THE LANGUAGE OF YOUR ANCESTORS 4
The Proto-Indo-European language is the language that the ancestorsspoke. This is a language that was spoken last more than fourthousand years ago. Although the language started as a singlelanguage, it worth stating that it was later subdivided to othernumerous languages such as the proto-Germanic (Mallory & Adams,2012). Although the language is no longer spoken today, it isessential to note that there have been numerous attempts toreconstruct the language. Proto-Indo-European or PIE as it ispopularly known was the first ancestral language to be accepted bylinguists. Proto-Indo-European language, according linguists, was theonly ancient language that was understood by people (Mallory &Adams, 2012). The people who spoke this language were called theProto-Indo-Europeans which our ancestors belonged to.
The Proto-Indo-European language belongs to the Indo-Europeanlanguage family. The Kurgan hypothesis postulates that the languageoriginated in the eastern side of Europe. Research has indicated thatthe language had a complex morphology. There were some words thatwould be modified in such a way as adding suffixes and prefixes oradding vowels to change the grammatical meanings. The differentgrammatical expressions would be in gender, tense, mood, number andperson. It is also evident from research that the language would usedeclension for nouns and conjugation for verbs. This inflection wasapplied by the users for the expressing different meanings. This isan indication that the language was developed and it allowed theusers to express different grammatical meanings (Mallory & Adams,2012). Although there exists nothing written with regard to thelanguage, linguists have managed to reconstruct the language andunderstand the morphology.
In terms of syntax, the Proto-Indo-European language reliedheavily on morphological markers as opposed to word order. It is,however, worth mentioning that the PIE consisted of some unmarkedorder of words. Early reconstructions by Jacob Wackernagel indicatedthat the order was subject, verb object or what is largely called theSVO word order. However, recent researches in the 20thcentury have provided reconstructions which indicate that thelanguage had a different word order which was subject, object verb(Mallory & Adams, 2012). There were instances where the verb andthe object interchanged their positions. This would mostly happenwhen putting emphasis on the object or the verb. When a verb precedesan object, the emphasis is on the verb and when the object precedesthe verb, the emphasis is on the object.
The phonology of the ancient language, PIE, has been difficult toestablish or reconstruct since there are no written records of thelanguage. Linguists have relied on attested descendants of thelanguage such as Latin and the Greek to establish the phonology ofthe language. The phonology of the language consisted on vowels,laryngeals and voiced stops (Mallory & Adams, 2012). Theconsonants in the PIE language consisted of the semivowels, liquids,fricatives and nasals. The language also consisted of numbers fromone to a thousand. Dialect groups were used to describe numbergreater than ten such as *ḱm̥tom which meant a large number or ahundred (Mallory & Adams, 2012).
The accent of the ancient PIE language was referred to as thepitched accent. This is because there would be stress on certainsyllables in a word. The stressed syllables would have a high pitchhence the name pitched accent. The accent of the Proto-Indo-Europeanlanguage has largely been associated with other Indo-Europeanlanguages such as the ancient Greek language (Mallory & Adams,2012). It is clear from the research that this is a language thatexisted long time ago and it formed the basis of modern language. Thelanguage had most of the characteristics of the modern languagesdespite not having been written.
Mallory, J. P., & Adams, D. Q. (2012). The Oxfordintroduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-Europeanworld. Oxford: Oxford University Press.