Scandinavian influence <>

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Ioannes
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Scandinavian influence <>

Postby Ioannes » 2006-03-15, 17:46

I'm very excited about having a sámi speaker at Unilang, and I've been meaning to ask you some questions, but I've always forgot to ask!

There's not doubt that the Sami language and the Scandinavian languages have exchanged loan words. But the only loan word from Sami I know (in Norwegian) is lavvo, and I don't know any Norwegian loan words in Sami except niibi which is said to come from the Norwegian word kniv (modified due to consonant restrictions in Sami?)

Do you happen to know more about the influence of the Scandinavian languages in Sami and vice versa?

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Postby Jonne » 2006-03-15, 18:33

there are some sámi loans in finnish and vice versa..but don't know about scandinavian languages really.

these came into my mind

north sami - finnish - english

eske - äsken - while ago
gárta - kartta - a map
geahčadit - to look around
giitu - kiitos *probably finnish>sámi* - thankyou
girji - kirja - book
giisá - kiisa - some kind of a box
goahti - kota - *not sure*
dieđusge - tietysti - of course / for sure
dearvvas - terve - healthy
diehtit - tietää - to know
dávvir - tavara - a thing
hálbi - halpa - cheap
ieš - itse - self
jávri - järvi - lake
leaibi - leipä - bread
liidni - liina - scarf / table cloth
sealgi - selkä - back
soahti - sota - war
vuoitit - voittaa - to win
vuoibmi - voima - power
boaldit - polttaa - to burn

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Postby Mulder-21 » 2006-04-09, 3:32

Isn't the Sámi word for 'moon' also a Norse/Germanic loan?
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Postby nighean-neonach » 2007-12-08, 14:50

There are quite a lot of Scandinavian loanwords in Saami, some of them are quite old and preserve past stages of the Scandinavian languages, others are quite modern.
I've come across some words here and there during my studies, that stroke me as more or less obvious loanwords. I always wanted to take notes and make a list of those...
Some that come to my mind right now are:
- the weekdays mentioned in a different topic,
- biiga ~ pige (? Swedish wort for girl)
- liikot ~ like = Scandinavian + English "to like"
- lots of modern technical words like biila (~ bil), dihtor (~ dator)
- niesti = a food package that you take with you to school or on a trip, this is "nesti" in Icelandic.
- gievkkan ~ kjøkken = kitchen
etc.
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Postby Ioannes » 2007-12-08, 15:02

pike/pige in Norwegian/Danish/Swedish: girl, ja.

We say "niste"(pakke) as well. It's obviously a Scandianavian word which is hard to translate.

That's interesting, thanks! I am sure there are many more.
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Postby nighean-neonach » 2007-12-08, 15:19

There are, indeed, and I think I'll try and write a more extensive list some time :)
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Postby nighean-neonach » 2007-12-08, 22:07

hivsset (= toilet) looks very Scandinavian as well. Is it "huset" in there? Is/was that used for a toilet? In German, diminutive forms of "Haus" were traditionally used for the toilet, because it used to be outside the main house in a small house in the backyard or garden.
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Postby Aleco » 2008-01-08, 18:17

Maybe "huset" was like that earlier :? I don't know...

In Norwegian we also have "tsjude" /SU:de/, which is a Sámi loanword for the "barbarians" that attacked them in the early ages.
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Postby Hunef » 2008-01-08, 22:34

nighean-neonach wrote:hivsset (= toilet) looks very Scandinavian as well. Is it "huset" in there? Is/was that used for a toilet? In German, diminutive forms of "Haus" were traditionally used for the toilet, because it used to be outside the main house in a small house in the backyard or garden.

In my dialect huse 'the house' is the most common word for 'toilet'. In Standard Swedish the most common word used to be dasset 'the "the"' - obviously borrowed from German - though now toalett seems to be more common.
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Re:

Postby orbay » 2011-04-07, 16:03

Jonne wrote:there are some sámi loans in finnish and vice versa..but don't know about scandinavian languages really.

these came into my mind

north sami - finnish - english

eske - äsken - while ago
gárta - kartta - a map
geahčadit - to look around
giitu - kiitos *probably finnish>sámi* - thankyou
girji - kirja - book
giisá - kiisa - some kind of a box
goahti - kota - *not sure*
dieđusge - tietysti - of course / for sure
dearvvas - terve - healthy
diehtit - tietää - to know
dávvir - tavara - a thing
hálbi - halpa - cheap
ieš - itse - self
jávri - järvi - lake
leaibi - leipä - bread
liidni - liina - scarf / table cloth
sealgi - selkä - back
soahti - sota - war
vuoitit - voittaa - to win
vuoibmi - voima - power
boaldit - polttaa - to burn


Sámi and Suomi are relative languages, must be a lot of cognate words. I think, this words cognate(? i'm not sure). Uralic Languages and Altaic Languages have similar structure and i think have some cognate(?) or loan words each other.

For example it's stand out;

giisá - kiisa - some kind of a box


In Old Turkish kiz means "a kind of box" and today's Türkish giz. And Old Türkish werb kir- "go into 2) enter" today's Türkish gir- "go into 2) enter". They came from Ana Türkçe/Proto Turkic werb *ki- "go into 2) enter" (>kir- is factitive form) Main root ki- > kiz "box 2) container"

I don't know what in Sámi and Suomi "go into" and "enter" maybe this words cognate? Kiz/giz = giisá = kiisa (?) It's just my guess :?: not etymology...

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Re: Re:

Postby wilsonsamm » 2011-07-01, 15:10

orbay wrote:
giisá - kiisa - some kind of a box


In Old Turkish kiz means "a kind of box" and today's Türkish giz. And Old Türkish werb kir- "go into 2) enter" today's Türkish gir- "go into 2) enter". They came from Ana Türkçe/Proto Turkic werb *ki- "go into 2) enter" (>kir- is factitive form) Main root ki- > kiz "box 2) container"

I don't know what in Sámi and Suomi "go into" and "enter" maybe this words cognate? Kiz/giz = giisá = kiisa (?) It's just my guess :?: not etymology...

Oh that's very interesting indeed. When I first read that, my immediate thought was of the German word, "Kiste" which as I understand it, a large wooden box, related to the English word "chest". But I admit, I know only a humble amount about Uralic and Turkic languages.

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Re: Re:

Postby maeng » 2011-08-10, 14:50

orbay wrote:
Jonne wrote:there are some sámi loans in finnish and vice versa..but don't know about scandinavian languages really.

these came into my mind

north sami - finnish - english

eske - äsken - while ago
gárta - kartta - a map
geahčadit - to look around
giitu - kiitos *probably finnish>sámi* - thankyou
girji - kirja - book
giisá - kiisa - some kind of a box
goahti - kota - *not sure*
dieđusge - tietysti - of course / for sure
dearvvas - terve - healthy
diehtit - tietää - to know
dávvir - tavara - a thing
hálbi - halpa - cheap
ieš - itse - self
jávri - järvi - lake
leaibi - leipä - bread
liidni - liina - scarf / table cloth
sealgi - selkä - back
soahti - sota - war
vuoitit - voittaa - to win
vuoibmi - voima - power
boaldit - polttaa - to burn


Sámi and Suomi are relative languages, must be a lot of cognate words. I think, this words cognate(? i'm not sure). Uralic Languages and Altaic Languages have similar structure and i think have some cognate(?) or loan words each other.

For example it's stand out;

giisá - kiisa - some kind of a box


In Old Turkish kiz means "a kind of box" and today's Türkish giz. And Old Türkish werb kir- "go into 2) enter" today's Türkish gir- "go into 2) enter". They came from Ana Türkçe/Proto Turkic werb *ki- "go into 2) enter" (>kir- is factitive form) Main root ki- > kiz "box 2) container"

I don't know what in Sámi and Suomi "go into" and "enter" maybe this words cognate? Kiz/giz = giisá = kiisa (?) It's just my guess :?: not etymology...


Some of the words listed by jonne are cognates and some are loans from Finnish to Sámi or vice versa.

Giisá has nothing to do with the Turkish word giz. It's a Sámi loan in Finnish and in Sámi it's of Scandinavian origin. There are Turkic loans in several branches of Uralic languages, but there are only a few words of Turkish origin in Finnish and Sámi and even those aren't direct loans. Uralo-Altaic cognates? As the Altaic hypothesis is yet to be proven, I'm not convinced that these groups share any cognates.

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Re: Scandinavian influence <>

Postby chung » 2011-08-17, 0:47

maeng, there is a school of thought in Turkish academia which supports often without question the idea of a phylum called Ural(o)-Altaic. What orbay presents as an example of Ural(o)-Altaic is typical but I don't think that it's fair to single him/her out since I've gathered that the matter is more deeply rooted than it appears. It seems that supporting the idea of some common bond between the Eurasiatic people who do not speak IE languages ties with "Turanism" and the idea that these people should be a counterweight to all of the speakers of non Uralic/non-Altaic/non-Ural(o)-Altaic languages. This is a precursor to some Turkish nationalist thinking that Turks should take a leading role among these people speaking Uralic and Altaic (it's a little like how pan-Slavism became closely associated with Russian imperialism since the Russians outnumbered all of the other Slavs)

In any case, there have been some entries even in the staunchly pro-Uralic etymological dictionary for Hungarian, the standard one for Uralic by Karoly Redei or the online one for Sami showing words from non-Uralic languages under entries thus indicating that there may be connections worthy of more research. Here are some examples that I found in the online etymological dictionary (Álgu database) for Sami languages:

- čiwros (cf. saivar)
čiwros "nit" (Northern SamI); śeral (Komi) [Cf. serkä (Tatar); sirke (Mongol)]

- čyõnne
čyõnne (a kind of sled) (Ter Sami); sun (Mansi); [Cf. śona (Chuvash); šaana (Turkmen); cana (Mongol)]

- diegŋâ
diegŋâ "tip of a dog's nose" (Northern Sami) [Cf. tanau "nostrils" (Kirghiz); tanyy "snout" (Sakha)]

- god'de (cf. kunta?)
god'de "deer" (Northern Sami); khunnä "reindeer" (Western Mansi) [Cf. kanda-: kanda-gai "red deer" (Mongol); kõndõ "(a kind of reindeer)" (Even)]

- guol'gâ (Cf. kalki)
guol'gâ "hair (but not of the human head)" (Northern Sami); kalgo "chaff" (Erzya) [Cf. kıl "hair" (Turkish); qilgasun "hair of a tail" (Mongol)]

- nemok
nemok "soggy" (Swedish Lappish); ńamaga (Nganasan) [Cf. yumuşak "soft" (Turkish); nemegün "soft" (Mongol); nemejen "soft" (Manchu)]

- vuoŋâs (cf. aukko)
vuoŋâs "dog's muzzle" (Northern Sami); áj "fissure", "slit" (Hungarian); [Cf. uos "lip" (Sakha); ağız "brim, lip" (Turkish); ama "mouth" (Mongol); aŋga "mouth" (Manchu)]

Other etymologies and connections have been proposed, and I've come to take a rather agnostic stance toward Altaic or even relations between Uralic and Altaic since we're not sure if we are actually dealing with genetically unrelated languages or not (witness the arguments among linguists for and against Altaic as it's hardly a slam dunk for either side). Even though it's common to proclaim that Uralic is the only large northern Eurasiatic language family to have been "proven" (whatever that means since I've always learned that mathematical formulas or the reasons for phenomena can be proven; not schemes of language classification), I believe that researchers interested in Turkic/Mongolic/Tungusic/Altaic or those studying comparative lingustics of northern and central Eurasia should keep working seriously (i.e. without succumbing to nationalist or non-scientific means of research) and figure out if any postulated lexical similarities like those above are coincidence, remnants of common inheritance or evidence of borrowing/areal influence.

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Re: Scandinavian influence <>

Postby maeng » 2011-08-18, 19:19

chung wrote:maeng, there is a school of thought in Turkish academia which supports often without question the idea of a phylum called Ural(o)-Altaic. What orbay presents as an example of Ural(o)-Altaic is typical but I don't think that it's fair to single him/her out since I've gathered that the matter is more deeply rooted than it appears. It seems that supporting the idea of some common bond between the Eurasiatic people who do not speak IE languages ties with "Turanism" and the idea that these people should be a counterweight to all of the speakers of non Uralic/non-Altaic/non-Ural(o)-Altaic languages. This is a precursor to some Turkish nationalist thinking that Turks should take a leading role among these people speaking Uralic and Altaic (it's a little like how pan-Slavism became closely associated with Russian imperialism since the Russians outnumbered all of the other Slavs)


Having read some Turkish forums and even linguistics literature(!), I'm aware of these views. And it wasn't my intention to single out orbay. I mean he seems to know a thing or two about the history of the Turkic languages and I wish individuals like him would spend their time on something more productive than searching for random similar words between Sámi and Turkish.

chung wrote:In any case, there have been some entries even in the staunchly pro-Uralic etymological dictionary for Hungarian, the standard one for Uralic by Karoly Redei or the online one for Sami showing words from non-Uralic languages under entries thus indicating that there may be connections worthy of more research.


Bear in mind that UEW (Uralisches etymologisches Wörterbuch) by Károly Rédei contains around 800 entries. Modern research accepts around 200 of these as Proto-Uralic. There is a huge discrepancy in the amount of words. It is true that UEW has loads of these haphazard comparisons (or rather they just note that there are similar looking words in Turkic/Mongolic/Tungusic languages without really explaining the relationship the words are supposed to have), but since the cognateness of the Uralic words themselves is often suspect I would also doubt the relatedness of these TMT words.

chung wrote:
Here are some examples that I found in the online etymological dictionary (Álgu database) for Sami languages:

- čiwros (cf. saivar)
čiwros "nit" (Northern SamI); śeral (Komi) [Cf. serkä (Tatar); sirke (Mongol)]


A possible Wanderwort. Vowel correspondes between the Uralic words are irregular to say the least.

chung wrote:- čyõnne
čyõnne (a kind of sled) (Ter Sami); sun (Mansi); [Cf. śona (Chuvash); šaana (Turkmen); cana (Mongol)]

- diegŋâ
diegŋâ "tip of a dog's nose" (Northern Sami) [Cf. tanau "nostrils" (Kirghiz); tanyy "snout" (Sakha)]


I wouldn't bet any money on these.

chung wrote:- god'de (cf. kunta?)
god'de "deer" (Northern Sami); khunnä "reindeer" (Western Mansi) [Cf. kanda-: kanda-gai "red deer" (Mongol); kõndõ "(a kind of reindeer)" (Even)]


The original meaning on the Uralic side is not 'reindeer', but rather 'somekind of community, a (hunting/war) group'.

chung wrote:- nemok
nemok "soggy" (Swedish Lappish); ńamaga (Nganasan) [Cf. yumuşak "soft" (Turkish); nemegün "soft" (Mongol); nemejen "soft" (Manchu)]


There are no underived 3-syllable words in Proto-Uralic, so it would suggest that even the suffix is what? Uralo-Altaic and that it would survive in this random word?

chung wrote:- vuoŋâs (cf. aukko)
vuoŋâs "dog's muzzle" (Northern Sami); áj "fissure", "slit" (Hungarian); [Cf. uos "lip" (Sakha); ağız "brim, lip" (Turkish); ama "mouth" (Mongol); aŋga "mouth" (Manchu)]


I mean what is the relationship between the "Altaic" words, are these cognates, are these established correspondences?


chung wrote:Other etymologies and connections have been proposed, and I've come to take a rather agnostic stance toward Altaic or even relations between Uralic and Altaic since we're not sure if we are actually dealing with genetically unrelated languages or not (witness the arguments among linguists for and against Altaic as it's hardly a slam dunk for either side). Even though it's common to proclaim that Uralic is the only large northern Eurasiatic language family to have been "proven" (whatever that means since I've always learned that mathematical formulas or the reasons for phenomena can be proven; not schemes of language classification), I believe that researchers interested in Turkic/Mongolic/Tungusic/Altaic or those studying comparative lingustics of northern and central Eurasia should keep working seriously (i.e. without succumbing to nationalist or non-scientific means of research) and figure out if any postulated lexical similarities like those above are coincidence, remnants of common inheritance or evidence of borrowing/areal influence.


I think there's still so much etymological research to be done within Uralistics that postulating lexical similarities (I'm talking about proto-language level here, there is work to be done on Turkic loans in individual branches of Uralic) between Uralic and Altaic languages seems like a huge waste of time. If Altaic is proven (;D) beyond any doubt and real regular correspondences can be made within Altaic itself then we can start to look for correspondences between Uralic and Altaic. At this stage of research I'd say that they are coincidences until proven otherwise. Anyway good points chung!

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Re: Scandinavian influence <>

Postby chung » 2011-08-18, 21:37

As I've said I'm rather agnostic and not keen on arriving at a conclusion ranging from thinking of these things as coincidences to "proof" (again I just find it strange to think that anyone can "prove" classificatory schemes since it sounds like saying that I can "prove" the existence of the organization used in a filing cabinet) of a language family. By thinking of these links as coincidences until shown otherwise seems oxymoronic, circular or in a certain way unscientific, because if a something were indeed coincidental, much of the need to explore the similarity would be gone because why should we spend time exploring a coincidence?! We'd quash the scientific inquiry right there by assuming coincidence rather than keeping the inquiry open by hypothesizing each of coincidence, borrowing or inheritance.

Therefore I actually don't think that it's a huge waste of time. Put it this way, serious I-E studies basically got started when a civil servant (not a "linguist" in the modern academic sense like Laakso, Janhunen or Sammallahti!) noticed similarities between Sanskrit, Latin and Greek. It was only after his hypothesizing and (arguably amateurish) work that all of these other philologists jumped on board and started to do more detailed work and basically came up with many of the principles that comparative linguists today take for granted. On the other hand, our understanding of I-E kept getting refined not only because of research in a pre-determined set of languages, but also through enrichment by deciphering then-new languages (Tocharian, Hittite). What would have happened if for some reason, no one had kept digging or researching and basically reinforce the same old circular thinking by letting I-E studies revolve on a fixed set of data or fixed pool for data? Nowadays as you probably know, there is a bit of serious research into determining the exact nature of the relationship between Indo-European and Uralic (Indo-Uralic), even though it's still hard to draw any firm conclusions about it.

To use this line of thinking, there's nothing inherently wrong with looking into the links between Uralic and Altaic (or if you're anti-Altaicist, then figure out the links between Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic - Korean or Japanese optional :-P with Uralic languages). Who knows what linguists will find? Maybe they'll find something full of Hunnic inscriptions which helps to refine our understanding of Chuvash. It is in this vein that I find it mentionable that even Uralicists can keep the door open and show (for comparison?) some postulated links to words in non-Uralic languages. Of course, no one should conclude that such etymologies are proof of a deeper relationship or just coincidence for that matter. Those links couldn't have been thrown out there or presented just as a joke. I say that because we don't honestly have a complete answer, let the linguists/scientists who are interested in the field to continue to work to determine as much as is possible what's going on out there and make sense of what we can observe. From my point of view, this is what science is: continue exploring and testing until you have evidence that leads reliably to a definitive conclusion about the functioning or development of some phenomenon (yet with linguistics this may never be attained since we could still find something like the Rosetta Stone or Hittite which changes the way linguists have thought of or undersood linguistic relationship.)

Nevertheless that kind of progress assumes that there are serious linguists who keep working on it but aren't continually laughed at or looked down upon by their peers. You can't add to the body of knowledge without looking for something or acting on a hypothesis. Let the hypothesis and conclusions based on serious research stand on their own merits. If it fails to explain what's going on, then it'll die on its own without the need from critics to shout it down.

The history of comparative linguistics reminds me a bit of the development of atomic theory. We progressed from Dalton's "billiard ball" atomic model to Thomson's "plum-pudding" to Bohr's fixed orbital model to the current model which views atoms as behaving like waves and particles that do not have fixed orbitals. No physical scientist today would seriously believe the older approaches because these fail to explain satisfactorily and generally what is going with atoms and continued research has led us to this point of realization*. It is NOT because the older models had been dismissed out of hand or simply shouted down by those proposing new approaches.

As to the examples that I cited, you'd have to ask Uralicists why those links to Altaic words are there as I'm not an Uralicist. The online Sami dictionary just lists them with the Uralic/Finno-Ugric/Finno-Permic/Balto-Finnic etymology without any notes/context. Redei's dictionary seems to list these kinds of non-Uralic words as "Vgl." (~ vergleichen - "compare") but makes no comment as far as I can remember (it's been a while since I've last browsed through UEW) about them. This gives the impression that the similarity may/should/could/is worthy of extra research in order to make it clearer what we're dealing with (to the best of our abilities). I know that my copy of the Hungarian etymological dictionary states for some entries that apparent similarities between some Hungarian entries with words in Yukaghir or Altaic languages may be worth investigating further.

*Bohr's orbital model however still neatly explains the functioning of the hydrogen atom and is still taught in school as a way to think of atomic structure, no matter how limited the theory's power is in reality.

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Re: Scandinavian influence <>

Postby maeng » 2011-08-19, 19:25

chung wrote:As I've said I'm rather agnostic and not keen on arriving at a conclusion ranging from thinking of these things as coincidences to "proof" (again I just find it strange to think that anyone can "prove" classificatory schemes since it sounds like saying that I can "prove" the existence of the organization used in a filing cabinet) of a language family. By thinking of these links as coincidences until shown otherwise seems oxymoronic, circular or in a certain way unscientific, because if a something were indeed coincidental, much of the need to explore the similarity would be gone because why should we spend time exploring a coincidence?! We'd quash the scientific inquiry right there by assuming coincidence rather than keeping the inquiry open by hypothesizing each of coincidence, borrowing or inheritance.

Therefore I actually don't think that it's a huge waste of time. Put it this way, serious I-E studies basically got started when a civil servant (not a "linguist" in the modern academic sense like Laakso, Janhunen or Sammallahti!) noticed similarities between Sanskrit, Latin and Greek. It was only after his hypothesizing and (arguably amateurish) work that all of these other philologists jumped on board and started to do more detailed work and basically came up with many of the principles that comparative linguists today take for granted. On the other hand, our understanding of I-E kept getting refined not only because of research in a pre-determined set of languages, but also through enrichment by deciphering then-new languages (Tocharian, Hittite). What would have happened if for some reason, no one had kept digging or researching and basically reinforce the same old circular thinking by letting I-E studies revolve on a fixed set of data or fixed pool for data? Nowadays as you probably know, there is a bit of serious research into determining the exact nature of the relationship between Indo-European and Uralic (Indo-Uralic), even though it's still hard to draw any firm conclusions about it.

To use this line of thinking, there's nothing inherently wrong with looking into the links between Uralic and Altaic (or if you're anti-Altaicist, then figure out the links between Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic - Korean or Japanese optional :-P with Uralic languages). Who knows what linguists will find? Maybe they'll find something full of Hunnic inscriptions which helps to refine our understanding of Chuvash. It is in this vein that I find it mentionable that even Uralicists can keep the door open and show (for comparison?) some postulated links to words in non-Uralic languages. Of course, no one should conclude that such etymologies are proof of a deeper relationship or just coincidence for that matter. Those links couldn't have been thrown out there or presented just as a joke. I say that because we don't honestly have a complete answer, let the linguists/scientists who are interested in the field to continue to work to determine as much as is possible what's going on out there and make sense of what we can observe. From my point of view, this is what science is: continue exploring and testing until you have evidence that leads reliably to a definitive conclusion about the functioning or development of some phenomenon (yet with linguistics this may never be attained since we could still find something like the Rosetta Stone or Hittite which changes the way linguists have thought of or undersood linguistic relationship.)

Nevertheless that kind of progress assumes that there are serious linguists who keep working on it but aren't continually laughed at or looked down upon by their peers. You can't add to the body of knowledge without looking for something or acting on a hypothesis. Let the hypothesis and conclusions based on serious research stand on their own merits. If it fails to explain what's going on, then it'll die on its own without the need from critics to shout it down.

The history of comparative linguistics reminds me a bit of the development of atomic theory. We progressed from Dalton's "billiard ball" atomic model to Thomson's "plum-pudding" to Bohr's fixed orbital model to the current model which views atoms as behaving like waves and particles that do not have fixed orbitals. No physical scientist today would seriously believe the older approaches because these fail to explain satisfactorily and generally what is going with atoms and continued research has led us to this point of realization*. It is NOT because the older models had been dismissed out of hand or simply shouted down by those proposing new approaches.

As to the examples that I cited, you'd have to ask Uralicists why those links to Altaic words are there as I'm not an Uralicist. The online Sami dictionary just lists them with the Uralic/Finno-Ugric/Finno-Permic/Balto-Finnic etymology without any notes/context. Redei's dictionary seems to list these kinds of non-Uralic words as "Vgl." (~ vergleichen - "compare") but makes no comment as far as I can remember (it's been a while since I've last browsed through UEW) about them. This gives the impression that the similarity may/should/could/is worthy of extra research in order to make it clearer what we're dealing with (to the best of our abilities). I know that my copy of the Hungarian etymological dictionary states for some entries that apparent similarities between some Hungarian entries with words in Yukaghir or Altaic languages may be worth investigating further.

*Bohr's orbital model however still neatly explains the functioning of the hydrogen atom and is still taught in school as a way to think of atomic structure, no matter how limited the theory's power is in reality.


Well my main point is that I think you are skipping ahead if you start looking for lexical evidence for Uralo-Altaic, when its precisely that what's lacking for Altaic itself. If you think my thinking is circular just forget the "until proven otherwise" part since I might have been humoring you a bit there. And also why even bother with Uralo-Altaic? Let's skip the middle man all together and just reconstruct the Nostratic proto-language.

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Re: Scandinavian influence <>

Postby chung » 2011-08-20, 3:02

If the goal were to construct Ural-Altaic earnestly, then I believe we'd have to reset/restart a lot of the existing research - something which I doubt would happen unless something really drastic would happen. Basically a bunch of researchers whose life work and research has been predicated on a certain understanding of the existing languages would need to take a chance to explore the subject in a way where at best they may enrich their existing conclusions or at worst invalidate and discredit them.

For example, Proto-Uralic has been reconstructed using evidence from about two dozen languages which have been concluded/classified as "Uralic". If we were to try to find "Ural-Altaic", then we'd have to take a whole bunch of Eurasiatic languages, do the standard comparative analysis on all of them with each other to discern patterns or regular similarities/disimilarities, which in turn can lead to the postulation of "laws" and a reconstructed proto-language. It's a bit of a chicken and the egg problem. Which languages do we choose at the very start in order to do the analysis, with the understanding that inadvertently excluding certain languages may lead us to conclusions different from those which include those languages?

I wonder what would have happened for Proto-IE if Hittite or Tocharian had never been discovered (and those were cases of "unknown unknowns" - no linguist could have fathomed the existence of these languages and so for the sake of the analysis, there was no way for any linguist to have considered their characteristics in reconstructing the emerging proto-language until the point of discovery). To me it seems a bit odd to try to reconstruct Ural-Altaic using a priori Proto-Uralic on one hand, and then by default having to negotiate the controversy over Altaic. Again wouldn't our understanding of the ancestral tongue be affected or a function of the information extracted from what we define as the descendants?

All that I'm saying is that we simply need more research and the work of the Nostraticists is one example. It may take a while yet (if ever) before we can close the book on some issues.

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Re: Scandinavian influence <>

Postby maeng » 2011-08-20, 13:37

chung wrote:If the goal were to construct Ural-Altaic earnestly, then I believe we'd have to reset/restart a lot of the existing research - something which I doubt would happen unless something really drastic would happen. Basically a bunch of researchers whose life work and research has been predicated on a certain understanding of the existing languages would need to take a chance to explore the subject in a way where at best they may enrich their existing conclusions or at worst invalidate and discredit them.

For example, Proto-Uralic has been reconstructed using evidence from about two dozen languages which have been concluded/classified as "Uralic". If we were to try to find "Ural-Altaic", then we'd have to take a whole bunch of Eurasiatic languages, do the standard comparative analysis on all of them with each other to discern patterns or regular similarities/disimilarities, which in turn can lead to the postulation of "laws" and a reconstructed proto-language. It's a bit of a chicken and the egg problem. Which languages do we choose at the very start in order to do the analysis, with the understanding that inadvertently excluding certain languages may lead us to conclusions different from those which include those languages?


I don't see that there's any need to reset. Proto-Uralic is a well-established proto-language and I also think that the depth of reconstruction we reach by comparing different Uralic languages already takes us to the very edge of what can be done within the framework of historical linguistics and the comparative method. If we were to penetrate deeper into the history of language we would need new methodology since I don't think the current methodology allows us to go any deeper and that's largely due to the fact that there is not enough evidence to be drawn from.

chung wrote:I wonder what would have happened for Proto-IE if Hittite or Tocharian had never been discovered (and those were cases of "unknown unknowns" - no linguist could have fathomed the existence of these languages and so for the sake of the analysis, there was no way for any linguist to have considered their characteristics in reconstructing the emerging proto-language until the point of discovery). To me it seems a bit odd to try to reconstruct Ural-Altaic using a priori Proto-Uralic on one hand, and then by default having to negotiate the controversy over Altaic. Again wouldn't our understanding of the ancestral tongue be affected or a function of the information extracted from what we define as the descendants?


Of course Hittite and Tocharian have contributed to our understanding of PIE, but it's not like everything done prior to their discovery has been wrong (for example Hittite confirmed that there were laryngeals in PIE, but already de Saussure had through internal reconstruction arrived to the conclusion that there probably were these elements that altered the quality of the near-by vowel although he didn't call them laryngeals).

I think the process of reconstruction ultimately goes both ways from the proto-language to its daughters and back. I'm sure you also understand that there are several levels of reconstruction and also that the level of certainty varies greatly. There's tier one reconstruction, which usually constitutes the immediate proto-language of an individual branch (Proto-Finnic, Proto-Permic, Proto-Mari etc.). Tier 1 reconstruction is pretty reliable because there's a lot of evidence (lexical/morphological) from which to draw and the amount of shared vocabulary is well over a thousand words. The amount of lexicon drops dramatically the further we move back in time and like I said before there are about 200 words which nowadays are considered Proto-Uralic and even these words don't all exhibit regular sound correspondences. And there are only a hand-full of words that are present in all the branches.

I read what you are saying, but I have to admit that I still don't understand why you think that we don't have to establish Proto-Altaic before we can start comparing it with Proto-Uralic. Do you think that there are Uralic branches/languages that are more closely related to a branch/language within the Altaic unity or what?

chung wrote:All that I'm saying is that we simply need more research and the work of the Nostraticists is one example. It may take a while yet (if ever) before we can close the book on some issues.


More research is always welcome, but I just don't think that further research should be done within the Nostratic framework. And also as an response to your earlier post, I also think that there might be some words and etymologies that are worth a look, but I just don't think they tell us about common ancestry rather I think they are borrowings from a later stage.

I do understand the appeal in trying to find common words in all Eurasian languages, but I think we should proceed with smaller steps. People supporting Nostratic view tend to aim too high. There might have been a civil servant who correctly noticed that Latin, Greek and Sanskrit share a common ancestor, but there also have been countless others who haven't been as right in their views, like the Finnish doctor who proposed that Uralic, Dravidian, Altaic, Japanese and Quechua are all related or the old Finnish professor of Assyrian studies who's convinced that Sumerian and Finnish are closely related. Both passionate about their beliefs, but their views unfortunately aren't on a solid methodological ground.

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Re: Scandinavian influence <>

Postby chung » 2011-08-20, 17:38

My thinking comes from a discussion that I had long ago with a philosophy professor about Marxism. I had been trained like any western-educated person to think that the capitalist system would function as predicted. However I had come to forget (until my professor reminded me) that capitalist economic models were based on many assumptions (some of which are actually in question given the irrational behaviour seen on financial markets in the last few years). However those models "work" largely because the participants in the model performing the behaviour have been assumed to act in a certain way. My professor pointed out that the interesting thing about Marx is that he questioned the very assumptions of capitalist economic models, rather than the results of the models themselves (of course the models would work because we've assumed a certain set of behaviours and characteristics!). For comparative linguistics, we've basically taken for granted the existing reconstructions even Nostracists do this to a good degree since they often take the existing reconstructions and proto-languages as a starting point for longer-range comparison. In a sense this sounds like Angela Marcantonio's tract about trying to punch holes in Uralic but I (I actually think that she made life even more difficult for herself because her methods really seemed odd and her counterarguments didn't seem too convincing even to me who is not as dogmatic about the solidity of Uralic. She made it too easy for staunch Uralicists such as Laakso and de Smit to discredit her work insinuating to the neutral observer that linguists who don't adhere to the mainstream Uralicists' tack can only be amateurs or worse).

Anyway, by having reconstructed Proto-Uralic as we know it, the starting point has been data from the 20-odd languages which we now call "Uralic" (On a smaller scale, our understanding of the proto-languages and maybe even any extrapolations about the timing of population movements would likely be affected if somehow we'd stumbled upon inscriptions in the fabled Merya, Murom and/or Mescherian, but that's for another discussion).

Therefore to arrive at the reconstruction linguists have analyzed and compared old texts (well, the Halotti Beszed isn't that old, but what can you do?) with new ones, and also tested the validity of laws for sound changes by examining words and (especially those concluded as loanwords so that at least we could compare things (e.g. kuningas versus king, König etc.). Let's say for a laugh, we'd clear the slate (i.e. set aside temporarily Proto-Uralic and all of the other proto work done so far in Eurasian languages including the tentative Russian attempt to reconstruct Proto-Altaic) and basically act on the older ideas that Ural-Altaic had been valid (for the record, I restate that I'm agnostic about it). So we would do comparative analysis with Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish, Mongolian and Manchu. If we could find regular correspondences (and weeding out loanwords) between the languages and on the basis of them devise laws or predictive models, then it'd be possible to create a common ancestor for these languages. If not, then Ural-Altaic wouldn't have seemed to have been a likely concept.

I suppose that this research has been (sort of) done by Nostracists and Joseph Greenberg, however have any of the specialists in Uralic tried to do conventional comparative analysis with material from Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic? (I think that Denis Sinor was open to research and wrote a few papers about it, although I'm not sure if we should define him as an Uralicist)

I heard about that Assyrologist's statment that Finnish and Sumerian were related, but apart from some introductory paper by him which promised the release of more detailed analysis, I never found out more about it. Even for me the idea seems strange but to keep an open mind, I would have been interested in reading more about it and starting to draw conclusions only after doing that. It seems like a dead end especially if the one who proposed hasn't said much about it.

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Re: Scandinavian influence <>

Postby maeng » 2011-08-21, 8:50

chung wrote:My thinking comes from a discussion that I had long ago with a philosophy professor about Marxism. I had been trained like any western-educated person to think that the capitalist system would function as predicted. However I had come to forget (until my professor reminded me) that capitalist economic models were based on many assumptions (some of which are actually in question given the irrational behaviour seen on financial markets in the last few years). However those models "work" largely because the participants in the model performing the behaviour have been assumed to act in a certain way. My professor pointed out that the interesting thing about Marx is that he questioned the very assumptions of capitalist economic models, rather than the results of the models themselves (of course the models would work because we've assumed a certain set of behaviours and characteristics!). For comparative linguistics, we've basically taken for granted the existing reconstructions even Nostracists do this to a good degree since they often take the existing reconstructions and proto-languages as a starting point for longer-range comparison. In a sense this sounds like Angela Marcantonio's tract about trying to punch holes in Uralic but I (I actually think that she made life even more difficult for herself because her methods really seemed odd and her counterarguments didn't seem too convincing even to me who is not as dogmatic about the solidity of Uralic. She made it too easy for staunch Uralicists such as Laakso and de Smit to discredit her work insinuating to the neutral observer that linguists who don't adhere to the mainstream Uralicists' tack can only be amateurs or worse).


I do see your point here. I'm not too familiar with Marcantonio's work (I actually did borrow her book from the library, but I didn't read it). A similar "rebel" challenging the existing scientific paradigm is Kalevi Wiik, who has made bold statements concerning the linguistic past of the Finns and considers himself as a revolusionist (the debate has had strong ties to Kuhn's claims concerning the progress scientific knowledge and how science undergoes periodic paradigm shifts, Wiik is the self-proclaimed paradigm shift in this case). The problem with Wiik is that he makes far-reaching linguistics claims mainly on the basis of non-linguistic evidence, he's theories are based on genetics and archeology. Anyway I'm with you on that we shouldn't take the existing reconstructions for granted. I don't know how much experience you've had with working on reconstructions, but I myself have been working quite a bit on lower tier reconstructions (mainly Proto-Permic) and I must admit that sometimes you just have to take something for granted and just try to work with it otherwise your task becomes too laborious.

chung wrote:Anyway, by having reconstructed Proto-Uralic as we know it, the starting point has been data from the 20-odd languages which we now call "Uralic" (On a smaller scale, our understanding of the proto-languages and maybe even any extrapolations about the timing of population movements would likely be affected if somehow we'd stumbled upon inscriptions in the fabled Merya, Murom and/or Mescherian, but that's for another discussion).

Therefore to arrive at the reconstruction linguists have analyzed and compared old texts (well, the Halotti Beszed isn't that old, but what can you do?) with new ones, and also tested the validity of laws for sound changes by examining words and (especially those concluded as loanwords so that at least we could compare things (e.g. kuningas versus king, König etc.). Let's say for a laugh, we'd clear the slate (i.e. set aside temporarily Proto-Uralic and all of the other proto work done so far in Eurasian languages including the tentative Russian attempt to reconstruct Proto-Altaic) and basically act on the older ideas that Ural-Altaic had been valid (for the record, I restate that I'm agnostic about it). So we would do comparative analysis with Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish, Mongolian and Manchu. If we could find regular correspondences (and weeding out loanwords) between the languages and on the basis of them devise laws or predictive models, then it'd be possible to create a common ancestor for these languages. If not, then Ural-Altaic wouldn't have seemed to have been a likely concept.


Hold the phone. Why would we choose these 5 languages? I mean if we were to start tabula rasa why would we even choose these 5?

chung wrote:I suppose that this research has been (sort of) done by Nostracists and Joseph Greenberg, however have any of the specialists in Uralic tried to do conventional comparative analysis with material from Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic? (I think that Denis Sinor was open to research and wrote a few papers about it, although I'm not sure if we should define him as an Uralicist)

I heard about that Assyrologist's statment that Finnish and Sumerian were related, but apart from some introductory paper by him which promised the release of more detailed analysis, I never found out more about it. Even for me the idea seems strange but to keep an open mind, I would have been interested in reading more about it and starting to draw conclusions only after doing that. It seems like a dead end especially if the one who proposed hasn't said much about it.


Denis Sinor has written some papers on Uralo-Altaic (and no I wouldn't define him as an Uralicist, but I don't think the nomenclature is of importance here) and they are fairly interesting, but the thing is that they rely heavily on morphological evidence and it is of course true that there are similar features (even phonological vowel harmony in particular), but proving that the suffixes are all due to common ancestry is already a whole different matter.

I read his papers and I've read the critique and I'm not convinced.


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