Here’s a currently very WIP list of works on Proto-Uralic reconstruction, mostly from the phonological point of view, that you will be seeing referenced at times on this blog. For the benefit of the reader, I will be sporadically including commentary on what each source does exactly. (Why is this not a regular feature of bibliographies in general, again?)


FUF = Finnisch-Ugrische Forschung
SUSA = Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Aikakauskirja (Journal de la Société Finno-Ougrienne)
SUST = Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia (Mémoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne)
UAJ = Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher

General-ish sources

CompGr. = Collinder, Björn (1960): Comparative Grammar of the Uralic languages.
— The most comprehensive of the several 1960s handbooks on Uralic. Collinder gives extensive examples in his discussion of comparative phonology and morphology, by which he retains an edge over not just his contemporaries (e.g. Péter Hajdú, Erkki Itkonen, V. I. Lytkin), but also most (if not all?) newer general sources, which have a bad habit of asserting this or that about Proto-Uralic with barely any direct evidence given (in worst cases without even any clear sourcing).

Häkkinen ’09 = Häkkinen, Jaakko (2009): Kantauralin ajoitus ja paikannus: perustelut puntarissa. In: SUSA 92.
— An attempt to re-locate Proto-Uralic in space and time, given his new East Uralic theory (see Häkkinen ’07).

Janhunen ’81 = Janhunen, Juha (1981): Uralilaisen kantakielen sanastosta. In: SUSA 77.
— The paper to have established today’s standard framework of the Proto-Uralic vowel system, by comparison of “Proto-Finno-Permic” with Proto-Samoyedic.

Janhunen ’82 = Janhunen, Juha (1982): On the Structure of Proto-Uralic. In: FUF 44.
— An updated overview of what reconstructed Proto-Uralic looks like. Handy as an introductory nutshell view, though suffers from both a lack of examples (try CompGr. for these) and poor sourcing.

Sammallahti ’88 = Sammallahti, Pekka (1988): Historical phonology of the Uralic languages (With Special Reference to Permic, Ugric and Samoyedic). In: Denis, Sinor (ed.): The Uralic Languages.
— The best single general overview available so far of the development of Proto-Uralic to its central to eastern descendants (western branches from Samic to Mari are not covered). Essentially an extension of the reconstruction presented in Janhunen ’81. Includes a list of reconstructed Proto-Uralic, “Proto-Finno-Ugric” and “Proto-Finno-Permic” roots and their reflexes in the descendant languages. Rather more reliable than the still frequently impressionistic reconstructions found in the UEW (which you may note I do not list in this section).

Sources for particular details of reconstruction

Aikio ’12 = Luobbal Sámmol Sámmol Ánte (Ante Aikio) (2012): On Finnic long vowels, Samoyed vowel sequences, and Proto-Uralic *x. In: SUST 264.
— Reviews the mentioned topics, finishes by concluding that it is possible to simplify the reconstruction of Proto-Uralic by eliminating instances of *x in syllable-final position (thus e.g. *nälə- “to swallow”, *ńëlə “arrow”, rather than *näxlə-, *ńëxlə as reconstructed since Janhunen ’81.) This is accomplished in part by reviving a soundlaw for Finnic that I’ve taken to calling “Lehtinen’s Law“.

Aikio ’16 = Aikio, Ante (2016): The Finnic ‘secondary e-stems’ and Proto-Uralic vocalism. In: SUSA 95.
— The detailed exposition of Aikio’s proposal (first presented in 2013) that PU *a-ə regularly gives *o-a in pre-Samic and pre-Mordvinic; as well as some addenda to the shift *ä-ä > *a-i covered also in e.g. Zhivlov ’14 (see below). Includes a handy etymological appendix, with also a handful of new PU reconstructions entirely, and some dozen or so smaller etymological corrections.
As an aside, the journal gives its year of publication as 2015, but the volume only actually came out of print in the summer of 2016, which I hence give here as the year of publication.

Helimski ’93 =  Хелимский, Е (1993): Прасамодийские *ə и *ə¨: прауральские источники и нганасанские рефлексы. In: …
— Establishes that Proto-Samoyedic *ə is to be split in two vowels, one reflecting PU *i, the other reflecting PU *u.

Helimski ’05 = Helimski, Eugene (2005): The 13th Proto-Samoyedic Vowel. In: …
— Establishes the retention of the PU contrast *i | *e in Nganasan (by implication also in Proto-Samoyedic). These vowels were previously thought to have been merged in Samoyedic.

Reshetnikov & Zhivlov ’11 = Reshetnikov, Kirill & Zhivlov, Mikhail (2011): Studies in Uralic vocalism II: Reflexes of Proto-Uralic *a in Samoyed, Mansi and Permic. (Alternate link.) In: Journal of Language Relationship 5.
— Proposes several new soundlaws, of which I believe the idea that in Permic, *a > *u by default holds water the best.

Zhivlov ’14 = Zhivlov, Mikhail (2014): Studies in Uralic vocalism III. (Alternate link.) In: Journal of Language Relationship 16.
— Further analysis of conditional developments of PU vowels, e.g. a proposal that the shift *ä-ä > *a-i in Finnic should be considered the default development, vs. retention as *ä-ä a conditional one.

Sources on branch-specific reconstruction

Aikio ’14 = Luobbal Sámmol Sámmol Ánte (Ante Aikio) (2014): On the reconstruction of Proto-Mari vocalism. In: Journal of Language Relationship 11.

Mass lexical sources

UEW = Rédei, Károly & al. (1988): Uralisches etymologisches Wörterbuch.
— The Proto-Uralic and lower node reconstructions presented here are an unreliable mishmash of a couple different models (not only my impression: several studies have determined as much), but this remains highly useful as a data source. I do not plan on mentioning in detail any sources whose content can be found here as well.

FUV = Collinder, Björn (1956/1977): Fenno-Ugric Vocabulary. Uppsala/Hamburg.
— I mention this for completeness’ sake. The book has only marginal amounts of data not covered by the UEW; perhaps most interestingly an appendix of “Indo-Uralic” and “Ural-Altaic” vocabulary comparisons.

SKRK = Hakulinen, Lauri (1941–1978, reprinted 5th edition 2000): Suomen kielen rakenne ja kehitys. Helsinki: Otava/Helsingin yliopisto.
— A detailed survey of the history of Finnish. Rather thin on any comparative data, but perhaps most interesting for its massive, near-comprehensive listings of Finnish words by their morphological make-up and etymological origin.

SSA = Itkonen, Erkki; Kulonen, Ulla-Maija (eds., 1992–2000): Suomen sanojen alkuperä. Etymologinen sanakirja (3 vols). Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura/Kotimaisten kielten keskus.
— The closet thing currently available to a treatise of the common Finnic lexicon. Supposedly an etymological dictionary of Finnish, this work goes well beyond its stated task, in listing all known Finnic and wider Uralic cognates, and including much dialectal material not in active use in modern Finnish.

Csúcs ’05 = Csúcs, Sándor (2005): Die Rekonstruktion der permischen Grundsprache. Bibliotheca Uralica 13.
— An attempt to reconstruct Proto-Permic. Lexically and grammatically rather exhaustive. The analysis of historical phonology, though, suffers greatly from taking the reconstructions presented in the UEW as a given fact, and from an abundance of “sporadic” sound changes.

Honti ’82 (also OUV) = Honti, László (1982): Geschichte des obugrischen Vokalismus der ersten Silbe. Bibliotheca Uralica 6.
— An attempt to reconstruct Proto-Ob-Ugric (though the Mansi-only or Khanty-only lexicon of Uralic inheritance is not covered). Leaves no shortage of open questions, but much like the UEW, works as a useful data source at minimum.

Janhunen ’77 (also SW) = Janhunen, Juha (1977): Samojedischer Wortschatz. Castreanumin toimitteita 17.
— The main released lexical source on the reconstruction of Proto-Samoyedic. By now, in need of an update in some aspects, though (see e.g. Helimski ’93 and Helimski ’05 above).

MoWb = H. Paasonen’s Mordwinisches Wörterbuch. Lexica Societatis Fenno-Ugricae 23.
— A relatively comprehensive dialect dictionary of the Mordvinic languages. Not especially etymological, aside from indicating young Russian and Turkic loanwords. Could use an index as well…

SkWb = Alatalo, Jarmo (ed.) (2004): Sölkupisches Wörterbuch. Lexica Societatis Fenno-Ugricae 30.

TschWb = Moisio, Arto; Saarinen, Sirkka (eds.) (2008): Tscheremissisches Wörterbuch. Lexica Societatis Fenno-Ugricae 32.

YSS = Lehtiranta, Juhani (1989 / 2001): Yhteissaamelainen sanasto. SUST 200.
— A reconstruction of 1479 basic Proto-Samic word roots and their reflexes in the nine principal Sami varieties: Southern, Ume, Pite, Lule, (literary) Northern, Inari, Skolt, Kildin, Ter. Phonologically mostly reliable, but has some issues with both overreconstruction (clearly parallel loans from Finnic and Scandinavian, in a few cases even Russian, are often traced to a single proto-form) and underreconstruction (old loanwords and even some native Uralic vocabulary, when distributed more narrowly across the Samic languages, is often absent). The treatment of word derivation also seems inconsistent, maybe particularly so with adjectives. Includes brief etymological notes, but comparison with Uralic languages other than Finnic is very incomplete (the absense of any reference to UEW should be telling).

See also: the somewhat extensive appendices of research material in Reshetnikov & Zhivlov ’11, Zhivlov ’14, and Aikio ’16; these cover most cases of PU *a, *ë, *o and *ä-ä.

Individual etymological literature

Aikio ’02 = Aikio, Ante (2002): New and old Samoyed etymologies. (Alternate link.) In: FUF 57.
— A paper expanding the pool of Samoyedic lexemes with regular Uralic etymologies by almost one third: from 140 (as previously in Janhunen ’81 and Sammallahti ’88) to 180+. Also discusses in detail the implications of this data for the reconstruction of Proto-Uralic, Proto-Samoyedic, and the sound changes between the two.

Aikio ’06 = Aikio, Ante (2006): New and old Samoyed etymologies (Part 2). (Alternate link.) In: FUF 59.
— Some addenda to part 1, including further 14 new Uralic etymologies for Samoyedic word families.


Häkkinen ’07 = Häkkinen, Jaakko (2007): Kantauralin murteutuminen vokaalivastaavuuksien valossa. Master’s thesis: University of Helsinki.
— The original proposal for the East Uralic theory. Includes an appendix of the most regularly reflected Proto-Uralic vocabulary attested in at least one Western and one Siberian branch; pooled mainly from Sammallahti ’88 + Aikio ’02 + Aikio ’06. His more adventurous ideas on the reconstruction of the PU vowel system (such as the new proto-vowels *ê and *ô) cannot be considered up to date anymore, though, and there has been no follow-up on them over the last 10+ years.

Honti, Lászó (1997): Az ugor alapnyelv kérdéséhez. Budapesti Finnugor Füzetek 7.
— A small article collection over the topic of Proto-Ugric.

  • “Az ugor nyelvek jellemző vonásai”: A summary of shared Ugric sound changes, grammatical features, and lexicon. Rather suffers from confirmation bias in attempting to cram in also shared features found also outside Ugric (in e.g. Samoyedic), or in only Hungarian and one of the Ob-Ugric branches.
  • “Az ugor hangtörténethez”: An attempt to form a chronology for the consonantal sound changes between Proto-Uralic and the Ugric branches.
  • “Ugor alapnyelv: téves vagy reális hipotézis?”: More polemics over the question of Ugric as a valid subgroup of Uralic.

Häkkinen ’84 = Häkkinen, Kaisa (1984): Wäre es schon an der Zeit, den Stammbaum zu fällen? In: UAJ Neue Folge 4.
— Critique of the traditional Uralic family tree, especially the “Finno-Permic” and “Finno-Volgaic” nodes.

Salminen ’02 = Salminen, Tapani (2002): Problems in the taxonomy of the Uralic languages in the light of modern comparative studies.
— Essay on the unreliability of the traditional binary Uralic family tree.

Viitso, Tiit-Rein (2000): Finnic Affinity. In: Congressus Nonus Internationalis Fenno-Ugristarum I: Orationes plenariae & Orationes publicae.
— Focuses on the subgrouping on Finnic, but includes also the most up-to-date version of his analysis of the main Finno-Ugric consonant isoglosses.

Earlier research

Genetz, Arvid (1896): Ensi tavuun vokaalit suomen, lapin ja mordvan kaksi- ja useampitavuisissa sanoissa. Vähäisiä kirjelmiä XXIII. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.
— The root of our current understanding of the earlier history of the Samic and Mordvinic vocalism, and the first work to outline what we these days call “the great Samic vowel shift”.

Sammallahti ’79 = Sammallahti, Pekka (1979): Über die Laut- und Morphemstruktur der uralischen Grundsprache. In: FUF 43, pp. 22–66.
— A “prelude” of Janhunen ’81 on the reconstruction of Proto-Uralic, maybe most often seen cited in its lieu by authors lacking a working grasp of Finnish. Less thorough in its general approach (slightly survey-like), but also covering consonantism.

Steinitz ’44 = Steinitz, Wolfgang. Geschichte des finnisch-ugrischen Vokalismus. Stockholm.
— The earliest major work on comparative Uralic vocalism. Idiosyncratic, never widely accepted, heavily criticized for poor methodology from the start, and by now largely obsolete. For long, regardless, the only published source for any kind of a theory of comparative Ugric vocalism. I still consider it to contain numerous minor ideas or seeds thereof that today remain relevant, perhaps even unjustly forgotten.


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