Proto-Indo-European verb-finality reconstruction, typology, validation

Hans Henrich Hock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European as verb-final is widely accepted, there continue to be dissenting opinions (e.g. Friedrich 1975). See e.g. Pires and Thomason (2008), who question the fruitfulness of Indo-European syntactic reconstruction. In this article I address two issues: First, the reconstructable subordination strategies, including relative-correlative structures, are perfectly in conformity with verb-final typology – pace Lehmann (1974) and Friedrich (1975) who considered relative clauses with finite verbs and relative pronouns incompatible with SOV. Second, verb-final reconstruction makes it possible to account for prosodic and segmental changes that single out finite verbs, such as the non-accentuation of Vedic finite verbs and i-apocope preferentially targeting finite verbs in Italic, Celtic, and Baltic-Slavic. Both developments find a natural, prosodically motivated explanation if we accept PIE as SOV, but not if we do not accept that reconstruction. These facts show that, pace Pires and Thomason (2008), the reconstruction of PIE as verb-final is a fruitful hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-76
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Historical Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2013


  • Prosody
  • Proto-Indo-European
  • Relative clauses
  • Syntactic reconstruction
  • Word order

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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