Pre-Finno-Ugric Substrate
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Pre-Finno-Ugric Substrate
Languages of Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate
RegionNorthern Europe
Extinct1st millennium AD
Language codes
None (mis)

Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate refers to substratum loanwords from unidentified non-Indo-European and non-Uralic languages that are found in various Finno-Ugric languages, most notably Sami. The presence of Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate in Sami languages was demonstrated by Ante Aikio.[1] Janne Saarikivi points out that similar substrate words are present in Finnic languages as well, but in much smaller numbers.[2]


Some theories about the origin of substrate in Sami languages link it to the unattested languages of post-Ahrensburgian cultures (Komsa & Fosna-Hensbacka cultures).[3] According to Aikio, the speakers of the Proto-Samic language arrived in Lapland around 650 BC and fully assimilated the local Paleo-European populations by the middle of 1st millennium AD. In his opinion, the detailed reconstruction of these languages is impossible.[1]

The languages of more eastern post-Swiderian cultures might have influenced Finno-Ugric languages as well. According to Peter Schrijver, some of these substrate languages probably had many geminated consonants (which is also characteristic of some Pictish inscriptions in a presumably non-Indo-European language).[disputed ][4][5]Vladimir Napolskikh has attempted to link them to the hypothetical Dené-Caucasian language family, but later had to admit that these substrate words have no apparent parallels in any known language on Earth.[6]

Other researchers have pointed out that some of these words (i.e. toponyms like "Imandra") might have parallels in Tungusic languages.[7] Yuri Kuzmenko tried to compare them to the hypothetical Pre-Germanic substrate words, but found no similarities apart from the distinction between central and peripheral accentuation.[8] In population genetics, Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate in Sami languages correlates with the spread of Y-DNA haplogroup I1 and mtDNA haplogroups H1 and U5b1b[3]. However, the presence of the Y-DNA haplogroup I1a* among Sami people can be explained by immigration (of men) during the 14th century, which is quite late in Sami history.[9]

Some examples of Kildin Sami words without convincing Uralic/Finno-Ugric (or any other) etymologies:[10]

Kildin Sami English
kut't'k heart
nirr cheek
?ad'z' water
vuntas sand
poav'n hummock
k'ed'd'k stone
abbr' rain
pik wind
ket't'k' wolverine
nigke? pike (fish)
murr tree
cigk mist
mun frost
pin'ne to herd, to look after
?ujke to ski
puaz reindeer
koan'n't wild reindeer
luhpel' 1 y.o. reindeer
sejjd deity
kipp't? to cook
kuras empty
mod?es beautiful
n'u?ke to jump
?acke to throw
tut? to boil
kuarkt? to boast
?ujx'ke to cry
niss? to kiss
madt trouble
aps smell

Most of these words have cognates in all Sami languages. A more extensive list of such words can be found in G.M. Kert's 2009 work on Sami toponymics[11]. Note that some of them now have convincing Uralic etymologies: i.e. t?mt? «to recognize» (compare Finnish: tuntea and Hungarian: tudni), and n?ux? «swan» (compare Finnish: joutsen). Semantically, pre-Sami substrate consists mostly of basic vocabulary terms (i.e. human body parts) and nature/animal names, and lacks terms of kinship and societal organization, which suggests a rather low level of socioeconomic development in pre-Sami cultures.[12]

There are also some examples of possible substrate words in Finno-Volgaic languages that differ from the Pre-Sami substrate, i.e. Proto-Finno-Volgaic *tä?tä "star", or *kümmin "ten".[13][14]

See also


  1. ^ a b Ante Aikio «An Essay on Substrate Studies and the Origin of Saami», 2004
  2. ^ Janne Saarikivi «Studies on Finno-Ugrian substrate in Northern Russian dialects Archived 2017-08-30 at the Wayback Machine». Tartu University Press, 2006; pp. 257--279.
  3. ^ a b K. Tambets et al. «The Western and Eastern Roots of the Saami--the Story of Genetic ,,Outliers" Told by Mitochondrial DNA and Y Chromosomes». American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 74, Issue 4, April 2004, cnh/ 661--682.
  4. ^ ? ?. ?. ? ? ? ? Archived 2017-09-27 at the Wayback Machine // «» No 4, 2007 (in Russian)
  5. ^ «Palaeo-European substratum in Lappish: looking for links to Celtic?» // Celto-Slavica-2. Second international colloquium of Societas Celto-Slavica. Moscow, 2006; pp. 66-67
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ ?. ? « - ?» // ? . -- ?., 1968, No 1. (in Russian)
  8. ^ ?. ?. « ? ?, ?, .» .: -?, 2011., . 181 (in Russian)
  9. ^ Andreas O Karlsson, Thomas Wallerström, Anders Götherström and Gunilla Holmlund (2006). "Y-chromosome diversity in Sweden - A long-time perspective". European Journal of Human Genetics. 14 (8): 963-970. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201651. PMID 16724001.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ ? ?. ?. (G. M. Kert), 2003. // -? . . ?. 43-48. (in Russian)
  11. ^ ?. ?. ? « ? ?» (in Russian; see pp. 140-154)
  12. ^ ?. ?. ? « ? ( ?)?, ?, ». «», ?., 1971 (in Russian; see p. 9)
  13. ^ ? - | Mikhail Zhivlov (in Russian)
  14. ^ Kantauralin ajoitus ja paikannus: perustelut puntarissa | Jaakko Häkkinen (in Finnish)

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