Blog Archives

*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

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

Etymology squib: Moknams

Reading old source literature is often dreary kind of work, but it has its occasional rewards: you might find out that some problem you’ve been dwelling on has actually long since received a solution, or at least a sketch to

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Posted in Etymology

Problems in Indo-European vocalism, part 1

Looking at Indo-European studies has for a while now been giving me an impression that the usual vowel system reconstruction has unnoticed flaws in it. They are different issues from the long-running debate on the reconstruction of the stop system,

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Posted in Reconstruction

On *ü in Mari vs. Proto-Uralic

It is always a low note of sorts when a scientific dispute gets resolved by quietly shifting consensus (e.g. due to proponents of one side passing away) rather than by actual discussion. One of these seems to be the status

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Posted in Commentary, Reconstruction

More on umlaut chronology in Samic

I recently proposed that the fission of Proto-Uralic *ä and *e into more open and more close vowels in Samic, depending on the following second-syllable vowels (“stem type”), should be dated already to the dialectal West Uralic era, given that

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Posted in Etymology, Reconstruction

Early a-umlaut in West Uralic?

In a footnote to my previous post I passingly speculated that Finnic *ä-backing: *ä-ä > *a-ə (> late Proto-Finnic *a-i : *a-ë-) should perhaps be split in two phases: stem vowel reduction leading to a split from *ä-ə as an

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Posted in Reconstruction

Notes on Mari stem vowels

Though I often enough blog here about issues of consonantism too, it is clear that the largest challenges remaining in Uralic historical phonology concern vocalism. Our current standard model of Uralic vowel history is mainly rooted in Samic, Finnic, and

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Posted in Reconstruction

*ä-backing in Finnic, part 1: Overview

Over the last few years, one of the more interesting research topics in Uralic historical phonology and etymological phonology has been the Finnic sound change *ä-ä > *a-ə. Not only does this turn out to explain numerous other puzzles in

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Posted in Reconstruction

Finnic o-umlaut, continued

I’ve often seen the Finnic languages considered to demonstrate that vowel harmony acts a counterforce to the common tendency for second-syllable (“stem”) vowels to trigger various conditional developments (umlauts) of first-syllable (“root”) vowels. At least within the larger Uralic comparative

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Posted in Commentary, Etymology

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