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Etymology squib: Moknams

Reading old source literature is often dreary kind of work, but it has its occasional rewards: you might find out that some problem you’ve been dwelling on has actually long since received a solution, or at least a sketch to

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Posted in Etymology

*wu > *u in Finnic

One minor phonological innovation in Finnish is mentioned in historical overviews far more often than could be expected from its lexical frequency: the loss of a palatal semivowel *j when preceding its vocalic counterpart *i. This is probably because the shift

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Posted in Reconstruction

Alternations and “alternations”; with data from Finnish

A theoretical device in historical linguistics that I think can easily go abused is the basic morphophonological concept of “alternation”. To lay some groundwork: an initial issue, on which I may expand more at some point, is that several grades

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Posted in Methodology

Etymology squib: -kko

Assigning meanings to Finnish derivational suffixes can be a pain. Plenty of them show a fairly scattershot selection of meanings. One example is -kko (-kkö); in modern Finnish, following Hakulinen in SKRK (54.15, 56.8 §§), six main functions can be

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Posted in Etymology

Etymology squib: Nauka

A small Eastern Finnic word family with no known origin is Southeastern Finnish nauka, Veps ńoug ~ nåug ‘fish slime’. Possibly Karelian ńaugu ~ ńauguheinä  ‘bur-reed’ also belongs here. This seems acceptable to me: the usage example in KKS comments

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Posted in Etymology

Love, pity and morphology

Finnish armas ‘dear’ has a somewhat interesting etymology: the word is considered to derive by borrowing followed by semantic amelioration from Germanic *armaz ‘pitiful’. If we were given no other data, this argument would have to remain rather hypothetical. The shape

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Posted in Reconstruction

A morphophonological place avoidance effect in Finnish

I brought up Similar Place Avoidance (SPA) a couple of posts ago. Here is a neat case study of it in action, one that I have already noted quite some time ago. An Introduction The Finnic languages are usually considered

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Posted in Etymology

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