Re: [ANE-2] Sumerian as Uralic
- On Mon, 6 Jun 2011, Peter T. Daniels wrote:
> My reply will be somewhere between Sikozu's and Bob's.Perhaps, but since Vovin jumped ship so dramatically in 2005 ("The end of
> These days, there seem to be more Altaicists favoring the genetic unity
> of the three (not just two) families, Turkic - Mongolic - Tungusic (the
> only well-known Tungusic language was Manchu, which is extinct in its
> homeland of Manchuria but survives out west in a variety not written
> with the Manchu alphabet) than not;
the Altaic controversy" [review of Starostin et al. 2003], *Central
Asiatic Journal* 49, 71-132), the momentum seems to have swung to the
> and the Japanese-Korean phylum (the late Samuel Martin's demonstrationOr, to quote Starostin: "The few scholars that studied the [Altaic]
> of their unity is rather convincing) in turn is said to be related to
> Altaic. (See Roy Andrew Miller, *Japanese and the Other Altaic
> Languages*.) But there was much contact over the centuries, so the
> historical picture is very muddled, and the most ancient records are
> IIRC from the mid 1st millennium CE.
> But adding in Uralic is another matter. First, it's basically impossible
> to reconstruct any vowels in Proto-Uralic, because of the vowel
> harmony that pervades all the languages, so the ancestral roots are
> pretty meager stuff to work with. And then, the time-depth for any PUA
> is pretty much beyond what we think can safely be reached with the
> Comparative Method that gave us Indo-European (which in its entirely
> goes back only about as far as the closely-knit Semitic family must go
languages regarded them rather as part of a common Ural-Altaic family,
together with Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic languages -- an idea now
completely discarded." (Starostin et al. 2003: 8).
Starostin et al. Starostin, Sergei A., Anna V. Dybo, and Oleg A.
2003 Mudrak. Etymological Dictionary of the Altaic
Languages, 3 volumes. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.
- Well, is Sumerian still to be regarded as an orphan, having lost all
its relatives, and having died out with no distant family members to
attend its funeral? Parpola thinks it still had contact (trade) with
the ancestors in the homeland.
Or was it unique and autogenous, a product of autogenesis, the result
of a game (like Esperanto) of "let's invent a language", or two?
(Has that eme-sal language been sorted out yet? Was it a matter of
different vocabulary being used by men and women?)
Begin forwarded message:
> From: Brian Colless <briancolless@...>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> Date: 6 June 2011 5:46:45 PM
> To: ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [ANE-2] Sumerian as Uralic
> Reply-To: ANEemail@example.com
> Simo Parpola
> Sumerian: A Uralic Language
> (Helsinki, 2007)
> 53e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Moscow, July 23, 2007
> I have often heard that Sumerian is "an agglutinative language like
> Now that my daughter Laurel Colless has given me two Finnish
> granddaughters, I ought to be interested in this question (she is the
> wife of Finland's ambassador in Washington, but soon to move to
> Simo Parpola has now argued that Sumerian is Ural-Altaic, bringing it
> in from the cold of isolation (or into the cold). He notes that this
> hypothesis has been tried before but has been rejected by Finno-
> Ugrists and Assyriologists.
> Another thing that is said about Finnish is that its nouns have
> umpteen cases (inflexions).
> From my observation, languages with cases lose them along the way
> (Latin into the Romance languages), though German has been very
> conservative in contrast to English.
> Did Sumerian have a paradigm of cases?
> Is there a connection? Parpola had found relevant 478 verbs and 589
> nouns in 2007, but I have seen, for example, a long list of words that
> shows Italian and Arabic are closely related, though I think Parpola's
> argument would be stronger.
> He has the Sumerians arriving in Mesopotamia (as invading immigrants,
> with wheeled vehicles) around 3300 BCE.
> Brian Colless
> School of History
> Massey University
> New Zealand
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- I'm not really specialized in emesal but somehow I have the impression that it, perhaps similar to the UD.GAL.NUN writing system, is not far from a cryptography derived from "standard" Sumerian (cf. Krebernik, OBO 160/1, p. 309).
Regarding Prof Parpola's article, I'm more interested in his suggestion:
"The non-Uralic features of Sumerian, such as the ergative construction and the prefix chains of the verb, can be explained as special developments of Sumerian in an entirely new linguistic environment after its separation from the other Uralic languages."
Any comments from the list? Many thanks.
Dr. Xianhua Wang
Department of History
Beijing 100871, China
发件人： Brian Colless
发送时间： 2011-06-09 22:45:56
主题： [ANE-2] Sumerian as Uralic
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]