Blog Archives

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

Koibal Addenda

In the recent years, Tamás Janurik has been releasing online numerous papers, small surveys and reference materials on the Uralic languages, particularly Samoyedic and Hungarian (all mainly thru his academia.edu page). Last week the roster has been joined by what

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Posted in Etymology, News, Commentary

Followup anti-etymology: ? *täCə ‘birch bark covering’

In the last post I parenthetically mentioned a PU root “*täsə (UEW: *tisɜ)” ‘birch bark covering for a teepee’. This has been previously reconstructed from very scanty evidence: Komi /tis(k)a/, Forest Nenets /tʲēt/ ([tɕi͡et]), Kamassian [tʰɤʔ]. The latter two point

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Posted in Etymology

Etymology squib: *puj- ‘back end, point’

In the UEW we find a rough Proto-Ugric reconstruction *pukkɜ ‘blunt end of a tool’, with divergent later semantic development: ‘eye of needle’ in Ob-Ugric, ‘back of hammer/ax/knife/…’ in Hungarian fok. There is reason to suspect though that if related,

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Posted in Etymology

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

Etymology squib: quəččə

A nice discovery: today I ran into a proposal in Róna-Tas’ “Turkic Influence on the Uralic Languages” (The Uralic Languages, 1988) that Mongolian qota(n) ‘fence, town’ might be an old loan from early Selkup through early Kyrghyz. Indeed, there is a

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Posted in Etymology

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

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

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

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

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