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Indo-European sound laws

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Title: Indo-European sound laws  
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Subject: Proto-Indo-European language, Indo-European languages, Indo-European studies, Proto-Indo-European Urheimat hypotheses, Proto-Indo-European phonology
Collection: Indo-European Linguistics, Sound Laws
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Indo-European sound laws

Map of the main isoglosses between the branches of Indo-European

As the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) broke up, its sound system diverged as well, according to various sound laws in the daughter languages.

Especially notable is the palatalization that produced the Satem languages, along with the associated ruki sound law. Other notable changes are Grimm's law and Verner's law in Proto-Germanic; an independent change similar to Grimm's law in Armenian; loss of prevocalic *p- in Proto-Celtic; Brugmann's law in Proto-Indo-Iranian; Winter's law and Hirt's law in Balto-Slavic; and merging of voiced and breathy-voiced stops, and /a/ and /o/, in various "northern" languages. Bartholomae's law in Indo-Iranian, and Sievers' law in Proto-Germanic and (to some extent) various other branches, may or may not have been a common Indo-European feature. A number of innovations, both phonological and morphological, represent areal features common to the Italic and Celtic languages; among them are the development of labiovelars to labial consonants in some Italic and Celtic branches, producing "p-Celtic" and "q-Celtic" languages (likewise "p-Italic" and "q-Italic", although these terms are less used). Another grouping with many shared areal innovations is Greek, Indo-Iranian, and Armenian; among the common phonological innovations are Grassmann's law in Greek and Indo-Iranian, and weakening of pre-vocalic /s/ to /h/ in Greek, Iranian and Armenian.


  • Consonants 1
  • Vowels and syllabic consonants 2
  • Examples 3
    • *p 3.1
    • *t 3.2
    • *ḱ 3.3
    • *k 3.4
  • Sound laws within PIE 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Bibliography 7


Proto-Indo-European consonants and their reflexes in selected Indo-European daughter languages
PIE Skr. Av. O.C.S. Lith. Alb. Arm. Hitt. Toch. Greek Greek+[j] Latin Old Irish Gothic English
*p p; ph16 p; f17 p h;
p pt p Ø;
ch [x]2
b [β]3
v, f8
*sp normal development of /s/+/p/ f normal development of /s/+/p/ f sp
*t t; th16 t; θ17 t tʿ [tʰ] t;
z [ts]5
c [c]5
t s; tt/ss1 t t;
th [θ]8
þ [θ];
d [ð];3
*t+t [tst] tt; tth16 st; 17? st s s? zt [tst] ss? st ss ss or st
*st normal development of /s/+/t/ sht [ʃt] normal development of /s/+/t/ st
*ḱ ś [ɕ] s š [ʃ] th [θ];
s k k;
ś [ɕ]9
k c [k] c [k];
ch [x]8
g [ɣ]3
*k k; c [tʃ];5
k; c [tʃ];5
č [tʃ];5
c [ts]10
k k kʿ [kʰ]
*kʷ k;
q [c]10
ku p;
qu [kʷ];
c [k]7
ƕ [ʍ];
gw, w3
*sḱ ćh; ććh1 s? sk š? h ?? č`; c`1 normal dev. of /s/+/ḱ/ sk; kh;19
sc [sk] sk sh [ʃ]
*sk normal development of /s/+/k/ ? normal development of /s/+/k/
*skʷ normal development of /s/+/kʷ/ normal development of /s/+/kʷ/ squ [skʷ] sc [sk] sq
*b b; bh16 b; β18 b p b pt b b [b];
*d d; dh16 d; δ18 d d;
dh [ð]8
t ts;
ś [ɕ]5
d z [zd > dz > z] d d [d];
j [dʒ];
h [ɦ]16
z ž [ʒ] dh [ð];
c [ts] k k;
ś [ɕ]9
g g g [ɡ];
k c / k;
*g g; j [dʒ];5
gh;16 h [ɦ]16,5
g; j [dʒ];5
ž [ʒ];5
g g k
*gʷ g;
gj [ɟ]10
ku b;
u [w > v];
gu [ɡʷ]15
b [b];
q [kʷ] qu
*bʰ bh [bʱ] b; β18 b b;
p ph [pʰ] pt f;21
b [b];
b [β];8
v / f24
*dʰ dh [dʱ] d; δ18 d t t;
c [c]5
th [tʰ] tt/ss f;21
d [d];
d [ð];8
*ǵʰ h [ɦ] z ž [ʒ] dh [ð];
j [dz];
k k;
ś [ɕ]5
ch [kʰ] h;
h / g9
g [ɡ];
g [ɣ];8
g [x]13
y / w24
*gʰ gh [ɡʱ];
h [ɦ]5
g; j [dʒ];5
ž [ʒ];5
g g g;
ǰ [dʒ]5
*gʷʰ g;
gj [ɟ]10
ku ph [pʰ];
th [tʰ];5
ch [kʰ]6
g /
u [w];8
gu [ɡʷ]15
*s s h [h, x];
s sh [ʃ];
gj [ɟ];12
š [s] s;
s;22, 13
i s;
s [s];
[ʂ]11 š [ʃ]11 x [x]11 š [ʃ]11
*m m in m m [m];
*-m13 m ˛ [˜] n Ø n -- m n Ø
*n n n;
˛ [˜]13
n n;
ñ [ɲ]
n in n
*l r (dial. l) r l l;
ll [ɫ]8
l /
> ɣ]
l il l
*r r r [ɾ];
rr [r]8
r ir r
*i̯ y [j] j [j] gj [ɟ];
Ø y [j] z [zd > dz > z] /
Ø 8
?i i [j];
Ø 8
Ø j y
*u̯ v [ʋ] v [w] v v [ʋ] v g / w w w > h / Ø i u [w > v] f;
PIE Skr. Av. O.C.S. Lith. Alb. Arm. Hitt. Toch. Greek Greek+/j/ Latin Old Irish Gothic English
  • 1 After a vowel.
  • 2 Before a plosive (p, t, k).
  • 3 Following an unstressed vowel (Verner's law).
  • 4 After a (PIE) stop or s.
  • 5 Before a (PIE) front vowel (i, e).
  • 6 Before or after a (PIE) u.
  • 7 Before or after a (PIE) o, u.
  • 8 Between vowels.
  • 9 Before a sonorant.
  • 10 Before secondary (post-PIE) front-vowels.
  • 11 After r, u, k, i (Ruki sound law).
  • 12 Before a stressed vowel.
  • 13 At the end of a word.
  • 14 After u, r or before r, l.
  • 15 After n.
  • 16 Before an original laryngeal.
  • 17 Before a consonant or original laryngeal.
  • 18 In Younger Avestan, after a vowel.
  • 19 After r, l, m, n, t, d, possibly other consonants?
  • 20 After (Greek) th.
  • 21 At the beginning of a word.
  • 22 Before or after an obstruent (p, t, k, etc.; s).
  • 23 Before or after a resonant (r, l, m, n).
  • 24 Between vowels, or between a vowel and r, l (on either side).

Vowels and syllabic consonants

Proto-Indo-European vowels and syllabic consonants, and their reflexes in the Indo-European daughter languages
Trad. PIE Laryng. PIE Skr. Av. O.C.S. Lith. Arm. Alb. Toch. Hitt. Greek Latin18 Proto-Celtic Gothic19 Old English18
normal umlauted20
*e *e, *h₁e a e je, ie, e, i; ja12 ä e, i e i; [ɛ]2 e; eo21 i; ie21
*a (*a3), *h₂e o a a ha, a ā ha, a a a æ; a;22 ea21 e; ie21
*o *h₃e o, a a a, e a o
*o a; ā4
16 *h₁16 i i, Ø Ø a, Ø ā a e a a, Ø
*h₂16 h a
*h₃16 o
*- *h₁-17 Ø e (a?) Ø a e (o) Ø
*h₂-17 a ha a
*h₃-17 a, ha o
, *eh₁ ā ě ė i o, ua a/e?; ā?8 e, i ē ī ē ǣ
(3), *eh₂ a o [oː] a a/o? a, ah ā > ē15 ā ā ō ē
, *eh₃ uo u e a/ā?; ū?8 a ō ā; ū8
*i *i i ь i i i; e10 ä i i i; [ɛ]2 i
*ih₁ ī i y [iː] i i ī ī ei [iː] ī
*ih₂ i
or (j)a?7
ī or (j)ā?7
*ih₃ ī or (j)ō?7
*ei *ei, *h₁ei ai > ē ai > ōi,
āi > aē4
ei; ie5 i e ei ei ī īa; ē6
*oi *oi, *h₃ei ě ai; ie5 e e, ai ay oi ū oe ái ā ǣ
*ai (*ai3), *h₂ei ai ae ae
*ēi *ēi āi; ā8 āi; ā(i)8 i i ēi ī? ei [iː] ī
*ōi *ōi (*oei) y; u8 ai; ui8 e, ai ai ōi ō u8 ái ā ǣ
*āi *eh₂ei ě āi > ēi15 ae
*u *u u ъ u u u; y11 ä u u u u; o1 u; [ɔ]2 u; o23 y
*uh₁ ū y ū y; i8 u ū ū ȳ
*uh₂ u
or (w)a?7
ū or (w)ā?7
*uh₃ ū or (w)ō?7
*eu *eu, *h₁eu ō ə̄u; ao4 ju iau oy e u eu ū ūa; ō9 iu ēo īe
*ou *ou,*h₃eu u au a o, au ou áu ēa
*au (*au3), *h₂eu aw au au
*ēu *ēu āu u iau e ū? iu ēo
*ōu *ōu a ō áu ēa
*m̥ *m̥ a ę im̃; um̃14 am a äm am a em em, am um um ym
*m̥̅ *mh₁ ā ìm; ùm14 ama
*mh₂ mā > mē15
*m̥m *m̥m am ьm/ъm im; um14 am am em am
*n̥ *n̥ a ę ; 14 an än an a en en, an un un yn
*n̥̄ *nh₁ ā ìn; ùn14 ana
*nh₂ nā > nē 15
*n̥n *n̥n an ьn/ъn ; 14 an an en an
*l̥ *l̥ ərə lь/lъ il̃; ul̃14 al il, li; ul, lu äl al la ol li ul ul; ol23 yl
*l̥̄ *lh₁ īr; ūr13 arə ìl; ùl14 ala al
*lh₂ lā > lē15
*l̥l *l̥l ir; ur13 ar ьl/ъl il; ul14 al, la al el al
*r̥ *r̥ ərə rь/rъ ir̃; ur̃14 ar ir, ri; ur, ru är ar ra or ri aúr [ɔr] ur; or23 yr
*r̥̄ *rh₁ īr; ūr13 arə ìr; ùr14 ara ra
*rh₂ rā > rē15
*r̥r *r̥r ir; ur13 ar ьr/ъr ir; ur14 ar ar ar ar
Trad. PIE Laryng. PIE Skr. Av. O.C.S. Lith. Arm. Alb. Toch. Hitt. Greek Latin18 Proto-Celtic Gothic19 normal umlauted20
Old English18
  • 1 Before wa.
  • 2 Before r, h. Gothic, but not other Germanic languages, merges /e/ and /i/.
  • 3 The existence of PIE non-allophonic a is disputed.
  • 4 In open syllables (Brugmann's law).
  • 5 Under stress.
  • 6 Before palatal consonants.
  • 7 The so-called breaking is disputed (typical examples are *proti-h₃kʷo- > Ved. prátīkam ~ Gk. πρόσωπον; *gʷih₃u̯o- > Ved. jīvá- ~ Arm. keank‘, Gk. ζωός; *duh₂ro- > Ved. dūrá- ~ Arm. erkar, Gk. δηρός)
  • 8 In a final syllable.
  • 9 Before velars and unstressed
  • 10 Before ā in the following syllable.
  • 11 Before i in the following syllable.
  • 12 In a closed syllable.
  • 13 In the neighbourhood of labials.
  • 14 In the neighbourhood of labiovelars.
  • 15 ā > ē in Attic and Ionic dialects only.
  • 16 Between consonants, or at the end of a word after a consonant.
  • 17 At the beginning of a word, followed by a consonant.
  • 18 In initial syllables only.
  • 19 In non-final syllables only.
  • 20 Before i, ī, or /j/ in the next syllable in Proto-Germanic (i-umlaut).
  • 21 Before h, w, or before r, l plus a consonant ("breaking").
  • 22 Before a back vowel in the next syllable (a restoration).
  • 23 Before a non-high vowel in the next syllable (a-mutation).


See the list of Proto-Indo-European roots hosted at Wiktionary.


*pṓds, ~ *ped-, "foot".[1]

  • Vedic Sanskrit: pád-
  • Avestan: pâdha
  • Slovenian: pòd, "floor"
  • Lithuanian: pėda, "foot bottom"
  • Armenian: otn
  • Tocharian: A pe, B pai
  • Luwian: pa-da-, pa-ta-
  • Greek: poús, podós
  • Latin: pēs, pedis
  • Scottish Gaelic: edh, "pace"
  • Gothic: fotus (*p -> f by Grimm's Law)


*tréyes, "three".[2]

  • Vedic Sanskrit: tráyas
  • OCS: trьje
  • Lithuanian: trỹs
  • Albanian: tre
  • Greek: treĩs
  • Latin: trēs
  • Irish: tri
  • Arm.ere
  • Old Norse: þrir (*t -> þ by Grimm's Law)


*ḱm̥tóm, "hundred" (from earlier *dk̂m̥tóm)[3]

  • Vedic Sanskrit: śatám
  • Later Avestan: satəm
  • OCS: sьto
  • Lithuanian: šimtas
  • Tocharian: A känt, B känte
  • Greek: hekatón
  • Latin: centum (i.e., kentum)
  • Welsh: cant
  • Gothic: hund- (from proto-Germanic *xund)[4]


*kreuh₂, "raw flesh" [5]

  • Vedic Sanskrit: kravíṣ-, "raw meat"
  • Lithuanian: kraûjas, "blood"
  • OCS: krьvь, "blood"
  • Greek: kréas, "meat"
  • Latin: cruor, "raw blood"
  • Irish: cró, "blood, gore"
  • Old English: hrō, "raw"

Sound laws within PIE

A few phonological laws can be reconstructed that may have been effective prior to the final breakup of PIE by internal reconstruction.

See also


  1. ^ Meier-Brügger (2003), p. 128
  2. ^ Meier-Brügger (2003), p. 127
  3. ^ Meier-Brügger (2003), pp. 101-102
  4. ^ Hock, Hans Heinrich (1986). Principles of historical linguistics. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter. p. 132.  
  5. ^ Meier-Brügger (2003), p. 131


  • Meier-Brügger, Michael; Matthias Fritz, Manfred Mayrhofer, Charles Gertmenian (trans.) (2003). Indo-European Linguistics. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter.  
  • Collinge, N. E. (1985). The Laws of Indo-European.  
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