Blog Archives

Notes on the phonology of Kamassian

For a language family mostly made up of minority languages, Uralic is really quite well documented by any standards. Most of the smaller languages have received decent descriptions already in the 19th century, and many also theoretically updated reflections later

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Posted in Reconstruction

A Fourth Laryngeal in PIE

The Proto-Indo-European laryngeals seem to form, in most people’s thinking, a kind of a phonological subsystem. Usually they end up as a class of back fricatives, or at least some kind of weaker back consonants. They certainly have similar diachronic behavior…

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Posted in Reconstruction

The fate of *w in Altaic

A fairly striking typological commonality between the “micro-Altaic” language groups: Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic (Tk, Mg, Tg) is the lack of a labial glide such as /w/. This is clearly out of line among both the world’s languages in general,

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Posted in Reconstruction

Were there Proto-Samic *š-stems? Some issues of Samic-Finnic chronology

Despite ongoing disputes about the subgrouping of the Uralic family, it is clearly the case that the Finnic and Samic languages have been at least neighbors for several millennia now, exchanging linguistic features and material back and forth. With care,

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Posted in Reconstruction

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

Consonant clusters growing, wilting and syllabic

From a Uralicist perspective, one thing that I find goes underappreciated in Indo-European studies is the extensive phonotactic complexity of most IE languages. Certain types of studies on PIE consonant clusters can be found these days in abundance, yes… but

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Posted in Reconstruction

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

*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

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

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