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*wu > *u in Finnic

One minor phonological innovation in Finnish is mentioned in historical overviews far more often than could be expected from its lexical frequency: the loss of a palatal semivowel *j when preceding its vocalic counterpart *i. This is probably because the shift

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Posted in Reconstruction

Problems in Indo-European vocalism, part 1

Looking at Indo-European studies has for a while now been giving me an impression that the usual vowel system reconstruction has unnoticed flaws in it. They are different issues from the long-running debate on the reconstruction of the stop system,

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Posted in Reconstruction

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

On *ü in Mari vs. Proto-Uralic

It is always a low note of sorts when a scientific dispute gets resolved by quietly shifting consensus (e.g. due to proponents of one side passing away) rather than by actual discussion. One of these seems to be the status

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Posted in Commentary, 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

Early a-umlaut in West Uralic?

In a footnote to my previous post I passingly speculated that Finnic *ä-backing: *ä-ä > *a-ə (> late Proto-Finnic *a-i : *a-ë-) should perhaps be split in two phases: stem vowel reduction leading to a split from *ä-ə as an

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Posted in Reconstruction

Notes on Mari stem vowels

Though I often enough blog here about issues of consonantism too, it is clear that the largest challenges remaining in Uralic historical phonology concern vocalism. Our current standard model of Uralic vowel history is mainly rooted in Samic, Finnic, and

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Posted in Reconstruction

Proto-Uralic *ŋx?

My earlier post ‘Swan’ in Uralic alluded to the possibility of reconstructing Proto-Uralic also *x in positions where it has not previously been considered to occur, particularly by reanalyzing some clusters with *k in them. This is not an idle

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Posted in Reconstruction

*ä-backing in Finnic, part 1: Overview

Over the last few years, one of the more interesting research topics in Uralic historical phonology and etymological phonology has been the Finnic sound change *ä-ä > *a-ə. Not only does this turn out to explain numerous other puzzles in

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Posted in Reconstruction

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