3.6. Samoyedic

3.6.1. Samoyedic evolution

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

The alternative view on Samoyedic holds that, in spite of its strong lexical divergence, its phonology shows sufficient traits in common with Ugric dialects to be considered part of an Eastern Finno-Ugric or Ugric-Samoyedic group (Häkkinen 2012). While archaeological and genetic research supports this possibility of an eastern group stemming from Abashevo and expanding with the Seima-Turbino phenomenon, the likely early separation of Pre-Samoyedic speakers from such an eastern community, at the same time as both Finno-Permic and Ugric dialects remained in contact through the Forest Zone, warrant its separate treatment (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Traditional phylogenetic tree of Uralic languages (Kallio 2014).

3.6.2. 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) ~ PII *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) < PII **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-PII 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-PII *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.’

3.6.3. Schleicher’s fable in Proto-Samoyedic

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.