11 votes
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Advances in Glottochronology

(This was going to be a comment but it got too long. I hope it is useful nonetheless.) I can speak for Austroasiatic linguistics (a fairly large family with a small core of researchers actively ...
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  • 707
9 votes
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What is Proto-Semitic *x̣?

One page further (p. 587), Huehnergard gives as one of the changes from Proto-Semitic to Old Babylonian: Common Semitic *ḫ and *x̣ merged to ḫ (Huehnergard 2003):      *ḫamisum > ḫamšum ‘five’; *...
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  • 3,085
9 votes
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Why is the proto-italic reconstruction of "corpora" "*korpezā"?

The e in the oblique stem seems to go back to Proto-Indo-European: compare the Germanic cognate, nom sg *hrefaz, nom pl *hrifizō. Even if the PIt form had been **korpozā, -e- would be the expected ...
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  • 53.2k
8 votes

Is Austronesian the closest relative to PIE?

Usually the most close relative to PIE among other Eurasiatic languages is considered Chukchi-Kamchadal family. You probably know this already, but the idea of a "Eurasiatic" language family isn't ...
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  • 53.2k
8 votes

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

In German, a glottal stop is inserted before a vowel-initial morpheme, when that morpheme does not come immediately after a consonant. It never forms minimal pairs, and its distribution is completely ...
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  • 53.2k
8 votes

Can we make a case for Eurasiatic numerals for one and two?

Definitely not. Two words only aren't enough to establish any kind of relationship. The best you can do with it is to use them as seeds for possible sound relations and look of regular sound laws ...
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7 votes

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

You say "... some critics say that these methods have not brought anything new ..." From my recollection of some old results (well outside my areas of expertise), I would say the problem is rather ...
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  • 12.3k
7 votes

Limits of historical linguistic reconstruction

You might be interested in Beyond lumping and splitting: probabilistic issues in historical linguistics by Baxter and Ramer (1999). From their abstract: In this paper, we argue that the temporal ...
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  • 53.2k
7 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,...
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  • 10.6k
6 votes
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When was Proto-Austronesian spoken?

This map from Wikipedia assigns dates to the Austronesian expansion, and Proto-Austronesian on Taiwan dates back to before 3000 BC. The line below the map says that the dates are coming from ...
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6 votes
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Were the so-called aspirates of PIE ever aspirated?

Although fdb is correct that a symbol like *bh should not be taken to imply any specific phonetic content, these phonemes obviously had such content, and it's possible to speculate about what it was. ...
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6 votes
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Why can verbal roots in PIE only contain the vowel e?

It's not that PIE roots always contain the vowel e, it's that PIE roots don't contain vowels. This is a common misconception, unfortunately aided by the traditions of IE lexicography. Take a root ...
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6 votes

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

In Indo-Iranian both *eh₃ and *n̥h₃ become *ō, which then becomes ā. In Skt jānāti there is an infix *-ne- before the last consonant of the root, in this case the laryngeal. Thus the zero-grade root *...
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  • 22.7k
5 votes

Potential gaps in the pIE phonological system?

In particular, what is the proof the pIE didn't have retroflex stops? Or that it lacked affricates? In general, can we be sure that there are no major gaps in the pIE phonological system? It turns ...
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  • 53.2k
5 votes

What are some of the most divergent cognate word forms?

Divergent cognates are going to be a feature of any language family (as pointed out in this paper by Larry Trask used in the answer to this question about "mama" and "papa" words), and because of this ...
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5 votes
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How would've the Old Novgorodian language looked like?

The best reference on Old Novgorod is Andrey Zaliznyak's 2004 monograph, Древненовгородский диалект (Drevnenovgorodskij dialekt, 2nd ed.), freely available online https://inslav.ru/publication/...
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  • 8,453
4 votes

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

One thing that computational technology might in principle be useful for is managing huge amounts of data. This could be useful if all of the sudden we discovered word lists for a thousand ...
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  • 68.7k
4 votes

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

there's no particular significance to finding words among them that are reconstructed with the laryngeal. This is exactly the case. The presence of a glottal stop at the start of German words is not ...
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  • 16.7k
4 votes

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

@fdb's answer addresses the Indo-Iranian forms, so this one will address the Greek and Latin ones. In Greek, there are two relevant sets of sound changes: PIE *eH > Gk V̄. That is, *e followed by ...
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  • 10.6k
4 votes

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

Sumerian and Egyptian are attested in texts from about 3000 BC onwards. These are real languages, not reconstructed ones like PIE.
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4 votes

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

Much simpler reason. The teaching of Koine Greek is dependent on the local tradition for the teaching of Classical Greek: Classical Greek is more prestigious in language teaching, and is how most ...
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4 votes

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

Turns out there's at least one other suggested, but controversial, case of voicing by *h3, involving the "Hoffmann suffix" *-Hon- or *-h3on-. Piotr Gąsiorowski discusses it here. The same suffix may ...
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  • 10.6k
4 votes

Difference between "Leiden school" and "mainstream" Indo-Europeanists?

Leiden school are people who propose some strict rules for PIE and strictly adhere to them. Strict root structure, no vowels except /o/ and /e/, three laryngeals etc. Their opponents are conservatives ...
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  • 6,261
4 votes
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internal reconstruction before comparative method

Yes, and internal reconstruction has been used to great effect in IE studies. Saussure's laryngeal theory was discovered using internal reconstruction, at a time when no direct reflexes of the ...
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  • 12.3k
4 votes

Advances in Glottochronology

One of the core assumptions of lexicostatistics, the constant word replacement rate, was questioned be Daniel Nettle (1999) who suggests different rates of language evolution depending on the size of ...
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3 votes

Were the so-called aspirates of PIE ever aspirated?

Nobody knows what PIE sounded like. The symbols used to represent PIE phonemes are essentially "algebraic" symbols. When we propose a PIE phoneme *bh, this is merely shorthand for "the PIE phoneme ...
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  • 22.7k
3 votes
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What do [ ] mean in the middle of a reconstructed pronunciation?

According to this description, http://ocbaxtersagart.lsait.lsa.umich.edu/BaxterSagartOCbyMandarinMC2014-09-20.pdf the round parentheses indicate that the content enclosed in them may be omitted. ...
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3 votes
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Proto-Indo-European *nepōts cognate in Old English

It sounds like this is meant as a puzzle of some sort. So I'll tell you right away—the information you've given isn't sufficient to know where the stress is. Stress in PIE isn't always predictable, so ...
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