An Old Komi inscription

From A. J. Sjögren’s Die Sürjänen (orig. 1829), more exactly the reprint in his Gesammelte Schriften I (1861, edited by F. J. Wiedemann):

An Old Komi inscription.


I do not have a transcription or any other analysis to offer, alas. For one, while “Old Permic” is in Unicode as of 2014, I still have no typeface capable of actually displaying it. For two, transliteration just off the cuff would be difficult too: while the Old Komi alphabet is in principle Cyrillic-derived (developed in 1372 by St. Stephen of Perm), most familiar-looking letter shapes are actually red herrings. E.g. the reversed-Г letter is /i/, the lambda/rho-digraph-esque letter is /š/, and the hourglass is /v/ (derived from В). The only letter that is readily correctly identifiable with just knowledge of Cyrillic might be yat Ѣ, observable e.g. at the start of the 4th line. For anyone who’d want to try their hand themselves though, archive.org has a paleography chart from the one authoritative modern source, Lytkin’s Древнепермский язык (1952).

For three… we actually hear in Uralistics very little about Old Komi at all. I for one would enjoy seeing at least a bit more coverage in basic sources. Yet the only fact that comes up with any frequency is the claim of Old Komi being the only direct and consistent source for differentiating Proto-Komi *e and *ɛ. [1] Otherwise, e.g. Raija Bartens’ 360+page handbook Permiläisten kielten rakenne ja kehitys (2000) only discusses the Old Komi written records for no more than half a page, with no direct examples given.

There is regardless not much available to begin with: in the 1998 handbook on Uralic, A.-R. Hausenberg reports that the known corpus on Old Komi only measures 225 words, which would be on par with minor epigraphic languages such as Thracian or Lydian. I suppose the inscription above would therefore already constitute maybe a good 10–15% of the total corpus.

[1] The Komi-Yazva variety also distinguishes these however, as /i/ versus /e/.

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One comment on “An Old Komi inscription
  1. Crom Daba says:

    Funny how the derivation of Old Permic from Cyrillic parallels the incomprehensibility of the derivation of Permic phonology from Proto-Uralic.

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