Laryngeal Theory

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Laryngeal Theory


a widely held hypothesis in contemporary comparative-historical Indo-European phonology concerning the existence in the ancient Indo-European languages of consonants whose exact phonetic nature has not been definitely established. In the opinion of some linguists, these consonants may have been phonetically close to sounds of the laryngeal type or velar fricative consonants. Traces of these consonants reveal themselves either in a lengthening of the preceding vowel (for example, steH2 > sthā, “to stand”) or in a change of vowel timbre (for example, deH3 > , “to give”). The founder of the laryngeal theory was F. de Saussure. E. Kuryłowicz of Poland, H. Pedersen of Denmark, and E. Sturtevant and W. P. Lehmann of the USA have done much for the development of the laryngeal theory.


Obshchee i indoevropeiskoe iazykoznanie. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from German.)
Makaev, E. A. “Laringal’naia teoriia i voprosy sravnitel’noi grammatiki indoevropeiskikh iazykov.” Trudy In-ta iazykoznaniia AN Gruz. SSR: Seriia vostochnykh iazykov, vol. 2. Tbilisi, 1957.
Saussure, F. de. Mémoire sur le système primitif des voyelles dans les langues indo-européennes. Leipzig, 1879.
Sturtevant, E. Indo-Hittite Laryngeals. Baltimore, 1942.
Lehmann, W. P. Proto-Indo-European Phonology. Austin, Texas, 1952.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In the preface, Beekes emphasizes three aspects lacking in earlier works that have transformed Greek etymology: laryngeal theory, fuller knowledge of Mycenaean, and the abandoning of the Pelasgian theory.
The book promises the applicationto the familiar Gothic data of modern and even current linguistic theories: the laryngeal theory, the glottalic theory, under specification theory, and optimality theory.
The second chapter deals with Indo-European and Germanic consonants, giving an outline of laryngeal theory. The latter's links with Gothic are tenuous, and the discussion is conducted at several removes from any Germanic language.