European hydrotoponymy (VIII): Meshchera, a Permian wedge between Volga Finns?


On the ethnolinguistic origin of the Meshchera, Pauli Rahkonen had an interesting proposal that might eventually be tested with Bronze Age and Iron Age DNA samples from North-East Europe: The Linguistic Background of the Ancient Meshchera Tribe and Principal Areas of Settlement, FUF (2009) 60:160-200.

NOTE. The paper is included in his PhD Dissertation, South-eastern contact area of Finnic languages in the light of onomastics (2013).

Interesting excerpts (emphasis mine, minor changes for clarity)

The ethnonym Meshchera [Мещёра] is not found in such very early Russian chronicles as Povest’ vremennyh let [“Nestor’s Chronicle”] (PSRL 1965), first appearing in

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Basic framework of language contact-induced change


The standard textbook for studying language contact, as far as I know, was Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics, by Sarah Grey Thomason & Terrence Kaufman, UCP (1991, c1988). The reader will surely recognize many of this text’s proposals of language contacts in my books.

Posts of the Language Contact series (reverse chronology):

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Early Uralic – Indo-European contacts within Europe


One of the most interesting aspects for future linguistic research, boosted by the current knowledge in population genomics, is the influence of Uralic – most likely spread initially with Corded Ware peoples across northern Europe – on early Indo-European dialects.

Whereas studies on the potential Afroasiatic (or Semitic), Vasconic, Etruscan, or non-Indo-European in general abound for ancient and southern IE branches (see e.g. more on the NWIE substrate words), almost exclusively Uralicists have dealt with the long-term mutual influences between Indo-European and Uralic dialects, and often mostly from the Uralic side.… Read the rest “Early Uralic – Indo-European contacts within Europe”

Intense but irregular NWIE and Indo-Iranian contacts show Uralic disintegrated in the West


Open access PhD thesis Indo-Iranian borrowings in Uralic: Critical overview of sound substitutions and distribution criterion, by Sampsa Holopainen, University of Helsinki (2019), under the supervision of Forsberg, Saarikivi, and Kallio.

Interesting excerpts (emphasis mine):

The gap between Russian and Western scholarship

Many scholars in the Soviet Union and later the Russian Federation also have researched this topic over the last five decades. Notably the eminent Eugene Helimski dealt with this topic in several articles: his 1992 article (republished in Helimski 2000) on the emergence of Uralic consonantal stems used Indo-Iranian and other Indo-European loans as key evidence, and

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Samoyedic shows Yeniseic substrate; both influenced Tocharian


Open access paper The deviant typological profile of the Tocharian branch of Indo-European may be due to Uralic substrate influence by Peyrot, Indo-European Linguistics (2019).

NOTE. This seems to be part of the master’s thesis by Abel Warries, but the paper is authored only by Peyrot.

Interesting excerpts (emphasis mine):

1. The stop system

The loss in Tocharian of the Proto-Indo-European obstruent distinctions conventionally noted as voice and aspiration is a very strong indication of foreign influence. Since Proto-Indo-European roots mostly have at least one stop, and often two, the merger of all three stop series into one must have

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Balto-Slavic accentual mobility: an innovation in contact with Balto-Finnic


Some very specific prosodic innovations affected the Balto-Slavic linguistic community, probably at a time when it already showed internal dialectal differences. Whether those innovations were related to archaic remnants stemming from the parent Proto-Indo-European language, and whether that disintegrating community included different dialects, remains an object of active debate.

“Archaic” Balto-Slavic?

The main question about Balto-Slavic is whether this concept represents a single community, or it was rather a continuum formed by two (Baltic and Slavic) or possibly three (East Baltic, West Baltic, Slavic) neighbouring communities, speaking closely related Northern European dialects, which just happened to evolve very close … Read the rest “Balto-Slavic accentual mobility: an innovation in contact with Balto-Finnic”

Pre-Germanic and Pre-Balto-Finnic shared vocabulary from Pitted Ware seal hunters


I said I would write a post about topo-hydronymy in Europe and Iberia based on the most recent research, but it seems we can still enjoy some more discussions about the famous Vasconic Beakers, by people longing for days of yore. I don’t want to spoil that fun with actual linguistic data (which I already summarized) so let’s review in the meantime one of the main Uralic-Indo-European interaction zones: Scandinavia.

Seal hunting

One of the many eye-catching interpretations – and one of the few interesting ones – that could be found in the relatively recent article Talking Read the rest “Pre-Germanic and Pre-Balto-Finnic shared vocabulary from Pitted Ware seal hunters”

Pre-Germanic born out of a Proto-Finnic substrate in Scandinavia


A commenter, Old Europe, drew my attention to the Uralic (Finnic-Saamic) substrate in Germanic proposed by Schrijver in Chapter V. Origins of Language Contact and the Origins of the Germanic Languages, Routledge (2014).

I wanted to share here some interesting excerpts (emphasis mine):

NOTE. I have avoided many detailed linguistic discussions. You should read the whole chapter to check them out.

The origins of the Germanic subfamily of Indo-European cannot be understood without acknowledging its interactions with a language group that has been its long-time neighbour: the Finnic subgroup of the Uralic language family. Indo-European and Uralic are

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