Yearly Archives: 2020

Examples of reductive primary splits

On a whim I have started reading the Oxford Handbook of Historical Phonology. At about two and a half chapters in I have finally reached some discussion of practical questions in some detail, and the first claim to have struck

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Posted in Commentary, Methodology

Some Recent Vogulology

(By current standards this perhaps should be “Mansilogy” or “Mansi Studies”, but “Vogulology” just has a good sound to my ear.) 1. Word-final vowels This summer has seen the publication of the Festschrift Ёмас сымыӈ нэ̄кве во̄ртур э̄тпост самын патум

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Posted in Commentary, News

First-syllable *ə in Proto-Mordvinic?

The following is, currently, more of a hypothesis I wish to record than an actual result. Out of the two Mordvinic languages, Erzya shows the simple vowel inventory /i e a o u/ (plus a recent marginal /ɨ/ phonemicized by

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Posted in Reconstruction

No mid vowel dissimilation in Greek — nor Finnish?

I recently read “Deconstructing ‘height dissimilation’ in Modern Greek” (Journal of Greek Linguistics 3, 2002) by Julián Méndez Dosuna. I don’t really dabble in Modern Greek dialectology, but this struck me as an interesting paper for its methodology regardless, and

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Posted in Reconstruction

Followup anti-etymology: ? *täCə ‘birch bark covering’

In the last post I parenthetically mentioned a PU root “*täsə (UEW: *tisɜ)” ‘birch bark covering for a teepee’. This has been previously reconstructed from very scanty evidence: Komi /tis(k)a/, Forest Nenets /tʲēt/ ([tɕi͡et]), Kamassian [tʰɤʔ]. The latter two point

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Posted in Etymology

Probably not a valid etymology: *čäččä ‘birch bark’

The Proto-Finnic word for ‘birch bark’ was *toohi (consonant stem: *toohë-, partitive *tooh-ta), continued directly in Finnish and Karelian tuohi, Veps toh’. The southern Finnic languages mainly show derivatives: Votic toho, standard Estonian toht(u-), Võro tohk(o-), Livonian tū’oigõz (however EES

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Posted in Etymology

Phonology squib: Conditional *h-loss in Estonian

The history of Proto-Finnic *h provides several illustrative examples of the diachronic development of “laryngeal” consonants. The primary overarching pattern is a north(east)–south(west) cline of gradual loss. This demonstrates that *h-loss processes have arisen independently in multiple lineages, and in

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Posted in Reconstruction

Nonregularity in North Caucasian

Due to a recent ZBB discussion I ended up re-reading Sergei Starostin’s A North Caucasian Etymological Dictionary Preface. This is one of the more worrisome cases of “Moscow School” phonological tarpits: there is no doubt about Northeast Caucasian being a

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Posted in Commentary, Methodology

Secondary apocope in Mordvinic

According to usual understanding, the Proto-Uralic stem vowel contrast *-A | *-ə is still continued in the Mordvinic languages in nominals of the shape CVCV: word-finally *-A survives as a vowel (mostly *-ə, in some cases *-a), while *-ə is

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Posted in Reconstruction

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