Blog Archives

“Anti-etymologies”

Sometimes I feel I’d like to see an anti-etymological dictionary. Given two or more different etymological dictionaries, especially for an entire group of languages, typically one of them (usually from the older end) is going to end up being less

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Posted in Etymology

An old etymology: aistiész

I find it interesting how modern advances in Uralic historical phonology can occasionally turn out to vindicate old sketchy etymological proposals, dating from the earliest phases of scientific comparison of the word stocks of the Uralic languages. One of these

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Posted in Etymology

Etymology squib: *paliti

Ranko Matasović, in a recent paper “Substratum words in Balto-Slavic“: Balto-Slavic also has a number of verbal roots which do not appear to have any cognates elsewhere. (…) • BSl. *pel-/ *pāl- ‘burn’ > PSl. *paliti ‘burn’ I will take

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Posted in Commentary, Etymology

Assibilation in Finnic iteratives

With the assibilation *ti > *ci > si being one of the best-known innovations in Finnic, one would think it would have been researched to exhaustion long since. But there still seem to be new discoveries available. The best-known examples

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Posted in Etymology

Etymology squib: Pyytää (and a tangent on Mansi velars)

The Finnic verb root *püütä- (Fi. pyytää, etc.) has two distinct senses: ‘to ask for’ on one hand, ‘to hunt’ on the other. These could plausibly be considered connected, with the former as the original sense, the latter developing as

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Posted in Etymology

Etymology squib: Moknams

Reading old source literature is often dreary kind of work, but it has its occasional rewards: you might find out that some problem you’ve been dwelling on has actually long since received a solution, or at least a sketch to

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Posted in Etymology

12 + 1 old Indo-European loan etymology sketches

Most of the following are not-fully-polished thinking-out-loud analyses. Feel free to point out any inconsistencies, unadmitted weaknesses, and other general plotholes that you may spot. 1. peni No clear Proto-Uralic root for ‘dog’ is known. We instead have one eastern

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Posted in Etymology

Another Phonological Relict in South Estonian

Some days ago, I decided to go for a re-reading of Setälä’s classic Yhteissuomalainen äännehistoria (1891) (that’s “Common Finnic Historical Phonology”, for the non-Finnish-reading people in the audience). This proved a good idea, in yielding not just the confirmation of

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

A Phonotactic Allewrgy…?

There are, I think, several things off about the current understanding about the treatment of the consonant clusters *wr and *wj in Proto-Finnic. There are no generally accepted instances of *-wr- in Proto-Uralic (though see below for one proposal), and

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

More on umlaut chronology in Samic

I recently proposed that the fission of Proto-Uralic *ä and *e into more open and more close vowels in Samic, depending on the following second-syllable vowels (“stem type”), should be dated already to the dialectal West Uralic era, given that

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

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