This post is part of a draft on palaeolinguistics and the Proto-Uralic homeland. See below for the color code of protoforms.
12. Kinship Terminology
12.1. Immediate Family
PU? (Saa.?, Fi.?, Md.?, Ma.?, Kh.?, Ms.?, Hu.?, Smy.?) *äććä?/*eć(ć)ä/*ić(ć)ä/*äjćä ‘father’ (UEW Nº 35). PSmy. was was borrowed into Yukaghir ečē ‘father’. Samoyedic form borrowed into Yukaghir ečē ‘father’ (Aikio 2014: 57)
NOTE. Pre-PSmy. *äjćä? could reflect an earlier Pre-PIIr. *eićo- or PIIr. *aića- ‘to control, to own’. An underlying Pre-PFi., Pre-PSaa. (based on PSaa. *e̮ćē from Skolt and Kildin Saami) and PMa. *ićä could reflect PIIr. īćá- ‘master, lord’, from the same PIE root. Holopainen (2019: 97-99 with references) considers the etymology correct and unproblematic, and assumes that if they represent multiple borrowings, they must have been quite early in the dissolution of the parent language. Nevertheless, he considers that “phonological problems (…) force us to abandon the etymology”. On the other hand, Aikio (2020: 30-31) considers that “it seems difficult to reject the etymology altogether: a hypothesis of inter-branch borrowing does not seem to explain the irregularities, and chance similarity seems unlikely because there is a large number of forms that show an obvious family resemblance. Thus, this word-set is by far the best candidate for the PU word for ‘father’ despite its phonological irregularity.”
Even though both authors cite each other to reject an Indo-European origin, their arguments for a rejection seem contradictory when put together: either (a) it is an “irregular” word but traceable to (Pre-?)Proto-Uralic, and thus potentially to one or more Indo-European borrowings, depending on the reconstruction; or (b) it can’t be reconstructed for the parent language because different protoforms have a different origin, and there is thus no reconstructible PU word for ‘father’- which would leave open the possibility of some or all representing borrowings. Furthermore, it is not exactly clear why this highly irregular word is not automatically considered a “substrate” or “Wanderwort” by Aikio in spite of the the much more regular examples *uwčV/*owčV and *wäśkä (*waśki?) sets being labelled as such (see above).
PU? (Saa., Fi., Hu., Smy.) *emä/*ämä ‘mother’ (UEW Nº 131), with irregular vowel correspondence between Saa./Fi. *emä and Hu./Smy. *ämä (Aikio 2020: 44-45 with references).
NOTE. It is attractive to compare it with PIE *amma, the nursery word for ‘mother’, behind PIt. *ammā, PGk. *amma-, OIr. amma, PGmc. *ammǭ, Alb. amë; but probably not here **anmā́? (→ Skt. ambā́ ‘a mother, good woman’). However, the universal *ma underlying this word and the lack of a proper chronology or precise protoform renders the comparison futile.
PFU (Fi., Md.?, Ma.?, P, Kh., Ms., Hu.) *pojka ‘son; boy’ (UEW Nº 785).
NOTE. Witczak (2020: 84-85) proposes a borrowing PSlav. *čelověkъ ‘man’ ← FU *kilän pojka ‘country boy’, from PFP (Saa., Fi., Ma.) *kilä ‘settlement’. PFi. *poika was certainly borrowed in Old Norse (O.Swe. poika) and also in Baltic (cf. Latv. puika ‘boy’, Lith. dial. púika ‘colleague’) and Slavic (Russ. dial. пóйга ‘boy, child’). A priori very suspicious that a hypothetic expression in one language should be borrowed as a word in another, which would extend loan proposals beyond any reasonable limit. Unexplained are the changes in vocalism of *čelo- ← *kilä and the assumed underlying substratal ˣvojka(?), which is in itself reason enough to reject the cognate. Even though the traditional derivation from a compound of PSlav. *čelo- (cf. Lith. kẽlias ‘family, tribe, generation’) and PSlav. *vĕkъ (cf. Lith. vaĩkas ‘child’) is a similarly strange compound, at least its components have close Baltic comparanda (Derksen 2007: 80-81).
PU? (Fi., Saa.? P, Smy.) *nejδi ‘girl; daughter’ (UEW Nº 592).
PU? (Saa., Kh., Ms., Smy.) *ekä ‘father / paternal uncle / grandfather’ (UEW Nº 131; Aikio 2020: 42-43 with references).
PU (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma., P, Ms., Smy.) *čečä ‘uncle / paternal uncle / maternal uncle’ (UEW Nº 60).
PU? (Saa., Smy.) *koska ‘maternal aunt / grandmother’ (UEW Nº 368).
PFP (Md., Ma., P) *sasar(V) ‘(younger) sister’ (UEW Nº 1538) ← PIIr. *swasar- ‘sister’. PFi. forms *sisar and *sesari/*se̮sari (UEW Nº 1562) borrowed separately from PBal. *sesor- (Holopainen 2019 222-224 with references).
PU (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma.? Kh.) *orpa ‘orphan; ‘ (UEW Nº 678: “a kind of relative”) ← PIE/Pre-PIIr. *órbʰo- / PIIr. *árbʰa- ‘orphan’, cf. O.Ind. árbʰa- ‘small, weak, young’ (Holopainen 2019: 166-168 with references). Maybe here also the homonymous PWU (Saa.?, Fi., Md.?) *orpa ‘a kind of relative; brother, sister, (male or female) cousin’ (UEW Nº 1462; Holopainen 168-170 with references).
Even though many Uralic languages appear to have ‘classificatory’ kinship terminologies, the age distinction feature was probably borrowed from other languages of the Central Eurasian linguistic continuum, affecting especially the eastern branches. These innovations (and shift in meaning from older stems) are evident among Indo-Aryan languages in contact with South Asian ones, and among Uralic languages in contact with Turkic ones, including those from the Volga-Kama region (Milanova, Holopainen, Bradley & Czentnár 2019, Milanova, Holopainen, Bradley & Czentnár 2019).
The lack of proper reconstructible PU terms for ‘brother’ ~ ‘sister’ is therefore most likely due to replacement from early Indo-Iranian cultural borrowings, and later areal tendencies shared with Germanic and Baltic on the west, and with Iranian and Turkic on the east. From the few reliable reconstructs it can be suggested that there is:
- A continued relevance of the paternal uncle and grandfather, including a potential crossed evolution of both terms, which is reminiscent of the Proto-Indo-European *nepо̄ts/*awos question.
- A conspicuous lack of terms for ‘cousin’ in any form.
The inferable PU descriptive kinship system should thus exclude non-Iroquois-like kinship terminology. Therefore, the patrilineality of the assumed underlying system (whatever its specific form) is in line with the expansion of early Uralic speakers, which – based on the irregular Pre-PIIr. borrowings above – should be guesstimated no later than the mid-3rd millennium BC, and most likely centuries before that date. This period is coincident with bottlenecks under R1a-M417 lineages all over Northern Eurasia, spreading at the time roughly parallel geographically to hg. R1b-L23 with Indo-Tocharians.
PU (Saa., Fi., Ma., Kh., Ma., Hu., Smy.) *e̮ppi ‘father-in-law’ (UEW Nº 21; Aikio 2020: 55-56 with references)
PU (Fi., Kh., Ms., Smy.) *e̮na-e̮ppi/*ana-e̮ppi ‘parents-in-law’ (UEW Nº 1133; Aikio 2020: 54-55 with references).
PU (Saa.? Fi., Md., Ma., Kh., Hu., Smy.) *wäŋiw ‘son-in-law’ (UEW Nº 1133).
PU (Saa., Fi., MP, Kh., Ms., Smy.) *minä ‘daughter-in-law’ (UEW Nº 544).
PU (Saa., P, Kh., Ms., Hu., Smy.) *ańi ‘sister-in-law (older brother’s wife); mother-in-law’ (UEW Nº 14; Aikio 2020: 18-19 with references).
PU (Saa.? Fi., Ma., Smy.) *nataw ‘(younger) sister- or brother-in-law’ (UEW Nº 587).
PU (Saa., Fi., Md., P, Kh.?, Ms., Smy.?) *käli(w) ‘(sister- or brother-)in-law’ (UEW Nº 263) ←? PIE/Pre-PIIr. *gl̥hₐ-°? (Joki 1973: 267 with references), cf. Skt. giri-, Gk. γάλως vs. Lat. glōs ‘husband’s sister’, and in *-u- behind PSlav. *zъly (Derksen 2013: 551).
NOTE. Its marginal stem shape *(C)V(C)CVw- (Aikio 2019: 16) also found in Pre-PIIr. borrowing *će̮lkaw ‘pole, rod’ (v.s.), also supports the foreign (and early) nature of the word. A difficult reconstruction especially for Pre-PIIr. (*gl̥ˀi?) and PIIr (*giri?), so the exact source of borrowing remains uncertain, but nevertheless phonologically attractive and semantically straightforward. PIE *gl̥h₁í- ‘mouse’ (cf. Skt. girí-, Gk. γαλέη, Lat. glīs) has been said to “contaminate” the PIIr. word, and there are interesting Eurasian comparanda where female (sister-/daughter-)in-laws are called with names of furry animals (see discussion on Twitter), but this argument is probably unnecessary here given the other regular IE cognates with a variable suffix.
PFP (Md., P) *mertä ‘man, husband’ (UEW Nº 1413) ← Pre-PIIr. *mértos ‘mortal’ /*mr̥tós ‘dead, mortal’ or PIIr. mr̥tás ‘id.’ The Pre-PIIr. *mértos is more attractive, because no meaning ‘human’ has been attested for derivatives of *mr̥tós in Av. or O.Ind. (Holopainen 2019: 143-146 with references).
PU (Saa., Hu.) *pe̮śi/*pośi ‘penis’ (UEW Nº 681) ← PIIr. *pásas- ‘penis’ (Holopainen 2019: 185-186 with references).
Pre-POUg *mē̮ja ‘wedding’ ← PIIr. *májas-, cf. O.Ind. májas- ‘enjoyment, pleasure’, Av maiiah- ‘mating’ (Holopainen 2019: 148 with references).
Exogamy & Abashevo-Poltavka interaction
Paradoxically, words for in-laws seem to have been better preserved (Aikio 2019: 46-47) despite multiple loanwords appearing in the set, which helps delimit external influences and their chronology. Most likely, the recent strong areal influence of languages with different kinship terminologies has distorted the original situation for the immediate kin. Furthermore, the phonological irregularities found also in many words of domains which can be considered basic and which are often a priori deemed traceable to the parent language suggests that there is a lack of a proper reconstruction of (Pre-)Proto-Uralic phonology and its evolution.
The adoption of Pre-PIIr. forms and semantic shift of *käli(w) ‘husband’s wife’ → ‘in-law’, *mertä ‘man’ → ‘husband’ and maybe also *orpV ‘orphan’ → ‘relative’ suggest the incorporation of Pre-Proto-Indo-Iranians through exogamy and possibly fostering (see above unfree labourers under Trade). Particularly interesting are the first two terms, where the perspective of the Pre-PIIr.-speaking woman who marries into a Uralic-speaking family predominates (for comparison, see more on in-law terminology in the PIE kinship system), and the extant influence is especially visible in central dialects, which makes sense based on the most likely intermediaries of later PIIr. borrowings.
NOTE. The unlikely borrowing of ‘father’ ← ‘master, lord’ (if at all) seems to be qualitatively different, ultimately related to religious vocabulary, based on its patchy dialectal and chronological distribution.
Potential insight of these likely intense exogamy practices around the Urals will come from population genomic research of ancient human DNA samples. The only close valuable examples to date come from Sintashta-Potapovka samplings. Sadly, investigated Sintashta settlements are almost 1,000 years younger than the start of R1a-Z93-rich Fatyanovo-Balanovo (and later Abashevo) interactions throughout the forests, forest-steppes, and steppes on both sides of the Urals ca. 2800-2600 BC on – i.e. roughly at the same time as Poltavka spread throughout the Ural-Tobol steppes.
When the Sintashta culture was active, the metalworking Abashevo-related Seima-Turbino complex was already spreading with Corded Ware-derived peoples throughout the Siberian forest-steppes, already developing into the Andronovo-like cultural horizon. Narasimhan, Patterson et al. (2019) reported a detailed sampling of two barrow complexes of the Kamenniy Ambar 5 cemetery (ca. 2030-1660 BC), within the steppe zone of the Trans-Urals region, related to the population that inhabited the Kamennyi Ambar fortified settlement on the opposite bank of the Karagaily-Ayat River. Relevant excerpts, emphasis mine:
The Kamennyi Ambar 5 individuals also included 10 outliers with distinctive ancestry of different types. The first set consists of 4 individuals, Sintashta_o1 is genetically similar to LBA individuals with WSHG-related admixture, an ancestry profile that is also seen in outlier individuals from other sites we analyzed found further to the east. The next set of 4 outliers, Sintashta_o2, consists of individuals with admixture from Western_Steppe_EMBA-like groups. The third set, includes 2 individuals that we denote Sintastha_o3, who have much less Anatolian farmer- and Iranian farmer-related ancestry and are genetically similar to Eneolithic populations from Khvalynsk. All these ancestry outliers were not obviously correlated to any archaeological features of the cemetery and the direct dates that we obtained were in the range of other individuals from the cemetery.
The fact that these genetic outliers were interred simultaneously in the same grave pits with individuals from the main cluster of Sintashta individuals highlights the genetic heterogeneity of Sintashta communities that were nevertheless organized as single social groups.
The investigated Kamenniy Ambar population probably shows the effects of Sintashta’s heavily socially-stratified chiefdom-based system (e.g. Chechushkov 2018) where admixture and tight cultural interaction between radically different ethnolinguistic groups was commonplace. That is in stark contrast to previous Yamnaya-Afanasievo, Early Corded Ware groups, Bell Beakers or Catacomb-Poltavka herders, who were genetically homogeneous (including Y-chromosome haplogroups), and might be thus a quite decent proxy for how the previous intense interaction of early Uralic speakers with Pre-PIIr.-speaking steppe herders unfolded in the previous centuries around the (Don-)Volga-Ural-Tobol areas, leading ultimately to:
- The development of Proto-Indo-Iranian in the steppes, i.e. to the south of the admixed communities of Early Uralic ~ Uralic/Pre-PIIr. ~ Pre-PIIr. speakers, as early Uralic speakers adapted to the IE language of the majority of the population, initially composed of Yamnaya-like Poltavka steppe herders that were gradually replaced by Corded Ware-like populations.
- The spread of (Pre-)PIIr. vocabulary among the (already physically separated) Uralic-speaking cultures through the forests and forest-steppes around the Urals, due to the wide-reaching influence of Poltavka and later Sintashta highly specialized metallurgy and trade, as well as the likely exchange of unfree labourers of steppe origin, as suggested by slave-related vocabulary (v.s. Trade).
- The adoption and spread of Asian Agricultural Substrate words in Uralic through Indo-Iranian – assumed to have an ultimate origin in agricultural populations from Central Asia – is marked in Sintashta-Potapovka and Andronovo by the presence of WSHG-shifted individuals, reflecting contacts with populations of Turan and/or the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor, since the same ancestry is also found in outliers of BMAC centuries before their admixture with Steppe-related peoples (Narasimhan, Patterson et al. 2019).
PFP (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma.) *ükti/*äkti ‘one’ (UEW Nº 1672).
PFP (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma.) *kVkta/*kVktä ‘two’ (UEW Nº 1264).
PFU (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma., P, Kh., Ms., Hu.) *kolmi/*kulmi/*kurmi ‘three’ (UEW Nº 341).
PFU (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma., P, Kh., Ms., Hu.) *neljä ‘four’ (UEW Nº 620).
PU (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma., P, Kh., Ms., Smy.) *wij(i)t(t)i ‘five’ (UEW Nº 1154).
PFU (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma., P, Kh., Ms., Hu.) *kuw(V)t(t)i ‘six’ (UEW Nº 433).
PU (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma., P, Smy.) *ćäjć(ć)imä/*śäjć(ć)imä (*ćäjśimä/*śäjśimä?) ‘seven’ (UEW Nº 1588). Multiple attempts at reconstructing derivatives (cf. PFP *śeśimi ~ PSmy. *säjʔwǝ) from (derivatives of) PIE *septm̥ are unwarranted, and all similarities are thus probably coincidental (Aikio 2020: 109-111 with references).
PUg.? (Ms., Kh.) *säptä? ‘seven’ (UEW Nº 1749) ← PIIr. *sapta-. Parallel borrowings that might have also been from Pre-PIr. *safta- before its evolution into PIr. *hafta- (Holopainen 2019: 239-240 with references).
PWU (Fi., Md.) *kümmin(i) ‘ten’ (UEW Nº 1350), suspected to be a substrate word based on irregular correspondences, Zhivlov (2015) suggests it displaced PFU (Saa., Ma., Ms.) *luka ‘number, quantity, count; calculate; ten’ (UEW Nº 495).
NOTE. Witczak (2020: 79-80) proposes that the latter was borrowed from “a Finno-Ugric substrate” into PSlav. **likъ ‘number, quantity, counting’ (cf. Pol. lik m. ‘number, large number, multitude’, bez liku ‘many’, dial. (in Lithuania) ‘number, counting; number three’; O.Russ. ликъ m. ‘number’, Russ. dial. (Northern) лик m. ‘bill, number’, BRus. лик m. ‘number, quantity’), which is possibly not related to homonymous PSlav. *likъ ‘dance’, in turn borrowed from PGmc. *laikiz. The proposal is attractive because it would support the assumed wide ancient distribution of *luka, but it is uncompelling due to its exclusively Northern Slavic distribution and the unexplained vocalic change PWU *u → PSlav. *i in the stem. Furthermore, the comparison of Witczak with PBal. *-lika suggests a more straightforward (although still problematic) borrowing directly from Baltic, whatever its ultimate origin, rather than both from the same Uralic substrate.
PFU (Saa., Fi., Md., Ma., P. Hu., Ms., Kh.) *će̮ta/*śe̮ta ‘hundred’ (UEW Nº 941) ← PIIr. *ćatam ‘hundred’ (cf. O.Ind. śatám, Av. satǝm). The irregularities between western and eastern dialects and further in Pre-PP *śVta point to parallel PIIr. borrowings among early Uralic dialects, since they must have substituted PIIr. *ć and not PIr. *c (Holopainen 2019: 242-244 with references; Aikio 2020:126-127).
PFU? (P, Ms.) *ćasra/*śasra/*se̮sra? ‘thousand’ (UEW Nº 940) ← PIIr. **ʒ́ʰásra- ‘thousand’, behind **sa-ʒ́ʰásra- ‘one-thousand’, cf. O.Ind. sahásra-, YAv. hazaŋra- (Holopainen 2019: 244-245 with references).
PFi. *aiva- ‘whole, exact’ ← PIIr. *aiwa- ‘one, only’ (← *oi-wo-), cf. Av. aēva ‘one, only, lonely, some’, O.Ind. evá ‘so, just’. According to Holopainen (2019: 64-65 with references) possibly also from PGmc. *aiwaz/*aiwō ‘long time, age, eternity’, cf. ON ey ‘always’, although this possibility is semantically uncompelling.
The subtractive numeral formation pattern ‘two’ → ‘eight’, ‘one’ → ‘nine’ appears to be part of an ancient East European areal phenomenon, even though all these numerals seem to have been created independently (Aikio 2020: 93-95 with references). Compare PWU *-(i)ksa(n)/*-(i)ksä(n), PMa. *-ndäŋs, *-ndeŋsǝ, PP **-mĭ̮n-ĭ̮ś?:
- PWU (Saa., Fi., Md.) PWU *kaktiksa(n) ‘eight’, from *kakta/*kektä/*kiktä ‘two’; cf. also here PMa. *kändäŋs, PP *ki̮kjami̮s.
- PWU (Saa., Fi., Md.) *üktiksä(n) ‘nine’, from *ükti/*äkti ‘one’; cf. PMa. *ĭndeŋsǝ, Komi e̮kmi̮s, Udm. ukmi̮s.
The roughly identical pattern but with completely different protoforms in West Uralic, Mari, and Permic support independent formations in situ, which suggests that they all had an ultimate origin in substratal Comb Ware groups from North-Eastern Europe.
Another potential areal “Palaeo-European” phenomenon could be proposed for the following likely independent formations:
- PSaa. **-mumpē-n-lokā-se̮n? (second-GEN-ten-ILL) ‘to the second ten’, behind Saa.Sk. suffix -mlo, cf. Saa.Sk. õhttmlo ‘eleven’ ← õhtt ‘one’, kuâhttmlo ‘twelve’ ← kuõ´htt ‘two’, etc. (Aikio 2020: 94)
- Finnic -toista/-teist etc. ‘of the second(ten)’.
Probably unrelated is the (substratal?) Germanic and Baltic construction of ‘one’ → ‘eleven’, ‘two’ → ‘twelve’:
- PGmc. *ainalifa- ←? **oino-lipo- “one left(?)”, PGmc. *twalifa- ←? **dwo-lipo- “two left(?)” (Kroonen 2013).
- PBal. *liekas ‘eleven’ ←? **-likʷ-o/ā- (Derksen 2015: 283), visible today in Lithuanian numerals 11-19 formed in -lika.
NOTE. While the origin of Baltic forms in Balto-Finnic as proposed by Mańczak (2008: 150) is not tenable, the superficial comparison of Baltic and Germanic forms by Holst (2015: 162-163) does not hold, either, even though they can also be found in Derksen (2015: 283). As Aikio (2020: 94) notes with regard to the Finno-Permic and Saami forms above, “there is no reason to assume a priori that the original structural components of the numerals *kaktiksa(n) and *üktiksä(n) could be identified by mechanically segmenting a part of the reconstructed form (*-eksä(n) or *-teksä) for morphological and etymological analysis. Morphologically complex numerals have often undergone phonological reductions as they have become lexicalized (…).”
The simplest explanation for these similar formations (if they are related at all) should rather be found in early contacts within the Circum-Baltic Area (cf. Seržant 2020).
See full Bibliography.
Color code for protoforms
- certain | uncertain
- PU/PFU | PFP/PWU/PFS/PFV/PUg.| Dialects
- PIE (PIU?) | PIE? (PIU??)
- PIE/Pre-PIIr. (PIU??) | Pre-PIIr. | PIIr. | PIr.
- NWIE | Pre-PGmc./(Pre-)PBSl. | PGmc./PBal./(Pre-)PSlav.
- Substrate | Substrate?
- Agricultural: PU | PU? | PIE | PIIr.
- Geminates | Eurasian (Wanderwort?)
- Palaeo-European | Palaeo-Laplandic/Arctic
Return to the sections above: ↑ 12. Kinship or ↑ 13. Numerals.
Featured image: Erdal-Bilderreihe Nr. 116 Bild 2, Die Schnurtöpfer 1 by Gerhard Beuthner (1937).