Is it Necessary to Reconstruct *ö for Proto-Samoyedic: Sources of o after Palatal Consonants in First and Non-First Syllables in Tundra Nenets

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: 9 Tuchkov lane, St. Petersburg, 199004, Russia
Journal nameIzvestiia Rossiiskoi akademii nauk. Seriia literatury i iazyka
EditionVolume 81 Issue 6

The article discusses the need to reconstruct the phoneme *ö for the Proto-Samoyed language. As is known, for Proto-Samoyedic (in the system proposed by J. Janhunen in “Samojedischer Wortschatz”) this phoneme is reconstructed only for the first syllable. Its reconstruction relies primarily on the data of the Nenets language: the words of the phonetic structure palatal consonant in anlaut + vowel o, such as syoncya ‘inside’ serve as the base. The article analyzes all cases in which a Nenets word of this type has Proto-Samodic or Proto-Northern Samoyedic etymology. Etymological correlates in other Samoyedic and Northern Samoyedic languages allow to demonstrate, that the initial o palatalizing an anlaut consonant either originates in a more complex phonetic sequence, or is positionally determined and can be explained by the influence of the vowel of the subsequent syllable. Neither for Proto-Samoyedic nor for Proto-Northern Samoyedic are reconstructed words of a “phonetically neutral” structure like *СV, *CVC or even *СVCə̑, *CVCå, where *V is represented by *ö. The etymological correspondences of Nenets words with the sequence palatal consonant + vowel o in non-first syllables are also analyzed: all such words are derivatives, and the material of other Samoyedic languages shows that in this case, too, Nenets o, palatalizing the preceding consonant, does not correspond to a single vowel, but to a more complex phonetic sequence.

KeywordsSamoyedic languages, historical phonetics, historical grammar, reconstruction of vocalism
AcknowledgmentThe research was supported by RSF grant No. 22-28-01975 “Historical Grammar of the Samoyedic Languagesˮ
Publication date19.12.2022
Number of characters29297
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