Turkic vocalism revisited

Previously I wrote about the system of Proto-Turkic vowels as consisting of 8 qualities spanned by features of height, frontness and rounding with three additional phonemes sometimes suggested: /ia/, /e/ and /*ë/.


The first phoneme is reflected identically to *a, except it caused palatalization in Chuvash, so that we have[1]:

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Mongolic sedentary agricultural vocabulary

It is sometimes heard that Proto-Indo-European homeland couldn’t have been the Ponto-Caspian steppe, as Yamnaya people were pastoralist nomads, while PIE contains words that betray knowledge of farming technology (such as ploughs and fields). To do away with this argument, I list here the inherited farming vocabulary of the Mongols, the quintessential nomads.

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Mongolic ablative

The form of the ablative case suffix in Mongolic is a well isogloss separating all modern Mongolic varieties and all Middle Mongol sources save Muqaddimat alAdab. Middle Mongol reflects *-(a-)ča, while modern languages (and MA) show *-(a-)sa[1].  Thus, irregular deaffrication of *č in this suffix is taken to be a Common Mongolic innovation.

There are no external comparisons that could hint to a further etymology of the ablative suffix. Khitan has an unrelated ablative in <e(n)d.ii>, homographical with dative+genitive. Sometimes a comparison with the Turkic equative (likely an original prolative) *-ča is made, but the semantics are off. Poppe also claims cognacy to Manchu či, but Jurchen data (Kiyose 309) shows that the original form was ti and the similarity probably fortuitous.

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Bronze Age population dynamics and the rise of dairy pastoralism on the eastern Eurasian steppe (2018)

I’m running the risk of this becoming a genetics blog, but another interesting paper came out this week: Bronze Age population dynamics and the rise of dairy pastoralism on the eastern Eurasian steppe.

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The population history of northeastern Siberia since the Pleistocene (2018)

A new genetic preprint on ancient Siberia just came out yesterday. It also contains a linguistical supplement by Peyrot and Kroonen. It samples two Pleistocene individuals from Yana river in Sakha republic, a ~7800BC individual  from the Kolyma region, 14 Chukotkan individuals from the first millennium BC, six additional sixth millennium hunter-gatherers from Devil’s Gate Cave in Primorsky krai (other DGC individuals were sampled earlier) and ten later samples from all over Siberia.

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Affiliations of Altai Turkic: Case system – part one

Altai republic is home to several language varieties sometimes divided into two languages, Northern and Southern, and sometimes considered as dialects of a single official language which is based on the Oirot variety. While it is obvious that North and South Altai share many features, how closely related they are and what is their position within the Turkic family are less clear.

On one side there are Siberian Turkic languages, in particular Yeniseian languages, which Northern Altai shows some affinities to, on the other is the Kyrgyz language whose speakers likely arrived in Kyrgyzstan from the slopes of Tian Shan and Kipchak languages which may or may not include Kyrgyz and possibly even Altai itself.

Thus I’d like to investigate the differences between these languages and determine shared innovations which will hopefully illuminate relationships of descent among them.

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Turkic initials

While all Turkic languages show distinction between voiceless and voiced stops [1] word-internally, only Oghuz languages have it initially[2], and only between k/g in front vowel words and t/d .

Most reconstructions take this distinction to have been phonemic in Proto-Turkic, but Doerfer makes the case in Ein altosmanisches Lautgesetz im Kurdischen that we’re dealing with a secondary voicing in Oghuz.

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