Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate

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Languages of Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate
Region Northern Europe
Extinct 1st millennium AD
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog None

Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate refers to substratum words from unidentified non-Indo-European 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 Baltic-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 have 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, although he gives an example of the reconstructed word *ku(u)kka(s) with the meaning "long".[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 lots of geminated consonants (which is also characteristic of some Pictish inscriptions in a presumably non-Indo-European language).[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]

Some examples of Kildin Sami words without convincing Uralic/Finno-Ugric (or any other) etymologies:[9]

Kildin Sami English
kut’t’k heart
nirr cheek
čad’z’ water
vuntas sand
poav’n hummock
k’ed’d’k stone
abbr’ rain
piŋŋk wind
ket’t’k’ wolverine
nigkeš pike (fish)
murr tree
cigk mist
mun frost
pin’ne to herd, to look after
čujke to ski
puaz reindeer
koan’n’t wild reindeer
luhpel’ 1 y.o. reindeer
sejjd deity
kipp’tε to cook
kuras empty
modžes beautiful
n’učke to jump
čacke to throw
tuллtε to boil
kuarktε to boast
лujx’ke to cry
nissε to kiss
madt trouble
tommtε to recognize
aps smell

Most of these words have cognates in all Sami languages. There are also some examples of substrate words in Finno-Volgaic languages that differ from the Pre-Sami substrate, i.e. Proto-Finno-Volgaic *täštä "star", or *kümmin "ten".[10]

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». 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. ^ Напольских В. В. К реконструкции лингвистической карты Центра Европейской России в раннем железном веке // Журнал «Арт» № 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. ^ М. Рясанен «Об урало-алтайском языковом родстве» // Вопросы языкознания. — М., 1968, № 1. (in Russian)
  8. ^ Кузьменко Ю. К. «Ранние германцы и их соседи: Лингвистика, археология, генетика.» СПб.: Нестор-История, 2011., стр. 181 (in Russian)
  9. ^ Керт Г. М. (G. M. Kert), 2003. Этногенез саамов // Прибалтийско-финские народы России. Москва. С. 43-48. (in Russian)
  10. ^ Неиндоевропейский субстрат в финно-волжских языках | Mikhail Zhivlov (in Russian)
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