Blog Archives

A Finnic Family Tree

I was recently asked on Twitter about the history and subclassification of Finnic. [1] Whipping up a full-length discussion paper or even a polished nice-looking family tree would be more work than I can produce on short notice or on

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Posted in Commentary, Reconstruction

Phonological Renormalization

A small definition of a concept. Across the dialectology of various languages we very often find almost the same segment inventory despite various innovations. I call this phenomenon “phonological renormalization”. It seems somewhat mysterious at first: it is hard to

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Posted in 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

No mid vowel dissimilation in Greek — nor Finnish?

I recently read “Deconstructing ‘height dissimilation’ in Modern Greek” (Journal of Greek Linguistics 3, 2002) by Julián Méndez Dosuna. I don’t really dabble in Modern Greek dialectology, but this struck me as an interesting paper for its methodology regardless, and

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Posted in Reconstruction

Two steps towards re-rooting Ludian phonology

Historical/comparative phonology of the Finnic languages has reached remarkably thorough coverage already in the mid-20th century. Nearly all major varieties and numerous smaller dialect groups (particularly but not only of Finnish) have had their specific history covered by at least

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Posted in Reconstruction

Phonology squib: raate

The standard Finnish word for the buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) is raate. This word often appears in overviews of Finnish historical phonology as a supposed example of irregular development of early Finnish *ð. Sure enough, dialect forms like Satakunta rarake, Tavastian

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

Musings on the sociolinguistics of dialect levelling

In Probing the roots of Samoyedic I note that already the clear fragmentation to separate languages demands a deeper age for Samoyedic than for the other Uralic subgroups. H.-W. Hatting asks in the comments a good argument-sharpening question, and writing my answer

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Posted in Methodology

Probing the roots of Samoyedic

Last year I participated in a fruitful Academia.edu session on loanwords from Turkic into Samoyedic. I am now honored to see that the final article — P. S. Piispanen 2018, Turkic lexical borrowings in Samoyed, Acta Linguistica Petropolitana 14(3) —

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Posted in Reconstruction

Yurats Addenda

One step up from the likes of Meshcheran, probably the most obscure Uralic language to have still been rudimentarily documented is Yurats: a Northern Samoyedic language recorded in one wordlist by G. H. Müller in the mid-1700s. As far as

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Posted in Etymology

Observations on second-syllable vocalism in Khanty

This summer I’ve finished digitizing the main bulk of comparative data from László Honti’s Geschichte des obugrischen Vokalismus der ersten Silbe (1982): his 724 Proto-Ob-Ugric reconstructions and their descendants in the individual Mansi and Khanty varieties. Before making this available in

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Posted in Reconstruction

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