Spring Seminar 2021

We are pleased to announce that Spring Seminar in Indo-European Linguistics will take place online on May 25‒27.

The seminar is composed of 12 lectures (see below) which will be held via Zoom and is organized by the department of Classics at the University of Belgrade and DIEUS — Society of Indo-European Scholars in Serbia (Društvo indoevropeista u Srbiji).

We organized this seminar because we wanted to provide a fitting substitute for the Belgrade Winter School in Indo-European Linguistics which was first held in February of last year but this year sadly couldn’t be organized in the same, regular way.

While we wait for the things to go back to normal, we thought we would organize an online event which, like the Winter School, would focus on teaching various topics in Indo-European Linguistics in form of lectures rather than courses.

This year’s lectures feature topics from Proto-Indo-European, Anatolian, Indo-Iranian, Phrygian, Greek, Celtic, Palaeo-Balkan, Messapic, Lithuanian, PIE religion, etc.

We hope you find the the program interesting!


Tue, May 25 202113:15‒13:30 Opening
13:45‒15:15 Lecture 1
Garnier: New Evidence for the So-Called
15:30‒17:00 Lecture 2
Repanšek. From PIE to Old Irish : Sound Changes
and Their Relative Chronology (Part 1)
17:00‒17:45Virtual Break
17:45‒19:15 Lecture 3
Repanšek: From PIE to Old Irish : Sound Changes
and Their Relative Chronology (Part 2)
19:30‒21:00 Lecture 4
Tolić: Not a Yes–No Question : Approaching Human
Sacrifice in Ancient Sources. Example of Porphyry
Wed, May 26 202113:45‒15:15Lecture 5
Milenković, Does Morphology Constrain Sound
Laws? Kiparsky’s Law in Greek and its Implications
for Historical Linguistics
15:30‒17:00Lecture 6
Ligorio, A Reconstruction of Proto-Graeco-Phrygian
17:00‒17:45Virtual Break
17:45‒19:15Lecture 7
Weber, Graeco-Anatolian Language Contact in the
Bronze and Iron Age Aegean
19:30‒21:00Lecture 8
Stefanov, Graeca in Coptica
Thu, May 27 202113:45‒15:15 Lecture 9
Dupraz, The Name of the ‘Bear’ in Messapic : Some
Remarks on the Idionym arT’as
15:30‒17:00Lecture 10
Savić, Palaeo-Balkan Languages : Sources
and Etymological Constraints
17:00‒17:45Virtual Break
17:45‒19:15Lecture 11
Huptyś, Ablaut Innovations in Lithuanian
19:30‒21:00Lecture 12
Holopainen, Early Indo-Iranian Phonology
in the Light of Contacts with Uralic

Please note that all times are GMT+2 (= CEST, Central European Summer Time) and take particular care of time zone when saving the date!


Spring Seminar will take place online only.



Once you’ve filled in the Application Form (see below), you will receive instructions on how to access the online lectures.

Start Date

Tuesday, May 25 2021.


Three days (Tue, May 25 2021 — Thu, May 27 2021).


The auditorium is open for participation. 

If you are interested and are considering taking part, you can register by using the Application Form. We’d be very happy to have you!

The applications are due by May 20 2021.

Participation Fee

The participation will exceptionally this year be free of charge as a way of showing solidarity in difficult times.


If you have any questions, you can contact the organizers at orsat.ligorio@gmail.com.

Also, you can find DIEUS on Facebook!


New Evidence for the So-Called “Kortlandt-effect” (Romain Garnier, University of Limoges). The present talk is dedicated to the so called “Kortlandt-effect” (PIE *-Vd.C– > *-Vh1.C-), the existence of which has been proposed by Kortlandt (1983), while other examples have been found later by Lubotsky (2012), Garnier (2014; 2017) and Ligorio (2019). I shall provide a survey of five issues where the Kortlandt-effect may have occurred: (i) Ved. āvíṣ- [adv.] ‘evidently’ and related forms; (ii) Hom. ἠΐθεος [m.] ‘unmarried youth’ and related forms; (iii) Gk ἠρέμα [adv.] ‘quietly’ and related forms; (iv) Gk ἥμερος [adj.] ‘tame’ and related forms; (v) PIE *drep- ‘to scratch, to pluck, cut off (Gk δρέπω); to plough (Hitt. teripp-); to dig’ (Toch. Arpatsi; Brāp-) and related forms.

  • Garnier, R. 2017, “Nouvelles considérations sur l’effet-Kortlandt”, Scripta Selecta, Études d’étymologie indo-européenne, Paris: Les Cent Chemins, 353–373 (with aditional remarks added to the first publication in Glotta 90, 2014, 140–160).
  • Kortlandt, F. 1983, “Greek numerals and PIE glottalic consonants”, MSS 42, 97–104.
  • Ligorio, O. 2019, “Proto-Indo-European ‘eat’ and ‘mouth’”, Južnoslovenski filolog 75/2, 19–31.
  • Lubotsky, A. 2012, “The Vedic Paradigm for ‘Water’”, in Multi Nominis Grammaticus. Studies in Classical and Indo-European linguistics offered to Alan J. Nussbaum at the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday, Adam I. Cooper, Jeremy Rau & Michael Weiss (eds.). Ann Arbor, New York: Beech Stave Press, 159–164.

From PIE to Old Irish: Sound Changes and Their Relative Chronology (Luka Repanšek, University of Ljubljana). In this lecture we will look at the totality of sound changes leading from Proto-Indo-European to Early Old Irish via Proto-Celtic and Proto-Goidelic, focusing on their relative chronological ordering and the impetus behind the most prominent shifts in the phonetic make-up of what was to become Primitive and Archaic Irish of the monumental Ogam inscriptions and Early Old Irish as found in the earliest manuscripts. 

Not a Yes–No Question: Approaching Human Sacrifice in Ancient Sources, Example of Porphyry. (Isidora Tolić, University of Belgrade). During this lecture we will look into several excerpts from Porphyry of Tyre’s treatise On abstinence from eating animals, featuring human sacrifice. We will focus on their distinctive aspects valuable for the study of Indo-European religion and comparative mythology. The final objective of our analysis will be uncovering fundamental notions which generate recurring interpretive patterns in ancient sources. Aside from that, we will insist on the inadequacy of a binary approach to the question of human sacrifice.

Does Morphology Constrain Sound Laws? Kiparsky’s Law in Greek and its Consequences for Historical Linguistics (Aljoša Milenković, University of Belgrade / Harvard University). The development and Indo-European background of the prs.2/3.sg endings in Greek is a long-standing issue. As demonstrated in (1), the relevant Greek forms are incongruous with the reconstruction emerging from their core Indo-European correspondences (Cowgill 1985/2006, Forston 2004, Willi 2018).

(1) PIESkt.  Arm.  Go.     Gr.
*bheresi   bharasiberesbairisφέρεις (expected *φέρεϊ/φέρει)
bheretibharatiberēbairiþφέρει φέρει (expected *φέρετι/φέρεσι)

Attempts to account for the discrepancy at hand have been plentiful, and, by and large, mutually irreconcilable. One of them traces the observed deviant behavior of the Greek endings in (1) to an Early Greek sound law which is argued to have metathesized inherited V1TV2 sequences word-finally in such a manner as to yield V1V2T (Kiparsky 1967) where T is [coronal], [-sonorant], and [-voiced], while V2 must be [+high] and [-round]. This phenomenon has been occasionally referred to as Kiparsky’s Law (KL) in the literature (cf. Willi 2012, Hill 2018, 2019). The structural description in (2) draws upon more recent proposals in the theory of distinctive features (see Nevins & Chitoran 2008 for the semantics of the feature [±vocalic]), thus slightly differing from the initial formulation of KL, which assumes the Jakobsonian system, but ultimately retains the spirit of the original proposal.

Kiparsky’s (1967) analysis extends to multiple other problems in Greek historical phonology, including the 2/3.sg subjunctive endings, some dialectal athematic present formations, a-stem dat.pl endings, and the prosodic mismatch between the o-stem loc.sg and nom.pl forms. Nevertheless, metathesis rule (2), in spite of offering a direct path from PIE *bheresi, *bhereti to Greek φέρεις, φέρει through the following series of innovations: *φέρεσι, *φέρετι → φέρεις, *φέρειτ (KL) → φέρεις, φέρει (final dental stop deletion), is met with a number of difficulties. To begin with, rule (2) was apparently inoperative in the loc.sg of the neuter s-stems, as witnessed by *ǵenh1esi → Homeric dat.sg γένεϊ, not *γένεις, in which *s flanked by vowels expectedly undergoes debuccalization, and the resulting *h deletes intervocalically. Kiparsky (1967) eschews this problem by imposing a further restriction on the requisite conditioning for the change *s → h. On this assumption, the law would not be in force when the fricative was part of the ending.

The reception of KL has been far from uniform. The existing approaches range from the outright acceptance of the Law (Hill 2018, 2019) to its restriction to certain inflectional categories (Rix 1992: 251), or a more specific phonological environment (Cowgill 1985/2006). In this talk, I call the validity of KL into question. I argue that, in order for the Law to be well grounded, all of the following predictions have to be borne out:

  1. Mycenaean dat.pl <a-i> has to be interpreted as –ais (Ruijgh 1958). However, this Myc. ending is customarily construed as a direct descendant of PIE loc.pl *-eh2su > Early Gr. *-aːsi (Rix 1992: 134, Lejeune 1987: 97), and most scholars are more inclined to interpret this orthographic rendering as –ahi, or –aihi (cf. Bartoněk 2003: 167, Bernabé & Luján 2006: 147);
  2. None of the forms explained by KL should be accountable for by means of some alternative sound law or analogy (but see, e.g., Rix 1992: 51 for the dat.pl endings);
  3. Sound laws can be morphologically constrained. This claim runs afoul of the central tenet of the Neogrammarian framework, according to which sound laws admit of no exceptions, and cannot be influenced by morphology unless analogy interferes (Paul 1886). Most case studies convincingly demonstrate that sound laws that might appear at first glance to require additional, non-phonetic conditioning do not depend on a word’s underlying representation (Jasanoff 2004), or morphological bracketing (Hyman & Moxley 1996); contrary to Kiparsky (1965).

By touching upon this issue, one must acknowledge that there is much more at stake than a mere language-particular phenomenon, as KL and its auxiliary hypotheses necessary to justify it bear on a wide array of theoretical problems in historical linguistics. Evidence is presented that all of the above claims are on shaky ground, strongly suggesting that KL should be dispensed with (cf. Collinge 1995 for a similar conclusion). Alternative explanations of the forms in question are presented and shown to do away with the presented issues in a more satisfactory fashion.

  • Bartoněk, Antonin. (2003) Handbuch des mykenischen Griechisch. Heidelberg: C. Winter.
  • Bernabé, Alberto, Eugenio R. Luján. (2006). Introducción al Griego Micénico. Gramática, Selección de Textos y Glosario. Zaragoza.
  • Collinge, Neville E. (1995) Further laws of Indo-European. In: Winter, Werner (ed.) On languages and language. The presidential addresses of the 1991 Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europea. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter: 27-52.
  • Cowgill, Warren. (1985) The personal endings of thematic verbs in Indo-European. Schlerath, Bernfried and Veronica Rittner (eds.) Grammatische Kategorien, Funktion und Geschichte. Wiesbaden: Reichert: 99-108. Reprinted in Cowgill 2006.
  • Cowgill, Warren. (2006) The collected writings of Warren Cowgill. (Edited by Jared S. Klein.) Ann Arbor/New York: Beech Stave Press.
  • Forston, Benjamin W. (2010) Indo-European Language and culture: an introduction. Malden/Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Hill, Eugen. (2018) The thematic inflection in Proto-Indo-European conjugation: a kind of perfect or a kind of aorist? Paper presented at Aspect and Alignment in Indo-European and Proto-Indo-European Workshop, Ghent University, September 2018.
  • Hill, Eugen. (2019) The Proto-Indo-European thematic conjugation and the 2sg. active in Baltic and Slavonic. Talk delivered at IG Arbetistagung, University of Ljubljana, June 2019.
  • Hyman, Larry M., Jeri Moxley. (1996) The morpheme in phonological change: velar palatalization in Bantu. Diachronica 13/2: 259-282.
  • Jasanoff, Jay H. (2004) Plus ça change… Lachmann’s law in Latin. Penney, John H.W. (ed.): Indo-European Perspectives: Studies in Honour of Anna Morpurgo Davies. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 405-416.
  • Kiparsky, Paul. (1965) Phonological change. Doctoral dissertation, Cambridge, MA: MIT.
  • Kiparsky, Paul. (1967) A phonological rule of Greek. Glotta 44 Bd., 3/4 H.: 109-134.
  • Lejeune, Michel. (1987) Phonétique historique du Mycénien et du Grec Ancien. Paris: Éditions Klincksieck.
  • Nevins, Andrew, Ioana Chitoran. (2008) Phonological representations and the variable patterning of glides. Lingua 118: 1179-1997.
  • Paul, Hermann (1886). Prinzipien der Sprachgeschichte. (2. Aufl.) Halle: M. Niemeyer.
  • Rix, Helumt (1992) Historische Grammatik des Griechischen. Laut- und Formenlehre. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
  • Ruijgh, C. J. (1958) Les datifs pluriels dans les dialectes grecs et la position du mycénien. Mnemosyne 11/2: 97-116.
  • Willi, Andreas. (2012) Kiparsky’s rule, thematic nasal presents, and athematic verba vocalia. Probert, Philomen, Andreas Willi (eds.) Laws and rules in Indo-European. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 260-276.
  • Willi, Andreas (2018) Origins of the Greek verb. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

A Reconstruction of Proto-Graeco-Phrygian Phonology (Orsat Ligorio, University of Belgrade). Lately, there has been a growing consensus around Graeco-Phrygian as a phylogenetically viable unit of the Indo-European family tree. In this lecture I present a tentative reconstruction of its phonology with special focus on the system of stops and the significance Proto-Graeco-Phyrigian stops hold for the glottalic interpretation of Proto-Indo-European stops.

Graeco-Anatolian Language Contact in the Bronze and Iron Age Aegean (Elia Weber, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena). It is well known that the Mycenaean Greeks were in contact with the Anatolian populations of Asia Minor during the late Bronze Age. Graeco-Anatolian contacts are also undisputed during the Iron Age and may be associated, among others, with historical events like the Greek colonization of Asia Minor starting in the 8th century BC (Niemeier, 2007). Additionally, many Graeco-Anatolian parallels have been pointed out in the domains of religion, mythology and epic literature (Burkert 2005). In light of these findings many linguistic peculiarities of Ancient Greek, as well as the Anatolian languages (among those Hittite, Luwian, Lycian and Lydian), have been proposed to be the result of language contact. However, a scholarly consensus regarding the nature and intensity of Graeco-Anatolian linguistic contacts is still missing (cf. Puhvel, 1991; Watkins, 2001; García Ramón, 2011, 2012; Hajnal, 2018). In my presentation, I discuss different linguistic elements which have been explained through language contact, ranging from lexical borrowings to syntactic peculiarities in the Homeric epics. Those will be evaluated based on current typological models which take into account the intensity of language contact, as well as sociolinguistic factors. Evidence from the fields of archaeology and ancient DNA can then be compared with linguistic data in order to create a holistic picture of linguistic and cultural contacts in the Bronze and Iron Age Aegean.

  • Burkert, W. (2005) ‘Near Eastern connections’, in Foley, J. M. (ed) A Companion to Ancient Epic. Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp. 291−301.
  • García Ramón, J. L. (2011) ‘Sprachen in Kontakt in Griechenland und Kleinasien im 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr.’, in Boschung, D. and Riehl, C. M. (eds) Historische Mehrsprachigkeit: Workshop des Zentrums für Antike Kulturen des Mittelmeerraumes (ZaKMiRa) und des Zentrums Sprachenvielfalt und Mehrsprachigkeit (ZSM) an der Universität Köln, Juli 2008. Aachen: Shaker Verlag, pp. 23–45.
  • García Ramón, J. L. (2012) ‘Eredità, prestiti, mutamenti comuni nel lessico e nella morfosintassi delle lingue indoeuropee: Il caso di Anatolico e Greco’, Studi Italiani di Linguistica Teorica e Applicata, 41, pp. 425–439.
  • Hajnal, I. (2018) ‘Graeco-Anatolian contacts in the Mycenaean period’, in Klein, J. S., Joseph, B., and Fritz, M. (eds) Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton, pp. 2037–2055.
  • Niemeier, W.-D. (2007) ‘Westkleinasien und Ägäis von den Anfängen bis zur ionischen Wanderung: Topographie, Geschichte und Beziehungen nach dem archäologischen Befund und den hethitischen Quellen’, in Cobet, J. et al. (eds) Frühes Ionien: Eine Bestandaufnahme. Panionion-Symposion Güzelçamlı, 26. September – 1. Oktober 1999. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, pp. 37–96.
  • Puhvel, J. (1991) Homer and Hittite. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Innsbruck.
  • Watkins, C. (2001) ‘An Indo-European Linguistic Area and its Characteristics: Ancient Anatolia. Areal Diffusion as a Challenge to the Comparative Method?’, in Aikhenvald, A. Y. and Dixon, R. M. W. (eds) Areal Diffusion and Genetic Inheritance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 44–63.

Graeca in Coptica (Stefan Stefanov, University of Sofia). After the conquest of the Achaemenid empire by Alexander and the wars of the Dioadochi following his death, in 305 BC the relations of Egypt with the Greek-speaking world and her place in it enter a second phase after the one that has begun several centuries earlier with the (re)introduction of Greek populace probably at Daphnae in the Eastern Delta through the mercenaries of pharaoh Psammetichus I (ca. 664-610 BC). The newly formed Ptolemaic Kingdom proved to be a fertile ground for many interactions, borrowings, and reconstitutions of ideas between Greeks and Egyptians. One of the clearest expressions of that appears at the fullest with the final transformation of the Hellenistic world into the Greco-Roman one after the battle of Actium (31 BC). This third phase sees the emergence of the sixth and final written form of the Egyptian language in what is known today as Coptic. Our goal will be to show the results of some three centuries of direct Greco-Egyptian contacts, first in Alexandria ad Aegyptum and after that up the Nile. The borrowings that will be discussed aren’t only on the lexical level. This type of more general approach could be useful not only for Coptic studies but also for several insights on the history of the Greek language and for examining the influences of the Greek culture on the very many people groups in the greater post-Alexander world and beyond.

The Name of the ‘Bear’ in Messapic: Some Remarks on the Idionym arT’as (Emmanuel Dupraz, École Pratique des Hautes ÉtudesPSL / Université Libre de Bruxelles). Messapic has a grapheme -T’- which was not borrowed from the Greek model used for devising the local alphabet by 600 BCE. This grapheme is mainly used in word-initial position. It transcribes the specific palatalisation of word-initial *t- before *-a-, an enigmatic phonetic development which was perhaps shared also by South Oscan. However, in very few exceptions, the grapheme -T’- also appears in other contexts. The main example is that of the idionym arT’as. We wish to suggest that this idionym means ‘bear’ < *h2r̥tḱos. In this Indo-European substantive, the consonant group *-tḱ- originally contained both a voiceless dental stop and a voiceless palatal stop. The Messapic pronunciation of this group may have been perceived as identical or similar to that of word-initial *t- before *-a-. This analysis may help to explain the exceptional use of -T’- in this idionym as well as enrich our knowledge of the Messapic vocabulary.

Palaeo-Balkan Languages: Sources and Etymological Constraints (Danilo Savić, University of Belgrade / École Pratique des Hautes Études). The languages of ancient Balkans are among the least known in the Indo-European family. This is due to their fragmented state – only some Thracian texts survive, while other languages are attested indirectly via Greek and Latin sources, through glosses and onomastics. In this lecture we will describe the general characteristics of three Palaeo-Balkan languages: Macedonian, Illyrian, and Thracian, discussing primarily the difficulties in establishing reliable corpora and in applying the etymological method.

Ablaut Innovations in Lithuanian (Szymon Huptyś, Jagiellonian University). We all know that ablaut (apophony) is an old Indo-European phenomenon. There is no doubt that the e/o ablaut existed in the proto-language and it helped distinguish parts of speech. It has its consequences for the grammar of daughter languages. However, this doesn’t mean that the phenomenon of ablaut was not renewed in individual Indo-European languages. The aim of the lecture is to describe some innovations in respect of ablaut in one of the most interesting Indo-European languages: in Lithuanian. This language is often considered very archaic and conservative. The fact that it developed innovations in ablaut shed new light on its history. Lithuanian roots that consist of an etymologically unjustifiable diphthong and etymologically unjustifiable monophthong will be thoroughly described during the lecture.

Early Indo-Iranian Phonology in the Light of Contacts with Uralic (Sampsa Holopainen, University of Vienna / Austrian Academy of Sciences). Although there is little consensus today on the possibility of contacts between Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Uralic, it has been widely accepted for decades that there certainly were very early contacts between Indo-Iranian and Uralic, with the earliest loanwords being acquired into Proto-Uralic or Proto-Finno-Ugric from a very archaic form of Indo-Iranian (often called “Pre-Proto-Indo-Iranian” in the loanword research), followed by a bigger layer of loanwords from Proto-Indo-Iranian. In this presentation, my aim is to present a state-of-the art overview of the earliest Indo-Iranian loanwords in the Uralic languages and especially show how it can benefit the research on the early phonological developments in the Indo-Iranian branch, thus contributing also to our understanding of the early divergence of Indo-European. This topic is relevant for Indo-Europeanists, as through the loanwords we can get evidence from a stage of Indo-Iranian that cannot be reached or can be only partly reached through comparative evidence and internal reconstruction. However, not all evidence from loanwords is equally uncontroversial, and due to the limited material and discrepancies in Indo-Iranian and Uralic phonology, some aspects are understood better than others. With this talk I hope to show both prospects and pitfalls in the research on these early loanwords and hope to raise the interest of the listeners to investigate various problems of language contact and its relevance to Indo-European studies.