Yearly Archives: 2019

Phonological Cores and Average Regularities

Some thinking out loud on the formalization of comparative and historical phonology. As in most work I’ve seen on the topic, I presume that an etymological corpus of word comparisons has already been given, additionally also aligned segmentwise. [1] The

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Posted in Methodology

Native initial clusters in Udmurt

Typological definitions of Uralic [1] just about always note the lack of native word-initial consonant clusters. While the literary standards have their share of IE-derived clusters by now, in rural dialects and the Siberian languages clusterlessness is common enough to

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Posted in Reconstruction

Etymology squib: *äńćä ‘(rasp)berry’

A repeating complaint I run into with the more impressionistic reconstructions found in the UEW is the frequent use of *ŋ as a kind of a deus ex machina phoneme, reconstructed for all sorts of confusing correspondences of nasal consonants.

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Posted in Etymology

What’s important for what in historical Uralistics

A question from an email discussion, the answers to which I think would be interesting to others as well: Are certain branches more valuable than others when it comes to their relevance to Uralic historical linguistics? I cannot offer any

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Posted in Commentary

Etymology squib: *puj- ‘back end, point’

In the UEW we find a rough Proto-Ugric reconstruction *pukkɜ ‘blunt end of a tool’, with divergent later semantic development: ‘eye of needle’ in Ob-Ugric, ‘back of hammer/ax/knife/…’ in Hungarian fok. There is reason to suspect though that if related,

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Posted in Etymology

Two steps towards re-rooting Ludian phonology

Historical/comparative phonology of the Finnic languages has reached remarkably thorough coverage already in the mid-20th century. Nearly all major varieties and numerous smaller dialect groups (particularly but not only of Finnish) have had their specific history covered by at least

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Posted in Reconstruction

Phonology squib: raate

The standard Finnish word for the buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) is raate. This word often appears in overviews of Finnish historical phonology as a supposed example of irregular development of early Finnish *ð. Sure enough, dialect forms like Satakunta rarake, Tavastian

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

On Out of Eurasia and linguistic time depth

So here’s the hypothetical (as developed previously). Suppose modern humans have been hanging out at least somewhere around Eurasia already for 100, perhaps 200, maybe as much as 300 millennia, instead of merely 50–70. Should any of our views on

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Posted in Methodology

Excursion: On Out of Africa

Out of Africa (OOA) has been the main theory of the origin of modern humans since the mid-20th century. Strictly speaking this is only a theory of anthropology. Since language is a human phenomenon, [1] it has however also sprouted

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Posted in Uncategorized

A Problem Statement for Uralic vocalism

As noted in my previous post, I have by now nailed down as my next professional milestone a hunt for previously unnoticed innovative features within the Finnic vowel system. Besides individual surface questions about how the vowel system of Proto-Uralic

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Posted in Methodology, Reconstruction

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