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Proto-Krelian is the (intrafictionally) reconstruced common ancestor of the Krelian language family constructed by Jörg Rhiemeier.

In a family like Krelian, reconstruction is more difficult than in such families as Indo-European due to the great time depth (about 7,000 to 8,000 years, if one assumes that Proto-Krelian was the language of the Linearbandkeramik culture) and the lack of ancient written records. Also, the family consists only of a few very small and poorly studied languages. There are not many good cognate sets and often, only the roots match while the stem-forming suffixes differ.



  Labial Dental Sibilants Palatal Velar Glottal
Front Mid Back
Stops and
Voiceless *p *t *c   *k  
Aspirated *ph *th *ch *ćh *čh   *kh  
Voiced *b *d *dz *dź *dž   *g  
Fricatives Voiceless     *s     *h
Voiced     *z      
Nasals *m *n            
Laterals   *l            
Rhotics   *r            
Semivowels *w         *j    

Consonant clusters

In a syllable onset, a stop or affricate may be followed by a liquid (*l, *r). Any consonant except a labial may be followed by *w (possibly, these were labialized consonants rather than clusters). A stop/affricate+liquid cluster may also be followed by *w.

In a syllable coda, no clusters may appear.


  Front Central Back
High *i   *u
Mid *e  
Low   *a  

The vowel *e may have been [ə]. The vowel *o appears to have been missing.

Developments in West Krelian

  • Mid sibilants merge with back sibilants.
  • Aspirated stops become fricatives.
  • Post-consonantal *w merges with following vowel, creating three new rounded vowels *o, and *y (from *a, *e, *i respectively).

Developments in East Krelian

  • Mid sibilants merge with front sibilants.
  • Aspirated stops are deaspirated; *h is lost.
  • Front sibilants are backed after velar stops and *r.
  • Front vowels preceding and following back sibilants are backed: *i > *y (a high central unrounded vowel, not to be confused with the front rounded vowel of West Krelian!), *e > *a.
  • All consonants except back sibilants and *j develop palatalized counterparts when followed by a front vowel; this palatalization spreads leftward through clusters.
  • Post-consonantal *w is lost.


Proto-Krelian is reconstructed as a head-final agglutinating language. The morphosyntactic alignment is split: in clauses with a perfective verb, case marking is ergative, in clauses with an imperfective verb, it is accusative. Verb inflection, however, always follows an accusative pattern.


Nouns are inflected for case and number. The cases are nominative, genitive and dative. The genitive also functions as an ergative in clauses with a perfective verb, while the dative also functions as an accusative in clauses with an imperfective verb. Further case relationships are expressed by postpositions, which govern either the genitive or the dative case. The numbers are singular and plural.

The paradigm is thus (example word: *kreli):

  Singular Plural
Nominative *kreli *krelita
Genitive *kreliśi *krelitaśi
Dative *krelisa *krelitasa


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