4.19. East Uralic

4.19.1. Ugric evolution

Some developments of Proto-Ugric include (Sammallahti 1988):

·       Possessive suffix before case suffix.

·       Future tense.

·       Compound verb forms with auxiliary following the lexical verbs.

·       Early development of SOV order, but with a trend to follow the innovative Proto-Finno-Permic SVO.

·       Lack of genitive forces possession to be marked by placing the possessor in unmarked form before the possessed, attaching to the head noun a possessive pronoun agreeing with the possessor.

·       Extremely frequent use of the passive, with logical subject (grammatical nonsubject) appearing in an oblique case, while logical object (grammatical subject) is in the nominative, triggering verb agreement.

·       Generalised negative particle *-ne.

·       Intense systematic vocalic changes, in contrast with Proto-Finno-Permic (Sammallahti 1988). Among important changes: *ū → *u, *ō → *a, *ē → *ä, *ë̅ → *ë, → *i, *ü → *ǚ; *o → *a (in most cases, except open syllables before *ï), *a → *o after *p and *; *e → *i before second syllable *i.

·       Consonant changes include *s, *š →*ϑ; *ś → *s in general, but *ś after nasals, *ŋ intervocalically (although in some cases it is preserved); *ɣ*g.

Interesting relative to the parallel development in Proto-Finno-Samic (see above §4.18.5. Contacts with Balto-Slavic) is PUg. *manćɨm ‘man, person’, possibly from a source akin to Indo-Iranian *manu-, maybe through an intermediate Central Asian agricultural language using a common suffix *-ka (found in Tocharian, Indo-Iranian and other Central Asian wanderwords, see §3.4.3. Asian agricultural substratum).

4.19.2. Samoyedic evolution

The Samoyedic branch is believed to have separated first from the Ugric-Samoyedic trunk, butsimilar to the Tocharian casethe reconstructed Proto-Samoyedic (PSmy.) language may be dated much later than the parent one (Janhunen 1982).

Some traits of Proto-Samoyedic include:

·       Copular constructions without any copular verb.

·       Ancient ordinal *-mtV.

·       Predicative nominal inflection (conjugating of the nouns), which is also found in Mordvin.

·       Dative in *-ŋ, and coaffixes *-kɵ - and *-ntɵ(-), presumably from PU lative.

·       Verbal suffix equivalents -d (frequentative and causative), -t (momentary, causative), -pt (causative). Suffix *-ntV is found as an imperfective in Selkup.

·       Reflexive created from a root meaning ‘body’ or ‘head’, *ona-.

·       Common phonetic changes from Proto-Uralic to Proto-Samoyedic are detailed by Janhunen (1982).

o   In Proto-Samoyedic, unlike in Proto-Finno-Permic (or in Proto-Uralic) it seems warranted to reconstruct *å instead of *a, and *ï instead of *ë.

o   The loss of final vowels and evolution of final consonants may have been influenced by the characteristic changes of Yukaghir relative to Uralic (within an Indo-Uralic trunk).

Likely early features, probably developed in contact with Ugric languages:

·       Future tense.

·       Compound verb forms with auxiliary following the lexical verbs.

·       Verb clause-final, with the subject usually in initial position and other major constituents between them.

While the traditional view considered Samoyedic the first to split off from the Uralic tree, with a remaining Finno-Ugric trunk in north-eastern Europe, the revised phylogenetic tree holds that, in spite of its strong lexical divergence, Samoyedic phonology shows sufficient traits in common with Ugric dialects to be considered part of an Ugric-Samoyedic group (Häkkinen 2012). Recent archaeological and genetic research supports this possibility of an Eastern Uralic group stemming from Abashevo and expanding with the Seima-Turbino phenomenon into the Andronovo-like Horizon.

Palaeo-Samoyedic may be dated within a wide chronological framework, but a terminus post quem for the dissolution of the dialect continuum has to be necessarily set after its close contacts with Proto-Turkic, in turn dated to the centuries around the common era. Northern Samoyedic is believed to have arrived on the Arctic coast roughly from ca. AD 1000 on, including at least a Pre-Nganasan and a Pre-Nenets-Enets dialects already separated at that time, to allow for Nenets-Enets isoglosses with southern Samoyedic branches.

4.19.3. Samoyedic–Eastern Indo-European contacts

It is believed that different languages may have had contacts with Proto-Samoyedic near the Upper Ob and Upper Yenisei region, among them eastern Late Proto-Indo-European dialects like Proto-Indo-Iranian and Tocharian. This is supported by certain loanwords:

·       PSmy. *i̯aǝ ‘flour’ (cf. Yurats ja) ~ PIIr. *aa- ‘grain’.

·       PSmy. *e̋n ‘dog’, most likely from PT *kënə ‘dog (obl.)’ → Pre-PSmy. *e̋nɵ, which means that either the oblique was selected to avoid homonymy with PSmy. *ku ‘rope, strap’, or maybe Pre-Toch. *kën- was the basic nominative stem by the time of the loan (Kallio 2004). Also, Pre-Proto-Indo-Iranian obl. *čuen- could be suggested, but the necessary evolution of **č- (**h-? ) *- would need an ad hoc explanation (e.g. PSmy. **uu̯en-? cf. PSmy. *le̋ from PU *lue).

·       PSmy. *me (~ PFU **mäχi) < PIIr. **maĵ-e- ‘knead, plaster; build’, found also in Hung. művel ‘do, make’. LPIE verb *mag- is found in Gk., Arm., and BSl., which makes it possible that the verb was used in Pre-PIIr. times, although it has not survived.

·       Less convincing is the proposal of the adoption of PSmy. *setɵ < PT *äpt-u- ‘seven’, although it seems less problematic than the explanation necessary from its comparison with Finno-Permic *śe(e)ś/ćimi (Kallio 2004).

·       Controversial is the origin (and thus direction of borrowing) of PSmy. *esä ‘metal, iron’ ~ Pre-Toch. *esā ( PT äsā). While the PSmy. word may go back to PU *äś ‘copper, bronze’ (> Finn. vaski ‘copper; bronze, brass’), also in *äsa- ‘tin, lead’, the PT word has been considered a ‘thème II’ to be compared to the ‘thème I’ found in Ita. *auso-, Bal. *auso-, *ausi- (Adams 2013). A spread from west to east with the Sejma-Turbino transcultural phenomenon, characterised by its metal weapons and other objects, could explain the borrowing in Tocharian (Kallio 2004). Much less likely, the reconstruction of PIA n. *χé-χu-so- ‘glow’ as a reduplicated stem from a hypothetic original **χees- ‘metal’ may favour a borrowing in the opposite direction (de Vaan 2008).

·       LPIE or Pre-PIIr. *oida ‘saw; know’, evolved in common to ‘watch over, be alert, guard’, may be behind PSmy. *o, found in Nenets jierā-, jera- ‘guard, save’, je-, we- ‘guard’, Nganasan bårǝd́a ‘wait’; and alsobehind PUg. *o-d-, cf. Khanti wu-, wo- ‘see, know, can’, ojǝɣtǝ-, ăjǝt- ‘find, notice, see’, Mansi waj-, woj, etc. ‘see’, OHung. ov ‘save, watch over’. The meaning evolution is similar to PU verbs *koke and *oča, and PIA *ɣwekw-, from ‘see’ to ‘look out, beware, watch, guard, defend, etc.’

4.19.4. Schleicher’s fable in Proto-Ugric and Proto-Samoyedic


uči – luu̯it

uči, ńurana alis,

luu̯ii̯ näkis;

će enä u̯igim u̯igintä,

će läula kantam,

će koimim sarka kantanta

uči luu̯ii̯ uktas:

“sjmäm ćärki

manćim luu̯ii̯ ai̯antam näkintä

luu̯it i̯uktast: “kuli, uči!

sjmäk ćärki näkintä:

manći, aϑira, učin sägrätä

mälä u̯urɣam teki-,

učin sägrä es-alik.”

a kulimä uči ńurmik puktas.



uc – i̯untåt

ucɵna äi̯ä et-u̯åi̯så

untåi̯ kok;

ce kitä kåntåm kåntåntå,

ce inä elɵm,

ce kåi̯ɵm sum elɵntå.

mån uc i̯untåi̯:

“sii̯ämä åŋkɵ

kåimåm åttɵntå i̯untåi̯ åi̯ånntä.”

månt i̯untå: “kuik, uc!

sii̯ämät åŋkɵ attɵntä:

kåimå, ïńɵpå, učɵn äi̯ätä

ona pe ircåm me,

ucɵn äi̯ä et-u̯åi̯.”

e kuit uc sii̯tång påkså.


·       For master, stem PS *ɨńɵ ‘tame’ + action/actor suffix *-/ is used.