Laryngeal Theory

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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.