Etymology squib: quəččə

A nice discovery: today I ran into a proposal in Róna-Tas’ “Turkic Influence on the Uralic Languages” (The Uralic Languages, 1988) that Mongolian qota(n) ‘fence, town’ might be an old loan from early Selkup through early Kyrghyz. Indeed, there is a Selkup word that Janhunen gives as qëtty ‘town’ and derives from Proto-Samoyedic *wåč → *wåč-əjə ‘fence’.

On the other hand, this qota(n) has been long also included in the whole ‘house, hut’ Wanderwort bundle (stretching from ocean to ocean: English hut to Ainu kotan), which includes also Uralic *kota. And there’s a consonant mismatch in Selkup that points rather in this direction! Alatalo gives (and does not connect with each other) the common Selkup forms *kuəču ‘tributary’ (#1903), [1] but *quəččə ‘town’ (#1912), with the velar / uvular contrast clearly attested also in the descendant dialects. Since Selkup *quə- is usually from Proto-Samoyedic *kå- rather than *wå- (e.g. *quət- ‘to kill’ < *kåə-tɜ-, but *kuətə- ‘to raise, grow’ < *wåtå-), we could trace the latter also back to a PSmy *kåt¹ɜ < PU *kota. The semantic development ‘fence’ > ‘town’ is maybe common enough, but could be here only an accidental similarity: no other Samoyedic languages seem to show this.

PU *t >> Selkup *čč [2] looks off, but not extraordinarily so: there are other examples of evidently secondary *č in Selkup too, most prominently PU *sënə > PSmy *t¹ën > Selkup *čën ‘sinew’. Maybe contamination from the ‘fence’ word is possible…? especially if Mongolic also shows this sense (though a quick look at Tower of Babel does not mention it).

In any case we seem to end up with the following results:

  • we have cleared out one of the exceptional cases where *w- supposedly > *q- in Selkup;
  • *kota ‘house’ does have a reflex even in Samoyedic;
  • the Turkic and Mongolic words can be also derived already directly from Proto-Samoyedic, or even outright Proto-Uralic, without needing to wait for *w- > *k- in Selkup.

[1] Per -u this is surely derived though. Apocopated forms like Tym kuədž ‘dam’ probably reflect more original *kuəčə < Proto-Samoyedic *wåčə.
[2] It seems to be not really dateable if an irregular *t > *č shift took place in Proto-Samoyedic, in Proto-Selkup, or even in just Southern–Central Selkup.

Advertisement
Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Etymology
10 comments on “Etymology squib: quəččə
  1. “we could trace the latter also back to a PSmy *kåt¹ɜ ‘town’ is maybe common enough, but could be here only an accidental similarity: no other Samoyedic languages seem to show this.” Some portion of text seems to be lost here.

    • j. says:

      Fixed, thanks.

      • David Marjanović says:

        It’s unchanged. Is there a < involved?

        • j. says:

          …fixed again, hope it sticks this time.

          • David Marjanović says:

            It does, thanks!

            Town is an example of “fence” > “town”: German Zaun means “fence”.

            • David Marjanović says:

              …and Dutch tuin means “garden”.

            • j. says:

              Some of the other Uralic reflexes of *woča show this too, most clearly Mansi where the meaning ‘town’ coexists with the meaning ‘corral’; also at least Khanty. Mordvinic also has ⁽*⁾oš ‘town’, but nothing about this is regular from *woča.

              Actually I now wonder if unexpected -čč- in Selkup, if by contamination, would be better considered imported from Khanty. Wholesale loaning still doesn’t work due to *q- and not *k-, at least not without a few complex assumptions, say Khanty *w- having had a back allophone [ʁʷ-] (as attested for /w/ before /u/ in Surgut Khanty), that got ported over to Selkup as a loanword phoneme and then developed to *qʷ > *q parallel to *w > *kʷ > *k.

  2. There is a position in which PSmd *w- regularly yields PSelk *q-. This happens if PSelk *q (from PSmd *k) is present later in the word. Cf. the following cases:
    #2106 *quə̑q ‘Schulter’ < PS *wäjk ‘Hals’ (SW: 173)
    #2108 *quə̑qər / *quə̑qən ‘Stör’ < PS *wekånå ‘Stör’ (SW: 174)
    #2113 *qoqqa < PS *wåŋkə̑ ‘Höhle, Grube’ (SW: 171)
    #2281 *qorqə / *quə̑rqə ‘Bär’ < PS *wə̑rkə̑ ‘Bär’ (SW: 170).
    Apart from these cases and #1912 *quəččə, discussed by you above, we have only one example of PSelk *q- from PSmd *w-: #2191 qośə(-) ‘schlecht’ < PS *wə̑1j (~ *woj-) ‘schlecht’ (SW: 168). Helimski in "Marginalia ad SkWb" rejects this etymology and derives the Selkup word from PSmd *kånsV (his reasoning is rather complex, so I'll not try to reproduce it here).

    • j. says:

      Looks good. Is this your own work? I don’t think I’ve seen any detailed treatise on the sources of *q in Selkup so far.

      • Yes, it’s a part of my work in progress on clarifying some details of Selkup historical phonology. It is interesting that Sammallahti lists PSmd *w- > Selk q(w)- as a regular development, giving ‘bear’ as the only example (HPUL: 497).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Links
%d bloggers like this: