from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A language that is the recorded or hypothetical ancestor of another language or group of languages. Also called Ursprache.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alternative spelling of proto-language.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • I came across it when I searched for "protolanguage" on Lulu.

    Proto-Algonquian hot off the press at

  • To capture the physiological reality of speaking a language, I proposed the idea of a “linguistic error limit”: the number of distinguishable sounds in a protolanguage, and therefore the number of objects that can be accurately described by this language, is limited.


  • Feminist critic Elaine Showalter has gone so far as to claim hysteria as a root or first step of feminism--a kind of protolanguage of revolt communicating through the body messages that can't be verbalized, especially in a period of time when women or that matter men had no framework for signifying their often largely psycho-sexual repressions.

    G. Roger Denson: "Old," "Crazy" and "Hysterical." Is That All There Is?

  • Reconstructing a protolanguage root that's unanalysable despite an etymology already available with a clear historical source is the kind of sloppy, unacademic nonsense I loathe with a passion.

    Indo-European (*)*ǵalak- 'milk'

  • No, I'm not interested in how you think that Etruscan is related to Mayan or that you took offense to my position against clumsy protolanguage reconstructions.

    Some thoughts about trolling

  • What I mean by "abuse" is when people, unsatisfied with a protolanguage proven to contain seemingly exotic laryngeals with accompanying vocalic effects, decide to add laryngeals to every stem to account for all long vowels, whether it can be justified or not, and end up succeeding only in muddling the whole grammatical system in the process, obscuring the very thing they attempt to clarify.

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • I've been inspired to write this after recent comments on my ire-provoking entry How NOT to reconstruct a protolanguage showcasing Sergei Starostin's posthumous reconstructions as exemplary anti-scholarship.

    The hidden binary behind the Japanese numeral system

  • You have to understand that Greenberg, the proponent of mass comparison to the chagrin of the rest of academia, was trying like most Nostraticists and related enthusiasts to promote his grand vision of an Ice Age protolanguage while tipping his hat to whom he exaggerates as 'the founder of Nostratic in its modern version'.

    The early Illych-Svitych on Indo-European and early Semitic contacts

  • I presume that this protolanguage, with the first syncope already enacted, was still spoken in Western Turkey not Italy before 1000 BCE.

    The Lost Vowels of Pre-Etruscan Syncope

  • Etruscan is not a protolanguage but rather an un-/mistranslated language that still requires understanding.

    Enticed by a drunken thought


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