Appendix A: Proto-Indo-European to Shemspreg

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In this appendix, I discuss the adjustments which I have used to derive Shemspreg forms from Proto-Indo-European. I will try to be exhaustive in this discussion in order to enable the reader to work out for himself vocabulary items which do not appear in the working lexicon. The reader is invited and encouraged to add to the lexicion of Shemspreg by following the principles laid out in this section.

My sources for reconstructed PIE roots are primarily Pokorny (1959) and the American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (hereafter AHD). Both of these works are rather conservative with respect to PIE phonology, and neither of them take recent (and not so recent) proposals in comparative Indo-European phonology into account. For example, the forms contained in these works include long vowels which have since been shown to be the result of short vowel-laryngeal sequences, and they omit laryngeals which were likely to have been realized as consonants in pre-PIE. When some kind of laryngeal has been included in a PIE root in these sources, it is represented as schwa; this happens frequently as part of a gradation or ablaut series (for example, *dō-: də- 'give', Pokorny 1959: 223). Since the reconstructions found in Pokorny (1959) and AHD form the baseline for Shemspreg, the laryngeals are not always represented in the Shemspreg lexicon. Where secondary sources show the quality of laryngeals, this information has been used in adapting the root to Shemspreg.

I have also made extensive use of Gamqrelidze and Ivanov's Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans as a source for Shemspreg roots; however, no effort has been made to accomodate their glottalic theory in the derivation of Shemspreg lexical and grammatical material. There are various proposals which provide correspondences between the traditional reconstruction of the PIE consonant system, which includes voiced aspirated stops, and more recent systems which include glottalized consonants. In keeping with the conservative nature of my sources, I have chosen to retain the traditional PIE consonant system as the baseline for Shemspreg.

PIE voiced aspirates

One of the arguments for the glottalic theory of Gamqrelidze and Ivanov and others was the typological implausibility of a series of voiced aspirated stops without an accompanying series of voiceless aspirates. In Shemspreg I have also tried to remove this typological anomaly. This has been done in in the following ways. First, PIE voiced aspirated stops are replaced in Shemspreg by plain voiced stops when they follow nasals.

*longʰo > longo 'long'

*dʰembʰ > themb 'steam'

*bʰendʰ > fend- 'to tie'

Elsewhere in Shemspreg, PIE voiced aspirated stops are replaced by fricatives. Voiced fricatives appear between voiced segments other than nasals.

*nebʰos > nevos 'cloud'

*medʰi- > medhi 'middle'

*dl̩gʰo- > dilgho 'long'

*albʰo > alvo 'white'

Voiceless fricatives appear elsewhere.

*bʰraʰter > fraater 'brother'

*bʰāgʰu-s > faaghu > 'forearm'

*reudʰ- > reuth > 'red'

*onogʰ- > onokh 'claw'

PIE voiced aspirates which are final in a verbal stem are carried over into Shemspreg as voiced fricatives rather than voiceless fricatives since verb stems in Shemspreg always surface with a vowel initial suffix; the voiced fricative is thus always found between voiced segments.

*leubʰ- > leuv- love

*sleidʰ- > sleedh- slide

*u̯eǵʰ- > wezh- carry, ride

*legʰ- > legh- 'lay'

The alternation between voiced and voiceless fricatives which has been used to accomodate the reconstructed voiced aspirates into Shemspreg has been carried over into the phonology of Shemspreg as a productive process.

PIE laryngeals

PIE schwa (as found in Pokorny 1959 or AHD) is replaced in Shemspreg by i.

*arə-mo- > arimo 'arm'

*anət- > anit 'duck'

*bʰerəǵ- > ferij 'birch'

When it is possible to determine the quality of the original laryngeal (with the help of additional sources such as Beekes 1995), I have replaced *h1 with i, *h2 with a, and *h3 with u.

Very often, the laryngeals are found in combination with a vowel (usually *e). This has the effect of lowering the laryngeal such that *h1 becomes e and *h3 becomes o.

*h1 > i

*h1e > e

*eh1 > ee

*h2 > a

*h2e > a

*eh2 > aa

*h3 > u

*h3e > o

*eh3 > oo

*h1egʰs > ekhs 'out'

*h1epi > epi 'beside, by'

*h1eti > eti 'over'

*h2ed > ad 'at; to, by'

*h2en > an 'upwards'

*h2enti > anti > 'over, against'

*h2epo > apo 'from, as of'

*h2eu > au 'away from'

*h2mbʰi > ambi 'around'

*meth2 > meta 'between, with'

*h3ebʰi > ovi 'towards'

PIE syllabic resonants

PIE syllabic resonants are replaced by a sequence of i + resonant in Shemspreg.

*septm̩ > septim 'seven'

*n̩dʰer > inder 'under'

*u̯l̩kʷos > wilkwo 'wolf'

*i̯ekʷ-r̩ > yekwir 'liver'

Roots with three consonants yield a CRC sequence when the vowel is deleted to create the reduced grade. The vowel i is inserted to break up these triconsonantal clusters. If the root is of the form CRVC- the reduced grade is CRiC-. If the root is of the form CVRC- the reduced grade is CiRC-.

root reduced grade gloss
a. spreg- sprig- 'speak'
plech- plich- 'plait'
smer- smir- 'remember'
b. melj- milj- 'milk'
terk- tirk- 'twist'
fend- find- 'tie'

PIE diphthongs

PIE long diphthongs are shortened in Shemspreg.

*ōus- > aus 'ear'

*skēu- > skeu- 'cut, divide, scratch'

In verbal roots, the PIE diphthongs *ei and *ou are retained.

*ei- > ei- 'go'

*gʷei- > gwei- 'live, be alive'

*gʰou- > khou- 'pay attention to'

*ou- > ou- 'put on footwear'

*pneu- > pneu- 'to breathe'

Elsewhere (i.e., in closed syllables and nouns), *ei and *ou are replaced by ee and oo, respectively.

*deig > deeg 'finger'

*bʰeid > feed- 'bite'

PIE Palatals

The palatal series in PIE is replaced in Shemspreg with palato-alveolar consonants. Thus PIE *ḱ becomes Shemspreg ch, PIE becomes Shemspreg j, and PIE *ǵʰ becomes Shemspreg sh or zh.

*ḱeu- > cheu 'hollow'

*ǵʰel- > shel 'gall, bile'

*ǵr̩-no-m > jirno 'grain'

PIE palatals which are part of clusters with other obstruents become plain velars in Shemspreg.

*sḱer/n > sker/n 'feces; manure'

*sweḱs > sweks 'six'

Rounded velars

PIE rounded velars occured root-finally as well as initially or medially. Because of PIE's morphological complexity, there was almost always a vowel which followed such a consonant. However, because of the simplification of this complex morphology in Shemspreg, many of these root-final rounded velars are word-final in Shemspreg; this is particularly the case for nouns and adjectives (verb roots have obligatory suffixation which avoids this problem). In such cases, the rounding of the PIE rounded velar is vocalized as a short u in Shemspreg.

*okʷ- > oku 'eye'

*sneigʰʷ- > sneeghu 'snow'


*dʰegʰʷ- > theghw- 'to burn'

*sekʷ- > sekw- 'to say'

Long vowels

PIE long vowels are retained in Shemspreg in root-initial syllables only; non-initial syllables have no length contrast in vowels.

*māter- > maater 'mother'

*akʷā > akwa 'water'

*oktō > okto 'eight'

*bʰardʰā > fardha 'beard'

*deǵʰōm > dezhom 'earth, ground'

*nepōt- > nepot 'grandchild'


  1. Introduction to Shemspreg
  2. Shemspreg sounds
  3. Shemspreg nouns
  4. Shemspreg pronouns and other particles
  5. Shemspreg verbs
  6. Shemspreg adjectives
  7. Shemspreg sentences