Scholarly article on topic 'Indo-European *Gu̯h in Germanic'

Indo-European *Gu̯h in Germanic Academic research paper on "Languages and literature"

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Lingua Posnaniensis
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Academic research paper on topic "Indo-European *Gu̯h in Germanic"

DOI: 10.2478/v10122-012-0016-y


Krzysztof Tomasz Witczak

Abstract: Krzysztof Tomasz Witczak. Indo-European *guh in Germanic. Lingua Posnaniensis, vol. LIV (2)/2012. The Poznan Society for the Advancement of the Arts and Sciences. PL ISSN 0079-4740, ISBN 978-83-7654-252-2, pp. 83-90.

Purpose and method: In my paper I discuss the development of IE. *guh in the Germanic languages, using the historical-comparative method. Results: Two regular reflexes of IE. *guh in Proto-Germanic (*g and *w) can be explained by the place of the Indo-European accent, e.g. Gmc. *garmaz m. 'fire dog' (< IE. *guhormos) vs. Gmc. *warmaz adj. 'warm, hot' (< IE. *guhormos); Gmc. *dagaz m. 'day' (< IE. *dhoguhos) vs. Gmc. *snaiwaz m. 'snow' (< *snoiguhos m. 'snow'). Conclusion: The double distribution of IE. *guh in Proto-Germanic, which is motivated by the primitive accent, can be described as a rule similar to das Vernersche Gesetz.

Krzysztof Tomasz Witczak, Department of Linguistics and Indo-European Studies, Faculty of Philology, University of Lodz, Lipowa 81, PL - 90-568 Lodz,;


As far as I know, there occur three reflexes of IE. *ku in the Germanic languages:

[1] IE. *ku > Gmc. *hw in the initial position and medially after the stress, e.g. Gmc. *hwalaz m. 'a big fish; whale' > ON. hvalr, Icel. hvalur, OE. hwael, E. whale, OHG. (h)walm. 'Walfisch', waliraf. 'Wels', late MHG. wels (s-stem) 'id.' (cf. Sevilla RodrIguez 1989: 177-180; Kluge, Seebold 1999: 872); IE. *ejwos m. (cf. Skt. asvah) 'horse' > Gmc. *ehwaz m. 'id.' > Goth. aiha-, OSax. ehu-, OE. eoh, ON. jor 'horse' (de Vries 1977: 293; Lehmann 1986: 15, 100; Blazek 1999: 23).

[2] IE. *ku > Gmc. *gw > *w or *g in the medial position before accent, e.g. Gmc. *tegwaz 'slave' > Goth. piwos m. pl. 'slaves', ON. pewaR 'Lehnsmann', cf. OInd. takva-adj. 'quick' (Lubotsky 1988: 95); Gmc. *wulgwbz f. 'she-wolf' > ON. ylgr f. 'id.' (de Vries 1977: 677), cf. Skt. vrkfh f. 'she-wolf, female jackal'.

[3] IE. *ku > Gmc. *f in some irregular cases, e.g. Gmc. *fimfi 'five' beside Skt. panca '5', Gk. Att. nevte 'id.' (< IE. *penkue), fimftaz 'fifth' beside Gk. лецлто^ 'id.' (< IE. *pen-kutos), *wulfaz m. 'wolf' beside Skt. vrkah 'id.' (< IE. *ulkuos).

It is possible to demonstrate that these three reflexes can be attested in one and the same word, cf. IE. *ukunos m. 'oven' > [1] *uhwnaz (Goth. auhns), [2] *ugwnaz (OSwed. oghn) and [3] *ufaaz m. 'id.' (ON. ofn, OE. ofen, OHG. ofan) (Зализняк 1964: 226, No. 39.7).

Elmar Seebold (1967; 1980) finds, by analogy, three continuations of IE. *gvh in Common Germanic: *g- (e.g. *gunpio f. 'fight'), *w- (e.g. *warmaz adj. 'warm') and *b- (e.g. *bedjan 'bitten', as if from IE. *guhedh- 'bitten, begehren')1. If *b-, as well as *f-, is the result of an irregular development, then the regular distribution of the reflexes *g-/*w- (both from IE. *guh) should be explained by analogy to the continuation of IE. *ku. The alternation between West Germanic *baumaz m. 'tree, trunk' (OE. beam, OSax. bom, OHG. boum) and North Germanic *bagmazm. 'id.' (Goth. bagms, OIcel. badmr, OSved. bagn; Зализняк 1964: 226, No. 39.1), analogical to *uhwnaz / *ugwnaz / *ufnaz, clearly demonstrates that this distribution must be connected most likely with the position of the Indo-European and Proto-Germanic stress.

In the following survey of the material I shall attempt to include those examples, for which a reconstruction with *guh seems reasonably well founded and which possess some accentually valuable equivalents in other Indo-European languages, especially in Sanskrit, Greek and Balto-Slavic.

1. reflexes of ie. *gh in the initial position

In my opinion, there are only two different reflexes of IE. *guh in the initial position, namely Gmc. *g and *w. These two reflexes occur in some related pairs of the Germanic words, e.g. *garmaz m. 'fire dog' vs. *warmaz adj. 'warm, hot' (both from IE. *guhormos), OIcel. gandr adj. 'monster, magic', also m. 'wand' vs. Dan. dial. vann, E. wand 'magic staff', Goth. wandus 'rod, twig', OIcel. vQndr m. 'id.' (from Gmc. *gandaz adj. 'monster, magic' next to Gmc. *wandaz / *wanduz m. 'wand, magic staff'). Taking into account these Germanic facts Markey (1980: 287) suggested "an apparently arbitrary alternation of g-/w-as reflexes initially before a". In my opinion, the observed alternation is not "arbitrary", but it is caused by a regular continuation of the Proto-Germanic variation of the original Indo-European accent. Examples discussed below seem relevant both from the etymological point of view and the accentological one.

2. evidence for ie. *g"h > gmc. *g

2.1. Gmc. *garmaz m. 'fire dog' (cf. OIcel. garmr m. 'hound of Hell, fire dog', only in skaldic usage; Far. garmur 'dog', etc.) < IE. *guhormos m. 'the fiery one' (whence 'dog of hell'). This term seems to reflect an oppositional accentuation to the Germanic adjective *warmaz < IE. *guhormos (see No. 3.1.). The same accentological opposition between a proper name and a corresponding appelative may be found in most Indo-European lan-

1 Speirs (1978: 1) notes that "the reflexes of PIE *ghu in Germanic are still a matter of controversy". Ringe (2006: 105-116) adopts some Seebold's solutions, stressing that he has "tried to use only relatively certain examples as evidence". According to him, PIE. *ghu became Gmc. *b in the initial position, expect "when it had already been delabialized by a following *u". However, examples for this development are rare and highly uncertain, as stressed by Polome (1987: 306-307) and Ringe (2006: 106). In my opinion, Gmc. *b- appears to represent an irregular reflex of IE. *ghB, as well as Gmc. f (or *b) seems an unexpected continuation of IE. *kB, see also Макаев (1962: 26). Most recently Johnsen (2007) has followed Seebold's way of thinking, which seems unfruitful.

guages, e.g. Gk. PN FaiSpoj vs. adjective faiSpoj 'clear, brilliant', Gk. PN Fpi^oq vs. adjective <ppi£,oq 'standing on end, bristling'.

2.2. Gmc. *gadja n. 'Sinn' (cf. OIcel. geö n. 'mind, mood, spirits', also 'wits, disposition', Norw. gjed, Dan. dial. gied; de Vries 1977: 159; Polome 1987: 305, 308) < IE. *guhödhiom < IE. *g«hedh- 'bitten, begehren, wünschen' (Pokorny 1959: 488; LIV 2001: 217), cf. Greek rcoSoq m. 'longing after, yearning, fond desire, regret'. See also OIr. guide f. 'prayer' (< Celtic *god_ä) and Gk. eni-noSia f. 'a longing after' (< IE. *guhödhiiä with a retraction of the stress). An oppositional oxytone accent is seen in Gk. tcoS^ f. 'fond desire, longing, want'.

2.3. Gmc. *gelda n. 'payment' (cf. Goth. gildn. 'tax', OIcel. gjaldn. 'payment, recompense, punishment'; OE. gyld, gield 'payment, service, substitute, sacrifice'; OFris. jeld 'Kaufpreis'; OSax. geld n. 'Vergeltung, Lohn'; OHG. gelt m. or n. 'payment, reward, sacrifice', G. Geld n.; Зализняк 1963: 140, No. 4.24; Lehmann 1986: 155; Kluge, Seebold 1999: 309) < IE. *guheldh-o-m n. 'payment' (see Pokorny 1959: 436), cf. Gk. xe^Soq n. (es-stem) 'debt, payment due' (< *SeA,Soq and IE. *guheldh-os- n.).

2.4. Gmc. *gunpiz f. 'fight, combat' (cf. OIcel. gunnr, guör f. 'fight, killing', OE. güö 'combat', OHG. gund-fano 'battle-flag'; de Vries 1977: 195; Polome 1987: 308; Ringe 2006: 92) < IE. *g%ntis f. (i-stem) 'fight, killing', cf. Lith. gintis f. 'defence, fighting' (2 AP appears in dialects, 4 AP in the literary Lithuanian). A Sanskrit equivalent is attested with no stress: hatih f. (i-stem) 'striking, a stroke or blow; killing, destroying, destruction' (MonierWilliams 1999: 1287), though Pokorny (1959: 492) under the heading *guhen- 'schlagen' gives a form with the oxytone stress hatih f. 'das Schlagen, Schlag, Multiplikation'. The barytone stress is firmly reconstructed after the Germanic data (the preservation of *p after stress according to Verner's law).

2.5. Gmc. *gunpjö f. 'fight' (cf. OSax. guöea f. 'Kampf, Schlacht'; de Vries 1977: 195)

< IE. *guhntiä f. (ä-stem), cf. Skt. hatyä- f. 'killing, slaying, slaughter' (Monier-Williams 1999: 1287).2 The original barytonesis can be reconstructed on the basis of the Germanic lexical material.

3. possible evidence for ie. *gh > gmc. *w

3.1. Gmc. *warmaz adj. 'warm' (cf. OIcel. varmr adj. 'warm', Norw., Swed. and Dan. varm, OE. wearm, E. warm; OSax. warm, OHG. and G. warm 'id.'; de Vries 1977: 646)

< IE. *guhormös adj. 'hot, warm', cf. Skt. gharmah m. 'glot, heat' (Lubotsky 1988: 89), Pashto yarma f. 'noon, heat of the sun', also 'sun' in some dialects (Дыбо 1974: 81, 83; Morgenstierne 2003: 32); Greek Ssp^oq adj. 'hot, warm', Ssp^ov n. 'heat', Ssp|ad n. pl. o-stem 'hot baths' (< IE. *guhermös adj. 'hot, warm' < IE. *guher- 'to warm'; Pokorny 1959: 493-495; LIV 2001: 228-229). Other related terms (e.g. Lat. formus adj. 'warm, hot', Toch. B sarme 'id.') are accentologically irrelevant.

3.2. Gmc. *wada n. 'ford' (cf. OIcel. vaö n. 'ford, a shallow place in water', Norw., Swed., Dan. wad; OE. wad 'water, sea'; OHG. wat 'ford'; de Vries 1977: 637) < IE. *gv[h]adhöm

2 Pokorny (1959: 492) gives the accented form hatya (spät!) 'Tötung', which is not attested in the literary sources. See also Lubotsky (1988). However, Seebold (1967: 105) refers to the Vedic compound musti-hatya f. 'Faustkampf'.

n. 'ford', cf. Skt. gadhäm n. 'ford, shoal'. See also Lat. vädum n. 'shallow, shoal, ford'. The terms in question derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *gueh2- 'to go' (Pokorny 1959: 463-464; LIV 2001: 205) accompanied by the determinative *-dh-. The verbal root (PIE.) *gueh2-dh- is perfectly attested in Lat. vadö and Skt. gadham, whereas the Proto-Indo-European variant *guh2-e-dh- is seen in Germanic *wada and Latin vädum. It is obvious that the initial phoneme *w- of the Germanic forms derives from the secondary phoneme *guh-, created from PIE. *guby influence of the laryngeal *h2.

3.3. Gmc. *wahsaz adj. 'pointed' (cf. OHG. wahs adj. 'scharf, spitzig') < IE. *guhoksös or *ghuoksös adj. 'id.', cf. Greek <poE,oq adj. 'pointed, peaked in head' (so Seebold 1967: 111, 1980: 473-474 after Fick 1891: 348). All the Greek (and Indo-European) adjectives ending with -so- show the oxytone stress, e.g. Gk. кацуо^ adj. 'crooked, bent', <ppi£,oq adj. 'standing on end, bristling' (Chantraine 1968-1977: 1221-1222).

3.4. Gmc. *wiban. 'woman, wife' (cf. OIcel. vifn. 'woman, weif, lady'; OE. wif, E. wife; OSax. wif; OHG. wib, G. Weib n.; Зализняк 1963: 145, No. 4.78; de Vries 1977: 661; Kluge & Seebold 1999: 879) < IE. *guhipöm n. 'shame', cf. Toch. A kip, B kwipe 'shame, pudenda' (Hilmarsson 1996: 208-211). The original oxytone accent is confirmed by Verner's law (IE. *p > Gmc. *b before stress).

3.5. Gmc. *wambö f. 'belly' (cf. Goth. wamba f. 'womb, belly'; OIcel. vqmb; OE. wamb, E. womb; OFris., MLG. wamme; OHG. wambo; G. dial. Wamme, Wampe; Зализняк 1963: 148, No. 7.19; Seebold 1980: 470-471; Lehmann 1986: 393; Kluge & Seebold 1999: 874) < IE. *guhombh#f. 'belly, womb, vulva', cf. Skt. gabhäh m. 'vulva' (Monier-Williams 1999: 346), as if from IE. *guhmbhös m. 'id.'.

Further examples for the development of IE. *guh- to Gmc. *w- are disputable etymo-logically and uncertain accentologically. Gmc. *wopiaz adj. 'pleasant, sweet' (Goth. dauns wöpi 'sweet smell', OE. wide adj. 'sweet, pleasant', OHG. wuodi adj. 'sweet, mild', OIcel. äöri 'better'; Seebold 1967: 110, Polome 1987: 309) appears to be related to the Greek gloss fratiov • npocfilej, ('pleasant, sweet'), which is attested in the Hesychian glossary (VI cent. AD). The gloss in question is given without ethnic reference, thus it is uncertain whether initial f- represents a dialectal rendering of the Greek digamma (like in Pamphy-lian) or a regular Greek reflex of IE. *bh or perhaps IE. *guh. Theoretically, the suggested Greek-Germanic isogloss, which seems impeccable from the semantic and accentual point of view, could derive from IE. *guhotiios or *ghuotiios, but I would prefer a reading of the letter f - as a Pamphylian rendering of Common Greek *#- (cf. Gk. Pamph. фшаи 'twenty' < Gk. *#1кат1 < IE. *ufjmti '20'). In this case an alternative derivation from IE. *uotios adj. 'pleasant, sweet' is highly probable, whereas a root connection with OInd. (RV) vamäh adj. 'lovely, dear, pleasant, agreeable, fair, beautiful, splendid, noble' (as if from IE. *uö-mö-s) cannot be excluded (cf. de Vries 1977: 684).

To the best knowledge of mine, the Germanic languages demonstrate two regular reflexes of IE. *guh in the medial position, namely -g- (see 4.1-6) and -w- (see 5.1-4). In other words, the same distribution is attested in the Germanic languages both initially and medially. It is obvious that the twofold Germanic development of IE. *guh had to be determined by position of the Proto-Germanic (Indo-European) accent.

4. possible evidence for -guh- > gmc. -g-

4.1. Gmc. *dagaz m. 'day' (cf. Goth. dags, OIcel. dagr, E. day, OSax. dag, OHG. tag, G. Tag 'day'; Зализняк 1963: 130, No. 1.12; de Vries 1977: 71-72; Lehmann 1986: 86) < IE. *dhoguhös m. 'hot weather', cf. Lith. dagas m. 'heat of day, harvest' 4 AP (Illich-Svi-tych 1979: 30, Sect. 10), Skt. ni-daghäh m. 'heat, warmth; the hot season (May and June), summer; internal heat' (Monier-Williams 1999: 548). The Indo-European appellative is a derivative from the root *dheguh- 'to burn, to warm' (Pokorny 1959: 240; Watkins 1970: 1512; LIV 2001: 133-134).

4.2. Gmc. *sangaz m. (o-stem) 'song' (cf. OIcel. sQngr m. 'song, music, melody, priest's poem', OE. sang, E. song, OSax. sang, OHG. sang, cf. Gothic saggws m. i-stem 'Gesang'; Зализняк 1964: 188, No. 26.26; de Vries 1977: 578) < IE. *songuhös m. 'voice, sound, song', cf. Greek оцф» f. 'voice, sound' (< IE. *songuha f. 'id.').

4.3. Gmc. *angaz m. (o-stem) 'smell' (cf. OIcel. angr m. 'Duft, Geruch'; de Vries 1977: 10) < IE. *onguhös, cf. Gk. dial. оцф» f. 'smell' (< IE. *onguha f. 'id.'). The same root *onguh- may be found in Common Slavic *Qchb m. 'smell' (cf. Pol. wqch 'sense of smell') (< *onguh-sö-) and *Qchati vb. 'to smell' (cf. Pol. wqchac 'to smell') (an extension on -s-from the Indo-European root *onguh-).

4.4. Gmc. *wagjaz m. 'wedge' (OIcel. veggr m. 'Keil'; OE. wecg, E. wedge; OSax. veggi, OHG weggi, weck m. 'wedge'; Зализняк 1964: 214, No. 31.14; Seebold 1967: 128129; de Vries 1977: 650) < IE. *uoguhiös, cf. Lith. vagis m. 'wedge' (4 AP in the dialects, but a secondary 2 AP occurs in the standard language), Latvian vadzis m. 'wedge' (Fraenkel 1962-1965: 1179). The nominal root *ueguh— *uoguh- is attested in Greek (Hesychian) öfvij f. 'ploughshare; plough' (< IE. *uoguh-ni-s), Lat. vomer n. (es-stem) 'ploughshare' and perhaps in Old Irish fecc 'tooth' (as if from Celtic *vegna f. and IE. *ueguh-na-).

4.5. Gmc. *tungön f. (n-stem) 'tongue' (Goth. tuggö, OIcel. tunga, OE. tunge, E. tongue, OSax. tunga, OHG. zunga, G. Zunge f. 'tongue'; Зализняк 1963: 156, No. 14.15) < PGmc. *tungwö f. (ö-stem, remodelled later as an ön-stem) < IE. *dnghua f. 'tongue' (Ringe 2006: 81, 90-91). The oxytonesis is confirmed by OInd. jihva f. 'tongue' (Monier-Williams 1999: 422; Lubotsky 1988: 103). Other related terms (e.g. OLat. dingua, Lat. lingua f. 'tongue', Avest. hizü- and hizuva- f. 'id.') are accentologically irrelevant.

4.6. Gmc. *lungraz adj. 'swift' (cf. OSax. lungar 'powerful', OE. lungre adv. 'quickly, soon'; Ringe 2006: 91, 92) < PIE. *h1lnguhrös adj. 'light (in weight)', cf. Gk. elafpoj adj. 'light, nimble'. All the adjectives which end with the suffix *-ro- demonstrate the oxytone stress.

5. possible evidence for gh- > gmc. -w-

5.1. Gmc. *snaiwaz m. 'snow' (cf. Gothic snaiws, ON. snaer, OE. snaw, E. snow; OSax. sneo, OHG. sne(o), G. Schnee; Зализняк 1964: 189, No. 29.31) < IE. *snöiguhos m. 'snow' (Ringe 2006: 107; NIL 2008: 622-625), cf. Skt. sneha- m. 'Schleim, Klebrigkeit' (May-rhofer 1996: 772); PSl. *snegb (gen. *snega) AP a 'snow' (cf. Pol. snieg; SC. снег, снега, Slovenian sneg; Russ. снег, снeгa^; Derksen 2008: 457); Latv. sniegs, Lith. sniegas 'snow'

2 AP in a north-western Zemaitis dialect, but 4 AP (of secondary origin) is more usual in the dialects and in the standard language (Illich-Svitych 1979: 102, Sect. 44).

5.2. Gmc. *sarwaz m. 'roach, Rutilus rutilus L.' (cf. OSwed. sarv, Swed. sarv, sarf) < IE. *sórgÁhos m. 'a kind of fish', cf. Greek (Herodianus) opfoj m. 'a sea-fish'. See also Russ. сор0га f. 'roach' (< PSl. *sorga f. and IE. *sorgÁha f. 'a kind of fish').

5.3. Gmc. *rawiz- n. (es-stem) 'reed' and *rawizaz m. (secondary o-stem) 'id.' (cf. Goth. raus n., ON. reyr n., OHG. ror n., MLG ror; also ON. reyrr m. a-stem 'reed', OHG. rorra f. jo-stem 'id.'; de Vries 1977: 443, Lehmann 1986: 282) < PIE. *h3rógÁhes- n. (es-stem) 'reed', cf. Gk. opofoj n. (es-stem) 'reed used for thatching houses' (< *ópófOj). A related form is seen in Slavic *rogozjb 'reed' (< IE. *h3rógÁh-).

5.4. Gmc. *newran- n. or m. (n-stem) 'kidney' (Olcel. nyra n., OSwed. niure, ME. nere, MLG. nere, OHG. nioro m.; Зализняк 1964: 217, No. 32.21; Seebold 1967: 117; de Vries 1977: 413) < IE. *négÁhron- (Pokorny 1959: 318), cf. Praeneste Latin nefrones m. pl., Lanu-vian nebrundines 'kidneys' (Muller 1926: 285-286). The n-stem neuters are always barytone both in Sanskrit and Greek (Lubotsky 1988: 108, 147; Risch 1974: 59-62). Thus by an accentological analogy the Germanic appelative neuran- (representing a neuter, cf. OIcel. nyra n. 'kidney') had to possess originally the barytone stress (IE. *négÁhron-). The o-stem appelative, attested in Gk. veippóq m. 'kidney', usually in pl. 'kidneys' (< IE. *negÁhrós), presents an oppositional accentuation.

At present I can find only these 20 items. For other, but accentually or etymologically irrelevant, examples, see Seebold (1967: 105-130; 1980: 450-484) and Polomé (1987: 303-310).

On the basis of the above-mentioned lexical material it should be concluded that the initial IE. *gÁh- yields Gmc. *g- in the position before accent, *w- elsewhere. In the medial position the continuants of IE. *gÁh show the same distribution (i.e. -g- before accent, -w-elsewhere).

The development of IE. *gÁh appear to be analogous to the development of the Indo-European voiceless consonants in Germanic (e.g. IE. *k yields Gmc. *h initially, but both *h and *g in the intervocal position). The last process is explained by the so called Verner's law (see Collinge 1985: 203-216). It seems highly probable that the double reflexes of IE. *gÁh were caused by a phonological rule similar to Verner's law (G. das Vernersche Gesetz).


The above analysis of the Germanic lexical material shows clearly that the double representation of IE. *gÁh in Proto-Germanic is determined by position of the Indo-European and Proto-Germanic stress. Generally, if one compares the Germanic forms and their Indo-European prototypes from the view-point of Indo-European accentuation, it is easy to prove that IE. *gÁh is reflected as Gmc. *g before stress (see No. 2.1-5; 4.1-6) and Gmc. *w elsewhere (see No. 3.1-5; 5.1-4).


adj. - adjective, cf. - confer (compare), e.g. - exempli gratia, f. - feminine, id. - idem, m. - masculine, n. - neuter; No. - number, pl. - plural, PN - personal name, Sect. - section.

Languages: Att. - Attic (Greek), Dan. - Danish, E. - English, Far. - Faroese, G. - German, Gk. - Greek, Gmc. -Germanic, Goth. - Gothic, Gk. - Greek, Icel. - Icelandic, IE. - Indo-European, Lat. - Latin, MHG. - Middle High German, MLG. - Middle Low German, Norw. - Norwegian, OE. - Old English, OFris. - Old Frisian, OHG. - Old High German, OIcel. - Old Icelandic, OInd. - Old Indic, OIr. - Old Irish, ON. - Old Nordic, OSax. - Old Saxon, OSwed. - Old Swedish, PSl. - Proto-Slavic, Russ. - Russian, Skt. - Sanskrit, Swed. - Swedish, Toch. A - East Tocharian, Toch. B. - West Tocharian or Kuchean.


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Allatum die 23 mensis Novembris anno 2012