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

Phonology squib: ‘Clay’ in Proto-Uralic

I have a principle that applies quite often when working with quantity-over-quality mass comparative dictionaries (papers, databases, etc.): what is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. The UEW is, unfortunately, a repeat offender on assertions without evidence. This

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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

*ü > *i, *ü in Samoyedic

I have noted before that Proto-Uralic *ü, whose reconstruction has at times been opposed by various scholars, has never received a truly detailed defense. Arguments contra have never been very detailed either — but one recurring claim has been that

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Posted in Reconstruction

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

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

Workflows in historical linguistics

A few too many of my blog posts seem to end up ballooning into mini-articles and consequently spend months if not years languishing in my drafts. Let’s see if I can keep this one brief. An adage sometime seen in

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Posted in Methodology

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

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

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