About the estimates of divergence times of Uralic languages

Santeri santeri.junttila at helsinki.fi
Tue Sep 28 20:38:27 UTC 2010

Please keep in mind that a language split is a lengthy process, that  
cannot be given a single date. The oldest phonetic isoglosse traceable  
with the historical comparative method doesn't mean neither a rupture  
in the mutual comprehensibility of the protolanguage nor a division of  
the community speaking it. It must not be interpreted as the point of  
divergence of the protolanguage, though this is just what most  
Uralicists and Indo-Europeanist do. Instead, it means only the first  
traceable split in the proto-dialect. If we define a language as a  
bunch of mutually comprehensible dialects, the split of a  
protolanguage must be defined as a process of increasing  
incomprehensibility. This means, in the normal case, not as much  
phonetic as lexical divergence. Lexical divergence, in turn, is mostly  
caused by language contact.

To sum up: splits of protolanguages should be searched in periods of  
intensive language contacts, but they can't be given an exact date.

Best wishes
  Santeri Junttila

Lainaus "Terhi Honkola" <terhi.honkola at utu.fi>:

[Piilota lainattu teksti]

Hello everyone,

I´m a PhD student in a research group called BEDLAN (Biological  
Evolution and the
Diversification of Languages) where we analyse linguistic data with  
biological methods.
For further information see  http://kielievoluutio.uta.fi.

The reason why I approach to you, the members of URA-LIST, now is that  
I have done
lately timing analyses to the Uralic languages. An essential part in  
those analyses is
the correct estimation of the calibration points. I  have already gone  
through different
sources (i.e. Sinor 1988, Abondolo 1998, Kallio 2006) where divergence  
times of
languages have earlier been estimated and by now I have used the  
following calibration
*Early Proto-Finnic: 2500 YBP (years before present) ± 500 years
*Obugric 1700 YBP ± 200 years
*Permic 1300 YBP ± 100 years

Do you think that these calibration points with these error scales are  
appropriate or
would you suggest us to use some other calibration points?

I ask this as I believe research is done around this topic all the  
time and now I would
like to hear your newest results about the divergence times of Uralic  
languages to see
if, for example, the error scales of the timings could be narrowed. I  
was also hoping
you could give me names of articles which I could read around this topic.

I would appreciate your answers very much.

With kind regards,

Terhi Honkola


Terhi Honkola
PhD student
Section of Ecology, Department of Biology
University of Turku

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