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Sami ruoŧŧa ‘Swedish’, ruošˈša ‘Russian’

The ethnonym and state name Russia(n) traces its origin back to older Rus’ (Русь). As the current standard etymology goes, this is thought to then derive, via the Varangian ruling class of pre-Slavic Russia, from Finnic *roocci ‘Sweden’, in derivatives

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Posted in Commentary, Etymology

Phonology squib: *ë in Kamassian

Another word of previously notably unknown etymology recently has a new lead for it: Finnic *sana ‘word’, suggested by one Otso A. Bjartalíð (in a draft that was briefly posted on Academia.edu but seems to be currently down) to have

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

Some new work on the Agricultural Substrate

Back in 2009, a very interesting paper was put out by Jaakko Häkkinen, then an early-stage PhD student: [1] “Kantauralin ajoitus ja paikannus: perustelut puntarissa“. While no longer especially up to date (I will probably follow up on this claim

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Posted in Commentary, Methodology

A Century Late on Proto-Finnic sibilants

There are broadly two commonly seen ways of thinking about progress in science. The first is the “naive” Science Marches On narrative where we have ever-increasing aggregation of solid Results; the archetype is mathematics, where results indeed stay around as

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Posted in Commentary, Reconstruction

How to (not) report a lack of etymology: Samic *keaðkē

I have been having a simmering discussion with commentator “M.” under the post on what’s important for what in historical Uralistics. One general topic there that I keep pushing hard back at is the idea of “etymology unknown” as anything

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Posted in Etymology, Methodology

nyolszáz, kilenszáz

Recently when tracking a variety of citations back into early literature, I was directed to Zsigmond Simonyi, 1901: “Az Ábel-féle szójegyzék” (Nyelvtudományi Közlemények 31: 225–227), an article reporting the corpus of a small Hungarian–Italian phrasebook from 1438. One point that

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Posted in Etymology

Details of some vulpine words in Uralic

A recent open access paper by half a dozen Leiden Indo-Europeanists: Palmér, Jakob, Thorsø, van Sluis, Swanenvleugel & Kroonen, “Proto-Indo-European ‘fox’ and the reconstruction of an athematic ḱ-stem” presents a very thorough analysis of various core IE words for medium-sized

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Posted in Commentary, Reconstruction

Analogy Is Not Phonology

While my blogging here has been firmly within historical linguistics, every once in a while I do go poking around self-styled formal linguistics blogs too. [1] This tends to be a frustrating exercise though. By now, supposedly deep problems discussed

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Posted in Methodology, Commentary

Examples of reductive primary splits

On a whim I have started reading the Oxford Handbook of Historical Phonology. At about two and a half chapters in I have finally reached some discussion of practical questions in some detail, and the first claim to have struck

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Posted in Commentary, 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

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