This is not a textbook really, but essentially a 30-page introduction followed by a grammar that drily lists paradigms, word-formation tendencies, etc. Still, I’m happy I bought it, because there’s a rich bibliography that mentions some scholarship on Chuvash that I wasn’t aware of before.
Any student of classical languages with a linguistics bent will delight at discovering W. Sidney Allen’s books Vox Latina and Vox Graeca that reconstruct the pronunciation of Classical Latin and Greek, respectively. Cambridge University Press has published them in relatively cheap paperbacks. However, there are two more works by this scholar that that don’t get anywhere near the attention they deserve, even though they are logical next steps.
The first is Accent and Rhythm: Prosodic Features of Latin and Greek (Cambridge University Press, 1973). Here W. Sidney Allen takes the linguistic reconstruction of Greek and Latin one step further from Vox Latina and Vox Graeca to encompass suprasegmental aspects of these languages. This book does demand a greater understanding of theory (whereas the earlier books expected little more than some knowledge of IPA), and it takes some work to apply Allen’s insights to one’s own enunciation.
The second book treats what is historicaly the third important classical language for Indo-European studies, Sanskrit. Allen’s Phonetics in Ancient India (Oxford University Press, 1953) was published years before Vox Latina and Vox Graeca, and is organized somewhat differently in that it is mainly a retelling of the already very detailed ancient Indian sources for Sanskrit pronunciation. However, Allen does engage in some detective work to clarify matters obscure in the ancient grammarians, such as the pronunciation of the visarga.
When I began studying the interaction of Uralic and Turkic languages in the Volga-Kama area, I assumed that existence of a feature in both Tatar and Kazakh was sufficient to prove that Tatar inherited it from Common Turkic and did not borrow it one of the languages of the Volga-Kama area. However, it turns out that contact between the Kipchak languages persisted long enough for North Kipchak to contribute some loanwords to South Kipchak.
The first example is Kazakh moncha ‘sauna’. According to Klára Agyagási in Ранние русские заимствования тюркских языков волго-камского ареала Ⅰ (Debrecen, 2005) p. 58, this ultimately derives from Russian баня, borrowed into Ancient Chuvash with the rounding of a typical for early Chuvash and the shift of b > m before nasals typical for Turkic in general, and finally taken up by the South Kipchaks sometime before the North Kipchak vowel shift (cf. Tatar munča).
The second example comes from a paper by András Róna-Tas, “Three Volga Kipchak Etymologies” in Studies in Chuvash Etymology I. (Szeged: Szeged University Press, 1982). He traces Tatar and Bashkir izge ‘holy, good’ back to a Volga Bulgarian form that produced modern Chuvash ïră. Kazakh izgi ‘kindly’ must therefore be a loanword from the Volga Kipchak languages.
In the library of the University of Helsinki I have found two different translations of the New Testament into Udmurt.
The first translation is limited to the four Gospels, and dates from 1912. The title page bears the text Господа нашего Ісуса Христа Сватое Евангеліе отъ Матѳея, Марка, Луки и Іоанна на удмуртском языке. On the following page is written
Отъ Перевоческой Коммиссіи Православнаго Миссіонерскаго Общества печатать пазрѣшается. Казань, 7 сентября 1911 года. Предсѣдатель Переводческой Коммиссій Православнаго Миссіонерскаго Общества, Профессоръ Казанской Академіи, М. Машановъ. Though the translation was first published in 1912, this is a reprinting apparently from 1973, to judge from the sole line added to the facsimile:
E.B.I.1973.10000. I assume this is one of the contraband Bibles that were smuggled into Russia from Finland during the Communist era.
This translation is interesting in that it documents a transitional stage in Udmurt orthography. Although for the most part it already resembles the 1920s-era modified Cyrillic alphabet still in use today, there is one major difference that is found in words beginning with /j/. Instead of the Russian letters ю, я for /ju/ and /ja/ etc., we instead find something much like ‹ју› ‹ја›. However, unlike the usual representation of Unicode U+0458 cyrillic small letter je, this now antiquated letter is not dotted and sits entirely above the line.
The other translation is of the whole New Testament, under the title Выль Сӥзён (Stockholm/Helsinki: Institute for Bible Translation, 1997) ISBN 9188974822. The Institute for Bible Translation has translated the Bible as well as e.g. retellings for children into many languages of the former Soviet Union (I’ve previously blogged about their series). According to the copyright page, this translation was undertaken by Mikhail Atamanov, a deacon with a doctorate in philology.
Since for several minority languages of Russia there exists both a translation from the late Tsarist era and a recent IBT translation, comparing the two might illustrate the evolution of the standard language. Here is John 1:1–14 in the two translations:
1912: Іоаннъ гоштэм Евангеліе
Вальлянӥсенӥк Кыл вылэм, Кыл Инмарын вылэм. Со Кыл Инмар вылэм.
Со вальлянӥсенӥк Инмарын луэм.
Коть ма но Со вамен луэм, ма гынэ луиз-ке но, Со сяна номре но кылдымтэ.
Со бордын улэп-улон вылэм, со улэп-улон адяміослы люгыт луэм.
Люгыт пеймытын люгдыса улэ, пеймыт сое шобыртыса уг бытты.
Инмарлэн лэзем одӥг муртыз вылэм, солэн нимыз Іоаннъ.
Со дышетыны лыктэм; со вамен ваньзы но мед оскозы шуса, со Люгытэз тодытыны лыктэм.
Со ачыз люгыт луымтэ, только Люгытэз тодытыны лэзьыскькемын вылэм.
Дуньнее лыктысь коть-кыӵе адяміез люгдытысь зэм Люгыт луэм.
Со дуньнейын вылэм, дуньне Со вамен кылдыськем, только дуньне Сое тодмамтэ.
Аслазъёсыз доре лыктэм, Аслазъёсыз но Сое кабыл басьтымтэзы.
Ассэ кабыл басьтысьёслы, Солэн нимызлы оскысьёслы, Инмар піос луыны кужым сётэм.
Соёс вирлэсь ӧвӧл, мугорлэсь но ӧвӧл, піосмуртлэсь но ӧвӧл, Инмарлэсь вордыськыльям.
Кыл мугоро луиз; дӧулетлы, землы тыр луыса, милемын валче улӥз: ми Солэсь быдзым вылэмзэ адӟимы, Атайлэсь огназ Вордыськемлэн быдзымез кадик быдзымзэ (адӟим).
1997: Иоаннлэсь ӟеч ивор
Кустконаз ик Кыл вылэм. Кыл Инмар дорын вылэм. Кыл Инмар вылэм.
Со кутсконаз ик Инмар дорын вылэм.
Мар кылдыны кутскем, ваньмыз Со пыр кылдыны кутскем, Сотэк номыр но кылдыны кутскымтэ.
Со бордын улон, улон адямиослэн югытсы луэ.
Югыт пеймытын пиштыса улэ, пеймыт сое ӝокатыны уг быгаты.
Инмарлэн лэзем адямиез вылэм: солэн нимыз Иоанн.
Со пыр ваньмыз мед оскозы шуыса, со шара ивортыны лыктэм, Югыт сярысь ивортыны.
Со таиз югыт вылымтэ, но ыстэмын вылэм Югыт сярысь шара ивортыны.
Вылэм зэмос Югыт, Кудӥз дуннее лыктэ но котькудзэ адямиез югдытэ.
Дуннеын вылэм, дунне Со пыр кылдыны кутскем, дунне Сое тодмамтэ.
Аслазъёс доры лыктэм, но аслазъёсыз Сое кулэ кариллямтэ.
Нош ваньмыз, кинъёс Сое кабыл басьтӥллям, Солэн нимызлы оскисьёслы, Инмар нылпиос луыны кужым сётэм.
Соос вирлэсь ӧвӧл, мугорлэн кулэ каремезлэсь ӧвӧл, пиосмуртлэн кулэ каремезлэсь ӧвӧл, – соос Инмарлэсь вордӥськиллям.
Кыл мугоро луэм, дэлетэн но зэмлыкен тыр луыса, милемын валче улӥз. Ми Солэсь пиштӥсь данлыксэ адӟимы, Атайлэсь огназ вордӥськем Пиезлэсь пиштӥсь данлыксэ.
In one of the odder installments in a university press series, volume 16 of Odense University Classical Studies is a graphic novel adaption of Book I of Xenophon’s Anabasis, where the original Greek text is paired with illustrations by Minna Winsløw. Were this somewhat larger (it is only 25 pages long, heavily abridging the text) and if the Greek were written with better calligraphy, I could see this motivating at least some students out there.
You can find this in a university library near you – or probably not – under the title ΑΝΑΒΑΣΙΣ (Odense Universitetsforlag, 1991) ISBN 8774928007.
I may have come across such etymologies before, but as far as I remember, this is the first proposal I’ve seen of a Uralic loanword in Proto-Indo-European. In Ananta Śāstram: Indological and Linguistic Studies in Honour of Bertil Tikkanen ed. Klaus Karttunen (Helsinki: Finnish Oriental Society, 2010), Asko Parpola has this to say on the etymology of Finnish kaivaa ‘dig’:
The Finnish words kaiva-a ‘to dig’ and kaivo ‘digging, well, pit’ have cognates in Finnic languages, in Saami and the Volgaic and Permic languages. Ante Aikio has shown that Proto-Finno-Ugric *kajwa- can be regularly connected with Proto-Samoyedic käjwa ‘spade’, asthe change *a > *ä took place in Samoyedic before a tautosyllabic palatal consonant, thereby settling an old problem, the history and material of which is fully discussed by Aikio. Hence the etymon is an archaic Uralic nomen verbum.
What I offer here is not a new etymology, but simply a reference to an old etymology proposed as early as 1920 that was not included in the indexes of etymologically treated Finnish words by Donner and Erämetsä, and so has escaped notice in SKES and SSA. K. F. Johansson had reconstructed an archaic Proto-Indo-European heteroclitic noun *kaiw-r̥-t (nom.) ~ *kaiwn̥n-eś (gen.) on the basis of Greek and Old Indo-Aryan. Hesychius records καίατα in the sense of ‘pits, excavations, trenches, ditches’ (ὀρύγματα) or ‘landslide chasms caused by earthquake’ (ἢ τὰ ὑπὸ σεισμῶν καταρραγέντα χωρία) The plural καίατα is supposed to stand for καίϝατα, from the singular καίϝαρ. Old Indo-Aryan kevaṭa- ‘pit’ is attested in a single occurence in the oldest text, Rigveda, 6,45,7; Old Indo-Aryan e goes back to Proto-Aryan *ai and *rt has often become retroflex *ṭ. Pokorny accepts the comparison and reconstructs for Proto-Indo-European *kaiwr̥t *kaiwn̥-t. Thomas Burrow and Manfred Mayrhofer have considered the scanty evidence in both Old Indo-Aryan and Greek as too uncertain for the assumption of a PIE hetercliton. Still, Mayrhofer thinks it is possible that the words are related. Herbert Petersson also emphasizes that no trace of this etymon is found in other Indo-European languages — and Frisk points out that no corresponding PIE verbal root can be traced — while the root structure too, with a diphthong following by -w-, also looks peculiar for PIE. Petersson therefore takes this to be one of the rare cases where Proto-Indo-European is likely to have borrowed from Proto-Finno-Ugric. Mayrhofer refers to Petersson’s suggestion as noteworthy but unconfirmed. However, the confirmed Uralic origin of kajwa- and the archaic appearance of the word on both sides gives new significane to Petersson’s hypothesis.
(The title of Parpola’s contribution to this volume is ‘New Etymologies for Some Finnish Words’, pp. 305–318. In quoting it here, I have slightly abridged the text and left out the parenthetical citations for the sake of readabiity.)
The major Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat recently featured an article on the state of the Finnic languages in Russia, and the English-language web edition offers a translation:
A battle. That is the word that Zinaida Dubinina is using.
Dubinina is fighting a battle in the bedroom of her home in the village of Kotkatjärvi in Russian Karelia.
At her desk she has committed her most important acts in order to save her native language: translated the entire Kalevala, the national epic of Finland, as well as parts of the Bible into Karelian.
Dubinina’s choice of words is dramatic, but her struggle is a real one. A defeat in the battle would mean a death-blow to the Karelian language and culture.
I do not honestly know what will happen to the Karelian language, she quitely contemplates.
It is not a very in-depth article and says little that many linguaphiles don’t already know, but it’s always good to have more coverage of these peoples in the mainstream press.
Cambridge University’s Research News brings a press release that ought to excite readers here. A cuneiform inscription has been discovered in Western Turkey, dating to the end of the 8th century BC, written in a previously unknown language.
One notion is that it may be Shubrian – the indigenous language spoken in the Tušhan area before the Assyrians arrived. As far as historians know, Shubrian was never written down. In addition, it is believed to have been a dialect of Hurrian, which is known and does not appear to bear any resemblance to most of the names on the tablet.
Another theory is that it was the language spoken by the Mushki – a people who were migrating to Eastern Anatolia at around the time the tablet was made. This idea seems less plausible, however, as to appear on the list of the Assyrian administration, these people would either have infiltrated the Empire or been captured, and historians have evidence for neither.
More convincing is the theory that the language in question may have been spoken by a people from somewhere else in the Assyrian Empire who were forcibly moved by the administration.
One of my regrets when studying Classics was that I didn’t learn very many of the old schoolboy mnemonics that helped successive generations learn Latin and Greek paradigms. The only one I really remember is “Dick’s fat duck’s fur” for the irregular Latin imperatives dic ‘say!’, fac ‘do!’, duc ‘lead!’ and fer ‘carry!’.
It recently struck me that this mnemonic is useful not only for Latin, but for Romanian as well. While there is no reflex of Latin ferre, the remaining verbs still have irregular imperatives two millennia later: zi ‘say!’ instead of the expected *zice, fă ‘do!’ instead of the expected *face and du ‘take’ instead of the expected *duce.
In a post over at the blog Memiyawanzi, the proprietor alerts us to the latest entry in the red-cover Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics series, Linguistic Fieldwork: A Student Guide by Jeanette Sakel and Daniel Everett (yes, that Daniel Everett). He offers us a short review, and as with all new introductions to fieldwork I was quick to scan for coverage of the downsides and unpleasantries of fieldwork, as some of the earlier publications I used to get acquainted with practices failed to mentioned such.
Reading about this new fieldwork textbook, I’m reminded that I never posted about my last fieldwork endeavour, namely my trip to Mari El in September of last year. At the time I was too upset to document what happened, but a few people have been asking me why I now insist on focusing on research perspectives that don’t obligate fieldwork, so I might as well talk about that fateful week in the Morko region of the Republic, supposedly the Mari heartland and the place where the language is still vibrant. Here’s a list of what awaited me:
- I’m used to dealing with alcoholism in Russian villages, but for the first time I witnessed heroin addiction and its attendent ills – demographic suicide part 1.
- I’m tired of being asked by schoolteachers or university lecturers to address classes, where I speak in Mari and the pupils or students either stare blankly at me, or venture the rare question in Russian – demographic suicide part 2.
- Half of the people I met on the last trip to the area are now living in Moscow or abroad – demographic suicide part 3.
- I feel like I’ve wasted my time in traveling such a distance to this part of the world when most people I talk to refuse to serve as consultants, even when I am offering to pay them a truly generous wage for their assistance
- The Mari generally show a lack of political engagement, or even political consciousness, that might solve some of the problems they face. Of course, research ethics (as well as the obligations of my visa) forbid me from pushing the natives into any political direction, but I’m nonetheless permitted to note this failure and think it unfortunate.
Many linguists work with minority languages because they either idealistically believe that they can aid its revitalization, or they at least want to witness a revitalization driven by the speakers themselves. I could brush off non-linguistic hassles like corrupt officials, poverty, and the Republic’s awful weather if the speakers of the language were motivated and energetic, but my observations suggest that Mari is already moribund. Further fieldwork would therefore only make me miserable. If I’m in need of information from a living native speaker of Mari, I can depend on the assistance of Mari people resident in Finland, Estonia or Hungary.
Anyway, right now I’m trying to finish my translation of Chavain’s novel Elnet. I’m also interested in phonological changes that have taken place over a broad swath from the Volga-Kama area down to Tajikistan. These changes are documented to have occurred centuries ago, so I’m safe from the need to do fieldwork – unless someone invents a time machine, in which case I’m screwed.