Laws and Rules in Indo‐European

Edited by Philomen Probert and Andreas Willi

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609925
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741579 | DOI:
Laws and Rules in Indo‐European

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  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


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This book examines the operation of laws, rules, and principles in the Indo-European language family; within this family, the book delves into the Celtic, Germanic, Italic/Romance, Armenian, Greek, and Indo-Iranian languages as well as Proto-Indo-European itself. Laws or rules are crucial to Indo-European studies: they constrain the reconstructions and etymologies on which our knowledge of the history and prehistory of ancient languages is based, and they allow processes of morphological change, semantic shift, and borrowing to be identified. Their relevance results from the recognition that phenomena such as sound change tend to be regular, and this in turn leads, for example, to the principle that etymologies are possible only if the sound changes they require apply to all relevant examples in the language in question. Laws and rules require constant re-examination in the light of new evidence, theory, and method. After an introduction reflecting on different conceptions and varieties of linguistic laws and rules, the book is divided into six parts. The first looks at pre-modern ways of talking about regularity in linguistic data, the second at principles of language change itself and their methodological implications, and the third at progress in fine-tuning the rules for specific sound changes. Part IV examines why and how linguistic changes begin, the time-frame they operate in, and the stages through which they pass. Part V considers systemic consequences whose relationship to an original law or rule is not necessarily straightforward. Part VI is devoted to synchronic laws of interest to historical linguists

Keywords: Indo-European; laws rules; Celtic; Italic; Latin; Germanic; Greek; Indo-Iranian

Book.  432 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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Introduction in Laws and Rules in Indo‐European


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