"pie" redirects here. for other uses, see pie (disambiguation).
"proto-indo-european" redirects here. for the people, see proto-indo-europeans.
part of a series on
list of indo-european languages
phonology: sound laws, accent, ablaut
old irish glosses
alternative and fringe
paleolithic continuity theory
chalcolithic (copper age)
domestication of the horse
nordic bronze age
painted grey ware
northern black polished ware
peoples and societies
anatolian peoples (hittites)
religion and mythology
ancient iranian religion
j. p. mallory
copenhagen studies in indo-european
encyclopedia of indo-european culture
the horse, the wheel and language
journal of indo-european studies
indogermanisches etymologisches wörterbuch
indo-european etymological dictionary
this article contains characters used to write reconstructed proto-indo-european words. without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of unicode combining characters and latin characters.
proto-indo-european (pie) is the linguistic reconstruction of the ancient common ancestor of the indo-european languages, the most widely spoken language family in the world.
far more work has gone into reconstructing pie than any other proto-language, and it is by far the best understood of all proto-languages of its age. the vast majority of linguistic work during the 19th century was devoted to the reconstruction of pie or its daughter proto-languages (such as proto-germanic and proto-indo-iranian), and most of the modern techniques of linguistic reconstruction (such as the comparative method) were developed as a result. these methods supply all current knowledge concerning pie, since there is no written record of the language.
pie is estimated to have been spoken as a single language from 4500 bc to 2500 bc during the late neolithic to early bronze age, though estimates vary by more than a thousand years. according to the prevailing kurgan hypothesis, the original homeland of the proto-indo-europeans may have been in the pontic–caspian steppe of eastern europe. the linguistic reconstruction of pie has also provided insight into the culture and religion of its speakers.
as speakers of proto-indo-european became isolated from each other through the indo-european migrations, the regional dialects of proto-indo-european spoken by the various groups diverged from each other, as each dialect underwent different shifts in pronunciation (the indo-european sound laws), morphology, and vocabulary. thus these dialects slowly but eventually transformed into the known ancient indo-european languages. from there, further linguistic divergence led to the evolution of their current descendants, the modern indo-european languages. today, the descendant languages, or daughter languages, of pie with the most native speakers are spanish, english, portuguese, hindustani (hindi and urdu), bengali, russian, punjabi, german, persian, french, marathi, italian, and gujarati.
pie is believed to have had an elaborate system of morphology that included inflectional suffixes (analogous to english life, lives, life's, lives') as well as ablaut (vowel alterations, for example, as preserved in english sing, sang, sung) and accent. pie nominals and pronouns had a complex system of declension, and verbs similarly had a complex system of conjugation. the pie phonology, particles, numerals, and copula are also well-reconstructed.
an asterisk is used to mark reconstructed words, such as *wódr̥, *ḱwṓ, or *tréyes; these forms are the reconstructed ancestors of the modern english words water, hound, and three, respectively.
Far more work has gone into reconstructing PIE than any other proto-language, and it is by far the best understood of all proto-languages of its age. The vast majority of linguistic work during the 19th century was devoted to the reconstruction of PIE or its daughter proto-languages (such as Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-Iranian), and most of the modern techniques of linguistic reconstruction (such as the comparative method) were developed as a result. These methods supply all current knowledge concerning PIE, since there is no written record of the language.