Laws of IndoEuropean.

From mattitiahu of Memiyawanzi comes this fun and educational Twitter feed: Laws of IndoEuropean. He announced it in this post, where he attributed it to “peak Ph.D. writeup procrastination”; don’t miss John Cowan’s comment, in which he points out that “the Laws of AN make the Laws of IE, even *du > rk, look like absolute pikers” and gives ten examples, beginning with “*w/*y > p finally (western Manus languages).”


  1. We discussed the Blust paper back in 2013.

  2. And that was the thread where marie-lucie realized that you were human.

  3. I think that was meant to be funny. Surely she realizes that I’m just an AI running on spare Google servers.

  4. mattitiahu says:

    Ah good. Now I can have people from here correct me on my poor knowledge of Balto-Slavic sound laws. 🙂

  5. mattitiahu says:

    (I really need to learn not to do un-spaced emoticons in these comment threads. The automatic replacement of : ) with that graphic smiley weirds me out every single time.)

  6. George Gibbard says:

    ̌ˑ͜ ̌

  7. All the links in that post hang up my browser. I had to start up another browser to get back here. So I didn’t get to read anything fun and educational.

    However I gather I was wrong in expecting something like “after you steal your bride from her father’s tent, when his war-party catches up with you, you must offer to turn over the agreed number of cattle without haggling”.

  8. mattitiahu says:

    Sadly, no. But maybe I should tweet the occasional Hittite Law, just to throw people for a loop…

    ták-ku LÚ-aš UDU-an kát-ta u̯a-aš-ta-i…

  9. ták-ku NUMUN-ni še-ir NUMUN-an ku-iš-ki šu-ú-ni-iz-zi…

  10. Conversations in Hittite. Yeesh….

  11. Sometimes weird things happen in Indo-European too, and not just in Albanian. One of my favourites is *wiḱ- > Albanian z- (proposed by Eric Hamp). It accounts for only three examples, ‘lord’, ‘lady’, and ‘twenty’, but they are pretty good examples.

  12. Oops! The end of the first sentence should read “and not just in Armenian“. It underwent anticipatory assimilation.

  13. Talking of weird, one could also add /nt/ > [ʔ] in Norfolk English, as in twenty [ˈtwɛʔiː].

  14. Well, [ʔ] is a contextual realization of /t/ in lots of varieties of English, so that’s mostly just denasalization. (I go the other way myself: [ˈtwɛni].)

  15. Of course its “just denasalisation” plus “just glottaling”, but it’s precisely the combination of two rather trivial processes that produces a far less trivial result (unique among English dialects, as far as I know). *dw > Arm. erk- also looks crazy mostly because we don’t see the intermediate steps.

  16. Xiądz Faust says:

    “my poor knowledge of Balto-Slavic sound laws. :)”

    Is wise strategy, given the fact that by attempting to grasp the BSl. accent laws you run a serious risk of popping up some sort of mental blue screen of death and being found drooling and unable to control your sphincters.

    Unless you happen to speak a conservative Chakavian dialect or somesuch natively.

  17. Bloody hell — does anyone understand Balto-Slavic accentology?

  18. David Marjanović says:

    You tell us. 🙂

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