Pontic languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Proto-Pontic)
Jump to: navigation, search
For the form of Greek language, see Pontic Greek. For one of the language families in Caucasus, see Northwest Caucasian languages. For other uses, see Pontic (disambiguation).
Linguistic classification Proposed language family
Glottolog None

Pontic is a proposed language family or macrofamily, comprising the Indo-European and Northwest Caucasian language families, with Proto-Pontic being its reconstructed proto-language.

History of the proposal[edit]

The internal reconstruction of the Indo-European proto-language done by Émile Benveniste and Winfred P. Lehmann has set Proto-Indo-European (PIE) typologically quite apart from its daughters. In 1960, Aert Kuipers noticed the parallels between a Northwest Caucasian language, Kabardian, and PIE. It was Paul Friedrich in 1964, however, who first suggested that PIE might be phylogenetically related to Proto-Caucasian. In 1981, Colarusso examined typological parallels involving consonantism, focusing on the so-called laryngeals of PIE and in 1989, he published his reconstruction of Proto-Northwest Caucasian (PNWC). Eight years later, the first results of his comparative work on PNWC and PIE were published in his article Proto-Pontic: Phyletic Links Between Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Northwest Caucasian, an event which may be considered the actual beginning of the hypothesis.


Examples of similarities that have been noted include:

  • Nasal negating particles in both families:
  • A case variously named "accusative", "oblique" or "objective", marked with nasal suffixes:
    • PIE accusative *-m, reflected e.g. in Latin luna 'moon' (nom.) vs lunam (acc.), or Ancient Greek ἄνθρωπος (anthropos, nom.) vs. ἄνθρωπον (anthropon, acc.).
    • NWC: Ubykh kwæy 'well (water source)' (abs.) vs kwæyn (obl.).


  • Colarusso, John (1997). "Proto-Pontic: Phyletic links between Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Northwest Caucasian". Journal of Indo-European Studies. 25: 119–51.