Deutsch Intern
    Chair of Comparative Philology


    Research areas of Comparative Philology in Würzburg are the phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicology of Indo-European daughter languages including Vedic and Sanskrit, Old Iranian, Greek, Latin, Germanic, Hittite, Armenian and Celtic, and of their common ancestor, Proto-Indo-European; theories of general linguistics including language change and  language typology.

    Current Projects

    VedaWeb (Juli 2017 – Juni 2020)

    PIs: Kölligan, Daniel; Reinöhl, Uta (Universität Freiburg); Neuefeind, Claes (Universität zu Köln); Sahle, Patrick (Universität Wuppertal)

    DFG, Juli 2017 – Juni 2020

    This DFG-funded project provides a webbased open-access platform for linguistic research on Old Indic texts. The corpus is morphologically annotated and may be searched combining lexicographic and linguistic criteria. VedaWeb is part of the platform Cologne South Asian Languages and Texts (C-SALT).

    The pilot text used for establishing the platform is the Rigveda, linked via C-SALT APIs to the Sanskrit dictionaries available at the Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries site. The morphological annotations of the Rigveda have been provided by our project partners at the University of Zurich (UZH), Prof. Dr. Paul Widmer and colleagues.

    The Lexicon-Grammar Interface in the History of the Old Armenian Verb (March 2021 – November 2022)

    PI: Kocharov, Petr

    Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, March 2021 – November 2022

    The evolution of the verbal system from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) to Classical Armenian, spanning over three millennia, presents many puzzles for historical comparative Indo-European linguistics. Only a relatively small number of Armenian verbs can be securely derived from PIE verbs. These verbs show an intricate combination of archaisms and innovations in their morphological structure. After over a hundred years of research, the exact scope of archaisms and innovations is still debated and the conditioning factors of morphological features remain unexplained.

    Attempts to explain how the PIE verbal system evolved into that of Classical Armenian require establishing, among other things, diachronic connections between multiple PIE and Armenian verbal classes. The aim of the proposed research is to trace the continuity of verbal classes from PIE to Armenian and to describe the morphological changes as conditioned by sound laws and different kinds of analogy. The proposed research will aim to elucidate the source and motivation for the analogical changes based on: a) formal features of verbal classes; b) argument structure; c) actionality and aspectual features; d) lexical semantics. In compliance with the research objectives a detailed examination of the argumental and aspectual properties of the inherited Armenian verbs and their PIE antecedents will be carried out. The obtained results will become an essential contribution to the comparative grammar of Armenian and provide new data on the long-term evolution of verbal systems to the adjacent sub-fields of general and typological linguistics.

    A new edition of the second oldest Indic text, the Śaunakasaṃhitā of the Atharvaveda, including a word index of the Paippalādasaṃhitā and the Śaunakasaṃhitā

    PI: Kim, Jeong-Soo

    DFG, since 2018

    After the completion of the project "The Paippalādasaṃhitā of the Atharvaveda. Kāṇḍa 8 and 9. A new edition with translation and commentary" (Dettelbach 2014) the creation of an index verborum by Dr. Jeong-Soo Kim was started in early 2015. The first step was to create an improved version of Kāṇḍa 16 of the Paippalādasaṃhitā, a large book containing 155 Kāṇḍikās. After this, both published not yet published Kāṇḍa editions were checked and included in the word index.

    The new edition of the Śaunakīyasaṃhitā, which started at the beginning of 2017, was funded by the DFG initially for 3 years (starting May 2018) (summary). The tokens of the new AVŚ-text will successively find their way into the index verborum and the lemmas already included in the index verborum will be helpful for a better reading of the AVŚ-text to be created. Thus the new text of the Śaunakīyasaṃhitā is in a complementary relationship with the index verborum.

    Index Verborum of the AVŚ and the AVP (preliminary version)

    Kanda 16 of the AVP

    Finished Projects

    A new edition of Kanda 8 and 9 of the Paippaladasamhita of the Atharvaveda with translation and commentary

    PI: Jeong-Soo Kim 

    DFG, 2011–2014

    The Atharvaveda Paippalada-Samhita is one of the oldest texts of India, a text of utmost importance both for cultural history and linguistics. This second-oldest text after the Rigveda originally existed in 9 versions, so-called "sakhas". However, only two recensions, the so-called Paippalada- and the Saunaka-Samhita, have survived. While for the Atharvaveda text of the Saunakiya recension there exists a reliable edition by Roth & Whitney (1856), excellently complemented by Vishva Bandhu 1960-1962, the study of the Paippalada recension originating from Orissa has received a major boost through new manuscripts found in recent times. Inspired by the works of Zehnder (1999), Lubotsky (2002) and Griffiths (2009), an international group of researchers is now working on various books of the Paippalada recension from Orissa. The aim of the project proposed here is to contribute to this research with an annotated edition of books ("Kandas") 8 and 9 of the Paippalada Samhita.

    PublicationDie Paippalādasamhitā des Atharvaveda. Kānda 8 und 9. Eine neue Edition mit Übersetzung und Kommentar. Würzburger Studien zur Sprache & Kultur. Band 12. Dettelbach. ISBN 978-3-89754-459-8

    Investigation of love magic texts from Greek and Roman antiquity

    PI: Quadrio, Tiziana

    April 2017 – October 2018

    In this research project, Greek and Latin love magic texts will be examined with regard to their vocabulary, their morphological and syntactic peculiarities and, above all, their formulas and textual structure. The aim is to identify the lexical, phraseological, syntactic and textual features that are characteristic for this genre of magic texts. The results obtained in this way can then serve as a starting point for a cross-linguistic analysis of similar magic texts in other language traditions, since in antiquity magic texts for love purposes were written in many regions including the Ancient Near East and Egypt and are also well attested in the Atharvaveda. This allows a comparative study of magic texts.

    The files linked below give an overview of the instructional texts and primary testimonies (curse tablets), which form the Greek corpus, and the compilation of the names of love-motivated magic rituals and their components.


    Attestations of designations

    Attestations of prohibitive clauses

    Bodily harm in Old Irish Law

    PI: Vath, Bernd

    August 2016 – July 2019

    The project deals with the old Irish legal text Di ércib fola "About éric punishments in cases of bloodshed", including the corresponding Middle Irish commentaries.

    The legal text itself is available in two editions with rather free English translations. Te project plans to edit the text and provide it with a German translation and an attached glossary. This work will also be the PI's PhD thesis. The glossary will be as compatible as possible with the standard lexicon for Old and Middle Irish, the "Dictionary of the Irish Language" (DIL), in order to allow a possible adoption of this material into the DIL, which so far covers little of the legal vocabulary of old and middle Irish texts. The planned edition with a glossary of the legal vocabulary from Di ércib fola will be a step to close this considerable gap in the DIL. It can be seen as a piloting work for the lexicographic processing of the difficult legal terminology in Irish: The Corpus Iuris Hibernici (CIH), the currently authoritative text edition of older Irish law, comprises a total of 6 volumes with more than 2300 pages. The majority of the material of this corpus has not yet been recorded in the DIL.

    See Completed theses

    Infinitives and their precursors in Vedic and Greek

    PIs: Stüber, Karin; Hettrich, Heinrich

    The projects studies the use of verbal abstracts in Vedic, especially in final function, and of the infinitive in Homeric Greek. The aim is to show syntactic structures that are common to both languages and can therefore be considered inherited. Means of expression in Vedic are essentially case forms of verbal abstracts formed with different suffixes, while Greek uses infinitives in the same contexts, also used as a complement infinitive.

    Heinrich Hettrich is responsible for the Vedic part of the study, Karin Stüber for the Greek part.

    PublicationHettrich, Heinrich, und Karin Stüber. Infinitivische Konstruktionen im Ṛgveda und bei Homer. Abhandlungen der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse / Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur. Mainz: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, 2018.

    The function and development of local particles in Vedic

    PI: Hettrich, Heinrich

    DFG, 2008–2016

    In Indo-European studies, it is common widsom that the preverbs and adpositions of the daughter languages have developed from independent adverbs of Proto-Indo-European (called local particles - LP -). For the verbs, this can be recognized in the earliest phases of the individual languages (Hittite, Vedic, Old Avestan, Homeric Greek) by the fact that in many cases a - semantic as well as formal - univerbation of LP and verb has not yet taken place, so that in many cases it is not yet possible to speak of preverbs proper. Furthermore, many of these subsequent adpositions can still be used as independent adverbs in these early languages stages, without a fixed assignment to a noun or verb.

    So far, there is no comprehensive study that examines the implications of these hypotheses for the Indo-European protolanguage as well as the possible developments in the oldest daughter languages. The project plans to undertake this for the language of Rgveda. As first result, one may note that LPs are indeed still to be understood as independent adverbs, which - as far as they have a reference noun - do not govern it, but only modify it as an attribute or apposition and - as far as they syntactically belong to a verb - are often neither semantically nor formally fused with it. However, this rule seems to be valid for the different Vedic LPs to a very different extent, and it seems that the language of the Rgveda shows a gradient scale from adverbial LP to full appositions. The project aims at a fundamental and detailed description of the language of the RV in this respect, which will then be an essential prerequisite for a reliable reconstruction of the original language state.

    Publications of the project