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

  • adj. Designating those Indo-European languages, including the Indo-Iranian, Armenian, and Balto-Slavic subfamilies, in which original palatal velar stops became fricatives (as k' > s or š) and labiovelar stops became plain velars (as kw > k).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. referring to a Proto-Indo-European language group that produced sibilants from a series of palatovelar stops.


Avestan satəm, hundred (a word whose initial sound illustrates the change).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Avestan 𐬯𐬀𐬙𐬇𐬩 (satəm, "hundred"), the canonical example of a word that changed Proto-Indo-European palatovelar */ḱ/ into sibilant /s/ by the 3rd millennium BCE, as opposed to Latin centum ("hundred"). (Wiktionary)


  • The Slavonic languages, like Persian and the Indo-European languages of the Indian sub-continent, are in the satem group, so the Russian word for hundred begins with an sound, its first vowel has disappeared, the corresponds to the in the middle of the

    Surprising etymology

  • While the correct centum-satem correspondence between Greek -k- and Sanskrit -ś- is reassuring, it by no means validates the reconstruction.

    Battling the Indo-European axe

  • It's also pointless to eternally ponder on the vagueness of terms like "language" and "dialect" because in the end we're now refocusing our reconstruction efforts towards elucidating former feature boundaries eg. the satem area.

    The PIE and Pre-PIE pronominal system from the perspective of a wave model

  • Sanskrit, being a satem language, fronted all *k's to palatalized *ḱ according to this new interpretation afterall.

    To be or not to have. That is the question.

  • Also, notice that the Common Kartvelian "4" is reconstructed as *otxo- (resembling a centum-like source) by some and *os1txw/o- (resembling a satem-like source instead) by others.

    A possible relationship between 'four' and 'eight' in PIE

  • Petusek: "Also, notice that the Common Kartvelian '4' is reconstructed as *otxo- (resembling a centum-like source) by some and *os1txw/o- (resembling a satem-like source instead) by others."

    A possible relationship between 'four' and 'eight' in PIE

  • Things get more complicated if one ponders a scenario where budding Anatolian dialects are affected by the Satem wave in the north of the Anatolian area and later on provide the basis for satem-like results in Luwian by way of dialect mergers and such.

    Diachrony of PIE

  • However Tocharian shows palatalization nonetheless and I suppose I should explain myself better in the pdf that I'm also including satem-like areal influence as well.

    Diachrony of PIE

  • So the question is not whether Tocharian and Anatolian are satem dialects which they are indeed not, but whether they were notably affected by satem dialects and thus whether they show satem-like innovations.

    Diachrony of PIE

  • Afterall, satem dialects show us clearly a distinction between *ḱ and *k.

    Archive 2007-10-01


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