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PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN

PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN: WHAT IS IT?

Everything related to Indo-European on this web site is predicated on the belief that there existed, some 6-7,000 years ago, a language from which the known Indo-European (IE) languages developed. This language I will call, in conformity with established practice, Proto-Indo-European (PIE). It certainly would not have been called that by its own speakers.

My belief is of course not everyone's. There are people who would object to my approach for one of two reasons: either, no PIE ever existed; or, even if it existed, we cannot know anything definite about it. I shall not waste my time arguing these points: if any reader thinks that discussing PIE on my terms makes no sense, I recommend that he/she quit the page. De persuasionibus non est disputandum.

Let us, then, assume that a language PIE existed. What can we say about it? I shall start by stating the obvious: it was a language with characteristics not unlike those of languages we know today:

None of these characteristics would need so much emphasis if it was not for the fact that works on IE linguistics or on IE origins often imply prehistoric situations that could never apply to known languages. For example, PIE may be assigned a phonetic structure that is, to say the very least, extremely rare among known languages (it is described as having just one vowel, or it is supposed to have had syllabic "laryngeals"). Alternatively (this comes mostly from archaeologists), IE languages came to dominate Europe without any population movements - IE was somehow adopted together with horseback riding and wheeled vehicles.




Copyright Gabor Sandi 1998-2019

Disclaimer: Everything on this site was written and/or prepared at the author's discretion. The author has tried to be accurate where facts are presented, but this does not mean that these facts are necessarily accurate. People needing more reliable information should refer to appropriate sources presented, on the Internet or elsewhere, by authoritative professional or academic bodies.

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