Current distribution of the Uralic languages


Proto-Uralic homeland hypothes

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Various Proto-Uralic homeland hypotheses on the origin of the Uralic languages and the location (Urheimat or homeland) and the period in which the Proto-Uralic language was spoken have been advocated over the years.

Europe versus Siberia

The Proto-Uralic homeland has always been located near the Ural Mountains, either on the European or the Siberian side. The main reason to suppose a Siberian home-land has been the traditional taxonomic model that sees the Samoyed branch split-ting off first. Because the present border between the Samoyed and the Ugric branch is in Western Siberia, the original split was seen to have occurred there too.

However, because the Ugric languages are known to have been spoken earlier on the European side of the Urals, a European homeland would be equally possible. In recent years, it has also been argued that on the phonological basis the oldest split was not between the Samoyed and the Finno-Ugric but between the Finno-Permic and the Ugro-Samoyedic language groups. [1] The lexical level is argued to be less reliable, and lexical innovativeness (a small number of shared cognates) can be con-fused because of the great age of the division. For a long time, no new arguments for a Siberian homeland have been presented.

Both European and Siberian homeland proposals have been supported by palaeo-linguistic evidence, but only such cases in which the semantic reconstructions are certain are valid. A Siberian homeland has been claimed on the basis of two conife-rous tree names in Proto-Uralic,but the trees (Abies sibirica and Pinus cembra) have for a long time been present also in the far east of Europe. A European homeland is supported by words for 'bee', 'honey', 'elm' etc. [2] They can be reconstructed already in Proto-Uralic, when Samoyed is no more the first entity to split off. [3]

More recently also the loanword evidence has been used to support a European homeland. Proto-Uralic has been seen borrowing words from Proto-Indo-European,[4][5] and the Proto-Indo-European homeland has rarely been located east of the Urals. Proto-Uralic even seems to have developed in close contact with Proto-Aryan, [6] which is seen to have been born in the Poltavka culture of the Caspian steppes before its spread to Asia. [7]

Although Proto-Uralic is now located on the European side of the Urals, Pre-Proto-Uralic seems to have been spoken in Asia on the basis of early contacts with the Yukaghir languages [8] and typological similarity with the Altaic (in the typological meaning) language families. [9]

Continuity theories

Archaeological continuity has long been applied as an argument for linguistic conti-nuity in Uralic studies since Estonians Paul Ariste and Harri Moora in 1956. [10] Just as long, this kind of argumentation has also been heavily criticised. The oldest version of the continuity theories can be called the moderate or shallow continuity theory. It claims that linguistic continuity in Estonia and Finland can be traced back to the arrival of Typical Combed Ware, about 6,000 years ago. This view became mainstream in the multidisciplinary Tvärminne symposium in 1980, [11] when there seemed to be no serious linguistic results to contradict that archaeological view.

The continuity argumentation in the Uralic studies gained greater visibility in the 1990s, when the next step was popularised (even though this line of reasoning had been occasionally sported). In the radical or deep continuity theory, it is claimed that the linguistic continuity in Finland could be traced back to the Mesolithic initial colonization, beyond 10,000 years.[12][13]

However, in Indo-European studies, J. P. Mallory had already thoroughly scrutinized the methodological weakness of the continuity argumentation in 1989.[14] In Uralic studies, it was also soon noted that the one and the same argument (archaeological continuity) was used to support contradicting views, which revealed the method's unreliability.[15][16][17][18]

At the same time,new linguistic results appeared to contradict the continuity theories: the datings of Proto-Saami [19][20] and Proto-Finnic [21] and of Proto-Uralic (Kallio 2006; Häkkinen 2009)[3][22] both are clearly younger than were thought in the framework of the continuity theories.

Now, linguists rarely believe in continuity theories because of their shown methodo-logical flaws and their incompatibility with the new linguistic results, but some archaeologists and laymen may still claim such arguments.

Modern view

After the rejection of continuity theories, recent linguistic arguments have placed the Proto-Uralic homeland around the Kama River or, more generally, close to the Great Volga Bend and the Ural Mountains. The expansion of Proto-Uralic has been dated to about 2000 BC (4000 years ago), and its earlier stages go back at least one or two millennia earlier. Either way, that is considerably later than the earlier views of the continuity theories, which would place Proto-Uralic deep into Europe. [3][22]

Evidence from population genetics

The characteristic genetic marker of Uralic-speaking peoples is haplogroup N1c-Tat (Y-DNA), also known as N-M46. 63% of Finns,[23] and 47% of Saami [24] and 41% of Estonians [23] belong to this haplogroup. Samoyedic peoples mainly have more N1b-P43 than N1c. [25] Haplogroup N originated in the northern part of China in 20,000 - 25000 years BP [26] and spread to north Eurasia,through Siberia to Northern Europe. Subgroup N1c1 is frequently seen in Finno-Ugric people, N1c2 in Samoyedic peoples. In addition,haplogroup Z (mtDNA),found with low frequency in Saami, Finns, and Siberians, is related to the migration of Uralic peoples.

In recent genetic analysis of ancient human bones excavated from the remains of Liao civilization, haplogroup N1 (Y-DNA) is found with a high frequency, of 60-100%. [27] Therefore, a new possibility arises that the origin of Uralic languages (and per-haps also of the Yukaghir languages) may be Liao River region.The oldest Pit-Comb Ceramic, related to Finno-Ugric peoples,is also found in Liao civilization. That is also corroborated by the works of Vladimir Napolskikh, who studied the origins of the "earth-diver" creation myths and concluded that a certain variety of those myths, which is found in the folklore of Uralic peoples and other N1(Y-DNA) populations, originated in Northern Asia, possibly in the northeastern regions of today's China. [28]

See also


1. Häkkinen, Jaakko 2007: Kantauralin murteutuminen vokaalivastaavuuksien valos-sa. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2012 - 04 - 16.

2. Sebestyén-Németh, Irene 1951–1952: Zur Frage des alten Wohngebietes der uralischen Völker.

3. Häkkinen, Jaakko 2009: Kantauralin ajoitus ja paikannus: perustelut puntarissa. – Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Aikakauskirja 92, p. 9–56.

4. Rédei, Károly 1986: Zu den indogermanisch-uralischen Sprachkontakten. (Toim. Manfred Mayrhofer & Volfgang U. Dressler.) Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Linguistik und Kommunikationsforschung, Heft 16. Wien.

5. Koivulehto, Jorma 1991: Koivulehto, Jorma 1991: Uralische Evidenz für die Laryn-galtheorie. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.Philosophisch-Historische Klasse. Sitzungsberichte, 566. Band. Wien 1991.

6. Häkkinen, Jaakko 2012: Uralic evidence for the Indo-European homeland.

7. Mallory, J. P. & Adams, D. Q. (editors) 1997: Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 439

8. Häkkinen, Jaakko 2012: Early contacts between Uralic and Yukaghir. Tiina Hyyti-äinen, Lotta Jalava, Janne Saarikivi & Erika Sandman (editors): Per Urales ad Orien-tem Iter polyphonicum multilingue Festskrift tillägnad Juha Janhunen på hans sextio-årsdag den 12 februari 2012. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 264, p. 91 – 101. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura.

9. Janhunen, Juha 2001: Indo-Uralic and Ural-Altaic: On the diachronic implications of areal typology. – Carpelan,Parpola & Koskikallio (editors): Early Contacts between Uralic and Indo-European: Linguistic and Archaeological Considerations, p. 207 – 220. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 242.

10. Moora, Harri (editor) 1956: Eesti rahva etnilisest ajaloost. Tallinn.

11. Gallén, Jarl (editor) 1984: Suomen väestön esihistorialliset juuret. Tvärminnen symposiumi 17.–19.1.1980. Bidrag till kännedom av Finlands natur och folk, 131. Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica.

12. Nuñez, Milton G. 1987: A Model for the Early Settlement of Finland. – Fennoscandia Archaeologica 4.

13. Wiik, Kalevi 2002: Eurooppalaisten juuret. Jyväskylä: Atena.

14. Mallory, J. P. 1989: In Search of the Indo-Europeans. Language, Archaeology and Myth. London: Thames and Hudson.

15. Mallory, J. P. 2001: Uralics and Indo-Europeans: Problems of time and space. Carpelan et al. (edited): Early Contacts between Uralic and Indo-European: Linguis-tic and Archaeological Considerations, p. 345–366. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 242.

16. Aikio, Ante & Aikio, Aslak 2001: Heimovaelluksista jatkuvuuteen. Suomalaisen väestöhistorian tutkimuksen pirstoutuminen. – Muinaistutkija 4/2001, p. 2–21. Helsin-ki: Suomen arkeologinen seura. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2008-01-07.

17. Häkkinen, Jaakko 2006: Studying the Uralic proto-language. [Translation from: Uralilaisen kantakielen tutkiminen. – Tieteessä tapahtuu 1 / 2006, p. 52–58.]

18. Häkkinen, Jaakko 2010: Jatkuvuusperustelut ja saamelaisen kielen leviäminen (OSA 1). – Muinaistutkija 1 / 2010, p. 19–36.

19. Aikio, Ante 2004: An essay on substrate studies and the origin of Saami. – Irma Hyvärinen, Petri Kallio & Jarmo Korhonen (toim.):Etymologie,Entlehnungen und Ent- wicklungen. Festschrift für Jorma Koivulehto zum 70. Geburtstag, s. 5–34. Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki, LXIII. Helsinki: Uusfilologinen yhdistys ry.

20. Aikio, Ante 2006: On Germanic-Saami contacts and Saami prehistory. – Suoma-lais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Aikakauskirja 91, p. 9–55. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura.

21. Saarikivi, Janne & Grünthal, Riho 2005: Itämerensuomalaisten kielten uralilainen tausta. Muuttuva muoto. Kirjoituksia Tapani Lehtisen 60-vuotispäivän kunniaksi, s. 111 – 146. Kieli 16.

22. Kallio, Petri 2006: Suomen kantakielten absoluuttista kronologiaa. – Virittäjä 1 / 2006, p. 2–25.

23. Rosser ZH, Zerjal T, Hurles ME, Adojaan M, Alavantic D, Amorim A, Amos W, Armenteros M,Arroyo E, Barbujani G, Beckman G, Beckman L, Bertranpetit J, Bosch E, Bradley DG, Brede G,Cooper G, Côrte-Real H.B., De Knijff P, Decorte R, Dubrova YE, Evgrafov O,Gilissen A,Glisic S, Gölge M, Hill EW, Jeziorowska A, Kalaydjieva L, Kayser M et al. (2000). "Y-Chromosomal Diversity in Europe is Clinal and Influenced Primarily by Geography, Rather than by Language".The American Journal of Human Genetics 67 (6): 1526–1543. doi:10.1086/316890. PMC 1287948. PMID 11078479. Vancouver style error (help)

24. Tambets K, Rootsi S, Kivisild T, Help H, Serk P, Loogväli EL et al. (2004). "The western and eastern roots of the Saami--the story of genetic "outliers" told by mito-chondrial DNA and Y chromosomes". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 74 (4): 661–82. doi: 10.1086/383203. PMC 1181943. PMID 15024688. Vancouver style error (help)

25. Tambets, Kristiina et al. 2004, The Western and Eastern Roots of the Saami - the Story of Genetic “Outliers” Told by Mitochondrial DNA and Y Chromosomes

26. Shi H, Qi X, Zhong H, Peng Y,Zhang X,et al. (2013) Genetic Evidence of an East Asian Origin and Paleolithic Northward Migration of Y-chromosome Haplogroup N. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66102. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066102

27. Yinqiu Cui, Hongjie Li, Chao Ning, Ye Zhang,Lu Chen,Xin Zhao, Erika Hagelberg and Hui Zhou (2013)"Y Chromosome analysis of prehistoric human populations in the West Liao River Valley, Northeast China. " BMC 13:216

28. Napolskikh V. V. (Izhevsk, Russia). Earth-Diver Myth (А812) in northern Eurasia and North America: twenty years later.