Encyclopedia > Centum

  Article Content


Centum is the collective name for the branches of Indo-European (see: Indo-European languages) in which the so-called Satem shift (the change of palato-velar *k^, *g^, *g^h into fricatives or affricates; see: affricate) did not take place, and the palato-velar consonants merged with plain velars (*k, *g, *gh). Most of the Centum languages preserve Proto-Indo-European labio-velars (*kw, *gw, *gwh) or their historical reflexes as distinct from plain velars; for example, PIE *k, *kw > Latin c /k[?]/, qu /k[?]w/, Greek /k[?]/, /p[?]/ (or /t[?]/ before front vowels), Gothic /h[?]/, /h[?]w/, etc.

The name Centum comes from the Latin word centum '100', pronounced [kentum] < PIE *k^mtom, illustrating the falling together of *k and *k^. Compare Sanskrit s′ata- or Russian sto, in which *k^ changed into a fricative (see: Satem).

The Centum branches (which, by the way, developed independently from Proto-Indo-European and do not constitute a valid genetic unit) include Anatolian, Tocharian, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Greek, and probably a number of minor and little known extinct groups.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
Johann Gottfried von Herder

... published letters and collected folk songs. These latter were published in 1773 as Voices of the People in Their Songs ('Stimmen der Voelker in ihren Liedern'). Th ...