffixes can also be concidered. ...
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  • 116
10 votes

Statistical tests of PIE laryngeal theory

Your proposed statistical test would not actually provide evidence (much less proof) for the laryngeal theory. You might use statistical methods to compute the significance of certain correlations, ...
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  • 66.6k
10 votes
Accepted

Are there any Latin and (ancient) Hebrew words with common origins?

Definitely! The most common are direct loanwords from one language into another, or Wanderwörter, words that spread over long distances via trade. For the first category, look at sabbatum, the Latin ...
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  • 50.9k
10 votes
Accepted

Are PIE *suHnús "son" and *snusós "daughter-in-law" related?

Re: "Has anyone suggested such a derivation" Yes. Just a brief comment so far. Looking at the relevant entries in NIL (Nomina im indogermanischen Lexicon), I can see they mention such a ...
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  • 8,394
10 votes

What language branch of PIE does Kartvelian belong to? (Georgian language)

Kartvelian is not only not demonstrably related (note: this is absence of evidence, not evidence of absence) to Indogermanic, but also on the same level unrelated to other Kaukasian language families ...
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9 votes

Proto-Indo-European phonetic and pronunciation

There are very many opinions of the "meaning" of the letters used to represent PIE reconstructions. One approach treats them as algebraic abstractions, where e.g. bh represents some sound that ...
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  • 66.6k

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