This week’s post is about the basics of noun suffixes in Helleno-Uralic theory. There are patterns of phonology and morphology which are used to recognize the likelihood of nouns being related through Finngreek contact. Sometimes, a word in Finnish or a Uralic language is identical to its proposed Greek equivalent; and sometimes, changes happen which can be described as “regular” or “irregular”, depending on whether these shifts co-occur in other comparisons. This is not a comprehensive guideline, but an introduction to Finngreek noun morphology and phonology. This lesson covers aspects of the Finngreek noun suffixes -os, -e, -i, and -ma.


The Finnish language lacks productive gender, meaning that words do not follow the complex grammatical rules of gender found in many Indo-European languages, such as Greek. However, non-productive suffixes indicating gender and case can still be found in Finngreek. For example, the -os nominative suffix:

Shaking, Mixing = Seos = Seos = Σέος

This is considered a 1-to-1 correspondence, as virtually every phoneme is preserved. However, in Finngreek phonology, -os can undergo several changes, such as:

Loss of final -s
Quantity/Value, Number/Word = Luku = Logos = Λόγος
Outfit, Fleece = Puku = Pokos = Πόκος
Here, and in all other comparisons, it is unclear whether o>u or -os>-o occurred first.

Ravine = Rotko = Raktos = Ρακτός
Mist, Fog, Rain, Hot Spring = Utu/Udu = Udos = Ύδος
Heap/Size, Entirety/Bulk, Body/Mass = Koko/Kogu = Hogkos = Όγκος
Summit = Huippu = Hypsos = Ύψος

Metathesis (-os>-so):
Valley, Pit/Reservoir = Laakso = Laakos = Λάκος

Metathesis + Debuccalization (-os>-so>-ho)
Boat = Venho = Venos = Βῆνος
(*A possibly more accurate reconstruction at time of contact would be Banos/βænos, given the assumption of -α->-η-, as well as Samic reflexes showing Van[s]-.)

Metathesis + Debuccaliztion + -Ch->-Ck-
Path = Polku = Poros = Πόρος

This last example seems like a lot, but it’s not unprecedented in Finnish. An example I see as evidence of -Cos>-Cko (C representing a liquid consonant) is Uros>Urho>Ukko.

Venoporo = Boat Path / Canal


In Finngreek, final -e nouns mean one of two things: A masculine/feminine word in the vocative (vs. nominative) case; or a feminine word ending in -η in Ancient Greek (not -ις>-η). Looking back at a previous comparison, we can analyze a Finnish term in its nominative and vocative forms:

Masculine -ος/-ε
Boat = Venho = Venos = Βῆνος (nominative)
Boat = Vene = Vene = Βῆνε (vocative)

Most examples can only be reconstructed in a vocative case:
Lake (Proto-Uralic), Place = *towe = Tope/Tokwe = Τόπε < *tò(w)-kʷV-
Satiety = Kyllä = Kore/Koorre = Κόρε
Thunder God, Eagle = Perkele = Perknee = Περκνέ
Sleep = Uni < *une = Uvne (Hupne) = Ύπνε
Moon = Kuu < *kunge = Kukle = Κύκλε

Feminine -η
Tree/Noble Growth (of a plant), Nature = Puu < *puwe = Phue = Φυή
Billow, Censer = Tuiske = Thuiske = Θυΐσκη
Yard, Field, Area = Alue = Aule = Αυλή

Iotacism (the change of a vowel towards /i/) of -e>-i can occur in -η final nouns:

Moor/Pasture = Nummi = Nomi/Nommii = Νομή
Door, Opening (architectural) = Ovi < *owe = Opi = Οπή
Pond, Scum = Lampi = Lampi = Λάμπη
Point, Tip = Kärki = Hakri = Άκρη
These terms are now pronounced with /i/ at the end in both languages, but would have originally been pronounced with a final -e.


An -i final noun in Finngreek can also indicate what was -ις/-is in ancient Greek, but is now -η/-i in modern Greek:

Memory = Muisti = Mvisti(s) = Μνήστις > Μνήστη
Child, Pregnancy = Lapsi = Syllapsi(s) = Σύλλαψις >> Σύλληψη

The suffix -i can also indicate a perceived final syllable loss of a word ending in -si(s) in Greek:

Sense = Aisti/Haisti = (H)aisthisi(s) = Αίσθησις/Αίσθηση
Information/Communication = Tieto = Diadosi(s) = Διάδοσι(ς)

Some proposals could theoretically fit into either category:

Good Luck, Happiness = Onni = Oni(si[s]) = Όνησι(ς), Ονή
Plant, Growth of Plants = Kasvi = Havksi(si[s]) = Αύξησι(ς), Αύξη

Hypsohakri = Tip of the Summit


The -ma suffix is interesting when comparing Finnish and Greek, because it involves a -t(a) plural form in both languages. This will be discussed more in a post for Noun Plurals.

Rage, Suffering = Vimma = Pima/Piimma = Πήμα
Finn, Person, Human = Suoma = Sooma = Σώμα
Drink = Juoma = Pjooma = Πώμα
Edge, Chasm = Särmä = Sarma = Σάρμα
Power, Battle-cry = Voima = Voima = Βόημα
Fog, Mist, Rain = Usma = Usma = Ύσμα

There are more suffixes to be explained, like -a(s) and -kkoo, in Nouns 2.

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