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A language that is the recorded or hypothetical ancestor of another language or group of languages. Also called Ursprache.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Linguistics) an extinct and unrecorded language reconstructed by comparison of its recorded or living descendants. Also called: Ursprache
2. (Historical Terms) an extinct and unrecorded language reconstructed by comparison of its recorded or living descendants. Also called: Ursprache
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈproʊ toʊˌlæŋ gwɪdʒ)

the reconstructed or postulated parent form of a language or a group of related languages.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Protolanguage as a holistic system for social interaction.
Areal linguistics is a contemporary linguistic approach dealing with the division of protolanguage communities into languages and dialect regions, their interaction with adjacent languages and dialects, as well as with the results of these interactions both on the level of direct borrowing of linguistic units and considering a linguistic substrate.
A variant of the song theory is the "musilanguage" thesis proposed by Steven Brown (2001), according to which a protolanguage called musilanguage is proposed as a common precursor of both music making, including song, and speech.
In his paper, Thomsen concluded that the inscriptions were written in the protolanguage of Turkic languages.
Code [32] suggests that "commonly occurring lexical speech automatisms may reflect substages of development from single repeated expletive and syntactically primitive pronoun + modal/aux constructions, forming a bridge to a protosyntax stage, to agrammatism, thus bridging a gap between protolanguage and full syntax" (page 143).
According to Jackendoff, the difficulty of analysing compounds in an adequate way also lies in their status of being an "evolutionary throwback" (2010a: 421) which is to say that compounding, unlike other morphological phenomena, is a protogrammatical phenomenon in the sense of Bickerton's protolanguage and Klein and Perdue's Basic Variety (Bickerton 1990, Klein and Perdue 1997).
Historically linked with femininity for hundreds of years, hysteria's involuntary, uncontrollable, somatic symptoms were coming to be understood in the emerging critical feminist discourse not as a medical condition but a cultural one, an embodied index of forms of oppression that Showalter described as "a specifically feminine protolanguage, communicating through the body messages that cannot be verbalized" ("Hysteria, Feminism, and Gender" 286).
(2005): "The Mirror System hypothesis: How did protolanguage evolve?".
But extraordinary work in fields such as the interrelated theories of protolanguage and a probable gestural basis for a mimetic phase of human culture, a social origin for language, the concept of co-evolution of mind and brain, the co-evolution of hand and brain, gesture, the development of cognitive fluidity and the possible origins of music, the evolution of human anatomy, and the linguistic capabilities (or lack thereof) of other animals, all provide insights into how it may have been that we, uniquely among all animals, have come to be able to use spoken (and, later, written) symbols for communication.
In Chapter 2, Wildgen suggests that to understand the evolutionary origins of language one should start with the simpler forms of communication or protolanguage and examine the semantics and pragmatics of animal communication and early forms of human communication.
(61) Further on, the Hungarian language preserves the most ancient form of the original protolanguage in its perfection, (62) and based upon the clear logical peculiarities of this language the Hungarian runic "rovas" was the first form of writing ever, from which all other alphabets later evolved (63)--consequently this nation is the direct descendant of the prehistoric proto-culture, while other nations diverged and degenerated from it.