The International Journal of Eurasian Linguistics (JEAL) aims at providing a professional forum for original contributions on the modern and ancient languages of Eurasia, with a focus on Central Eurasia, a region also known as Inner Asia, extending from Anatolia and eastern Europe in the west to northern China, Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea, and Japan in the east, and from the Iranian Plateau and Tibet in the south to Siberia and the Arctic Ocean in the north. The journal contains articles, reports, and book reviews. Preference is given to papers dealing with the languages of the region in a broad comparative panchronic scope, and with a philological, areal, or typological approach.
This paper discusses the history and prehistory of the so-called affiliative form in Ainu, also known as the “possessive” or “concrete” form of nominals. In earlier research, this form has been understood as belonging to the sphere of suffixal morphology, complicated by the impact of vowel harmony and/or nominal classes. This paper shows, however, that the marking of the affiliative form actually involves a trace of the original stem-final vowel otherwise lost in the language, followed by a recently grammaticalized separate particle. This means that Ainu must have undergone a general process of final vowel loss, which has substantially changed its morpheme structure and ultimately caused the morphophonological alternations connected with the affiliative form. This conclusion potentially opens up the way towards a more comprehensive internal reconstruction of Ainu.
The paper discusses the controversy that has arisen concerning the origin and nature of vowel harmony in Mongolian, as well as in a number of other Eurasian languages. In contrast to the conventional understanding according to which Proto-Mongolic had a palatal-velar harmony of the same type as is attested in the Turkic and Uralic languages, it has been claimed recently that the harmony was actually of the tongue root type, involving, in particular, tongue root retraction in the pronunciation of certain vowels. However, while tongue root harmony is indeed prevalent in many modern Mongolic languages, including standard Mongolian, there are several arguments that can be made in support of the conventional reconstruction. There are serious reasons to assume that Mongolic has undergone a process of vowel rotation, which has turned the originally palatal-velar harmony to tongue root harmony. In this process the originally horizontally organized harmonic pairs have become verticalized. A typical result of the verticalization has been the rapid reduction of the original vowel paradigm as well as the development of new palatal vowels to complement the losses.
This paper discusses the typological evolution of Ghilyak (Nivkh), a small “Palaeo-Asiatic” language family also known as Amuric, distributed in the Amur-Sakhalin region of the Russian Far East. In some respects, especially in the phonology, morphophonology, and phonotactics, Ghilyak shows features absent in the other languages of the region, most of which represent the so-called “Altaic” areal-typological complex. At the same time, Ghilyak shares with its neighbours several “Altaic” features, especially in the morphosyntax, including suffixally marked number and case, as well as nominalized and converbialized verbs. An analysis of the data shows that Ghilyak has been affected by at least two processes of typological transformation which have, either successively or in parallel, both “Altaicized” and “de-Altaicized” its linguistic structure. The reasons of these transformations can be sought in the substratal, adstratal, and superstratal impact of the neighbouring “Altaic” and “non-Altaic” languages. This allows us to place the typological prehistory of Ghilyak in a context shared by other languages of the North Pacific Rim, notably Tungusic and Koreanic.