Proto-Indo-European language, Verb

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The Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) is the linguistic reconstruction of a common ancestor of the Indo-European languages spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans. PIE was the first proposed proto-language to be widely accepted by linguists. Far more work has gone into reconstructing it than any other proto-language and it is by far the most well-understood of all proto-languages of its age. During the 19th century, the vast majority of linguistic work was devoted to reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European or its daughter proto-languages such as Proto-Germanic, and most of the current techniques of historical linguistics (e.g. the comparative method and the method of internal reconstruction) were developed as a result.


The Indo-European verb system is complex and, like the noun, exhibits a system of ablaut. The most basic categorization for the Indo-European verb was grammatical aspect. Verbs were classed as stative (verbs that depict a state of being), imperfective (verbs depicting ongoing, habitual or repeated action) or perfective (verbs depicting a completed action or actions viewed as an entire process). Verbs have at least four moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive and optative, as well as possibly the injunctive, reconstructible from Vedic Sanskrit), two voices (active and mediopassive), as well as three persons (first, second and third) and three numbers (singular, dual and plural). Verbs were also 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 two possible reconstructions of the PIE verb endings. Sihler's reconstruction largely represents the current consensus among Indo-Europeanists, while Beekes' is a radical rethinking of thematic verbs; although not widely accepted, it is included to show an example of more far-reaching recent research.

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External Links

  • WikipediaAn Overview of the Proto-Indo-European Verb System

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