Linguistic reconstruction
Linguistic reconstruction is the practice of establishing the features of the unattested ancestor (proto-language
A proto-language in the tree model of historical linguistics is the common ancestor of the languages that form a language family. Occasionally, the German term Ursprache is used instead.Often the proto-language is not known directly...

) of one or more given languages. There are two kinds of reconstruction. Internal reconstruction
Internal reconstruction
Internal reconstruction is a method of recovering information about a language's past from the characteristics of the language at a later date...

 uses irregularities in a single language to make inferences about an earlier stage of that language. Comparative reconstruction, usually referred to just as reconstruction, establishes features of the ancestor of two or more related languages by means of the comparative method
Comparative method
In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyzes the internal...


Reconstructed terms or phrases are prefaced with an asterisk (*), to distinguish them from attested terms.


  • Anthony Fox, Linguistic Reconstruction: An Introduction to Theory and Method (Oxford University Press, 1995) ISBN 0-19-870001-6.
  • Henry M. Hoenigswald, Language Change and Linguistic Reconstruction (University of Chicago Press, 1960) ISBN 0-226-34741-9.
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