Unpleasant herding tasks

I’m not really sure what to make of this passage in András Róna-Tas’ paper ‘Turkic influence on the Uralic languages’, found in The Uralic Languages ed. Denis Sinor (Amsterdam: Brill, 1988). Róna-Tás is describing borrowings between Ancient Turkic and Proto-Samoyed:

PS kåptə̂- ‘to castrate’, kåptə̂ ‘a castrated reindeer ox’ (Ne, Ng, En, Sk: JJ 60) ← AT qaptï (cf. OT qap- ‘to grasp with teeth or hands’, Clauson 580). The oldest and most extended way of castration is done by teeth (cf. Lehtisalo 1932, 114).

I will certainly be seeking out the Lehtisalo reference, the monograph Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Renntierzucht bei den Juraksamojeden published in Oslo in 1932.

In Helsinki

I arrived in Finland on Saturday and this morning came to Helsinki where I will be for one week. With daylight being too limited for much sightseeing and my linguistic curiosity insatiable, I probably will spend most of this time in the library. Today’s tour of the university’s Department of Finno-Ugrian linguistics was exciting. I had lunch with faculty members Tapani Salminen and Riho Grünthal (at the extreme left and right respectively of the photograph), and a graduate student whose name I sadly don’t remember. From left to right: Tapani Salminen, Christopher Culver, unknown graduate student, Prof Riho Grünthal.

Later I attended a session of Prof Salminen’s course on Enets. His lecture used an Enets translation of fragments of Luke’s gospel to elucidate the similarities of the poorly-understood Forest Enets language to his own concentration, Tundra Nenets, and their mutual descent from Proto-Samoyedic. (Incidentally, this Enets Biblical translation is published by in Stockholm by the Institute for Biblical Translation, ISBN 91-88394-99-9.)

I have picked up three Mari-related books. One, Poro Keče, is the most lightweight of recent Mari textbooks. The other two items are readers published by Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura (the Finno-Ugrian Society) in Helsinki, Yrjö Wichmann’s Tscheremissiche Texte (from 1953) and Alho Alhoniemi’s Marin kielen lukemisto (1986).

The department was all the more welcoming because Mari is the theme of its display board.
A Mari-themed bulletin board in the Department of Finno-Ugrian Studies at the University of Helsinki