Proto-Indo-Aryan language

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Reconstruction ofIndic languages

Proto-Indic (sometimes Proto-Indo-Aryan) is the reconstructed proto-language of the Indic languages.[1] It is intended to reconstruct the language of the Proto-Indo-Aryans. It is descended from Proto-Indo-Iranian and thus from Proto-Indo-European.[2] It is a Satem language.[3]


Proto-Indo-Aryan is meant to be the predecessor of Old Indic (1500–300 BCE) which is directly attested as Vedic and Classical Sanskrit. Indeed, Vedic Sanskrit is very close to Proto-Indic.[4]

Some of the Prakrits display a few minor features derived from Proto-Indic that had already disappeared in Vedic Sanskrit.[citation needed]

Today, several Modern Indic languages are extant.

Differences from Vedic[edit]

Despite the great archaicity of Vedic, the other Indic languages preserve a small number of archaic features lost in Vedic.[5]

One of these is the representation of Proto-Indo-European *l and *r. Vedic (as also most Iranic languages) merge both as /r/. Later, however, some instances of Indo-European /l/ again surface in Classical Sanskrit, indicating that the contrast survived in an early Indic dialect parallel to Vedic. (A dialect with only /l/ is additionally posited to underlie Magadhi Prakrit).[6]

The common consonant cluster kṣ /kʂ/ of Vedic and later Sanskrit has a particularly wide range of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) and Proto-Indo-Iranian (PII) sources, which partly remain distinct in later Indic languages:[7]

  • PIE *ks, *kʷs, *gs, *gʷs > PII *kš > Middle Indic kh-, -kkh-
  • PIE *dʰgʷʰ, *gʰs, *gʷʰs > PII *gʱžʱ > Middle Indic gh-, -ggh-
  • PIE *tḱ; *ǵs, *ḱs > PII *tć, *ćš > Middle Indic ch-, -cch-
  • PIE *dʰǵʰ, *ǵʰs > PII *ȷ́ʱžʱ > Middle Indic jh-, -jh-

Further reading[edit]

  • Morgenstierne, Georg. "Early Iranic Influence upon Indo-Aryan." Acta Iranica, I. série, Commemoration Cyrus. Vol. I. Hommage universel (1974): 271-279.


  1. ^ Cardona, George; Jain, Dhanesh (26 July 2007). The Indo-Aryan Languages. ISBN 9781135797119. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  2. ^ "ARYANS – Encyclopedia Iranica". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  3. ^ Wheeler, L. Kip. "The Indo-European Family of Languages". Dr. Wheeler's Website. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  4. ^ see e.g. Radhakrishnan & Moore 1957, p. 3; Witzel, Michael, "Vedas and Upaniṣads", in: Flood 2003, p. 68; MacDonell 2004, pp. 29–39; Sanskrit literature (2003) in Philip's Encyclopedia. Accessed 2007-08-09
  5. ^ Masica, Colin P. (1991). The Indo-Aryan Languages. p. 156.
  6. ^ Masica, Colin P. (1991). The Indo-Aryan Languages. p. 97.
  7. ^ Kobayashi, Masato (2004). Historical Phonology of Old Indo-Aryan Consonants. Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa Monograph Series. 42. pp. 60–65. ISBN 4-87297-894-3.

External links[edit]