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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

Some observations on Votic õ versus o

One of the bigger open problems of Finnic historical phonology is the shift *o > õ in Southern Finnic. The non-front non-open illabial vowel õ found across Southern Finnic — the exact realization varies from /ɤ/ to /ɨ/ — most

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Posted in Reconstruction

Close vowel reduction in Samoyedic

A well-known feature of the Samoyedic languages is a split development of Proto-Uralic *u. The standard analysis (as first proposed, IIUC, by Janhunen 1981) is that this occurred depending on the original stem type. *u becomes *ə before original 2nd

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Posted in Reconstruction

Primary vs. secondary *ë

I claimed in my post “Two Lemmata” that the reconstruction of Proto-Uralic *ë rests on quite firm ground by now. Regardless, it is still not too rare to see studies which fail to recognize the idea. [1] Apparently the existence

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Posted in Reconstruction

Notes on Eastern Sami vowel history, part 2

(← Part 1) For initial details: a few complications involving *i and *ë. In the Kola Sami branch (Kildin & Ter Sami), the default reflex of PS *i seems to be /ï/. (I dunno if this is [ɨ] or [ɯ],

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Posted in Reconstruction

Notes on Eastern Sami vowel history, part 1

Recently I sat down with my copy of J. Lehtiranta’s Proto-Samic dictionary, Yhteissaamelainen sanasto (1989; SUST 200) to work out the development of the vowel systems in the Eastern Samic languages. I do not know if this has been done

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Posted in Reconstruction

Two Lemmata: PU *ë, PMs *ee *ëë *oo

Not “lemma” in the usual linguistic “citation form” sense, but in the mathematical “intermediate result” sense. I’ve noticed having to clarify these topics at quite a few points, so here’s a single post for the purpose. I’ll keep it brief

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Posted in Reconstruction

Mari *a versus *o: some preliminary notes

A little thing that has been vexing me pretty much ever since I first for some fateful reason decided to take a look at Uralic vowel history is the distribution of *a versus *o in Mari. These two Proto-Mari vowels

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Posted in Reconstruction

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