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37 votes
Accepted

Is there any evidence that the modern word for "bear" is an euphemism which replaced the original taboo word?

You are correct that whilst the argument that the original term was replaced is pretty strong, the arguments for taboo being the reason for its replacement is much less clear-cut. The first thing ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 8,766
32 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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
27 votes

Derivation of the Indo-European lemma *bʰréh₂tēr ‘brother’

Lots (and I mean lots) of ink has been spent going over the possible etymology of this root – so far with no firm conclusions. A recent ‘current state of affairs’ treatment not only of *bʰréh₂tēr, but ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
23 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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
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 ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
17 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 ...
Frédéric Grosshans's user avatar
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 ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.2k
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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
16 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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
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 ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
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,...
brass tacks's user avatar
  • 18.1k
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, ...
Nick Nicholas's user avatar
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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
14 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 ...
legatrix's user avatar
  • 717
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 ...
TKR's user avatar
  • 10.9k
14 votes
Accepted

If Hebrew is not related to Slavic, why are there apparent sound correspondences?

Just as you cannot compare two random species today to accurately assess their taxonomy (otherwise we would conclude all crabs form a single family when they actually form at least five distinct ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 8,766
14 votes

Apparent sound crespondences between Eurasian, Trans-New-Guinean, Pama-Nyungan and Burushaski

I don't see any regular correspondences in the data you've presented. A regular correspondence involves a series of forms in which, whenever language A has sound X, language B has sound Y. For example,...
TKR's user avatar
  • 10.9k
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 ...
Midas's user avatar
  • 2,562
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 ...
czypsu's user avatar
  • 1,426
12 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 ...
Nick Nicholas's user avatar
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....
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
11 votes

If Hebrew is not related to Slavic, why are there apparent sound correspondences?

what can be done to rule out false sound correspondences when reconstructing proto-languages The main thing that is commonly done is to not directly compare random words from the modern languages, ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
11 votes
Accepted

If the Armenian word for "foot", "otn", really comes from PIE *podm, why did the 'p' disappear?

What we see in otn isn't *p- > ∅, which isn't a rule in Armenian, but *po- > o-, which probably is. Some comparanda to support this: ordi 'child' and ortʿ 'calf', both from the o-grade of the ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
  • 2,216
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)...
suizokukan's user avatar
  • 2,007
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 ...
Whatnot's user avatar
  • 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 (...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
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. ...
Fummy's user avatar
  • 326

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