This is a short and temporary post about what’s happening behind the scenes at Finngreek. Here’s what’s up!
Lessons 1-21 are being revised to have more accurate and concise information. During this time, you may not be able to access certain lessons while under revision. I apologize for the inconvenience, but hope you will be pleased with the results! The goal is for Finngreek to be as simple and helpful as possible, maximizing words made from etymological comparisons, while eliminating outdated and inaccurate words. This may mean there will be less words in the language – but of a better quality.
Finngreek is now being enriched with more Uralic languages than ever before. What had started out as a few comparisons between Finnish and Greek has evolved into equations sourced from reference materials for more than 20 Uralic languages, meaning that the Finngreek language is now a mosaic of Hellenic and Uralic words. This will somewhat lower mutual intelligibility between Finns and Greeks, but create a more developed picture of what kind of language was being exchanged during the hypothetical Helleno-Uralic contact.
We are expanding to more platforms. Finngreek.com began as an isolated project, but since its foundation, there is now Finngreek on Reddit, Discord; and very soon, new social media will be unveiled. Stay tuned to enjoy brand new content!
I want to thank all of you who have been with this project since its inception – and who continue to join every day. This website had its 1-year anniversary on the 7th. So much has changed from then to now; and there is always so much to do. As silly as it may seem, this project has become my life’s work: I intend to see it through to the very end. The support you all have given me has been lían loista – too wonderful! – and I truly appreciate all of you who travel with me on this journey.
To me, Finngreek and its inferred history is best summarized as Oikeia Kiikeia: A proper frenzy. From this suitable chaos, I hope we can discover more about the past, and bring it to the future.
The lands of the Uralic peoples are known for their loista (splendid!) Northern Lights, which fill the sky with fleeting arrays of colors, ephemerally dancing across the polar night. Because the Aurora borealis is such a stunning phenomenon, it would stand to reason that, if Greeks and Hyperboreans (our theorized Proto-Uralic population) were in contact, this could be shown through a shared term. In this case, we are going to explore three proposals which could potentially illustrate a mutual observance of these blazing Fox-Fires. Let’s take a journey.
Our first word for the Northern Lights is Arevothulés, the Finngreek form of Finnish Revontulet.
Literally meaning ‘fox-fires’, the Finnish name for the Northern Lights describes the tail-like blaze of the Aurora borealis. Revon<Repo (fox) has a decidedly IE origin, but from which language is unclear. Greek Αλεπού<Αλωπώ<Αλώπηξ fits as well as any other candidate, with the prefixing form Alepo-/Αλεπο- fitting the best – However, synchronicity may be an issue.
Tuli (fire), from Proto-Uralic *tule, is compared with Thulí/Θυλή (tʰulé) and θύλημα, meaning ‘burnt sacrifice/offering, incense’, and goes back to the verb θύω, from which a similar comparison – Wind = Tuuli = Thuulli = Θύελλη – is also derived, along with several other terms in Finngreek, such as Thuosko/Thuoks (incense/perfume), from Finnish Tuoksu and Greek Θύος-σκ-/ (Θυοσκόος, Θυοσκοπία, etc.). The term Αlepothulés/Αλεποθυλές does not currently exist in Greek, but it is constructed to follow the natural structure (eg: Alepopordí/Αλεποπορδή) of Alepo- with an -ή final noun as a compound term. If Tuli and Thulí/Θυλή are cognates, then the “fire” involved might be comparable with the meandering motions of smoke rising from burning incense, which evokes the Aurora.
Arevothulés/Αlepothulés: Northern Lights, Fox fires, Trail of incense smoke
The next term is Harp, which can end in -a, -e, or -i, due to multiple derivations.
The question mark between Proto-Samoyedic *karpə and Proto-Uralic *korpe- indicates that their etymological connection is uncertain. If they are related, then Nenets Harp/Χарп is connected with Finnish Korventaa/Kärventää (to scorch), and possibly Hungarian Hervad (to fade).
On the Hellenic side, The verb Harpázå/Αρπάζω, meaning ‘to seize hastily’, has a variety of derived terms, like Αρπακτικός (that which can easily/suddenly seize or ignite), Άρπαγμα (prey, windfall/good fortune), Αρπαλέος (devouring/consuming; attractive/alluring/charming), and Αρπάλιμος (defined as Προσφιλής: Beloved, lovely, pleasing).
The etymology of Αρπάζω, and its relation to other Greek terms, is disputed. It has been compared with Harpy/Άρπη (bird of prey), which may or may not be from Proto-Indo-European *serp- (to creep, crawl), like the Greek Hérpis/Έρπης (“snake”, shingles) and Herpetón/Ερπετόν (snake, creeping animal), with Aeolic Orpetόn/Ορπετόν suggesting (h)Arpetόn/*Αρπετόν.
With these potential connections in mind, the semantic possibilities for Finngreek Harpe are: 1. Something that devours, seizes, or burns suddenly, or is seized/burned suddenly 4. Prey, or an object of desire: Something lovely, pleasing, and/or alluring 3. A bird of prey (Harpy) 4. Something that creeps and crawls, such as a snake
There’s not a way for me to say any one of these could be more certain than another, at least until etymologists can make final decisions on the Indo-European and Uralic sources which my comparisons are reliant upon. The Northern Lights, as they would have been observed by the Helleno-Hyperboreanic peoples, could have been compared with fire, a bird, a creeping animal, or even simply an alluring object.
My personal feeling is that, while Harpy/Άρπη bears perhaps the closest resemblance to Finngreek Harpe, I don’t imagine a bird, sickle, tooth, fish, etc. (other meanings of Άρπη) when I look at the movement of the Aurora. The motion of the Northern Lights very plainly appears to me as either a slithering snake (‘Ερπης, *Αρπετόν), or as a line of fire igniting across the sky, depending on the formation of the lights – as well as the aforementioned stream of smoke from incense. Since the Aurora is also very beautiful, ‘object of desire’ seems suitable as well. With all of this in mind, the Helleno-Samoyedic construction results in this Finngreek term:
Harp(-a/-e/-i): Aurora; Snake; Fire (when moving across distance); Allure/Object of desire
Finally, there is Sela. Sela is constructed from two sources: 1. Finnish Salama (lightning/flash), from Proto-Uralic *śala (to flash/lighten) 2. Greek Sélas/Σέλας (light/brightness) and Selá/Σελά (to shine), which is either from “Pre-Greek”, or Proto-Indo-European *swelō (to glare, burn). In this case, it would be cognate with Sanskrit Surati/सुरति (to rule, shine), Lithuanian Svìlti (to singe), and Proto-Germanic *swelaną (to burn).
In modern Greek, Σέλας also means ‘aurora’, such as the Bóreio Sélas/Βόρειο Σέλας, or Northern Lights. In Finngreek, this is written as Borjasela(ma), as if a Finnish compound Pohja(n)-salama. Because the Greek term is neuter, -ma might be a missing suffix in another variety as seen with Finnish Sala-ma. This allows for two plural forms: Borjasélata and Borjaselámata.
Sela(-ma): Aurora, Lightning, Shine, Flash
Practice Sentences Arevothulés on Áranáimase = The Northern Lights (Fox Fires) are in the Autumn air Alepothulémata on Sýskausínmose = The Northern Lights are in the Autumn air Harpe seláhamaráse = The Aurora shines in the dark Borjaséla borjoise on = The Northern Lights are in the north Nóe borjaselámata phaná = See the Northern Lights shine
We now have three terms for the Aurora: Arevothulés, Harp, and Sela. It brings me great pleasure to enrich the Finngreek vocabulary with such a multitude of Helleno-Uralic proposals for the Aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, as nature has always offered a generous source of etymology and inspiration for this language project.
In the future, I would like to find a comparison with Sami Kuovskâs/Guovssahas, because its s-final morphology suggests to me an Indo-European source. However, I have yet to find anything convincing – but if I do, I look forward to editing it into this post!
In the case of observing the Aurora, it requires a historical stipulation that either a Hellenic people, or Uralic peoples (Hyperboreans) with knowledge of the Greek language, gave names to the Northern Lights from Hellenic sources (perhaps with the exception of Finnish Salama, which does not carry this meaning). This could place the northern (vs. Greece as southern) Helleno-Uralic contact zone somewhere within the arctic reaches of Fennoscandia and Russia – indeed very far north for a Greek population to reach if this contact occurred. Historical references to Hyperborea place it very far from Greece, beyond the Scythian steppelands, across the Riphean mountains – which have been associated in antiquity and modern times with the Ural mountains – until finally reaching the edge of the earth. Conversely, another northern contact period could have involved Mycenaeans in Scandinavia and the Baltic – of which more can be read about here and here – from where Greek language would have reached Proto-Uralic and/or Proto-Finno-Ugric through its western periphery.
All of these speculations depend on historians reaching a consensus about the time and place of the Proto-Uralic Urheimat (homeland), as well as the chronologies and ranges of its split into its descendant languages. Wherever the true Hyperborea was located, I hope to find it; and believe that its location may contain a wealth of archaeological treasures, as well as insight into how so much archaic Greek could have been loaned in the Uralic languages.
I wish you all Syyskausi Zilo, or Ara Onisi: Autumn Happiness!
Finngreek started out as a project that was based on lyrics in Finnish music, which I recognized as similar to Greek words. Because of this, the Finngreek language has a Finnish bias from the comparisons I’ve made, which can also be seen in the name Finngreek itself. I have spent more time comparing Greek with Finnish than I have any other Uralic language, in part due to its accessibility online.
However, Finngreek is much more than just a proposed relationship between Finnish and Greek: It also involves the Uralic language family as a whole. Sometimes, a word in Estonian, Hungarian, or a minority language in Russia – like Moksha – can phonologically parallel Greek more closely when compared with its cognate Finnish reflex. This is because the hypothetical Finngreek contact period would have likely taken place when Proto-Finno-Ugric was a living language, with cognates also proposed in Samoyedic, making it applicable to Proto-Uralic etymology as a whole (however, these are complicated, given that Greek-Samoyedic comparisons are often too close to Proto-Indo-European to ascertain an exclusive connection).
The reason I’m bringing this up in a blog post is because I am in the process of enriching Finngreek vocabulary with a variety of non-Finnish Uralic words – especially from Sami. The Sami languages contain various words which are comparable with Greek, but may have been lost in Finnic languages, or preserve certain phonemes which have changed in Finnish from a common source. This means that Finngreek, while named after the Finnish language, has certain vocabulary that is not always going to be recognizable to Finns. Some examples include:
Additionally, there are words in Greek which can be equally compared with Finnish and Sami, resulting in multiple forms of a word, like Ourá (compare Orava, related to Uárree), or Noitá/Noitis (compare Noita/Noaidi, in Finnish/Northern Sami, respectively). This variety can either be the result of related Greek terms – like Finngreek Ourá/Órre – or because of different endings between Finnish and Sami which are both found in Greek – like Noitis/Νοητής being nominative, and Noitá/Νοητά being vocative. This is a complex situation that is relevant throughout Helleno-Uralic comparisons, and plays into the overall unique vocabulary of the Finngreek language.
Some of these proposals go against the organization of phonological developments from Proto-Uralic into descendant languages, meaning that I have certain disagreements with the reconstructions of some Uralicists, where I may believe a certain vowel or consonant to be more suitable than what is currently accepted (eg: Instead of the current PU reconstruction for ‘eye’, *śilmä, I would instead reconstruct *tʰalmé/*tʰəlmé/*tʰelmé, (with a/ə/e depending on whether Οφθαλμέ is really Pre-Greek, or if it has an IE origin). Having more Uralic reflexes to compare with Greek means that I can make more thorough comparisons, due to the different phonological shifts that have taken place in sub-Uralic language groups.
At this moment, I am focusing on discovering and including more Helleno-Samic comparisons, because I’ve been introduced by some kind Sami people to resources which allow me to do so. Over time, I hope to not only add more Sami words to Finngreek, but from all the Uralic languages where they can be found. This means that, while Finngreek will always have a Finnish foundation, it will become a more enriched mosaic of Uralic terms, spanning all the way from Nganasan to Hungarian – from Selkup to Sami – and every language inbetween.
I am debating whether or not to continue using the name Finngreek, as I want the name of my project to accurately portray that the language, with its included etymological proposals, involves a tapestry of Uralic vocabulary and grammar. It may be that certain Uralic groups were either more relevant to, or better preserved, my proposed historical connection with Greece.
For example, I believe the gender dualism of Phoibos/Phoibē (Φοίβος/Φοίβη; pronounced as Fiivos/Fiivi in modern Greek), or Apollo/Artemis, may be best preserved in Northern Sami Beaivváš/Beaivi, showing that there is a masculine form of the name, whereas reflexes like Inari Peivi and Finnish Päivä are more obscure (although Finnish does have the given name Päivi for women, which is quite popular). This is an important situation to understand, because an underlying tone of my proposed Helleno-Uralic contact is that the Uralic people involved were, at least in part, the Phoibos-worshipping Hyperboreans, who helped to settle and manage religious rites at various spiritual centers of Greece. Of course, it is also possible that Proto-Uralic *päjwä is just the vocative form of Φοίβος, Φοίβε/Phoibe/Fiive, with the final –ä in Finnish being a shift specific to Finnish, as Proto-Samic *peajvē exhibits the final -e in most reflexes.
This particular word for ‘sun’ is only found in Finnic and Samic languages, which might imply that either the direct ancestors, or areal influencers, of the Finnic and Samic peoples were the main group involved in contact with Greece, while other Proto-Uralic peoples might have only played a peripheral role, or not have been involved at all. This is a complicated puzzle of relationships between Uralic languages and Greek, with the proposed periods of contact perhaps being as early as the Proto-Hellenes or Mycenaeans with the Proto-Uralic peoples (either including or excluding the Samoyedic peoples), and/or as recent (in the case of Hungarian) as a contact period between Byzantines living on the north coast of the Pontic Sea with the migrating Magyars. The ways which words were loaned among the diverse Uralic languages is obscure.
Hopefully, the additions of more Uralic languages into Finngreek can provide clarity. For now, Phåívånkheíli – The Language of the Sun – will continue to brightly burn with autumn’s approach.
(The featured image is sourced from this article on the genetic histories of Uralic peoples.)
This word has taken me a long time to find: I searched through English and Greek wiktionaries, as well as lsj.gr (A very useful site on Ancient Greek), unable to find a semantic comparison for ‘boat’ that was a convincing phonological source. However, upon discovering the majesty that is Hesychius of Alexandria’s “Alphabetical Collection of All Words“, I now have open-source access to a treasure trove of obscure Greek words, many of which have fallen out of use.
Βῆνος/Bênos (defined by Hesychius as “κιβωτός”, meaning ‘ark’ [like Noah’s ark]), which would be pronounced in modern Greek as Vinos, is one of the aforementioned obscure words, and thus must be learned for the modern Greek speaker. However, its phonology is quite regular.
Of the reconstructions, Proto-Samic *Vënës is the most accurate, showing the preservation of final nominative (presumably masculine) -s. In Finnish Venho, the -s may have metathesized with penultimate -o- (a relatively regular occurrence: Compare Laakso = Λάκκος; Urho<Uros = Ούρος, etc.). In addition, this now penultimate -s- has debuccalized into -h- in the presence of -n-, likely resulting in the shift: Benos>Venso>Venho. My proposal of Proto-Finnic *Venso is meant to serve as a simplification of the currently reconstructed *Veneh, due to the likelihood that the final -e in Finnish (i.e. Vene) is actually a preserved vocative form: Βῆνε. In Finnish, vocative masculine -e is preserved as /e/ from Greek. The case of the Finnic reflexes Veneh/Venhe may be due to contamination from the original forms of Venos/Vene (Compare the Eastern Samic reflexes Vens [Kildin] and Vâns [Ter], which show the -ns- cluster).
In the case of Samic vowel reflexes such as Northern Sami Vanas, there may be two separate situations occurring: A regular opening of -os to -as; and either a raising of -e- to -a-, or a preservation of an original Doric form of Βῆνος, which would be Βᾶνος/Banos>Vanas.
As the reconstruction of these terms in Uralic appears restricted to Finno-Samic, it is conceivable that areal contact between the diverging and diverged dialects resulted in a series of cross-contaminations, explaining the unique correspondences across the aforementioned languages.
The significance of Venos/Vene (the Finngreek forms) is that it provides a written attestation for the potential of sea travel – although an intermediate land route would still be necessary – during the period of Uralo-Hellenic contact, which has always been significant to the Finno-Samic and Hellenic peoples. This reconstruction expands on the geography where interaction would have taken place, which had until now been obscured by the inheritance of a non-Greek IE term (*meri) to describe the sea in Finno-Samic.
(Featured image: The Finnish pollution control vessel Louhi)
The ancient Venos, of the hypothetical Finngreek times, is a legacy that could live on today in the maritime nations of Finland and Greece. Greece is the largest shipowning nation in the world, with a history of maritime trade extending to at least the Mycenaean period (~1600 BC onward); and Finland is world-renowned for its shipbuilding industry, including some of the largest passenger vessels having been built in the southwestern city of Turku – not to mention being home to one of the world’s oldest fishing nets, from 8,540 BC, thousands of years before Helleno-Uralic contact occurred.
(Top picture: Hercules and Omphale, by Jacopo Amigoni)
The etymological research undertaken for Finngreek suggests a possible connection between Helleno-Uralic contact and oracular activity.
Holy, Sacred = Pyhä = Pythā = Πῡθώ, Πῡθῐ́ᾱ
Pythā (the Finngreek form of Πῡθώ) means ‘Pytho(n)’. Pytho is the ancient name of Delphi, and the Python was the monstrous snake which lived at the Oracle when it was dedicated to Gaia (the Earth), until it was slain by Pythian Apollo, making the Oracle of Delphi instead dedicated to him. The Pythia was the high priestess of the Oracle, and the one who breathed the sacred fumes in order to give prophecies to her supplicants. Finnish Pyhä, from reconstructed Proto-Finno-Permic *pišä (with which I disagree), has an interesting duality along with its Uralic cognates: The descendant terms (except for Finnic and Samic) primarily have a strongly negative meaning, including ‘unholy, heathen, sin, dirty’, and ‘foul’. I wonder about whether this might have implications for the “evil” that was the Python; or even conversion from paganism to other religions. Regardless, the resulting Finngreek term is Pythā (-ā because ä = a, ā = ω). This analysis comes with more terms:
Man, Slave, Servant = Orja = Orjā(n) = Ορεάν/Ορειάν Perfume, Incense = Tuoksu = Thuosku = Θύος/Θυοσκόος/Θυοσκοπία/θυΐσκη/Θύλημα < Θύω Storm, Wind, Future; To come = Thulla, Thuuli, etc.* < Θύελλα/Θυέλλη < Θύω (*There is a great deal of variety to this term: Thullea, Thule, Thulli, and so on.)
Starting with Orjā: The Finnish term Orja (slave) has been compared with ‘Aryan’, but it is unknown where both terms come from. Finngreek offers an alternative etymology for Orja, being Ορεάν(ες), which is the term for ‘men’ in the Pythia’s mystical language that she spoke at the Oracle of Delphi. The semantics of ‘slave, servant’ from Uralic reflexes, if stemming from Ορεάν, would not describe the life of a typical slave, but the male priest attendants of the Pythian high priestess.
The Greek Θύω (To sacrifice, burn, consult [an oracle]; to rush in, storm, rage), may have resulted in a wide array of terms in Finnish and Greek. This includes Greek Θύελλα (Storm), Θύος (Burnt sacrifice), Θυοσκόος (The sacrificing priest), Θυοσκοπία (Divination), θυΐσκη (Incense holder), Θύλημα (Incense), along with many other terms; as well as Finnish Tulla (To come), Tulva (Flood), Tuleva (Future), Tuuli (Wind), Tuulahdus (Breeze, Gust, Waft, Blowing), and Tuli (Fire).
I hypothesize that these terms all illustrate the experience of the Oracle: Receiving a prophecy from the holy “Priestess of the Python”, during which she was intoxicated with the sweetly perfumed, smoky vapors rising from under the earth.