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Spoken in: Central Europe ca. 3000 BC
Conworld: Atla
Total speakers: extinct
Genealogical classification: Indo-European
Basic word order: SOV
Morphological type: agglutinating/fusional
Morphosyntactic alignment: active-stative
Writing system:
Created by:
Jörg Rhiemeier 2018

Proto-Hesperic is an Indo-European diachronic conlang by Jörg Rhiemeier that is currently under construction, and represents the reconstructed common ancestor of the Hesperic language family. It is a lostlang and forms a part of the League of Lost Languages. Proto-Hesperic is a head-final agglutinating active-stative language descending from Early (pre-Anatolian) Proto-Indo-European, assumed to have been spoken in Central Europe around 3000 BC (probably by the early Bell-Beaker culture); it also resembles Proto-Uralic in its morphology, and seems to form a kind of "missing link" between the two families. The vocabulary is in part based on Proto-Indo-European, in part on words with uncertain etymologies in Celtic and Germanic that may be loanwords from lost substratum languages; there are also some original creations in the vocabulary and a few words from argots such as Shelta or Rotwelsch.




  Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Glottal
Aspirated stops *ph *th   *kh  
Neutral stops (*p) *t   *k  
Voiced stops *b *d   *g  
Fricatives   *s   *x *h
Nasals *m *n      
Liquids   *l *r      
Semivowels *w   *j    


  • All phonemes can be assumed to have the IPA values.
  • The phoneme *p (neutral labial stop) is marginal and may not have existed. All Hesperic words with this sound have limited distribution and may have been borrowed.
  • Aspirated and voiced stops do not co-occur in a true Proto-Hesperic root; exceptions occur only in a few words with limited distribution that probably were borrowed from other languages. Neutral stops may co-occur with either.
  • No two neutral stops may occur in the same Proto-Hesperic root, and they do not occur in affixes. Again, exceptions have limited distribution and are probably borrowed.
  • It seems as if the voiced stops formed a natural class with the aspirated stops at the exclusion of the neutral stops, as they show parallel developments in some languages (see Begemann's Law). This may mean that the voiced stops actually were breathy-voiced, similar to the "voiced aspirates" of Indo-Aryan languages, sharing the feature [+breath] with the aspirated stops.
  • Because of these constraints, it has been suggested that the neutral stops once were ejectives (see glottalic theory), but as no Hesperic language actually shows such ejectives, this is doubtful. It should also be considered that in the Kartvelian languages often cited by supporters of the glottalic theory, no such constraints exist (e.g., Georgian k'op'e 'ladle' has two ejectives in the root, one of them labial). The constraints postulated by the glottalists do exist, however, in Akkadian, which disallows two "emphatic" consonants in a root and also lacks a labial "emphatic" stop (see Geers' Law). Yet, it may indeed be the case that the neutral stops evolved from some highly marked type of articulation, but it is pretty certain that at the time of breakup, they just were ordinary stops that were neither voiced nor aspirated.


  Front Central Back
High *i   *u
Low   *a  


  • The diphthongs *ai and *au exist, but are perhaps better considered vowel-semivowel groups *aj and *aw instead, as they show the same distribution as vowel-liquid groups.
  • The high vowels *i and *u do not occur in roots or affixes in which a nasal, liquid or semivowel follows the vowel (across morpheme boundaries, such combinations may exist). Exceptions may occur in words of limited distribution that are probably borrowed from non-Hesperic languages.
  • There are no vowel-initial lexical roots; all roots begin with a consonant. The demonstrative *a (source of the West Hesperic definite article) is an exception.


The maximal syllable structure is sCRVRC, wherein C is any consonant and R a nasal, liquid or semivowel.


Accent in Proto-Hesperic appears to have been non-distinctive. Evidence from some daughter languages indicate a stress accent on the penultimate syllable.

Sound changes from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Hesperic

The sound changes below are formulated on the basis of the working hypothesis that the Early PIE phonology was essentially like that of Late PIE as conventionally reconstructed, which may not be the case. Especially two differences are to be reckoned with:

  • The Early PIE stop system perhaps was as proposed by the glottalic theory, in which case the stop shift needs to be adapted. Basically, it would become a simple deglottalization of the glottalized stops (see also above for the stop distribution constraints and their possible consequences for the reconstruction of Proto-Hesperic phonology).
  • It cannot be ruled out that the language branched off before PIE developed the ablaut system, in which case the vowel changes given below would not have happened at all. While Anatolian shows ablaut already in place, suggesting that Early PIE already had it (according to the family tree model), it may have been a wave of innovation in Early PIE which, starting in the east, did not reach the westernmost dialects from which Proto-Hesperic evolved.

Vowel merger

  • e > a
  • o > a

Treatment of syllabic consonants

  • R̥ > Ra /#_
  • R̥ > Ra /_H
  • R̥ > aR /otherwise


  • ai > i
  • au > u

Loss of vowel length

  • V: > V


  • h1 > h
  • h2 > x
  • h3 > xw

Stop shift

  • T > Th
  • D > T
  • Dh > D

Treatment of palatalized and labialized velars

  • Ḱ > Kj /_V
  • Ḱ > jK /V_{C,#}
  • Ḱ > K /otherwise
  • Kw > Kw /_V
  • Kw > wK /V_{C,#}
  • Kw > K /otherwise

Spirantization of final stops

  • th, t, d > s /_#
  • kh, k, g > x /_#


Proto-Hesperic shows an agglutinating morphology with fusional tendencies. As a whole, it is more agglutinating than most other branches of Indo-European. The language is mostly suffixing.

This throws up the question why Proto-Hesperic is so much more agglutinating than Late Proto-Indo-European. It could be an archaism or an innovation. The Proto-Hesperic morphology shows some parallels to Uralic, such as the allomorphy of the plural marker, which may hint at inheritance from Indo-Uralic, if that ever existed. On the other hand, Proto-Hesperic is probably strongly influenced by a Krelian substratum, which was strongly agglutinating and active-stative like Proto-Hesperic.


The infectional categories of the Proto-Hesperic noun are gender, number and case. There are also stem classes which govern the inflection of the noun but are unrelated to gender, and nothing else agrees with them.


There are two genders: animate and inanimate; gender is fixed for each noun, and adjectives agree to it. The gender is usually what one would expect. Words for people, animals, plants, supernatural entities and social groups are always animate; also words for natural forces, but also a few odd items. All other nouns are inanimate. Animate and inanimate nouns have different number and case categories; see below.

There are no masculine and feminine genders, but there are two productive suffixes which serve to derive male and female forms when needed: *-wa 'male' and *-ja 'female'. The resulting forms do not constitute new genders, but are simply animate (adjectives show no different agreement to them).

Only animate nouns are inflected for number and case; inanimate nouns are indeclinable.


Animate nouns distinguish three numbers: singular, dual and plural. The singular is unmarked. The dual and plural suffixes have three allomorphs each:

  • Word-finally: dual *-x, plural *-s.
  • Before case ending after vowel: dual *-w-, plural *-j-.
  • Before case ending after consonant: dual *-u-, plural *-i-.

The number markers follow the case marker in the objective case and precede it in the others. Verbs and adjectives are inflected to agree with the noun in number. The reason for the unexpected order of number and case marker in the objective case (which agrees with other branches of Indo-European) may be that the objective case originally was an "animacy-neutralizing" derivational suffix, used whenever an animate noun was used in a syntagm that does not require animacy.

Inanimate nouns do not form duals or plurals, though collectives can be formed by means of various derivative suffixes; these are grammatically singular.


The five cases of the animate noun are:

  • Agentive: Agent of the clause; also functioning as vocative.
  • Objective: Patient of the clause.
  • Genitive: Alienable (e.g.., legal) possessor.
  • Partitive: Inalienable possessor (used e.g. with body parts and kinship terms).
  • Dative: Recipient.

The agentive forms agree with the PIE nominative in the dual and plural, but the agentive singular has lost the final *-s, probably by replacement with the (endingless) vocative, in order to remedy homophony with the genitive singular and agentive plural. The objective forms agree with the PIE accusative in the singular and plural. The genitive singular also agrees with the PIE form. The partitive appears to be cognate to the Hittite pronominal genitive -l and the Lydian dative . The dative appears to be related to the PIE denominal adjectives in *-no-.

Inanimate nouns do not inflect for these cases and are treated as objectives.

Stem classes

There are three stem classes: a-stems, i-stems and u-stems, according to the final vowel of the word stem. As said above, these are not genders; nothing agrees with them, they influence only the way the noun itself is inflected.

The a-stems are a large class, continuing the PIE thematic stems. The origin of this class seems to lie in adjectival formations that became substantive nouns; but whatever its origin, it is the most productive class in Proto-Hesperic.

Declension of a animate a-stem (*kwatsa 'person'):

  Singular Dual Plural
Agentive *kwatsa *kwatsax *kwatsas
Objective *kwatsam *kwatsamx *kwatsams
Genitive *kwatsasa *kwatsawsa *kwatsajsa
Partitive *kwatsala *kwatsawla *kwatsajla
Dative *kwatsana *kwatsawna *kwatsajna

The i-stems are a smaller class. They show the peculiarity that the stem-final vowel *-i is changed to *-a when *-j- is suffixed.

Declension of an animate i-stem (*disi 'wife'):

  Singular Dual Plural
Agentive *disi *disix *disis
Objective *disim *disimx *disims
Genitive *disisa *disiwsa *disajsa
Partitive *disila *disiwla *disajla
Dative *disina *disiwna *disajna

The u-stems are the smallest class. They show the peculiarity that the stem-final vowel *-u is changed to *-a when *-w- is suffixed.

Declension of an animate u-stem (*sunu 'son'):

  Singular Dual Plural
Agentive *sunu *sunux *sunus
Objective *sunum *sunumx *sunums
Genitive *sunusa *sunawsa *sunujsa
Partitive *sunula *sunawla *sunujla
Dative *sununa *sunawna *sunujna


Adjectives inflect similarly to nouns if the noun they modify is animate; however, the dual marker is always *-w and the plural marker always *-j, even if no case ending follows. This is certainly due to the adjective forming a close phonological unit with the following noun, as in *makxaj xnaras 'great men (agt.)'.

If the adjective is used as a head of an animate noun phrase, it is inflected like a noun.

Degrees of comparison are marked by suffixes:

  • Comparative *-isa
  • Superlative *-istha
  • Equative *-iskha

In these suffixes, the *i replaces the final vowel of the adjective, e.g. *makxa 'great' → *makxisa 'greater'.

Adverbs are derived from adjectives by suffixing *-s.


A definite article, *a, can be reconstructed. It declines regularly.


Pronouns exist in animate and inanimate forms (except, of course, 1st and 2nd person); they inflect in a similar way as nouns.

Personal pronouns

The personal pronouns are inflected for number and case like animate nouns, but the declension is somewhat different from the nominal declension:

  • The dual and plural markers are always *-w and *-j, even in the agentive case, due to the proclitic properties of the pronouns.
  • The objective case suffix is *-ma, also in the dual and plural, e.g. *majma 'us'.

The pronouns in their agentive forms are:

  • 1st person (exclusive): singular *mi, dual *maw, plural *maj
  • 1st person (inclusive): dual *waw, plural *waj
  • 2nd person: singular *thi, dual *thaw, plural *thaj
  • 3rd person: singular *sa, dual *saw, plural *saj

To these forms, case markers are added as appropriate.

The inanimate pronoun is *thatha.

Reflexive pronouns

These are derived from the above by suffixing *-wa (before the number suffix). The *i in the 1st and 2nd person singular forms changes into *a; e.g. *mawa 'myself'.

Demonstrative pronouns

There are three degrees of deixis:

  • Proximal (near speaker): *xa
  • Medial (near hearer): *thxa
  • Distal (far from both): *a

These pronouns are placed at the end of the noun phrase.

Interrogative pronouns

  • Animate *khwa
  • Inanimate *mana


Verbs inflect for tense, mood and the person and number of the subject and, if transitive, the direct object.

There are two main classes of verbs: active verbs, which denote actions performed by the subject and may be transitive or intransitive; and stative verbs, which denote states or events happening to the non-acting subject and are always intransitive. These two classes use different personal suffixes, and mark their subjects with different cases. Active verbs require an animate subject in the agentive case; stative verbs require an animate subject in the objective case or an inanimate subject.

Tense and mood

The tense and mood suffixes are:

  • Past *-na
  • Future *-wa
  • Subjunctive *-ja

The present indicative is unmarked. These suffixes are placed immediately after the verb stem and precede the personal suffixes. The subjunctive mood is not compatible with past and future tenses.

Personal suffixes

There are two sets of personal suffixes. The agentive suffixes are used for subjects of active verbs; the objective suffixes are used for direct objects of transitive verbs and for subjects of stative verbs. In a transitive verb, the objective suffix precedes the agentive suffix, e.g. *wali-thxa-ma 'I love you'.

Agentive Singular Dual Plural
1st person *-ma *-max *-mas
2nd person *-tha *-thax *-thas
3rd person *-sa *-sax *-sas
Objective Singular Dual Plural
1st person *-xa *-xax *-xas
2nd person *-thxa *-thxax *-thxas
3rd person *-a *-ax *-as

A 3rd person objective suffix agrees with the number of the respective argument only if the argument is animate. With inanimate arguments, the 3rd person singular form *-a is always used.

When an agentive suffix follows an objective dual or plural suffix, the dual marker in the objective suffix changes from *-x to *-w and the plural marker from *-s to *-j. Example: *walithxajma 'I love you all'.


(to be done)

Developments in daughter languages

The two main branches of Hesperic are characterized by shared developments.

North Hesperic

The North Hesperic languages underwent these characteristic changes:

  • Drummond's Law (velarization of consonants followed by *x, which deletes)
  • Senantho's Law (in stop+stop clusters, the second stop becomes a semivowel)
  • Alfermann's Law (reorganization of number marking)
  • All animate consonant stems become a-stems; all inanimate a-stems become consonant stems.

Furthermore, Hercynian and Alpianic merge all three word-final nasals as *-n (possibly nasalization of the final vowel). This change led to the merger of the old objective and dative cases, and the old partitive case became a new dative. In position before a consonant, nasals assimilate in place to that consonant; this change also happens in Albic.

South Hesperic



  • adj. adjective.
  • adv. adverb.
  • na. animate noun.
  • ni. inanimate noun.
  • va. active verb.
  • vf. fluid verb.
  • vi. inactive verb.
  • vt. transitive verb.
  • (NH) North Hesperic.
  • (SH) South Hesperic.

The Physical World


  • *dgama na. earth.
  • *dwana ni. hill, mountain.
  • *xarba ni. mountain.
  • *landa ni. plain.
  • *phalasa ni. lowland.
  • *khara ni. stone.
  • *xarna ni. metal.
  • *drisa ni. dirt.


  • *saiwa na. sea.
  • *watana ni. liquid.
  • *xakwa na. river.
  • *xala na. water.

Air and sky

  • *lupha na. air.
  • *thala na. wind.
  • *nabasa ni. cloud.
  • *xara na. sun.
  • *sani na. moon.
  • *xasi na. star.


  • *phawa na. fire.
  • *xaska ni. ashes.
  • *xara vi. to burn.



  • *bauma na. tree.
  • *chaltu ni. wood.

Other plants

  • *kruda na. herb.


  • *xabala ni. apple.
  • *khrana ni. grain.


Bugs and worms

  • *wali na. fly.
  • *spina na. spider.
  • *wrigi na. worm.
  • *kraba na. crab.


  • *phiska na. fish.
  • *khwala na. a large fish.

Amphibians and reptiles

  • *snaka na. snake.
  • *xaika na. lizard.
  • *phraka na. frog.


  • *phukla na. bird.
  • *gansa na. (wild?) goose.
  • *xwarna na. eagle.
  • *phanki na. finch.
  • *masla na. blackbird.
  • *kharkha na. raven.
  • *xulu na. owl.


  • *gwara na. animal.
  • *kwawa n. cattle.
  • *markha na. horse.
  • *skapha na. sheep.
  • *khasa na. hare.


Body parts

  • *gwama ni. body.
  • *gabla na. head.
  • *xantha na. face.
  • *salima na. eye.
  • *xnasa na. nose.
  • *muntha na. mouth.
  • *dangwa na. tongue.
  • *xatithala ni. tooth.
  • *sranka na. arm.
  • *phankwa na. hand.
  • *baina na. leg.
  • *thala na. foot.
  • *khalsa ni. neck.
  • *phalta ni. hair.
  • *drata ni. a single hair.
  • *barda ni. beard.

Internal organs

  • *braina na. brain.
  • *gutta ni. throat.
  • *phanta ni. stomach.
  • *darma ni. gut.
  • *thulma ni. lung.
  • *kharda na. heart.
  • *xardu ni. blood.

Body functions

  • *kwaja va. to be alive.
  • *mata vt. to eat.
  • *dranka vt. to drink.
  • *chala adj. healthy.
  • *saika adj. sick.
  • *xaru ni. wound.
  • *narda adj. strong.
  • *sanda adj. weak.
  • *mara to die.


  • *kana na. family.
  • *ndara na. man.
  • *sara na. woman.
  • *jana na. child.
  • *brata vt. to marry.
  • *guma na. husband.
  • *disi na. wife.
  • *xata na. father.
  • *xama na. mother.
  • *xuxa na. grandfather.
  • *bara na. son.
  • *srali na. daughter.
  • *braxa na. brother.
  • *swasa na. sister.
  • *swakri adj. in-law.

House and settlement

  • *katha ni. house.
  • *garda ni. enclosure.
  • *xwasa va. to dwell.
  • *wikha na. village, settlement.
  • *xmara na. settlement.
  • *luka ni. door.
  • *wanda ni. wall.
  • *xangi na. hearth.
  • *thaka ni. roof.

Material culture


  • *wasa vt. to wear (clothes).
  • *phana ni. cloth.
  • *laina ni. linen.
  • *wlana ni. wool.
  • *xwabi vt. to weave.
  • *snara vt. to sew.
  • *chamsa ni. shirt.
  • *braka ni. (pair of) trousers.
  • *kautha ni. coat.


  • *matala ni. food.
  • *phakhwa vt. to cook.
  • *baka vt. to bake.
  • *khlaiba ni. bread.
  • *makala ni. meat.
  • *krustha ni. crust.
  • *xmasa ni. soft interior of food.
  • *mlaka ni. milk.
  • *mala ni. honey.
  • *drankala ni. drink.
  • *kidi ni. to ferment.


  • *matha ni. hoe.
  • *xarxa ni. plough.
  • *xraka ni. rake.
  • *sikli ni. sickle.
  • *xadsa ni. axe.
  • *tamba ni. hammer.

War and weapons

  • *braga va. to fight.
  • *bragatala ni. war.
  • *wraka vt. to destroy.
  • *kwara ni. spear.
  • *khalthra ni. sword.
  • *skaldi ni. shield.


Social structure

  • *kwathasa na. person.
  • *xludi adj. free.
  • *kwanda na. tribe.
  • *phrauja na. master, leader.


  • *dara vt. to give.
  • *nara vt. to take.

Space and Time


  • *la adv. here.
  • *srauma ni. space.

Positions and directions

  • *xantha ni. front.
  • *xrugu ni. back.
  • *xana ni. interior.
  • *xutu ni. exterior.
  • *xara ni. top.
  • *thala ni. bottom.
  • *narda ni. right.
  • *sanda ni. left.


  • *phala adj. flat.
  • *kugla adj. round.
  • *sphiti adj. pointed.


  • *nu adj. now.
  • *dara ni. day.
  • *xnamu ni. night.
  • *sanjara ni. month.
  • *jara ni. year.

Numbers and Quantities


  • *mana na. 1.
  • *tawax na. 2.
  • *tharas na. 3.
  • *khwathas na. 4.
  • *phankhwas na. 5.
  • *takhas na. 10.

Other quantities

  • *phlathas na. many.
  • *lintis na. few.


  • *makxa adj. great.
  • *phikha adj. small.
  • *bruku adj. heavy.
  • *linti adj. light.

Knowledge, thought and senses

Knowledge and thought

  • *knaxwa vt. to know.
  • *mana va. to think.
  • *chrada vt. to believe.
  • *salida va. to dream.


  • *sali vt. to see.
  • *luka vt. to observe.
  • *lukha ni. light.
  • *maura ni. shadow.
  • '*salbi vi. to shine.


  • *sphriti vt. to paint.
  • *dwara adj. black.
  • *xalba adj. white.
  • *krasa adj. red.
  • *gali adj. yellow.
  • *griwi adj. green.
  • *xalbu adj. bright blue.
  • *balu adj. dark blue.


  • *khlawa vt. to hear.
  • *xluda adj. loud.

Smell and taste

  • *xriki vt. to smell.
  • *smaka vt. to taste.


  • *takha vt. to touch.

Joy and Pain

  • *guda adj. good.
  • *gaxu ni. joy.
  • *mirthi vt. to please.
  • *kurkha adj. bad.
  • *smara ni. pain.
  • *pharkha vt. to fear.

Love and Hate

  • *wala vt. to love.
  • *gruta vt. to hate.

Miscellaneous qualities

  • *kwari adj. warm.
  • *krusi adj. cold.
  • *sausa adj. dry.
  • *sulda adj. wet.

Speech and Sound

  • *kwatha va. to speak.
  • *kala vt. to say.
  • *sangwa vt. to recite.
  • *lara va. to sing.
  • *babla va. to babble.



  • *sa vi. to be, exist.
  • *tha vi. to be (in a state).
  • *da va. to do.
  • *ga vf. to go.
  • *maga vi. to be able.
  • *khwara vt. to make.


  • *xara vt. to set in motion.
  • *waga vt. to carry.
  • *warpha vt. to throw.
  • *naga vf. to come.
  • *daga vf. to go away.
  • *drama vf. to run.
  • *sphrangi vf. to jump.
  • *swimi vf. to swim.

Rotary motion

  • *khwala vf. to rotate.
  • *wanda vf. to turn.
  • *wala vt. to twist.

Lateral motion

  • *skhaka vt. to shake.

Pouring and Flowing

  • *giti vt. to pour.
  • *xala vi. to flow.


  • *banda vt. to bind.
  • *gada vt. to join.

Bending and pressing

  • *bugu vt. to bend.
  • *druku vt. to push, to press.

Stretching and inflating

  • *thanxa vt. to stretch.
  • *trakha vt. to pull.
  • *blasa va. to blow.
  • *blasu vt. to inflate.

Reductive activities

  • *briti vt. to break.
  • *saka vt. to cut.
  • *sphliti vt. to split.
  • *digi vt. to dig.
  • *drali vt. to bore, to drill.
  • *sphiti vt. to pierce.