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Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the
Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
. Its proposed features have been derived by
linguistic reconstruction Linguistic reconstruction is the practice of establishing the features of an unattested ancestor language of one or more given languages. There are two kinds of reconstruction: * Internal reconstruction uses irregularities in a single language t ...
from documented Indo-European languages. No direct record of Proto-Indo-European exists. Far more work has gone into reconstructing PIE than any other
proto-language In the tree model In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and accoun ...
, and it is the best understood of all proto-languages of its age. The majority of linguistic work during the 19th century was devoted to the reconstruction of PIE or its daughter proto-languages (such as
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
and
Proto-Indo-Iranian Proto-Indo-Iranian or Proto-Indo-Iranic is the reconstructed proto-language of the Indo-Iranian/Indo-Iranic branch of Indo-European. Its speakers, the hypothetical Proto-Indo-Iranians, are assumed to have lived in the late 3rd millennium BC, a ...
), and many of the modern techniques of linguistic reconstruction (such as the
comparative method In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
) were developed as a result. PIE is hypothesized to have been spoken as a single language from 4500 BC to 2500 BC during the Late
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
to Early
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in modern times by , for classifying and studying a ...
, though estimates vary by more than a thousand years. According to the prevailing
Kurgan hypothesis The Kurgan hypothesis (also known as the Kurgan theory or Kurgan model) or Steppe theory is the most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland The Proto-Indo-European homeland (or Indo-European homeland) was the p ...
, the original homeland of the
Proto-Indo-Europeans The Proto-Indo-Europeans are a hypothetical prehistory, prehistoric population of Eurasia who spoke Proto-Indo-European language, Proto-Indo-European (PIE), the ancestor of the Indo-European languages according to linguistic reconstruction. ...
may have been in the
Pontic–Caspian steppe The Pontic–Caspian steppe, formed by the Caspian steppe and the Pontic steppe, is the steppe File:Steppe of western Kazakhstan in the early spring.jpg, Steppe in Kazakhstan In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion cha ...
of eastern Europe. The linguistic reconstruction of PIE has provided insight into the pastoral
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...
and patriarchal
religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain v ...
of its speakers. As speakers of Proto-Indo-European became isolated from each other through the
Indo-European migrations The Indo-European migrations were the migrations of (PIE) , as proposed by contemporary scholarship, and the subsequent migrations of people speaking further developed , which explains why the Indo-European languages are spoken in a large area ...

Indo-European migrations
, the regional
dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of phenomena: * One usage refers to a of a that is a characteristic of a particular group of ...
s of Proto-Indo-European spoken by the various groups diverged, as each dialect underwent shifts in pronunciation (the
Indo-European sound laws As the Proto-Indo-European language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication ...
), morphology, and vocabulary. Over many centuries, these dialects transformed into the known ancient Indo-European
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
s. From there, further linguistic divergence led to the evolution of their current descendants, the modern Indo-European languages. Today, the descendant languages of PIE with the most native speakers are
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
,
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
,
Hindustani Hindustani may refer to: * something of, from, or related to Hindustan (another name of India) * Hindustani language, an Indo-Aryan language, whose two official norms are Hindi and Urdu * Fiji Hindi, a variety of Eastern Hindi spoken in Fiji, and i ...
(
Hindi Hindi (Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida . ''May Śiv ...

Hindi
and
Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonpr ...

Urdu
),
Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they speak ** Bengali alphabet, the wr ...
,
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
,
Punjabi Panjābī (pʌnˈdʒɑːbi) (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) (پنجابی) Punjabi or Panjabi most often refers to: * Something of, from, or related to Punjab Punjab ( Gurmukhi: ; Shahmukhi: ; , ; , ; ; also romanised as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a ge ...
,
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
,
French
French
,
Marathi Marathi may refer to: *Marathi people, an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group of Maharashtra, India *Marathi language, the Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people *Palaiosouda, also known as Marathi, a small island in Greece See also

...
,
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
, and Gujarati. PIE is believed to have had an elaborate system of
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
that included inflectional suffixes (analogous to English ''child, child's, children, children's'') as well as
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from Standard High German, German '':wikt:Ablaut#German, Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the Germanic strong verb, stron ...
(vowel alterations, as preserved in English ''sing, sang, sung, song'') and
accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (phonetics), prominence given to a particular syllable in a word, or a word in a phrase ** Pitch accen ...
. PIE nominals and
pronouns In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
had a complex system of
declension In linguistics, declension is the changing of the form of a word, generally to express its syntactic function in the sentence, by way of some inflection. The inflectional change of verbs is called Grammatical conjugation, conjugation. Declensions ...
, and
verbs A verb () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
similarly had a complex system of
conjugation Conjugation or conjugate may refer to: Linguistics * Grammatical conjugation, the modification of a verb from its basic form * Emotive conjugation or Russell's conjugation, the use of loaded language Mathematics * Complex conjugation, the change ...
. The PIE
phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lan ...
,
particles In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed several physical property, physical or chemical , chemical properties ...
,
numerals A numeral is a figure, symbol, or group of figures or symbols denoting a number. It may refer to: * Numeral system used in mathematics * Numeral (linguistics), a part of speech denoting numbers (e.g. ''one'' and ''first'' in English) * Numerical di ...
, and copula are also well-reconstructed. Asterisks are used as a conventional mark of reconstructed words, such as *, *, or *; these forms are the reconstructed ancestors of the modern English words ''water'', ''
hound A hound is a type Type may refer to: Science and technology Computing * Typing, producing text via a keyboard, typewriter, etc. * Data type, collection of values used for computations. * File type * TYPE (DOS command), a command to display cont ...
'', and ''three'', respectively.


Development of the hypothesis

No direct evidence of PIE exists; scholars have reconstructed PIE from its present-day descendants using the
comparative method In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
. For example, compare the pairs of words in Italian and English: and ''foot'', and ''father'', and ''fish''. Since there is a consistent correspondence of the initial consonants that emerges far too frequently to be coincidental, one can infer that these languages stem from a common
parent language In the tree model of historical linguistics, a proto-language is a postulated once-spoken ancestral language from which a number of Attested language, attested languages are believed to have descended by evolution, forming a language family. Prot ...
. Detailed analysis suggests a system of
sound laws A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a language change, change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more generally, one distinctive feature, phonetic feature v ...
to describe the
phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) an ...

phonetic
and
phonological Phonology is a branch of that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language variety. At on ...

phonological
changes from the hypothetical ancestral words to the modern ones. These laws have become so detailed and reliable as to support the
Neogrammarian The Neogrammarians (German: ''Junggrammatiker'', 'young grammarians') were a German school of linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods ...
rule: the Indo-European sound laws apply without exception. William Jones, an
Anglo-Welsh Anglo-Welsh literature and Welsh writing in English are terms used to describe works written in the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval ...
philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and writing, written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics (with especially strong ties to etymology). Philology is more commonly d ...
and
puisne judge A puisne judge or puisne justice (; from french: puisné or ; , 'since, later' + , 'born', i.e. 'junior') is a dated term for an ordinary judge or a judge of lesser rank of a particular court. The term is used almost exclusively in common law ju ...
in
Bengal Bengal (; Bengali language, Bengali: ', ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, predominantly covering present-day Bang ...

Bengal
, caused an academic sensation when he postulated the common ancestry of
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
,
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
in 1786, but he was not the first to state such a hypothesis. In the 16th century, European visitors to the Indian subcontinent became aware of similarities between
Indo-Iranian languageIndo-Iranian may refer to: * Indo-Iranian languages * Indo-Iranians, the various peoples speaking these languages * India–Iran relations * ''Indo-Iranian Journal'' See also

*Aryan *Proto-Indo-Iranian language *Indo-Iranian languages *Indo-Euro ...
s and European languages, and as early as 1653
Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn
Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn
had published a proposal for a
proto-language In the tree model In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and accoun ...
("Scythian") for the following language families:
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
,
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the Court ...

Romance
,
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
,
Baltic Baltic may refer to: Geography Northern Europe * Baltic Sea, a sea in Europe * Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea * Baltic states (also Baltics, Baltic nations, Baltic countries or Baltic rep ...

Baltic
,
Slavic
Slavic
,
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
, and
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia ...
. In a memoir sent to the in 1767, , a French Jesuit who spent all his life in India, had specifically demonstrated the analogy between Sanskrit and European languages. According to current academic consensus, Jones's famous work of 1786 was less accurate than his predecessors', as he erroneously included
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
,
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...

Japanese
and
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
in the Indo-European languages, while omitting
Hindi Hindi (Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida . ''May Śiv ...

Hindi
. In 1818, Rasmus Christian Rask elaborated the set of correspondences to include other Indo-European languages, such as Sanskrit and Greek, and the full range of consonants involved. In 1816,
Franz Bopp Franz Bopp (; 14 September 1791 – 23 October 1867) was a German linguist known for extensive and pioneering comparative work on Indo-European languages. Early life Bopp was born in Mainz, but the political disarray in the Republic of M ...

Franz Bopp
published ''On the System of Conjugation in Sanskrit'', in which he investigated a common origin of Sanskrit, Persian, Greek, Latin, and German. In 1833 he began publishing the ''Comparative Grammar of Sanskrit,
Zend Zend or Zand ( pal, 𐭦𐭭𐭣) is a Zoroastrianism, Zoroastrian technical term for exegesis, exegetical glosses, paraphrases, commentaries and translations of the Avesta's texts. The term ''zand'' is a contraction of the Avestan language word ...
, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Old Slavic, Gothic, and German''. In 1822,
Jacob Grimm Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm (4 January 1785 – 20 September 1863), also known as Ludwig Karl, was a German linguist, philologist, jurist, and folklorist Folklore studies, also known as folkloristics, and occasionally tradition studies or fo ...

Jacob Grimm
formulated what became known as
Grimm's law Grimm's law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift) is a set of sound laws A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a language change, change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement ...
as a general rule in his . Grimm showed correlations between the Germanic and other Indo-European languages and demonstrated that sound change systematically transforms all words of a language. From the 1870s, the Neogrammarians proposed that sound laws have no exceptions, as illustrated by
Verner's law Verner's law described a historical sound change A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more generally, one ph ...
, published in 1876, which resolved apparent exceptions to Grimm's law by exploring the role of accent (stress) in language change.
August Schleicher August Schleicher (; 19 February 1821 – 6 December 1868) was a German linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), ...

August Schleicher
's ''A Compendium of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European, Sanskrit, Greek and Latin Languages'' (1874–77) represented an early attempt to reconstruct the proto-Indo-European language. By the early 1900s,
Indo-Europeanist Indo-European studies is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional are ...
s had developed well-defined descriptions of PIE which scholars still accept today. Later, the discovery of the Anatolian and
Tocharian languages The Tocharian (sometimes Tokharian) languages ( or ), also known as ''Arśi-Kuči'', Agnean-Kuchean or Kuchean-Agnean, are an extinct branch of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A langu ...

Tocharian languages
added to the corpus of descendant languages. A subtle new principle won wide acceptance: the
laryngeal theory The laryngeal theory is a widely accepted hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can testable, test it ...
, which explained irregularities in the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European phonology as the effects of hypothetical sounds which no longer exist in all languages documented prior to the excavation of
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...

cuneiform
tablets in Anatolian.
Julius Pokorny Julius Pokorny (12 June 1887 – 8 April 1970) was an Austrian-Czech linguist and scholar of the Celtic languages, particularly Irish, and a supporter of Irish nationalism. He held academic posts in Austrian and German universities. Early life an ...
's ('Indo-European Etymological Dictionary', 1959) gave a detailed, though conservative, overview of the lexical knowledge accumulated by 1959. Jerzy Kuryłowicz's 1956 ''Apophonie'' gave a better understanding of
Indo-European ablaut The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
. From the 1960s, knowledge of Anatolian became robust enough to establish its relationship to PIE.


Historical and geographical setting

Scholars have proposed multiple hypotheses about when, where, and by whom PIE was spoken. The
Kurgan hypothesis The Kurgan hypothesis (also known as the Kurgan theory or Kurgan model) or Steppe theory is the most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland The Proto-Indo-European homeland (or Indo-European homeland) was the p ...
, first put forward in 1956 by
Marija Gimbutas Marija Gimbutas ( lt, Marija Gimbutienė, ; January 23, 1921 – February 2, 1994) was a Lithuanian archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is ...
, has become the most popular. It proposes that the original speakers of PIE were the
Yamnaya culture The Yamnaya culture (/ˈjamnaja/), from Russian Я́мная культу́ра, or Yamnaya Horizon, (mistakenly) Yamna culture, (translated) Pit Grave culture, or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological cul ...

Yamnaya culture
associated with the
kurgan A kurgan (russian: link=no, курга́н, uk, link=no, курга́н, висока могила) is a type of tumulus File:Gamla uppsala.jpg, The Royal mounds of Gamla Uppsala in Sweden from the 5th and 6th centuries originally the site h ...

kurgan
s (burial mounds) on the
Pontic–Caspian steppe The Pontic–Caspian steppe, formed by the Caspian steppe and the Pontic steppe, is the steppe File:Steppe of western Kazakhstan in the early spring.jpg, Steppe in Kazakhstan In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion cha ...
north of the Black Sea. According to the theory, they were
nomadic pastoralists Nomadic pastoralism is a form of pastoralism Pastoralism is a form of animal husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, animal fiber, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It inclu ...
who domesticated the horse, which allowed them to migrate across Europe and Asia in wagons and chariots. By the early 3rd millennium BC, they had expanded throughout the Pontic–Caspian steppe and into eastern Europe. Other theories include the
Anatolian hypothesis The Anatolian hypothesis, also known as the Anatolian theory or the sedentary farmer theory, first developed by British archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material ...
, which posits that PIE spread out from Anatolia with agriculture around 9000 BC , the
Armenian hypothesis The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European homeland The Proto-Indo-European homeland (or Indo-European homeland) was the prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human hist ...
, the Paleolithic continuity paradigm, and the
indigenous Aryans Indigenous Aryanism, also known as the Indigenous Aryans theory (IAT) and the Out of India theory (OIT), is the that the are indigenous to the , and that the radiated out from a homeland in India into their present locations. It is a "" view ...
theory. An overview map summarises the origin theories.


Branches

The table lists the main Indo-European language families. Commonly proposed subgroups of Indo-European languages include
Italo-Celtic In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes ...
,
Graeco-Aryan Graeco-Aryan, or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan, is a hypothetical clade A clade (), also known as a monophyletic group or natural group, is a group of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as a ...
,
Graeco-Armenian Graeco-Armenian (or Helleno-Armenian) is the hypothetical common ancestor of Greek and Armenian that postdates Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed ...
,
Graeco-Phrygian Graeco-Phrygian () is a proposed subgroup of the Indo-European language family which comprises Hellenic and Phrygian languages. Evidence The linguist Claude Brixhe points to the following features Greek and Phrygian are known to have in comm ...
,
Daco-Thracian The linguistic classification of the ancient Thracian language has long been a matter of contention and uncertainty, and there are widely varying hypotheses regarding its position among other Paleo-Balkan languages. It is not contested, however, tha ...
, and
Thraco-Illyrian Thraco-Illyrian is a hypothesis that the Daco-Thracian and Illyrian languages The Illyrian language () was a language or group of languages spoken in the western Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geograph ...
. There are numerous lexical similarities between the Proto-Indo-European and
Proto-Kartvelian The Proto-Kartvelian language, or Common Kartvelian ( ka, წინარექართველური ენა, tr), is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Kartvelian languages The Kartvelian languages (; ka, ქა ...
languages due to early language contact, though some morphological similarities—notably the
Indo-European ablaut The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
, which is remarkably similar to the root ablaut system reconstructible for Proto-Kartvelian—may suggest a higher-level Language family, phylogenetic relationship.


Marginally attested languages

The Lusitanian language was a marginally attested language spoken in areas near the border between present-day Portugal and Spain. The Venetic language, Venetic and Liburnian language, Liburnian languages known from the North Adriatic region are sometimes classified as Italic. Albanian and Greek are the only surviving Indo-European descendants of a Paleo-Balkan languages, Paleo-Balkan language area, named for their occurrence in or in the vicinity of the Balkan peninsula. Most of the other languages of this area—including Illyrian languages, Illyrian, Thracian language, Thracian, and Dacian language, Dacian—do not appear to be members of any other subfamilies of PIE, but are so poorly attested that proper classification of them is not possible. Forming an exception, Phrygian language, Phrygian is sufficiently well-attested to allow proposals of a particularly close affiliation with Greek, and a
Graeco-Phrygian Graeco-Phrygian () is a proposed subgroup of the Indo-European language family which comprises Hellenic and Phrygian languages. Evidence The linguist Claude Brixhe points to the following features Greek and Phrygian are known to have in comm ...
branch of Indo-European is becoming increasingly accepted.


Phonology

Proto-Indo-European phonology has been reconstructed in some detail. Notable features of the most widely accepted (but not uncontroversial) reconstruction include: *three series of stop consonants reconstructed as voiceless consonant, voiceless, voiced consonant, voiced, and breathy voiced; *sonorant consonants that could be used syllabic consonant, syllabically; *three so-called laryngeal theory, laryngeal consonants, whose exact pronunciation is not well-established but which are believed to have existed in part based on their detectable effects on adjacent sounds; *the fricative *a vowel system in which and were the most frequently occurring vowels.


Notation


Vowels

The vowels in commonly used notation are:


Consonants

The corresponding consonants in commonly used notation are:


Accent

The Proto-Indo-European accent is reconstructed today as having had variable lexical stress, which could appear on any syllable and whose position often varied among different members of a paradigm (e.g. between singular and plural of a verbal paradigm). Stressed syllables received a higher pitch; therefore it is often said that PIE had a Pitch-accent language, pitch accent. The location of the stress is associated with ablaut variations, especially between normal-grade vowels ( and ) and zero-grade (i.e. lack of a vowel), but not entirely predictable from it. The accent is best preserved in Vedic Sanskrit and (in the case of nouns) Ancient Greek, and indirectly attested in a number of phenomena in other IE languages. To account for mismatches between the accent of Vedic Sanskrit and Ancient Greek, as well as a few other phenomena, a few historical linguists prefer to reconstruct PIE as a Tone (linguistics), tone language where each morpheme had an inherent tone; the sequence of tones in a word then evolved, according to that hypothesis, into the placement of lexical stress in different ways in different IE branches.


Morphology


Root

Proto-Indo-European roots were affix-lacking morphemes which carried the core Lexical (semiotics), lexical meaning of a word and were used to derive related words (cf. the English root "-''friend''-", from which are derived related words such as ''friendship,'' ''friendly'', ''befriend'', and newly coined words such as ''unfriend''). Proto-Indo-European was probably a fusional language, in which inflectional morphemes signalled the grammatical relationships between words. This dependence on inflectional morphemes means that roots in PIE, unlike those in English, were rarely used without affixes. A root plus a suffix formed a word stem, and a word stem plus a desinence (usually an ending) formed a word.


Ablaut

Many morphemes in Proto-Indo-European had short ''e'' as their inherent vowel; the
Indo-European ablaut The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
is the change of this short ''e'' to short ''o'', long ''e'' (ē), long ''o'' (''ō''), or no vowel. This variation in vowels occurred both within inflectional morphology (e.g., different grammatical forms of a noun or verb may have different vowels) and derivational morphology (e.g., a verb and an associated abstract verbal noun may have different vowels). Categories that PIE distinguished through ablaut were often also identifiable by contrasting endings, but the loss of these endings in some later Indo-European languages has led them to use ablaut alone to identify grammatical categories, as in the Modern English words ''sing'', ''sang'', ''sung''.


Noun

Proto-Indo-European nominals, Proto-Indo-European nouns were probably declined for eight or nine cases: *Nominative case, nominative: marks the Subject (grammar), subject of a verb, such as ''They'' in ''They ate''. Words that follow a linking verb and rename the subject of that verb also use the nominative case. Thus, both ''They'' and ''linguists'' are in the nominative case in ''They are linguists''. The nominative is the dictionary form of the noun. *Accusative case, accusative: used for the direct object of a transitive verb. *genitive case, genitive: marks a noun as modifying another noun. *Dative case, dative: used to indicate the indirect object of a transitive verb, such as ''Jacob'' in ''Maria gave Jacob a drink''. *Instrumental case, instrumental: marks the ''instrument'' or means by, or with, which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action. It may be either a physical object or an abstract concept. *ablative case, ablative: used to express motion away from something. *locative case, locative: corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions ''in'', ''on'', ''at'', and ''by''. *Vocative case, vocative: used for a word that identifies an addressee. A vocative expression is one of direct address where the identity of the party spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence. For example, in the sentence, "I don't know, John", ''John'' is a vocative expression that indicates the party being addressed. *allative case, allative: used as a type of locative case that expresses movement towards something. It was preserved in Anatolian (particularly Old Hittite), and fossilized traces of it have been found in Greek. Its PIE shape is uncertain, with candidates including *-h2(e), *-(e)h2, or *-a. Late Proto-Indo-European had three grammatical genders: * masculine * feminine * neuter This system is probably derived from an older, simpler, two-gender system, attested in Anatolian languages: Common gender, common (or Animate gender, animate) and neuter (inanimate) gender. The feminine gender only arose in the later period of the language. All nominals distinguished three Grammatical number, numbers: * singular * dual * plural


Pronoun

Proto-Indo-European pronouns are difficult to reconstruct, owing to their variety in later languages. PIE had personal pronouns in the first and second grammatical person, but not the third person, where demonstrative pronouns were used instead. The personal pronouns had their own unique forms and endings, and some had Suppletion, two distinct stems; this is most obvious in the first person singular where the two stems are still preserved in English ''I'' and ''me''. There were also two varieties for the accusative, genitive and dative cases, a stressed and an enclitic form.


Verb

Proto-Indo-European verbs, like the nouns, exhibited a system of ablaut. The most basic categorisation for the reconstructed Indo-European verb is grammatical aspect. Verbs are classed as: *stative verb, stative: verbs that depict a state of being *imperfective aspect, imperfective: verbs depicting ongoing, habitual or repeated action *perfective aspect, perfective: verbs depicting a completed action or actions viewed as an entire process. Verbs have at least four grammatical moods: *indicative mood, indicative: indicates that something is a statement of fact; in other words, to express what the speaker considers to be a known state of affairs, as in declarative sentences. *imperative mood, imperative: forms commands or requests, including the giving of prohibition or permission, or any other kind of advice or exhortation. *subjunctive mood, subjunctive: used to express various states of unreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, obligation, or action that has not yet occurred *optative mood, optative: indicates a wish or hope. It is similar to the cohortative mood and is closely related to the subjunctive mood. Verbs had two grammatical voices: * active voice, active: used in a clause whose subject expresses the main verb's Agent (grammar), agent. *mediopassive voice, mediopassive: for the middle voice and the passive voice. Verbs had three grammatical persons: first, second and third. Verbs had three grammatical numbers: *singular *dual grammatical number, dual: referring to precisely two of the entities (objects or persons) identified by the noun or pronoun. *plural: a number other than singular or dual. Verbs were probably marked by a highly developed system of participles, one for each combination of tense and voice, and an assorted array of verbal nouns and adjectival formations. The following table shows a possible reconstruction of the PIE verb endings from Sihler, which largely represents the current consensus among Indo-Europeanists.


Numbers

Proto-Indo-European numerals are generally reconstructed as follows: Rather than specifically 100, * may originally have meant "a large number".


Particle

Proto-Indo-European particles were probably used both as adverbs and as Preposition and postposition, postpositions. These postpositions became prepositions in most daughter languages. Reconstructed particles include for example, * "under, below"; the Affirmative and negative, negators *, *; the Conjunction (grammar), conjunctions * "and", * "or" and others; and an interjection, *, expressing woe or agony.


Derivational morphology

Proto-Indo-European employed various means of deriving words from other words, or directly from verb roots.


Internal derivation

Internal derivation was a process that derived new words through changes in accent and ablaut alone. It was not as productive as external (affixing) derivation, but is firmly established by the evidence of various later languages.


=Possessive adjectives

= Possessive or associated adjectives were probably created from nouns through internal derivation. Such words could be used directly as adjectives, or they could be turned back into a noun without any change in morphology, indicating someone or something characterised by the adjective. They were probably also used as the second elements in compounds. If the first element was a noun, this created an adjective that resembled a present participle in meaning, e.g. "having much rice" or "cutting trees". When turned back into nouns, such compounds were Bahuvrihis or semantically resembled agent nouns. In thematic stems, creating a possessive adjective seems to have involved shifting the accent one syllable to the right, for example: * ''*tómh₁-o-s'' "slice" (Greek ''tómos'') > ''*tomh₁-ó-s'' "cutting" (i.e. "making slices"; Greek ''tomós'') > ''*dr-u-tomh₁-ó-s'' "cutting trees" (Greek ''drutómos'' "woodcutter" with irregular accent). * ''*wólh₁-o-s'' "wish" (Sanskrit ''vára-'') > ''*wolh₁-ó-s'' "having wishes" (Sanskrit ''vará-'' "suitor"). In athematic stems, there was a change in the accent/ablaut class. The reconstructed four classes followed an ordering in which a derivation would shift the class one to the right: : acrostatic → proterokinetic → hysterokinetic → amphikinetic The reason for this particular ordering of the classes in derivation is not known. Some examples: * Acrostatic ''*krót-u-s'' ~ ''*krét-u-s'' "strength" (Sanskrit ''krátu-'') > proterokinetic ''*krét-u-s'' ~ ''*kr̥t-éw-s'' "having strength, strong" (Greek ''kratús''). * Hysterokinetic ''*ph₂-tḗr'' ~ ''*ph₂-tr-és'' "father" (Greek ''patḗr'') > amphikinetic ''*h₁su-péh₂-tōr'' ~ ''*h₁su-ph₂-tr-és'' "having a good father" (Greek ''εὑπάτωρ'', eupátōr).


=Vrddhi

= A vrddhi derivation, named after the Sanskrit grammatical term, signified "of, belonging to, descended from". It was characterised by "upgrading" the root grade, from zero to full (''e'') or from full to lengthened (''ē''). When upgrading from zero to full grade, the vowel could sometimes be inserted in the "wrong" place, creating a different stem from the original full grade. Examples: * full grade ''*swéḱuro-s'' "father-in-law" (Vedic Sanskrit ) > lengthened grade *''swēḱuró-s'' "relating to one's father-in-law" (Vedic , Old High German ''swāgur'' "brother-in-law"). * (''*dyḗw-s'' ~) zero grade ''*diw-és'' "sky" > full grade ''*deyw-o-s'' "god, dyeus, sky god" (Vedic ,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''deus'', etc.). Note the difference in vowel placement, ''*dyew-'' in the full-grade stem of the original noun but in the vrddhi derivative.


=Nominalization

= Adjectives with accent on the thematic vowel could be turned into nouns by moving the accent back onto the root. A zero grade root could remain so, or be "upgraded" to full grade like in a vrddhi derivative. Some examples: * PIE ''*ǵn̥h₁-tó-s'' "born" (Vedic ''jātá-'') > ''*ǵénh₁-to-'' "thing that is born" (German ''Kind''). * Greek ''leukós'' "white" > ''leũkos'' "a kind of fish", literally "white one". * Vedic ''kṛṣṇá-'' "dark" > ''kṛ́ṣṇa-'' "dark one", also "antelope". This kind of derivation is likely related to the possessive adjectives, and can be seen as essentially the reverse of it.


Affixal derivation


Syntax

The syntax of the older Indo-European languages has been studied in earnest since at least the late nineteenth century, by such scholars as Hermann Hirt and Berthold Delbrück. In the second half of the twentieth century, interest in the topic increased and led to reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European syntax. Since all the early attested IE languages were inflectional, PIE is thought to have relied primarily on morphological markers, rather than word order, to signal syntax, syntactic relationships within sentences. Still, a default (Markedness, unmarked) word order is thought to have existed in PIE. This was reconstructed by Jacob Wackernagel as being subject–verb–object (SVO), based on evidence in Vedic Sanskrit, and the SVO hypothesis still has some adherents, but the "broad consensus" among PIE scholars is that PIE would have been a subject–object–verb (SOV) language. The SOV default word order with other orders used to express emphasis (e.g., verb–subject–object to emphasise the verb) is attested in Old Indo-Aryan, Old Iranian, Old Latin and Hittite language, Hittite, while traces of it can be found in the enclitic personal pronouns of the
Tocharian languages The Tocharian (sometimes Tokharian) languages ( or ), also known as ''Arśi-Kuči'', Agnean-Kuchean or Kuchean-Agnean, are an extinct branch of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A langu ...

Tocharian languages
. A shift from OV to VO order is posited to have occurred in late PIE since many of the descendant languages have this order: modern Greek,
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the Court ...

Romance
and Albanian language, Albanian prefer SVO, Insular Celtic has VSO as the default order, and even the Anatolian languages show some signs of this word order shift. The context-dependent order preferences in Baltic, Slavic and Germanic are a complex topic, with some attributing them to outside influences and others to internal developments.


In popular culture

The Ridley Scott film ''Prometheus (2012 film), Prometheus'' features an android named David (played by Michael Fassbender) who learns Proto-Indo-European to communicate with the Engineer, an extraterrestrial whose race may have created humans. David practices PIE by reciting Schleicher's fable. Linguist Dr Anil Biltoo created the film's reconstructed dialogue and had an onscreen role teaching David Schleicher's fable. The 2016 video game ''Far Cry Primal'', set in around 10,000 BC, features dialects of an Fictional language, invented language based partly on PIE, intended to be its fictional predecessor. Linguists constructed Far Cry Primal#Language, three dialects—Wenja, Udam and Izila—one for each of the three featured tribes.


See also

* Indo-European vocabulary * Proto-Indo-European verbs * Proto-Indo-European pronouns * List of Indo-European languages *
Indo-European sound laws As the Proto-Indo-European language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication ...


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * *


External links

* At the University of Texas Linguistic Research Center
List of online booksIndo-European Lexicon

Proto-Indo-European Lexicon
at the University of Helsinki, Department of Modern Languages, Department of World Cultures, Indo-European Studies *
Indo-European Grammar, Syntax & Etymology Dictionary

Indo-European Lexical Cognacy Database


an online collection of video lectures on Ancient Indo-European languages {{DEFAULTSORT:Proto-Indo-European Language Proto-Indo-European language, Bronze Age Indo-European languages Proto-Indo-Europeans, Language Proto-languages, Indo-European