Yearly Archives: 2016

*wu > *u in Finnic

One minor phonological innovation in Finnish is mentioned in historical overviews far more often than could be expected from its lexical frequency: the loss of a palatal semivowel *j when preceding its vocalic counterpart *i. This is probably because the shift

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Posted in Reconstruction

12 + 1 old Indo-European loan etymology sketches

Most of the following are not-fully-polished thinking-out-loud analyses. Feel free to point out any inconsistencies, unadmitted weaknesses, and other general plotholes that you may spot. 1. peni No clear Proto-Uralic root for ‘dog’ is known. We instead have one eastern

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Posted in Etymology

Alternations and “alternations”; with data from Finnish

A theoretical device in historical linguistics that I think can easily go abused is the basic morphophonological concept of “alternation”. To lay some groundwork: an initial issue, on which I may expand more at some point, is that several grades

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Posted in Methodology

Problems in Indo-European vocalism, part 1

Looking at Indo-European studies has for a while now been giving me an impression that the usual vowel system reconstruction has unnoticed flaws in it. They are different issues from the long-running debate on the reconstruction of the stop system,

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Posted in Reconstruction

Another Phonological Relict in South Estonian

Some days ago, I decided to go for a re-reading of Setälä’s classic Yhteissuomalainen äännehistoria (1891) (that’s “Common Finnic Historical Phonology”, for the non-Finnish-reading people in the audience). This proved a good idea, in yielding not just the confirmation of

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

A Phonotactic Allewrgy…?

There are, I think, several things off about the current understanding about the treatment of the consonant clusters *wr and *wj in Proto-Finnic. There are no generally accepted instances of *-wr- in Proto-Uralic (though see below for one proposal), and

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

PIE verb roots, for the people

Last fall I blogged about a possible project on charting the distribution of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European terms in the descendants languages. Some discussion on here focused on the likely unreliability of the data, sourced for my initial survey from a conveniently

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Posted in Uncategorized

A note on the Mitian Argument

An article to have caught my attention tonight: Mikael Parkvall (2008), Which parts of language are the most stable?, Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 61/3. The main momentum of the paper is to define a statistical measure of the “arealness” or “geneticness”

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Posted in Commentary

On *ü in Mari vs. Proto-Uralic

It is always a low note of sorts when a scientific dispute gets resolved by quietly shifting consensus (e.g. due to proponents of one side passing away) rather than by actual discussion. One of these seems to be the status

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Posted in Commentary, Reconstruction

More on umlaut chronology in Samic

I recently proposed that the fission of Proto-Uralic *ä and *e into more open and more close vowels in Samic, depending on the following second-syllable vowels (“stem type”), should be dated already to the dialectal West Uralic era, given that

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

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