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Sami ruoŧŧa ‘Swedish’, ruošˈša ‘Russian’

The ethnonym and state name Russia(n) traces its origin back to older Rus’ (Русь). As the current standard etymology goes, this is thought to then derive, via the Varangian ruling class of pre-Slavic Russia, from Finnic *roocci ‘Sweden’, in derivatives

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Posted in Commentary, Etymology

Some new work on the Agricultural Substrate

Back in 2009, a very interesting paper was put out by Jaakko Häkkinen, then an early-stage PhD student: [1] “Kantauralin ajoitus ja paikannus: perustelut puntarissa“. While no longer especially up to date (I will probably follow up on this claim

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Posted in Commentary, Methodology

A Century Late on Proto-Finnic sibilants

There are broadly two commonly seen ways of thinking about progress in science. The first is the “naive” Science Marches On narrative where we have ever-increasing aggregation of solid Results; the archetype is mathematics, where results indeed stay around as

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Posted in Commentary, Reconstruction

Details of some vulpine words in Uralic

A recent open access paper by half a dozen Leiden Indo-Europeanists: Palmér, Jakob, Thorsø, van Sluis, Swanenvleugel & Kroonen, “Proto-Indo-European ‘fox’ and the reconstruction of an athematic ḱ-stem” presents a very thorough analysis of various core IE words for medium-sized

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Posted in Commentary, Reconstruction

Koibal Addenda

In the recent years, Tamás Janurik has been releasing online numerous papers, small surveys and reference materials on the Uralic languages, particularly Samoyedic and Hungarian (all mainly thru his academia.edu page). Last week the roster has been joined by what

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Posted in Etymology, News, Commentary

Analogy Is Not Phonology

While my blogging here has been firmly within historical linguistics, every once in a while I do go poking around self-styled formal linguistics blogs too. [1] This tends to be a frustrating exercise though. By now, supposedly deep problems discussed

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Posted in Methodology, Commentary

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

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

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

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