The laryngeal theory

l.m.fosse at l.m.fosse at
Sat Oct 29 04:43:21 UTC 1994

>I would like to request for help with the laryngeal theory. I am a graduate
>student and, after reviewing some of the relevant litearture, am still not 
>certain about the status and significance of the theory.


>Beatrice Reusch
>breusch at
>311 North Hancock # 111
>Madison, WI 53703
>608-256-6268 (voice & fax)

In comparative linguistics, the laryngeal theory is used to explain parts
of the phonological development of the indo-european languages. Three
original laryngeals are posited, often called H1, H2 and H3. These phonemes
are used to explain such phenomena as e.g. the lengthening of short vowels
(compensatory lengthening) such as eH, iH, uH > ee, ii, uu. In Sanskrit,
the root dam, for instance, has the ppp daanta < *dmHta (the m is
sonantic). A comprehensive introduction to the theory is given by Fredrik
Otto Lindeman: Introduction to the 'Laryngeal Theory', Norwegian University
Press, 1987, ISBN 82-00-02628-0 Pbk.
Be adviced that there is a certain amount of discussion going on about the
theory, and some scholars might disagree with some of Lindeman's views.
However, to my best knowledge, the theory has not been discarded, even if
details and points of interpretation are controversial.

Best regards,
Lars Martin Fosse

Lars Martin Fosse
Department of East European
and Oriental Studies
P. O. Box 1030, Blindern
N-0315 OSLO Norway

Tel: +47 22 85 68 48
Fax: +47 22 85 41 40

E-mail: l.m.fosse at


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