I.5. Nostratic

For these versions, common words found in both Dolgopolsky (2008) and Bomhard (2018) are used, with Nostratic roots shared at least by Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Semitic, whenever possible.



paka helat

paka hnə ˀilat cara,

helat ʕaḳa;

ṭu pali para aden,

ṭu magi ṭula,

ṭu cala mana ṭulan

paku helat aka:

“kunuk galša,

mara ʕaḳan helat ˀorgan.”

helat akat: “ḳulu paka!

kunun galšat ʕaḳan,

maru, ˀadu, pakat cara

ˀon tapa kapa ˀaraša

a pakat cara hnə ˀilaša.”

ṭa ḳulat paku paṭan puka.


·       Reconstruction of precise dentals (*t vs. *d vs. */th etc.), occlusives (*g vs. *k vs. *kw vs. */kh, etc.), etc. is often impossible, because there is no common phonology agreed upon. Still more difficult is to reconstruct a common vocalism.

·       For ‘horse’, Nostratic *hVlV ‘deer’ is used, found as Euras. *ʔelV, Afroas. *ʔaVl-. Euras. *more ‘cattle, horse’ is used as a more specific ‘domesticated horse’, cf. Dravidian *mūr- (also SDr. *mar-ai ‘deer’), Mong. *móru-, Tung. *murin, Kor. *mằr; also found in Celtic and Germanic *mark-o.

·       Instead of ‘carrying’, ‘lifting’, ‘pulling’, etc. a ‘vehicle’, ‘load’, or ‘weight’, here the horses ‘lead’ (*VtV) ‘many’ (*pVlV) ‘horned animals (calf, heifer)’ (*pVrV).

The reconstructions of the Muscovite school, although heir of the oldest tradition in Nostratic reconstruction, may be deeply flawed in the sense that an old, non-laryngeal, Brugmannian reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European is still used, so that little has changed since Illich-Svitych’s pioneer work. Proto-Indo-European is without doubt the best reconstructed proto-language to date, and remains the main model for any older proto-language, thus any error in its reconstruction implies a false start for an ancestral stage.

Also, the exclusion of Afroasiatic from the Nostratic family, and its inclusion within a ‘Borean’ group along with other languages (viz. various Amerindian, African, etc.) to develop the common vocabulary makes the lexicon in The Tower of Babel Etymological Database Project at <http://starling.rinet.ru/> potentially still more speculative than a Nostratic etymology already is.

Allan Bomhard’s own reconstructions of Proto-Afroasiatic roots (and phonology) seem to be biased toward Proto-Indo-European and Nostratic roots, hence risking circular reasoning. On the other hand, his bold take on precise Nostratic vocalism and consonantism and the inclusion of Proto-Afrasian as just another Nostratic branch at the same level as Eurasiatic, Dravidian, and Kartvelian, may give a more precise picture of what a Nostratic language could have been like thousands of years ago.