The word ‘water’ is an interesting topic in Indo-European and Uralic historical linguistics. It is believed that Proto-Uralic *wete and PIE *wed- are related: Either because one proto-language borrowed the word from the other; or because they are related language families. I believe it was a loanword, during their contact period.

There is something else interesting that happened, on the Indo-European side: The semantics and phonetics only really stayed the same in the Germanic and Hellenic branches. You all know the English word ‘wet’: This came from *wed-, via Proto-Germanic *wētaz. Compare this to Greek hūetós/υετός, which means ‘rain/precipitation’ in both ancient and modern Greek (however, sound shifts have made it sound like ‘jetos’ today, from a Finnish perspective of /j/).

From what I can find, this form has not been continued in any other Indo-European languages (although PIE *wed- has continued into them with other sounds and meanings). However, you may feel free to read the other terms available here, and form your own opinion.

Moving onto Finnish: The term for ‘water’ in Finnish is vesi (it also is used for names of lakes). However, Finnish (as Finns know) has different versions of the same word root, depending on where it appears. The ‘vete-‘ root can still be seen in forms like ‘veteni’ (my water), ‘veteen’; and the somewhat different partitive ‘vettä’. These are evidence of Proto-Uralic *wete>*veci>vesi. In Greek, υετέ is the vocative form. We have previously gone over the regular loaning of Greek words into Uralic languages through vocative case – although in this case, I believe it could be a loan from Uralic into Indo-European.

Nobody really knows when, where, and how *wed- and *wete happened – but they did. Luckily, it is well-preserved in both Greek and Finnish. As a side note: I find words can also be well-preserved in Kildin Sami (from the Kola Peninsula in modern-day Russia). However, that’s a discussion for another post. Let’s get into some Finngreek now!

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Water = Vete- = Uete/Yete = Υετέ (rain)

Wet, Watery = Vetinen = Uetimen/Yetimen, Yetine = Υετέ + μένος, -ίνε

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Yete yetimenon = Water is wet

Stazde uetimenontae = This is wet rain (‘Rain wet is this’)

Lemmes yetimenon = Lakes are watery

Staazdetaakseravikaares = Rainbows after the rain (‘Rain-behind rainbows’)

Helo pjo uete rokolo = I want to drink water, please

Stazdeθaelemmeyete = Lake-water from the rain

Stazdeθaelemmesontae = The lakes are from the rain

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