Wiktionary:About Proto-Indo-European

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link={{{imglink}}} This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. This is a draft proposal. It is unofficial, and it is unknown whether it is widely accepted by Wiktionary editors.
Policies – Entries: CFI - EL - NORM - NPOV - QUOTE - REDIR - DELETE. Languages: LT - AXX. Others: BLOCK - BOTS - VOTES.

These are guidelines for Proto-Indo-European entries. Note that since Proto-Indo-European is a reconstructed language, all entries should be subpages in the Reconstruction namespace.

Phonology and transcription[edit]

The following scheme is the canonical transcription for PIE words and forms on Wiktionary, which is used within entries as well as the names of entries themselves (but see below on category sorting). Other spellings are permitted, but should redirect to the canonical spelling and not have any entries themselves.

Obstruents are never syllabic, and therefore cannot form syllables on their own.

  • Voiceless stops: *p *t *ḱ *k *kʷ (not k̂ or k̑, k)
  • Voiced stops: *b *d *ǵ *g *gʷ (not ĝ or g̑, g)
  • Aspirated stops: *bʰ *dʰ *ǵʰ *gʰ *gʷʰ (not bh, dh, ǵh/g'h/ĝh/g̑h, gh, gʷh/gʰ etc.)
  • Fricatives: *s *h₁ *h₂ *h₃ (unknown laryngeal: *H; not ə₁, ə₂, ə₃, and never with a circle below)

Sonorants are sometimes syllabic, and form pairs depending on whether they are considered a “syllable nucleus” (simply said, “vowels”) or not. The general rule is that sonorants are non-syllabic when they are next to a syllabic (a vowel or another syllabic sonorant), and syllabic when they stand in between non-syllabics.

  • Non-syllabic sonorants: *y *w *l *r *m *n (not j, i̯, u̯)
  • Syllabic sonorants: *i *u *l̥ *r̥ *m̥ *n̥

Vowels are always syllabic. Roots that show ablaut (the vast majority) are normally cited in the e-grade, or full grade. A few roots seem to have other underlying vowels, usually a, but also occasionally i or u that never seem to alternate with their non-syllabic counterparts. Underlying long vowels are likewise rare, and long high vowels even more so.

  • Short vowels: *e *o *a *i *u
  • Long vowels: *ē *ō *ā *ī *ū

Diphthongs are sequences of a vowel followed by a nonsyllabic sonorant, and are written as such:

  • *ey *oy *ew *ow etc. (not ei oi eu ou)

Every fully-formed verb, noun or adjective form (with an inflectional ending) has at least one accented syllable. The accented syllable of such words is indicated with an acute accent (´), and always specified in entry names as well as within entries themselves. Current practice is to include it as well on single-syllable words, because there was probably a distinction between presence and lack of an accent. In particular, many clitics and adverbs seem to have been inherently accentless in at least some circumstances.

  • Accented short vowels: *é *ó *á *í *ú
  • Accented long vowels: *ḗ *ṓ *ā́ *ī́ *ū́
  • Accented syllabic sonorants: *í *ú *ŕ̥ *ĺ̥ *ḿ̥ *ń̥

Linking and entry names[edit]

In principle, the spelling guidelines outlined above apply to entry names as well. If you see an entry with a name that does not conform to the scheme above, feel free to move it and correct any links to it so that they point to the proper name.

  • Use “Early PIE” (laryngealist) forms by default (*steh₂-, not *stah₂- or *stā-; *h₁éḱwos, not *éḱwos). Doubtful laryngeal qualities are expressed as simple *H.
  • Surface (phonetic) forms of reconstructions should generally be used, and not the underlying (phonological) forms with or without separated constituent morphemes, unless it is the universal practice to do so (e.g. ignoring the “laryngeal coloring” effects for vowels). This means application of the synchronic PIE phonological rules. E.g. *ḱwṓ and not *ḱwṓn (Szemerényi’s law), *krewyós and not *krewh₂yós (Pinault's law, from *krewh₂-).
  • Roots are to be cited in the e-grade; entries should not be created for the other grades. Redirects are okay, but fixing the links is better!
  • Cite roots and stems (forms that are not fully inflected words) with a hyphen: *peḱ-.
  • Roots do not carry accents on vowels.
  • Fully-formed words (as opposed to roots) have an inherent accent, which should be present in the page name. You may add a word without an accent if you do not know where the accent should be placed, but when the accent placement becomes known the entry should be moved/renamed to reflect this.
  • Verbs are lemmatised to the third-person singular indicative form (present tense, for verbs having tense distinctions). Nouns are lemmatised to the nominative singular form, and adjectives are lemmatised to the masculine nominative singular form. If the exact form is unknown but the accent and ablaut grades are, use the accent and ablaut grades that these forms would have, but with a hyphen instead of the ending.
  • Words should not be broken up into pieces. Write a word as one whole, without hyphens separating the parts: *ǵéwstus (not *ǵéws-tu-s). Separating hyphens can be used in the displayed form of links to clarify the formation, as long as it is not used in the page name itself.
  • The language code for Proto-Indo-European is ine-pro. Use this code with the {{der}} and {{inh}} templates for references in etymologies. When linking to Proto-Indo-European reconstructions, you must add an asterisk (*) before the word (to indicate that it is reconstructed) or an error message will be displayed.
    Example: {{der|en|ine-pro|*bʰrug-||to make use of, to have enjoyment of}}
    Produces: Proto-Indo-European *bʰrug- (to make use of, to have enjoyment of)

Creating Proto-Indo-European entries[edit]

Entries should normally begin with {{reconstructed}} to alert readers to the reconstructed nature of the entry and the meaning of the asterisk. Following that, in principle, PIE entries are laid out the same as other entries in the main namespace. So they have a language header, properly nested part-of-speech headers, and possibly also declension and conjugation tables, derived and related terms and other subheadings. You should try to keep to WT:ELE in general, but you can deviate from it a little bit if it's necessary. If you're not sure how to format an entry, you can look at existing entries.


The following template can be used for nouns:




# [[]]



The template {{ine-noun}} takes one positional parameter: gender. Wiktionary uses Post-Anatolian stage of Proto-Indo-European as is usual, which had masculine, feminine and neuter genders which can be specified as m, f, n respectively.

Inflection can be either requested using the template {{rfinfl}} as shown above, or can be specified either manually, using the {{ine-decl-noun-table}} template, or simply using templates for some simple cases (thematic stems): see Category:Proto-Indo-European noun inflection-table templates. You should also add the entry to Category:Proto-Indo-European thematic nouns, Category:Proto-Indo-European athematic nouns or one of the latter's subcategories, depending on how much is known about the inflection type.

User is advised to specify declensional pattern, as well as oblique case forms, in case full inflection is not provided.


Indo-European entries should normally be sorted with a sort key, because of the many special characters that are present in the language. The default sorting order is as follows:

  • Subscripts are replaced with base characters: ₁ ₂ ₃ > 1 2 3
  • Superscripts are replaced with base characters preceded by a lone macron: ʰ ʷ > ¯h ¯w (so that e.g. always sorts after g rather than between ge and gi)
  • Acute accents, macrons and rings below are removed: á é í ó ú > a e i o u, ā ē ī ō ū = a e i o u, r̥ l̥ m̥ n̥ > r l m n
  • The acute for palatovelars becomes a following apostrophe: ǵ ḱ > g' k'

All of the standard templates such as {{head}} as well as all the Proto-Indo-European specific templates apply this sorting by default, so you do not need to do anything for those templates. To ensure proper sorting, use {{topics}} or {{cln}} to add a category that is not added by another template.

Derived terms and descendants[edit]

Every entry must have either a “Derived terms” or a “Descendants” section, as this is important for being able to judge the validity of the reconstruction. After all, if something is reconstructed but nothing came from it, why was it reconstructed?

Because of the many languages that descend from Proto-Indo-European, managing the list of descendants can be a significant task. In general, descendants are listed as an unordered list, with each language that descends from an older stage being indented one step further. Terms listed in a bulleted list, like descendants, should be linked using {{l}}, not with {{m}}!

To make things a little easier to read, the descendants are normally split into branches (Celtic, Germanic, Italic, Indo-Iranian etc.). Each of those branches is considered a direct descendant of PIE itself without other intervening stages. If there are several languages in such a branch, it normally has a proto-language of some kind which forms the common ancestor of all languages in that branch.

For root entries, no descendants section should be present, as roots have no descendants (unless one of the descendants is a root itself). Instead, there should be a derived terms section that groups descendants according to the various formations derived from the root.

For derived terms, especially of roots, the following ordering of formations is used:

  • Verb formations first, then nominals and other formations.
  • Derivations are listed in alphabetical order by the suffix. The grade of the root and suffixes are ignored (i.e. assume zero grade for ordering). Simple thematic nominal derivations are ordered as "o". Thus, *sth₂-tós comes between *stéh₂-tis ~ *sth₂-téy-s and *stéh₂-tus ~ *sth₂-téw-s.
  • If there are two derivations with identical suffixes but different root grades, order by root grade: e, o, zero.
  • Root verbs are listed before all other verbs, root nominals before all other nominals.
  • More derived formations are listed after their basic formations. Thus, a verb derived from a noun comes after that noun.

See also[edit]