About the estimates of divergence times of Uralic languages

jphakkin at mappi.helsinki.fi jphakkin at mappi.helsinki.fi
Mon Oct 4 12:50:58 UTC 2010


> In such a case, I do not see  it as very good idea to choose that  
> level of reconstruction as a  'calibration point', as we might very  
> well be trying to date a  proto-language that did not really even  
> exist as a coherent entity.

This may be the biggest problem at the time. Terhi might have wanted  
to get calibration points of different ages, but the problem is that  
all the nodes in the family tree which we can be sure of, are quite  
recent (shallow time-depth). Also the error margins of the datings are  
smaller with younger protolanguages.

So it would be good to take as calibration points some of these  
shallow, undisputed protolanguages (Proto-Permic, Proto-Mordvinic,  
Proto-Finnic, Proto-Saamic), which also have external loanword layers  
helping to date the inter- or intra-branch dialectal split (Germanic  
in the west, Old Bulgharian in the east etc.) and possibly(?) even  
some trustworthy archaeological or historical data about the beginning  
of areal split (traces of migration to the later areas, from the area  
which language is known?).

There may be enough temporal variance (if this is desired) within  
these calibration points, Saamic seemingly being the oldest of the  
mentioned branches to differentiate, and Mordvinic youngest. It could  
also be helpful if Terhi told more about the role of the calibration  
points in her method. :-)

Jaakko Häkkinen

jaakko.hakkinen at helsinki.fi

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