Thematic issue  No. 1


December 2011








The Thematic Issue No. 1 of The Macro-Comparative Journal is dedicated to several methodological points about Proto-Uralic loanwords, the historiography of the idea of proto-language and a survey of etymological theories from Antiquity to present-day.




A Historical and Cultural Sketch of the Concept of Proto-Language

Arnaud Fournet


Abstract: The paper investigates the cultural prerequisites and developments that ultimately led to the creation of the concept of prehistoric unattested proto-languages from Antiquity to present-day. 


An Epistemological Approach of Theories of Linguistic Signs and Etymology

Arnaud Fournet


Abstract: The paper deals with the ontological and etymological status of words and linguistic units, especially as regards the theoretical issues of the arbitrariness of the sign and the potential motivation of linguistic signs in the extralinguistic reality. It examines and discusses a number of authors and theories, developed since the Ancient Greek philosophical tradition. The theoretical typology thus revealed is more complex than the classical opposition between nature and convention. As a mirror it also sheds light on the intrinsic features of modern linguistics in the wake of Saussure's teachings and on the logical structure of the Comparative Method.


The geohistorical stratification of Uralic-Indo-European contacts in light of some Tocharian loanwords in Mordvin

Arnaud Fournet


Abstract: During their movements and splits Uralic languages, and foremost those of the Finnic and Volgaic groups which have the westernmost and southwesternmost locations, got in contact with different branches of the Indo-European family. This issue has been at the center of Uralic etymological and historical studies from the start. The paper first presents the principles for the stratification of Uralic-Indo-European loanwords and then examines a set of words that exhibit a very peculiar sound correspondence in the initial syllable between Finnic va ~ Mokša u and Erzia vi. These words can be shown to be loanwords of Tocharian origin. These words conflict with the usual paradigm that only the most widespread Indo-European loanwords into the Uralic family could have a Tocharian origin. In addition they offer new insight on the original location of proto-Tocharian.