The roots of the reconstructed
1.1 Finite verbs 1.2 Nouns and adjectives 1.3 Infinitives and participles
2 Shape of a root
2.1 Sonority hierarchy 2.2 Obstruent clusters 2.3 Further restrictions 2.4 Exceptions
3 Lexical meaning 4 Creation of new roots
4.1 Root extensions 4.2 Sonorant metathesis
5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 External links
r o o t + s u f f i x
s t e m
e n d i n g
w o r d
displaystyle underbrace underbrace mathrm root+suffix _ mathrm stem +mathrm ending _ mathrm word
For example, *bʰéreti 'he bears' can be split into the root
*bʰer- 'to bear', the suffix *-e- 'imperfective aspect' and the
ending *-ti 'present tense, third person singular'.
The suffix is sometimes missing, which has been interpreted as a zero
suffix. Words with zero suffix are termed root verbs and root
nouns. Beyond this basic structure, there is the nasal infix, a
present tense marker, and reduplication, a sort of prefix with a
number of grammatical and derivational functions.
Main article: Proto-Indo-European verbs
Verbal suffixes, including the zero suffix, convey grammatical
information about tense and aspect, two grammatical categories that
are not clearly distinguished. Present and aorist are universally
recognised, while some of the other aspects remain controversial. Two
of the four moods, the subjunctive and the optative, are also formed
with suffixes, which sometimes results in forms with two consecutive
suffixes: *bʰér-e-e-ti > *bʰérēti 'he would bear', with the
first *e being the present tense marker, and the second the
Reduplication can mark the present and the
Verbal endings convey information about grammatical person, number and
voice. The imperative mood has its own set of endings.
Nouns and adjectives
Main article: Proto-Indo-European nominals
Nouns usually derive from roots or verb stems by suffixation or by
other means (see the morphology of the Proto-Indo-European noun for
some examples). This can hold even for roots that are often translated
as nouns: *ped-, for example, can mean 'to tread' or 'foot', depending
on the ablaut grade and ending. Some nouns like *agʷn-o- 'lamb' or
*h₂ster- 'star', however, do not derive from verbal roots. In any
case, the meaning of a noun is given by its stem, whether this is
composed of a root plus a suffix or not. This leaves the ending, which
conveys case and number.
Adjectives are also derived by suffixation of (usually verbal) roots.
An example is *ǵn̥h₁-tó-s 'begotten, produced' from the root
*ǵenh₁- 'to beget, to produce'. The endings are the same as with
Infinitives and participles
Infinitives are verbal nouns and, just like other nouns, are formed
with suffixes. It is not clear whether any of the infinitive suffixes
reconstructed from the daughter languages (*-dʰye-, *-tu-, *-ti-,
among others) was actually used to express an infinitive in PIE.
Participles are verbal adjectives formed with the suffixes *-ent-
(active imperfective and aorist participle), *-wos- (perfect
participle) and *-mh₁no- or *-m(e)no- (mediopassive participle),
Shape of a root
In its base form, a PIE root consists of a single vowel, preceded and
followed by consonants. Except for a very few cases, the root is fully
characterized by its consonants, while the vowel may alternate in
accordance with inflection or word derivation. Thus, the root *bʰer-
can also appear as *bʰor-, with a long vowel as *bʰēr- or *bʰōr-,
or even unsyllabic as *bʰr-, in different grammatical contexts. This
process is called ablaut.
In linguistic works, *e is used to stand in for the various ablaut
grades that the vowel may appear in. Some reconstructions also include
roots with *a as the vowel, but the existence of *a as a distinct
vowel is disputed; see Indo-European ablaut: a-grade. The vowel is
flanked on both sides by one or more consonants; the preceding
consonants are the onset, the following ones are the coda.
The onset and coda must contain at least one consonant; a root may not
begin or end with the ablaut vowel. Consequently, the simplest roots
have an onset and coda consisting of one consonant each. Such simple
roots are common; examples are: *deh₃- 'to give', *bʰer- 'to bear',
*dʰeh₁- 'to put', *dʰew- 'to run', *h₁ed- 'to eat', *h₂eḱ-
'sharp', *ped- 'to tread', *sed- 'to sit', *wes- 'to clothe'. Roots
can also have a more complex onset and coda, consisting of a consonant
cluster (multiple consonants). These include: *dʰwes- 'to breathe',
*h₁rewdʰ- 'red', *h₂erh₃- 'to plough', *h₃reǵ- 'straight',
*leyǵ- 'to bind', *prews- 'to freeze', *srew- 'to flow' and *swep-
'to sleep', *wleykʷ- 'to moisten'. The maximum number of consonants
seems to be five, as in *strengʰ- 'to twine'.
Early PIE scholars reconstructed a number of roots beginning or ending
with a vowel. The latter type always had a long vowel (*dʰē- 'to
put', *bʰwā- 'to grow', *dō- 'to give'), while this restriction did
not hold for vowel-initial roots (*ed- 'to eat', *aǵ- 'to drive',
*od- 'to smell').
Non-labial sonorants *l, *r, *y, *n, denoted collectively as R. Labial sonorants *w *m, denoted collectively as M. Obstruents, denoted collectively as *C. These include three subgroups:
Plosives (voiceless *p *t *ḱ *k *kʷ, voiced *b *d *ǵ *g *gʷ and aspirated *bʰ *dʰ *ǵʰ *gʰ *gʷʰ), denoted collectively as *P. The sibilant *s. The laryngeals *h₁ *h₂ *h₃, denoted collectively as H.
The following rules apply:
A consonant closer to the main vowel must have a higher sonority than the consonant further away. Thus, consonants in the onset must follow the order CMR, and the reverse RMC in the coda, giving CMReRMC as the full root shape. Roots with a different order of sonority, like **mter- or **resl-, are not allowed. Only one member of each sonority class may appear in the onset or coda. Thus, roots like **wmek-, **lekt- or **peyl- are not allowed.
Strangely, laryngeals can also occur in the coda before a sonorant, as in *peh₂w- 'small'. Obstruent clusters The obstruent slot of an onset or coda may consist of multiple obstruents itself. Here, too, only one member of each subgroup of obstruents may appear in the cluster; a cluster may not contain multiple laryngeals, sibilants or plosives. The rules for the ordering within a cluster of obstruents are somewhat different, and do not fit into the general sonority hierarchy:
*s may appear only before a plosive, not after it. Thus, *speḱ- 'to observe', *steh₂- 'to stand' and *strew- 'to spread' are valid roots. **tser- and **ḱeps- are not. Plosives are automatically devoiced when preceded by *s in the onset.[clarification needed] A laryngeal may appear before or after any obstruent other than another laryngeal. Examples are *keh₂p- 'to grab', *peth₂- 'to fly'.[example needed]
In several roots, an unusual phenomenon called s-mobile occurs, where some descendants include a prepended *s while other forms lack it. There does not appear to be any particular pattern; sometimes forms with *s and without it even occur side by side in the same language. Further restrictions PIE abided by the general cross-linguistic constraint against the co-occurrence of two similar consonants in a word root. In particular, no examples are known of roots containing two plain voiced plosives (**ged-) or two glides (**ler-). A few examples of roots with two fricatives, two nasals, or two glides (*h₂eh₃-, *nem- etc.) can be reconstructed, but they were rare as well. An exception, however, were the voiced aspirated and voiceless plosives, which relatively commonly co-occurred (e.g. *dʰegʷʰ- 'to burn', *peth₂- 'to fly'). In particular, roots with two voiced aspirates were more than twice as common than could be expected to occur by chance. An additional constraint prohibited roots containing both a voiced aspirated and a voiceless plosive (**tebʰ-), unless the latter occurs in a word-initial cluster after an *s (e.g. *stebʰ- 'to stiffen'). Taken together with the abundance of *DʰeDʰ-type roots, it has been proposed that this distribution results from a limited process of voice assimilation in pre-PIE, where a voiceless stop was assimilated to a voiced aspirate, if another one followed or preceded within a root. Exceptions Some roots cannot be reconstructed with an ablauting *e, an example being *bʰuH- 'to grow, to become'. Such roots can be seen as generalized zero grades of forms like **bʰweH-, and thus follow the phonotactical rules. Some roots like *pster- 'to sneeze' or *pteh₂k- 'to duck' do not appear to follow these rules. This might be due to incomplete understanding of PIE phonotactics or to wrong reconstructions. *pster-, for example, might not have existed in PIE at all, if the Indo-European words usually traced back to it are onomatopoeias. Thorn clusters are sequences of a dental (*t *d *dʰ) plus a velar plosive (*k *g *gʰ etc.). Their role in PIE phonotactics is unknown. Roots like *dʰgʷʰei- 'to perish' apparently violate the phonotactical rules, but are quite common. Lexical meaning The meaning of a reconstructed root is conventionally that of a verb; the terms root and verbal root are almost synonymous in PIE grammar. This is because, apart from a limited number of so-called root nouns, PIE roots overwhelmingly participate in verbal inflection through well-established morphological and phonological mechanisms. Their meanings are not always directly reconstructible, due to semantic shifts that led to discrepancies in the meanings of reflexes in the attested daughter languages. Many nouns and adjectives are derived from verbal roots via suffixes and ablaut. Nevertheless, some roots did exist that did not have a primary verbal derivation. Apart from the aforementioned root nouns, the most important of these were the so-called Caland roots, which had adjectival meaning. Such roots generally formed proterokinetic adjectives with the suffix *-u-, thematic adjectives in *-ró- and compounding stems in *-i-. They included at least *h₁rewdʰ- 'red', *h₂erǵ- 'white', *dʰewb- 'deep' and *gʷreh₂- 'heavy'. Verbal roots were inherently imperfective (durative, present) or perfective (punctual, aoristic). To form a verb from the root's own aspect, verb endings were attached directly to the root, either with or without a thematic vowel. The "other" aspect, if it was needed, would then be a so-called "characterised" stem, as detailed in Proto-Indo-European verb. The characterised stems are often different in different descendants, which suggests that they did not yet exist in PIE proper. Creation of new roots Roots were occasionally created anew within PIE or its early descendants. A variety of methods have been observed. Root extensions Root extensions are additions of one or two sounds, often plosives, to the end of a root. These extensions do not seem to change the meaning of a root, and often lead to variant root forms across different descendants. The source and function of these extensions is not known. For *(s)tew- 'to push, hit, thrust', we can reconstruct:
Sonorant metathesis When the root contains a sonorant, the zero grade is ambiguous as to whether the sonorant should be placed before the ablaut vowel or after it. Speakers occasionally analysed such roots the "wrong" way, and this has led to some roots being created from existing ones by swapping the position of the sonorant. An example of such a pair of roots, both meaning 'to increase, to enlarge':
*h₂weg- > Gothic wahsjan,
Another example concerns the root 'sky':
Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben
^ Fortson (2004:76) ^ The asterisk * indicates that this form is not directly attested, but has been reconstructed on the basis of other linguistic material. ^ All examples of PIE roots are taken from Rix (2001) and Fortson (2004). ^ Fortson (2004:108) ^ a b Rix (2001:14–21) ^ Fortson (2004:81–83) ^ Fortson (2004:83–85) ^ Fortson (2004:116, 302) ^ Fortson (2004:103) ^ Fortson (2004:120–121) ^ Fortson (2004:97) ^ Fortson (2004:97–98) ^ a b c Fortson (2004:70–73) ^ Pokorny (1959) ^ Meier-Brügger, Fritz & Mayrhofer (2003, L 321) ^ a b Rix (2001:5) ^ a b Cooper, Adam. 2011. Stop Co-Occurrence in the Proto-Indo-European Root: A New Perspective. Proceedings of the 39th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society. ^ Rix (2001:98–99) ^ Jasanoff (2003:112) ^ Mallory & Adams (1997:133) ^ Fortson (2004:59–60) ^ Ringe (2006)
Brugmann, Karl; Delbrück, Berthold (1886). Grundriß der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen. Buck, Carl Darling (15 June 1988). A dictionary of selected synonyms in the principal Indo-European languages: A contribution to the history of ideas (Reprint edition). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-07937-6. Fortson, Benjamin W., IV (2004). Indo-European Language and Culture. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1-4051-0316-7. Jasanoff, Jay (2003). Hittite and the Indo-European Verb. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-928198-X. Köbler, Gerhard (1980). Indogermanisches Wörterbuch [Indo-European Dictionary] (in German). Mallory, J. P.; Adams, D. Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Routledge. ISBN 1-884964-98-2. Meier-Brügger, Michael; Fritz, Matthias; Mayrhofer, Manfred (2003). Indo-European Linguistics. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-017433-2. Pokorny, Julius (1959). Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. French & European Publications. ISBN 0-8288-6602-3. Ringe, Don (2006). A Linguistic History of English part 1: From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic. Rix, Helmut (2001). Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben. Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag. ISBN 3-89500-219-4. Watkins, Calvert (14 September 2000). The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European roots: Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-98610-9.
Look up Appendix:List of Proto-Indo-European roots in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
American Heritage Indo-European Roots Index Database query to the online version of Pokorny's PIE dictionary Index to the online version of Pokorny's PIE dictionary Jonathan Slocum, Indo-European Lexicon from the University of Texas Linguistic Research Center
v t e
Accent Centum and satem Glottalic theory Laryngeal theory s-mobile Sound laws
boukólos rule kʷetwóres rule Glossary of sound laws Bartholomae's Grassmann's Osthoff's Pinault's Siebs' Sievers' (Edgerton's converse) Stang's Szemerényi's
Ablaut Caland system h₂e-conjugation Narten present Nasal infix Root Thematic vowel Vṛddhi-derivation
Parts of speech
Nominals (nouns and adjectives) Numerals Particles Pronouns Verbs
Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (IEW)
Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben
Schleicher's fable The king and the god
Proto-Indo-European religion Proto-Indo-European society Indo-European studies Encyclopedia of Indo-Euro