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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(parent language, or Ursprache), a term designating a hypothetical state of a group or family of related languages, reconstructed on the basis of a system of correspondences established between the languages in phonetics, grammar, and semantics by the comparative historical method—for example, Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Slavic.

The reality of a protolanguage as a unified spoken language of a specific prehistorical ethnos remains controversial. A protolanguage may also be understood as a group of closely related dialects, from which more recent groups of historically attested languages arose as a result of individual development. If the origin and development of a group of related languages do not predate recorded history, the reality of a protolanguage may be strictly documented—for instance, the modern Romance languages, whose protolanguage was the Latin vernacular known as Vulgar Latin. The elements and forms of a protolanguage are called archetypes. Their correspondences at subsequent stages of linguistic evolution are called reflexes.


Meillet, A. Vvedenie v sravnitel’noe izuchenie indoevropeiskikh iazykov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1938. (Translated from French.)
Porzig, W. Chlenenie indoevropeiskoi iazykovoi oblasti. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from German.)
Obshchee iazykoznanie: Melody lingvisticheskikh issledovanii. Moscow, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
language, Ursprache. Therefore, the aesthetic imagination can endeavour
Worter entspringen nach Tyards Meinung nicht dem Zufall, sondern den "wahren" Etyma der gottlichen hebraischen Ursprache, stellen aber nach der babylonischen Sprachverwirrung keine autonomen Erkenntnismittel mehr dar.
(xul solar translates it succinctly: upward, behind the onstreaming it mooned), the previous passage refers to the languages of the southern hemisphere, in those of the northern hemisphere (the eleventh volume has little information on its ursprache), the basic unit is not the verb, but the monosyllabic adjective, nouns are formed by an accumulation of adjectives, one does not say moon; one says airy-clear over dark-round or orange-faint-of-sky or some other accumulation, in the chosen example, the mass of adjectives corresponds to the real object.
If the linguists' stemmata of the historical descent of languages could themselves speak, they would reveal that: At a remote period of the existence of the human species, there was an Ursprache, which we can pretty clearly recognize in the so-called Indo-Germanic languages to which it has given birth.
The philosopher Fichte claimed that German was the best candidate for Ursprache because it was a "pure" language of ancient roots, unlike the Romance languages, which relied heavily on Latin for their vocabulary.
Brockelmann (1908: 4-5) sets the tone, saying that the reconstruction of a Semitic Ursprache is a chimera, reconstructed forms being mere formulas reflecting our temporary summary of the various languages.