2015. № 1 (4), 51-58

Moscow State University; Institute of linguistics RAS


It is generally accepted that Greek οὖθαρ 'udder' is the most reliable evidence for a prehistorical ablaut in this word: the timble ou is generally regarded as missing clear explanation in the system of Greek and thus inherited from PIE, whereas the well-known apophony of this root in German languages could be considered as secondary. So it is the Greek form, which makes the PIE reconstruction for this word really complicated. Here I show that the ou timbre could have a different explanation as the specific consequence of two phonological rules clashing in early Greek — the Grassmann's rule and the rule of initial aspiration in *u. This explanation makes the PIE apophony in this word questionable, but the word becomes an evidence for prosodic nature of the 'rough breathing' in early Greek.