Proto-Indo-European Reconstruction: Problems, possibilities and new perspectives

1st-2nd October *2021*
Faculty of Classics
University of Cambridge

Statement on COVID-19 Pandemic 30/3/2020

After much deliberation, we have decided that the fairest, safest and most responsible course of action will be to postpone our conference. Our plan will therefore be for PIER to take place exactly a year later than originally proposed, and thus will be held on 1st-2nd October 2021.

As you can imagine, this decision was not taken lightly. Nevertheless, there are three central reasons for our decision.

  1. Drastic though it may seem, we cannot be certain that the current crisis will have run to completion globally by October this year. Our conference is, by design, an international one. It is likely that the vast majority of our participants will fly from outside the U.K., and even residual travel restrictions could have severe consequences for the accessibility of our conference.
  2. Worldwide, many universities are currently closed – the University of Cambridge is no exception. It is as yet unclear as to when business will resume as usual. For this reason, we acknowledge that some colleagues may struggle to access resources critical to their research, and may be hindered from preparing their material for the conference. In other words, even if all is well by October, we must take into account the months lost in between.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, we must take into account the fact that colleagues may be affected personally by the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge that academic work must come second to personal wellbeing, and we do not wish to place any colleagues in a position where they feel they must make a choice between preparing work for our conference and taking care of themselves or their loved ones. 

Due to the disruption, we have not had a chance to review and make a decision on any of the abstracts submitted so far. Since the conference is now postponed, we do not intend to make any decisions presently. We will therefore take the following action:

  1. We will run a second call for papers from Feb-Mar 2021.
  2. All abstracts that have been submitted so far will be automatically considered in the second CfP. Decisions will be made in April 2021.
  3. From Feb 2021, you will have the opportunity to submit a new abstract – either an update of your original or on a different topic altogether. Only one abstract will be considered for each participant
  4. If you wish to withdraw your abstract from consideration, you may do so at any point.

If you have any questions on any of the above, you can still contact us through

We apologise to those who have submitted abstracts so far, and we look forward to engaging with your work in due course.

Kind regards,
Krishnan Ram-Prasad & Edoardo Chiattelli, Organisers


At the beginning of a new decade, this conference aims to re-energise discussions surrounding the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European (PIE), the common ancestor of the Indo-European (IE) language family. We invite papers that tackle head-on the familiar challenges one faces in attempting linguistic reconstruction, and explain how we can overcome them with perhaps unfamiliar approaches.

We are delighted to be joined by two keynote speakers:

Prof Elisabeth Rieken (Phillips University of Marburg) will give a talk entitled “Beyond Hittite: Anatolian in Proto-Indo-European reconstruction today.”

Prof Eugenio R. Luján (Complutense University of Madrid) will give a talk entitled “Structure or Chaos: Syntactic reconstruction and Proto-Indo-European.”

Call for papers

We invite papers and posters on any aspect of PIE reconstruction, including—but not limited to—phonological, morphological and syntactic elements. Presentations can span from more data-focused analyses to broader, theoretical questions that push the boundaries of the methodologies we have employed so far. This broad spectrum of topics will allow different areas of research to be included, while maintaining a focus on the central importance of linguistic reconstruction in IE studies.

Papers will be 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes of discussion (30 mins total).

Posters should be of standard (A0) size. Please include in your abstract whether you expect your poster to be portrait or landscape. This will not affect our decision on its acceptance and you may let the organisers know if you wish to change the orientation a later stage.

If you wish to present something at this conference, please submit an abstract of up to 500 words, (not including bibliography) in PDF to Please specify whether you wish to be considered for either a paper or a poster or both.

We will start accepting our second round of abstracts in February 2021. We will not be reviewing any new submissions until then. Your abstract should also include your name, email and institutional affiliation (if any). We will aim to notify you of our decision within a month of the deadline.

We look forward to hearing from you!
Krishnan Ram-Prasad & Edoardo Chiattelli (organisers)

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