Attested language

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In linguistics, attested languages are languages (living or dead) for which evidence has survived to the present day, either in the form of inscriptions or literature, or because the language is still spoken. They contrast with unattested languages, which are hypothetical proto-languages proposed as a result of work on linguistic reconstruction.

Within an (attested) language, particular word forms which are directly known to have been used – because they appear in the literature, inscriptions or documented speech – are called attested forms. These contrast with unattested forms, which are reconstructions, hypothesized to have been used based on indirect evidence (such as etymological patterns). In linguistic texts, unattested forms are commonly marked with a preceding asterisk (*).

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