LSUL 01: Historically Problematic Morphosyntactic Features in Uralic Languages

Product no.: ISBN 9783895864933
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Historically Problematic Morphosyntactic Features in Uralic Languages

Ago Künnap
University of Tartu

The introductory chapter 1 of this book addresses the question of a novel approach to the history of Uralic – Finno-Ugric and Samoyed – languages. The investigations clearly show that among the reconstructed Proto-Uralic structural features by far not all belong to common Uralic. A large number of them find equivalents in the neighbouring non-Uralic languages. Chapter 2 is dedicated the problematics of some Uralic morphosyntactic features.

The author has namely regarded as reliable that the genitive with the suffix -n has actually been one of the earliest Uralic object cases. Uralic languages are accusativeless because in those languages there is no individual case form for a direct object. The primary determinator of the choice between the indefinite/definite conjugations in Uralic languages was intransitivity/transitivity. Discrimination of indefinite/definite conjugations and concomitant reference to the number of the objects as well as to a person of the object in the verbal forms are phenomenon that is inherent to the whole of Northern Siberia and, besides Uralic languages occur in a number of Paleosiberian languages. In case of Uralic verbal personal k-markers we can probably come across very little etymologically common suffix-material inherent to all Uralic languages and at times they may prove to be of Turkic origin altogether. It may be supposed that a non-personal general-definitive function has always been inherent to the Uralic 3rd person possessive suffix.

An unexpected feature in several Uralic languages is the lack of the Finnish type of the pronominal genitive attribute of the possessive suffix (minun lauluni ‘my my-song’, cf. the Estonian type without a possessive suffix in minu laul ‘my song’). It need not necessarily always indicate the retreat of the use of possessive suffixes as is usually supposed. In chapter 3 it is shown that neither does it exclude the possibility of supposing an eastern specific relationship of Livonian via an onetime broken Finno-Ugric linguistic chain.

Chapter 4 demonstrates that it would be more discreet to admit that the origin of the Ugric t-locative, l-ablative and Hungarian k-plural is not known, however, it is hardly probable that they should have a general Finno-Ugric background.

The author is the Full Professor of Uralic languages of the University of Tartu. He has studied the contacts between Uralic and neighbouring languages (Indo-European, Altaic, Paleo-Siberian) and published several books and articles about the problematics.

ISBN 9783895864933. LINCOM Studies in Uralic Linguistics 01. 96pp. 2006.

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