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Eino Koponen, Etelaviron murteen sanaston alkupera.

Eino Koponen, Etelaviron murteen sanaston alkupera. Itamerensuomalaista etymologiaa, Helsinki 1998 (MSFOu 230). 295 p.

In Finnic taxonomies and investigations of the early stages of the Finnic languages, South Estonian has occupied a special position. On the one hand, South Estonian has been regarded as an ancient dialect which diverged very early from Proto-Finnic and only later joined North Estonian, which would represent another branch of Finnic. On the other hand, it has been thought that these two main dialects of Estonian originally represent the same South Finnic branch, South Estonian, due to its peripheric location, better preserving a more ancient, Proto-Finnic state. Adherents to the latter theory have often emphasized the role of an East Finnic component in the evolution of South Estonian. It has even been proposed that South Estonian would originally be an East Finnic language form which only later a "Dialektbund" with North Estonian formed, the latter originally representing the West Finnic branch.

Eino Koponen has taken up a real challenge when choosing South Estonian word stock as the theme of his PhD thesis and defining (p. 13) the aim of his study as "shedding light on the position and origins of this Finnic key dialect with the methods of lexicogeography and etymological research". His goal is to reach the most ancient foundation of South Estonian lexis, which could be considered representing a Proto-South-Estonian word stock and which could give a possible answer to various questions, such as whether there is a specially South Estonian vocabulary with cognates in other Finnic languages but not in North Estonian, or what is the relationship of this vocabulary with the other individual Finnic languages.

Out of his whole sample (3295 words), E. Koponen has, on the basis of distribution, chosen 567 words which represent the core of South Estonian word stock. For this sifting work, he has calculated a so-called "South Estonian index" to determine the "South-Estonianness" of the distribution of each word. These core words are dealt with etymologically, in more detail, in the form of lexical entries. This constitutes the largest and most central part of his study. In the conclusive appendix he very briefly recapitulates his entire data, the aim of this analysis being to divide the whole vocabulary handled here in two parts: (1) South Estonian words connected with distributionally all-Estonian ones, and (2) words connected with distributionally South Estonian base stems.

Dealing with such an amount of words is undeniably an awesome enterprise. An etymological investigation of merely the core vocabulary presented in this book could be a task demanding enough for a research team, not just for one linguist. No wonder, in fact, that--as the reader will notice--the author obviously tries to swallow too big a lump. Actually, the lump has not choked him, rather the final impression of this etymological research reminds of something that has been chewed at on the surface, here and there. In many cases, the origin of a word only receives a more or less superficial treatment, as the author has chosen the easiest way: comparing the word with phonologically similar words or listing previous explanations by others, without presenting an opinion of his own.

One reason concerning the indeterminate character of these etymologies can certainly be found in E. Koponen's "methods of etymological research". These include operating with a hypothetical "root", which reminds of some attempts in Finnish etymology in the late 19th century. All in all, it is very hard to get a clear picture of the relationships between words and their description in E. Koponen's view. In the introductory chapters, when speaking of descriptive words, he mostly exemplifies his "roots" with Finnish words, stating (p. 49): "In addition to the root (vilise- ['to swarm, to flicker'], vilkku ['blinking light']), the word often includes a derivational suffix (vilise-, vilahta- ['to flash by']), in which case it is a genuine correlational derivative, or a stem vowel (vilkku(valo)) or a word-formational element comparable to pseudo-derivational suffixes (vilkas ['lively'])." Other central terms in E. Koponen's study (l.cit.) include sanue ('word family'; "Words with an identical root belong to the same word family") and pesye ('cognate family', lit. 'litter of young animals of the same nest'; "words containing the same root in its basic form constitute a(n onomatopoeic-)descriptive pesye: for example, kirahtaa, kirkua and kirskua [verbs denoting a shrill sound] belong to the same cognate family, likewise virea ['alert, brisk'] and virkku [id.]"). On the basis of this and what is presented in the lexical entries, it is sometimes hard to understand the difference between sanue and pesye. In addition to these, there is the term sikerma ('cluster'; "Other kinds of groups of words containing a semantically and phonologically similar root (such as vilkkua and valkkya ['to blink'] or porskuttaa and polskuttaa ['to splash']) I shall term a(n onomatopoeic-)descriptive cluster"). In another place (p. 45ff.) he states that a cluster might include "in the widest sense also word families of etymologically distinct origins which, due to a similar shape and meaning, have got associated with each other and modified each other's phonological shape and/or meaning". Association and modification, of course, are familiar phenomena to anybody working with etymologies, but launching a concept like this "cluster" by E. Koponen already exceeds the boundaries of etymological research. When defending his dissertation in public, E. Koponen actually had to admit that the concept of "cluster" is the most "obscure" of his terms.

Since previous reviews of E. Koponen's work have not dealt with the etymologies of his core vocabulary in more detail, I will now survey his book from this viewpoint, as, in my opinion, this will show the most eloquent evidence of the procedures adopted by the author. In individual lexical entries, the method described above often prevails. Thus, the traditional phonological and morphological criteria of etymological research have lost their importance, because the "cognate families" and "clusters" are defined loosely enough to make word-formation easy or, rather, too easy. True, semantics is also mentioned on a few pages in the beginning (p. 33-37), where component analysis and cognitive semantics, among other things, are briefly treated in the vein of a "compulsory subject". However, on p. 35 it is stated: "I will pass by, without further reflection, the whole wide spectrum of questions related with defining the meanings of the dialect words in the material, on the basis of the rather scanty (and sometimes controversial) explanations in the dialect collections". Consequently, the semantic side of the lexical entries is treated more like an "optional subject".

The etymologies in the lexical entries often show expressions of incertainty: "in a way or another belongs to the same cognate family or cluster as" (p. 107), "possibly connected in a way or another with" (p. 117), "perhaps in a way or another of the same origin as" (p. 126), "descr. words, close to which seem to be, in a way or another" (p. 162). Likewise: "In a way, to these is also connected" (p. 117), "probably somehow belonging to the same cluster as" (p. 133), "to this might somehow belong also" (p. 136), and "probably connected with one or more of the following", after which six different possibilities are listed (p. 137), "might belong together with one or more of the following word families", followed by five different word families (p. 172). However, the author often does not state, not even suggest which of the alternative etymologies h e considers the most possible or credible.

In what follows, I will list a few examples of E. Koponen's way of etymologising words, which only leads to indeterminate and arbitrary solutions:

1. In connection with South Estonian ahk 'talking nonsense or rubbish' (No. 7) it is first stated that the etymology is "obscure", but thereafter: "might belong together with either (1) the word hahk 'grey' or (2) ask 'trash, rubbish' or (3) hahkatama 'to pant'."

2. When treating the word haik (gen. haigu) 'good-for-nothing' (No. 9) (Wiedemann: haik 'Trodler, Zauderer, der mit nichts fertig wird', sea-haigu 'Maulaffe', VMS: haik 'wanton', haiklema 'to hesitate'), the author connects it with the cognate family of expressive words which "possibly shares its root part ([check]haj/hai(C)-) with one or more of the following", after which some words are listed, such as Est. haibakas 'badly grown (hay)' (and Fi. haippu 'sparse (vegetation)'), South Estonian hajoma 'to scatter, to disperse' and even Est. haige 'sick, ill'. However, the following words have gone unnoticed: Karelian haikko (KKS) 'loiterer, incapable person' and Vepsian haikoi (CBSI) 'gaper, clumsy, idiot'. Note also Karelian (KKS) haikko 'yawning', haikostoakseh 'to yawn; to make a lazy or futile attempt' and Est. haik (gen. haigu) 'yawning'. Semantically, cf. Russian xeeaTb 'to yawn, to gape at, to loiter; to miss an opportunity'.

3. Concerning the origins of the headword hiivetama 'to be worn out, to become shabby; to be mashed' (No. 36) (VMS: 'to be threadbare, shabby', hiivalo 'to pieces'), two different views are presented: it belongs "to the same descr. word family or close to it" as South Estonian hiibelema 'to hang loose, to flap' (No. 35), or together with Fi. hiiva 'dregs; yeast'. Of the latter, it is then stated that it could also belong to the same "descr. root" as the former word, although hiiva has usually been regarded as a Baltic loanword. This new connection might be based on the translation of hiivetama in Wiedemann's dictionary: 'sich fein zertheilen, zergehen // schaumig oder tummig werden'. The possibility of homonymy has not been mentioned here, nor--as far as I can see--anywhere else in this book.

4. The word kirgitama 'to prick up one's ears' (No. 89) is stated to belong "probably somehow to the same cluster" as Est. kirgitama 'to raise, to lift' etc. Later, it is stated that this might represent "a descr. cluster of roots [check]kVrk(k)-", which also includes Est. kerge 'light, easy', korge 'high' and kirg 'passion' with their Finnic cognates.

5. The verb lantsitama 'to whip, to beat' (No. 155) is compared, "for its root part", with Est. lantstama 'to (fall with a) smack' and Fi. latsdUdd 'id., (of bread:) to become flat, not loose enough', lantata 'to (hit with a) smack' and lantta: lantallaan 'down at heels'. It is even suggested that the Finnic word families lansi- 'hollow, valley; pond etc.' and Iansi '(south)west' could belong to this.

6. The etymology of South Estonian mohn 'ball of the foot' (No. 211) is considered obscure. However, the author thinks that the word "maybe belongs to the same cognate family" as the previously presented word mohk 'trough for kneading dough' (No. 210). This, in turn, has been interpreted as "perhaps originally the same word" as Est. mohk 'lump, gnarl', and "of the same cluster" with Fi. muhea 'loose, soft', muhkea 'stately, thick' and (note!) meheva 'juicy'.

7. In dealing with South Estonian palv 'snowless spot' (No. 330), the author first presents the Baltic etymology for this word and its Finnic cognates, but, after that, he suggests that the word might yet be inherited, belonging to "the same cognate family [check]palC" as South Estonian palk 'flash'. The latter has, in its own entry (No. 329), been connected (with a question mark) with Fi. palkahtaa 'to strike one's mind' and considered to represent "probably the same cluster ([check]pVlkk-)" as Est. silmapilk 'twinkling of an eye, moment' and Fi. pilkottaa 'to gleam (through)'. In the latter entry, the relationship between palk and Est. valk 'flash' has only been granted a short concluding remark: "Cf. Est. valk 'flash' etc."

8. As for the word song, also sonk, sung 'the bottom corner of a sack, a protruding corner of a sack; (standard language:) hernia' (No. 393), the author thinks that it could possibly belong to "the same descr. cognate family or cluster as the phon. close but semantically rather distant" Fi. sonka 'crowd'. This is not very credible; a more attractive explanation could be found in a comparison with Russian cymka 'bag', from which Estonian has acquired (obviously later) the word somka, sompka 'Felleisen, Ranzel' (Wiedemann, EEW), dial. also sumka, sumpka (VMS) 'sack, bag, rucksack'.

9. The adjective tine 'turbid, cloudy, dim; pale grey, matte' (No. 442) has, as the author notes, previously been explained (in the EEW) as a derivative of tina 'tin'. However, E. Koponen believes that the word is more probably "of the same onomat.(-descr.) root [check]tin-" as Est. tinisema, tinama 'to make a muffled sound', Fi. tinista '(of ears:) ring'. The latter explanation does not seem very probable, in comparison with the previous one; note e.g. tinedad silmad 'trube, schwachsichtige Augen' in Wiedemann's dictionary and Fi. tinasilma 'som har hinna pa ogat, skumsynt' ('having a pellicle in one's eyes, dim-eyed') in Lonnrot's dictionary. Lonnrot also mentions, s.v. tina 'tenn', sen silmat owat tinassa 'han har florshufva for ogonen, ar drucken' ('his eyes are dim, he is drunk').

10. The word hola 'longing, desire' (No. 540) has been given two explanations. It belongs either to the same "(onomat.-) descr. cluster ([check]hVl-" as Est. hale 'sad' and halama 'to lament' or to "the same descr. cognate family ([check]hel(C)-" as South Estonian holle 'soft, easy to split'. The latter word, in turn, is in its own entry (No. 542) connected with Finnic hella 'tender'. In addition to this, it is stated that "probably originally identical with this is the onomat. root [check]hel(C)-, to which belong Est. hele 'light, bright, clear', helisema 'to ring', helkima id. etc.". 11. The author states that the etymology of the word hamm 'wet, moist' (No. 553) is obscure. Similarly obscure, as he notes, is its relationship with the words hammastama 'to amaze' and hamar 'dark, dusky, obscure'. The reader cannot help feeling astounded (Fi. hammastynyt): why are these two words mentioned here at all?

For the head-word of the entry, the author has chosen, when possible, a word included in "Oigekeelsussonaraamat" (= OS; Dictionary of Standard Estonian, which, by the way, is missing in the indices of references and abbreviations), which "can be interpreted as the base word of the word family" (p. 81; however, of the forms kolgas and kolk 'distant region' in the OS, the former has been chosen as a head-word, No. 95, the latter being a typically South Estonian form). The head-word is followed by the dialectal form(s) (including the derivatives etc.) of the word, according to the dialect dictionary "Viiike murdesonastik" (VMS), and its geographic distribution. Besides, the author quotes the information given in Wiedemann's old dictionary. The meanings of the dialectal forms which deviate from that of the head-word are not always given. The reader must himself/herself find out that they can be looked up in Wiedemann's dictionary (which, in turn, may deviate from the information given in the dialect dictionary), but sometimes even this does not help, as the dictionary information is lacking. S.v. haussima 'to prattle; to do tricks' (No. 26) the nouns hauss and hausa are given (according to VMS: 'babble' and 'boaster'), s.v. itkema 'to weep' there is ikukapsta (VMS: 'farewell dish'), s.v. kikas 'cock' (No. 84) kikkaseen (VMS: 'chanterelle'), s.v. hulbaline 'half-thick, half-fluid' (No. 558) hulbatuss (VMS: 'half-thick (not very fluid) food'), ulpama (VMS: 'to smear'), hulpama (VMS: 'to jump') etc.

The words mentioned in the entry sometimes include such words of the VMS, representing "the basic stem of the head-word", whose etymological connection with the head-word is not completely ascertained in the entry. For example, in connection with kelt 'dried small fish' (No. 78) the word kelt 'lacking appetite; slack, languid' is mentioned as well, and in the further treatment these two are supposed to belong to the same "descriptive cognate family ([check]kelC-)" as Est. kelp 'thin, lacking appetite', kelpama 'to lose weight'. In the same entry with the word kohvak 'light grains, chaff' (No. 127), the words kohvetu 'thin, weak' and kohetu id. are also listed, but later on in the entry it is only stated: "To this connection might somehow belong also". The word kosu 'peel, chaff; bad grains' (No. 135) has been connected with the South Estonian expressive verb kosisema 'to rustle', which seems credible indeed; there are parallel cases such as Fi. kahu and kahista with similar meanings. However, the dialectal forms listed here also include kosu 'something that is decayed, shattered', which obviously does not belong here but, rather, together with the dialect words kosur 'shack', kossus 'collapsed' etc. (VMS) and Standard Estonian Wssis id. S.v. lapats 'wooden splint, spatula; valve' (No. 156) the author lists lapard as one dialectal form, but its meaning ('a kind of harrow') is mentioned only later in the text, where its relationship with the head-word is only expressed with "cf. also". As to the meanings of the head-word puhe (No. 309), the author gives 'funeral meal; daybreak' but expresses his--quite well-founded--doubts whether there really is any connection between the South Estonian word for 'funeral' and the North Estonian word for 'dawn'.

The geographical distributions of each dialectal form are usually not given; instead, there is one list of parishes for all the words listed in each entry. The verb iskima (No. 43) is an exception, in that it has two different geographically distinguished meanings, viz. 'to twine (yarn); to hit' in South Estonian and 'to lurk, to lie in ambush' in the insular dialects of North Estonian. The latter meaning has not been given any further attention; however, it should be explicable with the expression recorded in Wiedemann's dictionary: hulgeid iskima 'Seehunden auflauern'. A similar distinction should have been made in the case of kasa 1 (No. 68), translated as 'bundle, heap, pile; ball (of wool or bast)'. E. Koponen connects this word etymologically (with a question mark) with Fi. kasa 'heap'. However, VMS actually mentions kadsa 'disk', kedsa 'ball (of yarn etc.)', kada id. and kasa 'heap'. Of these, kadsa 'disk' and kedsa 'ball' are South Estonian (the latter, though, only attested in one parish), kada 'ball' has been recorded a few times in other areas, while kasa 'heap' only occurs in two parishes of the Northern coast (Kuusalu, Haljala) and seems to be borrowed from Finnish. From Wiedemann's dictionary, kadsa 'Bastknaul' is quoted; according to VMS, it also has a variant kadsa. It is interesting to note that, despite including the word kedsa with a different vocalism, E. Koponen has paid no attention to the Estonian word ketas 'disk', also appearing in a dialectal form kets, nor to the synonymous South Estonian form kdtas (VMS); Wiedemann has ketas = katas 'Rad, Tritze, Rolle, runde holzerne Scheibe'.

It seems that the author, while including dialectal variants and derivatives, has neglected certain sound changes and alternations. The forms now left out could have influenced the conclusions based on the distribution of the words and sometimes the etymologies themselves. In what follows, I will list a few cases that, in my opinion, would have deserved attention:

The typically Estonian loss of v preceding a rounded vowel is exemplified e.g. in the word kurutama 'to be drowsy, in bad shape' (< kurvutama id., cf. kurb 'sad'; p. 269). However, when dealing with the word urv 'buttocks, behind' (No. 486), the author ignores the form uru, uruauk (VMS) 'anus' (-auk 'hole, orifice').

E. Koponen's treatment of the alternation m ~ v known in many languages does not seem consistent. On the one hand, he regards the forms johverdama 'to gobble; to prattle' and johmerdama 'id.; to flounder, to wriggle' (p. 264) as variants of the same word, likewise the words nimese 'groin' and niuded id. (cf. Fi. nivuset id.) (p. 276). He also connects South Estonian veim 'louse' (No. 508) with the synonymous word vaiv in the Northeast Estonian coastal dialect (together with its Finnic cognates), but reconstructs a peculiar proto-form for these both: "*vai(v)me or something like that", which would mean either vaime or vaivme (!). On the other hand, hivikene 'earthworm' "belongs to the same cluster with its synonyms liimukas and liimikas" (p. 75, 272). Similarly, there is a "cluster" including both the Russian loan word laavits 'a frame to enlarge a sleigh for a bigger load' (No. 149) and "a group of words of obscure origin", among others, laamits, laamik id. No explanation has been given for the fact that nurmik 'wooden container for milk' (No. 236) appears in dialects in the form nurik. Wiedemann also has the forms nurm, nuru and nurukene, the latter allowing for a reconstructed form *nurvu(kene). The Russian loanword pulvan 'stuffed black grouse (used as a decoy bird); idiot' (No. 316), appearing in South Estonian as polvand, has many variants listed in VMS: polman, pulvand, pulmand, pulmat. Of the word vabarn 'raspberry' (No. 494), many variants have been listed from VMS, e.g. vavermud, but vamermud id. has been ignored. The word jorvama 'to roar' (No. 50) should have been connected with jormama id. (VMS). In my view, a word-initial consonant alternation could be represented by the Standard Estonian words mull 'bubble' (No. 208) and vull id. While both J. Magiste (in EEW) and A. Raun (in EKET) refer to mull in their vull entries, E. Koponen does not mention vull s.v. mull. Note also the dialect word pull id., comparable with the previously mentioned word pair palk 'flash' and valk id. A similar alternation of m and v is obviously manifest in the words tsurmama 'to crush, to pound', tsurmma 'to press', surmma id. / surv(a)ma, suruma id. (VMS; Wiedemann also has survuma id. and South Estonian survma 'stampfen'; cognate with Fi. survoa 'to crush, to pound'). According to E. Koponen, South Estonian tsurmma would contain "elements of two words beginning with s": suruma 'to press' and sum 'death', surmama 'to kill' (p. 73, 287), which is less credible.

Similar observations can be made concerning the alternation of l and r. S.v. kirges 'cockroach; cricket' (No. 88) the author considers a connection with Est. kilk 'cricket' "through a sporadical sound change l > r" a possible explanation. The word ubalmu 'snow-drift' (No. 473) of an unclear origin has the variants uarm(ass), oalmu, oarmik and oormas, which here have been linked with each other without any further considerations, similarly the words nulk 'corner' and nurk id. (according to EEW, p. 277). The words pudle '(person) lisping, speaking unintelligibly' (No. 308) and pudrama 'to speak unclearly' are regarded as belonging to the same "cognate family"; the same "cluster" would comprise Fi. polskuttaa 'to splash' and porskuttaa id. (p. 49; see above). However, the author states that the connection of kelme (kelm, kilme) 'pellicule, film; cataract' (No. 77) with Est. kirme 'thin layer, thin ice' is unclear. As the word vohr '(big) rat' (No. 528) also has the variant vohl id., it is stated that "the cause of the sound change hl > hr remains obscure". The headword virp (No. 518) has been translated as 'damage caused by sorcery; mistake in weaving' (cf. VMS: 'ghost, (optical) illusion; mistake in reeling yarn'); besides it, the dialect words virpima (VMS: 'to get entangled') and virpma (VMS: 'to entangle') are given without any translations. But the following South Estonian words have not been mentioned in this connection: virbitama 'to confuse', virbituss, virvetus 'ghost, (optical) illusion' / vilpus 'sorcerer, witch', vilbasteme, vilbeteme 'to haunt (of a ghost)', vilbuss 'trick', vilbutass 'ghost, (optical) illusion' (VMS). True, E. Koponen's more extensive data include virvetus '(optical) illusion', connected with virvendama 'to flicker', and vilbuss 'trick', connected in turn with vilbas 'brisk' (p. 292ff.).

In connection with the word salk 'dent, notch' (No. 414), also represented in South Estonian as more common tsalk showing the alternation s- ~ ts-, the author could have paid attention to Est. targe id., also appearing in South Estonian as tsarge id. (VMS). Cf. also the verbs tsalgatama, tsalkma 'kauen, zerbeissen', mentioned by E. Koponen in connection with the word salk, and the South Estonian verb tsarkma 'to notch' (VMS; Standard Estonian tarkima id.). Similarly, tsalge = tsarge attested in a couple of South Estonian parishes (VMS) has been ignored. A more rare alternation of word-initial t and ts is manifest in E. Koponen's data at least in tiir 'circle, round', tiirutama 'to circle' / tsiirutama id., likewise tilk 'drop' / tsilk id., tilluke(ne) 'tiny, little' / tsilli id. and taks 'small axe' / tsaks id. (p. 285-287).

E. Koponen explains some previously unetymologised words in his core data as loans from German, such as the uncontroversial cases pall '(dancing) ball' (No. 268) and purst 'brush' (No. 337). One could expect even more such (Low) German loanwords. A couple of proposals: ask 'trash, rubbish' (No. 19; Wiedemann also has asu-karva hobune 'Schimmel' [< 'ash-coloured horse']), cf. Low German asche 'Asche' (Liibben); nutt 'knob; bud; topmost cluster or spike (in a plant); wit' (No. 239; Wiedemann: "South Estonian" nutt 'Knoten im Flachsstengel'), cf. Low German knutte 'Knoten, bes. der Knoten, Knopf des Flachses' (Liibben); piigert 'drill, bore' (No. 288), cf. Low German spiker-bor 'Spieker-, Nagelbohr' (Lubben), German Spiekerbohr. As a Russian loanword we might regard the word posled (pl.) 'chaff, bad grains' (No. 303: Wiedemann posle 'Unterkorn', cf. parad 'Unterkorn (das leichteste, schlechteste Getreide)' in the same dictionary), cf. Russian [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'after-', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'leavings, left-overs'. The word kamm (kammak) 'haystack' (No. 138) occurs in South Estonian but is also clearly represented in the dialects of the islands and the Western coast, where there has been a strong Swedish influence. This word, whose etymology is considered obscure, resembles the word kamma (Rietz 305) 'an armful of hay' known in many dialects of Swedish; the Swedish derivative kamsa id. has been borrowed into Finnish as kamsa, kamse (SSA) 'id., small haystack'.

Ca. 40 lexical entries have no literature references concerning the South Estonian word at issue, and the etymologies presented there must be ascribed to Koponen himself. Sometimes these only include a concise statement without any futile attempts at an explanation: "The etymology has not been clarified" (No. 76: kaurima 'to hollow out', No. 163: liht 'mane', No. 277: peil 'wooden pin in a boot', No. 512 vilka 'self-rolled cigarette', No. 534: valme 'skein of thread'). Of the others, the evidently onomatopoeic South Estonian katsatama (a verb denoting the sound of a magpie; No. 72) has been connected with the synonymous South Estonian katsatama and North Estonian kadisema (the author has not noticed that Vepsian also has kacatada id. (CBR)). The origins of kuundima 'to reach' (No. 145; Wiedemann has e.g. kas teile kuundus anda 'konnt ihr geben, habt ihr zu geben') have first been considered obscure, but then the author adds: if +kuundu- < *kukV+ntu-, it could belong to the same word family as Finnish kyeta, kyentya 'to be able'. Likewise, the origin of landam 'a big area of land' (No. 154) has been regarded as unclear, but then, the author--in a completely justifiable manner--suggests that it might be connected with German Land(stuck) (in a case like this, one could have expected some reflections on morphology). In connection with nahkar (nahkats) 'miser' (No. 245), the author mentions Estonian dial. nihkru and nihkats id. and considers these to be "affect words". The verb tadima 'to trample' (No. 427) has been marked as "probably an onomat-descr. word" (why?). Turk 'trot' (No. 469) and its derivative turgutam(m)a 'to trot' have been connected with other South Estonian verbs showing a first-syllable vowel alternation: torkima, tirkama, tirgutama id. More than half of these previously unetymologised words do not appear in Wiedemann's dictionary nor, consequently, in Magiste's EEW.

After the reader has got acquainted with the abbreviations, the typographically clear and concisely presented lexical entries are easy to read. However, annoyingly enough, it is not always clear whether the etymologies stem from E. Koponen himself or from the literature listed at the end of the entry. The author has found and used a great deal of literature on etymological and other lexicological research, and the literature has mostly been selected in an expert way. Worth noticing are the numerous studies by Andrus Saareste, especially the often-mentioned "Leksikaalseist vahekordadest eesti murretes" (1924). Strangely enough, A. Saareste's "Eesti keele moisteline sonaraamat" (1958-1979) is missing in the bibliography, although it is in many ways an excellent aid in etymologising Estonian words.

In the conclusive chapter of his book, E. Koponen presents a clear and concise survey on his core data from the following viewpoints: areal linguistics (distribution in the Finnic languages), origins (loanwords, "new native basic stems" and stems of unknown or obscure origin), age and the Finnic background of the South Estonian dialectal vocabulary. More than a half (298) of his 567 words have cognates in other Finnic languages. Words attested in the southwestern Finnic periphery (Livonian) and in the northeast (either Vepsian or Ludian) are here regarded as distributionally all-Finnic; such words number 33 in total, and 13 of them are attested in all the seven Finnic languages. Distributionally Western words (in Livonian but not in Vepsian and Ludian) number 63, and 6 of these are found in Livonian, Finnish and Karelian. Eastern words (at least Vepsian or Ludian, not Livonian) number 87, and central Finnic words (neither in Livonian nor in Vepsian or Ludian) 115. All the words at issue have been listed together with these figures. However, the author does not mention which of these words are relatively recent loanwords acquired separately in different languages: for example, roughly twenty of the 87 "distributionally Eastern basic stems" are Russian loanwords (p. 221, cf. p. 230). As concerns e.g. such areally central words that have the widest distribution (Votian, Ingrian, Finnish and Karelian), 8 in total (p. 222), it seems that for four of them, the etymological connection with the other languages is more or less uncertain even according to the lexical entries: hahkatama 'to pant' (No. 8; "might belong"), hiivetama 'to be worn out' (No. 36, cf. above), kammelik 'obstinate' (No. 64; "etymology obscure"), roitma 'to rummage' (No. 351; "probably of the same descr. cognate family" with Fi. roju 'rubbish'). Besides, one of these words is a Russian loanword, phin 'pancake' (No. 296).

Among these 567 words there are 192 loanwords, and 143 of these have been considered certain. The greatest subgroups are the Slavic and Russian loans (79, of which 58 certain), Latvian loans (42, of which 28 certain), as well as High and Low German and Swedish loanwords. The latter have been subsumed in one group (25, of which 20 certain), as the author thinks it is sometimes impossible to distinguish Swedish and German loans from each other.

Words of unknown or obscure origin, i.e. words that, according to the author, cannot be (or: have not been) given a probable loan etymology or a "word-formational (cognate family or cluster) relationship" with other items of the vocabulary, number 149. These include such words, with cognates in other Finnic (in some cases also in other Finno-Ugric) languages, as haukama 'to bite' (No. 25), iskima 'to hit' (No. 43), itkema 'to weep' (No. 44), koger 'crucian (carp)' (No. 93), kolgas 'distant region' (No. 95), katkema 'to hide' (No. 140), miigri 'vole, mole' (No. 215), pala 'bit' (No. 264), pedajas 'pine' (No. 273), peni 'dog' (No. 280), sau 'smoke' (No. 375), vatkuma 'to process wool (with a bow-like tool)' (No. 505) and veli 'brother' (No. 509).

The remaining 226 words are "new" (not necessarily "young") words which, according to E. Koponen, have a word formational relationship--which, however, cannot be interpreted as a regular derivational relationship--with words previously present in the language. Such words have come about through contamination or, then, they belong to "onomatopoeic-descriptive cognate families and clusters" (p. 25). The abundance of words in the latter group is obviously due to E. Koponen's methods of etymology.

In his final conclusions, E. Koponen is compelled to admit that his lexical analysis cannot produce any final solution to the question concerning the origin of South Estonian and that most of the explanations of the origin can be "equally right" (p. 232). Still, he has done a great preparatory work for future research, in gathering the typically South Estonian words into one book and in comparing them with North Estonian vocabulary and other Finnic languages. Although one can disagree with him about many of his etymologies, the information he has collected makes an excellent foundation for further research. This work may be considered an obvious challenge for the research of Finnic expressive vocabulary.


EKET--A. Raun, Eesti keele etumoloogiline teatmik, Rooma--Toronto 1982; KKS--Karjalan kielen sanakirja I, Helsinki 1968 (LSFU XVI4); Lonnrot--E. Lonnrot, Suomalais-Ruotsalainen Sanakirja I-II, 1874-1880 (Kolmas, manual-menetelmalla jaljennetty painos), Porvoo-Helsinki 1958; Lubben--A. Lubben, Mittelniederdeutsches Handworterbuch. Nach dem Tode des Verfassers vollendet von Christoph Walther, 1888 (Retrographischer Nachdruck), Darmstadt 1979; OS--Oigekeelsussonaraamat. Toimetanud R. Kull ja E. Raiet, Tallinn 1980; Rietz--J. E. Rietz, Ordbok ofver svenska allmoge-spraket I. Svenskt dialekt-lexikon, Lund-Malmo etc. 1867; SSA--Suomen sanojen alkupera. Etymologinen sanakirja 1, Helsinki 1992; VMS--Vaike murdesonastik I-II. Toimetanud V. Pall, Tallinn 1982, 1989; Wiedemann--F. J. Wiedemann, Ehstnisch-deutsches Worterbuch. Zweite vermehrte Auflage, St. Petersburg 1893; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

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Author:Nikkila, Osmo
Publication:Linguistica Uralica
Date:Mar 1, 2001
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