Proto-Language (Pre-Writing) a hypothetical ancestor language of other languages

Proto-Language is a term in Historical Linguistics that commonly means "a hypothetical ancestor language of other languages." This term belongs mainly to the broader category called Pre-Writing.

Definition of Proto-Language

Source: A Glossary of Historical Linguistics


(also sometimes proto language, proto-language) The once-spoken ancestral language from which daughter languages descend, and, in another sense, the language reconstructed by the comparative method that represents the ancestral language from which the compared languages descend. To the extent that the reconstruction by the comparative method is accurate, the once actually spoken proto-language and the proto-language as reconstructed by the comparative linguist should coincide. Also sometimes called common, primitive. See, for example, Proto-Indo-European.

Lyle, GHL, 158–159. [View as image] [Read on OMNIKA]

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proto-language on page 158 of A Glossary of Historical Linguistics
Definition of 'Proto-Language'
Definition of 'Proto-Language'



PsychLing Contributors. "Proto-Language." PsychLing, OMNIKA Foundation, 2 Sep. 2023, Accessed 28 May. 2024.


PsychLing (2023, September 2). Proto-Language. Retrieved from

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PsychLing Contributors. "Proto-Language." Las Vegas, NV: OMNIKA Foundation. Created September 2, 2023. Modified September 16, 2023. Accessed May 28, 2024.


APA Dictionary

APA Contributors. "APA Dictionary of Psychology." Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Accessed September 14, 2023. [Visit]


Campbell, Lyle R., and Mauricio J. Mixco, eds. A Glossary of Historical Linguistics. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 2007.


Crystal, David, ed. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 6ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2011.

PsychLing Glossary

Historical Linguistics is a field of study that concerns the scientific study of language change over time.

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PsychLing Glossary

Browse 1 psycholinguistic glossary terms and definitions organized in the Pre-Writing category.

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