Proto-Indo-European language

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This article is about the Proto-Indo-European language. For other uses of the term Indo-European, please see Indo-European (disambiguation).

Proto-Indo-European, sometimes simply called Indo-European, is a reconstructed language believed to represent the ancestral language from which all members of the Indo-European family of languages descend. Indo-European languages include the West Germanic, North Germanic, and Romance languages, as well as Latin, Greek and Sanskrit.

The first person to recognize the relationships between Indo-European languages (based on comparison of Greek, Latin and Sanskrit) was Sir William Jones in 1786. This article will discuss the characteristics of the reconstructed language.


Noun cases

Proto-Indo-European is supposed to have had eight noun cases (see Grammatical case).

  • Of the nouns, there were three grammatical numbers, singular, dual, and plural; the dual referred to two of anything (as with Arabic) or a natural pair (as with gloves, shoes or eyeglasses, or a pair of jeans) as with Hebrew. And a few languages have a trial, which refers to three of something.


In 1868, Albert Schleicher published a fable in reconstructed Proto-Indo-European named Avis akvāsas ka. This is supposed to mean "The sheep and the horses". However, Schleicher had based himself mainly on Sanskrit while reconstructing, and later the text was adapted several times.[1]


See: Indo-European languages > Origins.


  • Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, edited by James P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams; Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997; "Proto-Indo-European", pp. 458-470.

See also