Mukʰá: Reviewing the Finngreek Landscape

This post focuses on reconstructed geographical features of Helleno-Uralic contact, which would have primarily taken place in northeast Europe, through the lands known as Scythia. During Helleno-Uralic contact, the mukʰá (riverbend[s]) of the Scythian rivers would have been the center(s) of trade and travel. It is unclear whether this term was used by the ancient Greeks to describe the rivers themselves – which is possible within Greek – or whether a specific term just for ‘river’ can be reconstructed from terms not currently compared. The ancient Greeks certainly had names for the Scythian rivers, such as the Borysthenes (Dnieper), the Tanais (Don), and the Rha (Volga). There are historical records of Greeks traveling these rivers, and settling upstream among the locals (eg: Gelonus).

In addition to the mukʰá, there were dams, moors, hills, cliffs, and roads. There may have also been swamps. This is a smaller collection of the terms I originally wished to share; the terms not yet shared may offer a much broader description of the landscapes, but they need more in-depth research. Over time, I will expand on this post.

kũma
wave (HU)
PU *kumpa <? He. kũma / κῦμᾰ < PH *kūmə < PIE *ḱéwh₁-mn̥ < *ḱewh₁- ‘to swell’
Con.: PU *-p-; PU *kompa? (per Aikio)

If a U < H loan, it must have been an early loan, given its wide distribution, and /u/ vs. /y/. However, PU *-p- is unexplained. Also, I am awaiting more information re: *kompa (vs. the commonplace reconstruction *kumpa). This is already an irregular proposal due to *-p-; and if I am satisfied with the reasoning for *-o-, then I will remove this proposal.

kʰówos
dam, dike? (HEr.)
Er. kavaz / каваз < He. *kʰówos / *χόϜος (cf. χόος, LSJ:FB) < khéō / χέω <1 PIE *ǵʰew- ‘to pour’

A citation for the Erzya term kavaz has been difficult to find: It is plainly listed on Wiktionary as ‘dam, dike’, but is without a source; and it is allegedly defined as ‘dam, pond’ / ‘плотина, пруд’ in the Erzya-language book Сырнень човалят: Стувтовозь ды чуросто вастневиця валт (Russian: Золотые бисеринки: Забытые и редко встречающиеся слова [English: Gold beads: Forgotten and rare words]), by Evgeny Vladimirovich / Евгений Владимирович. As for He. kʰó(w)os / χόος, it is defined as ‘mound, bank of earth’ (cf. χοῦς, LSJ:EW), ‘dike’ (LSJ:E>GW); and described by Hsch. as “χῶμα” = ‘mound, dike, dam’.

lámpē
pond, puddle, bog (PU); damp, mud, scum (He.); mud? (HU)
PU *lampe <?> He. lámpē / λάμπη < ?
Con.: Lit. klampa ‘marsh, swamp’ (cf. Junttila, p. 282); Geo. loṗo / ლოპო ‘slime?’

It appears that the unifying HU semantic value is ‘mud’: Compare Ma. lop ‘deep-lying moist soil’ / ‘tiefliegender feuchter Boden’ and Ne. limbad ‘sand with water on the riverbank, sand with an admixture of clay’ / ‘вязкий песок с водой на берегу реки, песок с примесью глины’. However, also compare Ma. lop and Geo. loṗo, as well as the He. variant lápē / λάπη. However, the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia defines loṗo as ‘slippery moisture that settles between tree bark and timber in the spring’ / ‘ლიპი სისველე, რომელიც ხის ქერქსა და მერქანს შორის ჩადგება გაზაფხულზე’, which does not describe moist ground as seen in the U, He., and Lit. terms. If the Sy. terms are correctly attributed to PU *lampe, then it could not likely be a B loan. Re: HU, the PU phonology is ideal for a U<H loan; but as the He. term is without etymology, the direction of loaning is unclear. If U>H, it would most likely be from disintegrating PFS – or a FS descendant language.

leikʰḗn
moss (HFP)
PFP *rekɜ (lichen) <? He. leikʰḗn / λειχήν <1 PIE *leiǵh- ‘to lick’

Cf. Ma. reγeńə. Ma. -ńə ~ -ńćə̑ ~ -ńće is listed as a denominative suffix; and it is unclear how this might (or might not) correspond to the He. -n(a[s]) suffix(es) (cf. λειχήνα ~ λειχήνας). FP *r- < He. *l- is unprecedented; and the primary FP < H form must have been rendered with FP *r-, perhaps due to II influence. If the FP term(s) were in fact loaned from He., it is relevant to note that reflexes are only found in Mari and Permic (i.e. Central Uralic): This might lexically nudge the range of HU contact towards the Volga-Kama interfluve, which would likely rely on travel on the Volga river.

mukʰá(s) ~ *mukʰā́ ~ múkʰē 
bend of a river (PU); bend of the shore, nook, a bay or creek running far inland (He.)
PU *mučka > PF *mutka ?> He. mukʰá / μυχά (cf. μυχός) ~ mukʰás / μυχάς ~ múkʰē / μύχη ~ mukʰḗ / μυχή (thus *múkʰā ~ *mukʰā́) < ?

The language or proto-language from which U > H would have occurred is unclear. The term could not have been inherited from Sy. due to lack of -k-; but the PU and PF forms are too similar for disambiguation. As -tk- does not occur in He., -t- loss might be expected. However, there are examples of intra-U -t- loss in both F (cf. Fi. mukka; McCoy 2017, p. 207) and S (PS *mokkē). However, Fi. mukka is not likely synchronous with HU contact; and the S reflexes exhibit -o-, which has not demonstrably resulted in He. -u- (but compare Cypriot loc. mokʰoĩ / μοχοῖ). Although not listed in the UEW, I also tentatively suggest Ma. mugər / мугыр ‘bend, wind, meander, curve (of river, road)’ as a reflex of PU *mučka – this would open loaning into He. from the FV continuum – although the Ma. -r suffix is unclear.

nē̃ma
Fi. ‘peninsula / Halbinsel, spit of land / Landzunge’; He. ‘thread’
Fi. niemi < PF *neemi <? He. nē̃ma / νῆμα < néō / νέω ‘to spin’ << PIE *sneh₁-

Also compare He. nē̃sos / νῆσος ‘island’, of a debated etymology: Either ultimately from PIE *sneh₂- ‘to swim’ via He. néō / νέω ‘to swim’, or from an unknown or Pre-Greek origin. Perhaps the semantics of He. nē̃sos influenced nē̃ma: Spits of land are very common along the northern Black Sea and Sea of Azov; as well as along the southeastern Baltic Sea. In this context, HF nē̃ma would have meant ‘thread of land’.

nomī́
heath, moor (F); pasture (He.)
PF *nummi < He. nomī́ / νομή << PIE *nom-éh₂ < *nem-
Con.: PIE *nom-éh₂?

If the word can not be attested within U outside of F, it is not likely to have been inherited into F from PIE via U.

págos
hill, mountain (HMor.)
Er. pando / пандо << He. págos / πάγος <1 *peh₂ǵ- ‘to attach’

It is unclear whether HFS págos ‘frost’ and HMor. págos ‘hill, mountain’ were unified, or if they represent separate borrowings: Both meanings are found in He. págos. If unified, they could represent HFV págo(s). The Mor. result -nd- would apparently be regular (cf. PFU *towkɜ > Er. tundo).

psīlḗ ~ *psī́lē
tall (HU)
PU *pide <? He. psīlḗ / ψηλή <1 PIE *h₃ewps-

Aphetic, fem. form of He. hupsīlós / ὑψηλός. The gender might connect with HU fem. nouns, such as HU pʰúē ‘tree’. Assymetric HU -īlḗ is reminiscent of -ḗlǣ: A possibility that medial -η- evolved before final -η is considered.

pʰy̌̃ma
grass (PUg.); that which grows (He.)
PUg. *pimɜ < He. pʰy̌̃ma / φῦμα << PIE *bʰúH-mn̥

In the Uralisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, Károly Rédei describes Ug. -u- as secondary (cf. Khanty and Mansi pum < PUg. *pimɜ). However, this is not the outcome of U *(-)imɜ in the Ug. languages (cf. PU *imɜ > Kha. imə ~ imi; PFP? *simɜ > Kha. sɑ̆mĭ ~ sĭm- etc., Man. sämi ~ siməl etc.). Unfortunately, I haven’t found any example of PU *-üm- reflexed in PUg. for a potential regular phonological comparison: In this event, the best explanation I offer is that its origin as a loanword explains the unusual vowel correspondences. In light of this, I suggest the correction of PUg. *pimɜ to *pümɜ ~ HUg. pʰy̌̃ma.

raktós ~ ráktos
ravine (HF)
Fi. rotko <<? He. raktós / ῥακτός ~ ráktos / ῥάκτος <1? PIE *wreh₁ǵ- ‘to break’
Con.: Irr.

Although a perfect semantic match, the phonology is unusual: Fi. *rahto might be expected (cf. HF ah͔tī́); but if Sa. -tk- < U *-kt- is a demonstrable irregularity (cf. PU *tuktɜ >> Sa. totko), perhaps the same could be applied to a F < He. loan. Fi. ro- << He. ra- is unexplained.

rótʰos ~ *róθē
winter road (SaN); mountain path, path, trail (He.)
SaN raŧŧi < PS *rëθē <? He. rótʰos / ῥόθος ~ *róθē / ῥόθη < PreH

Due to HU phonological standards, HS /θ/ is presented as a possibility. However, secondary development is not ruled out. The PS form suggests *rëθē < He. *róθē. However, a feminine variant of He. rótʰos is not attested.

sárma
edge (Fi.); chasm (He.)
Fi. särmä <<> He. sárma / σάρμα < saírō / σαίρω < ?

The ultimate origins of both Fi. särmä and He. sárma are unknown, so the direction of loaning can not be ascertained.

Woikeĩe Noītá = True Seer

I need another week until my next post is ready about the reconstruction of Helleno-Uralic contact; and I thought that it would be good to fill in the gap with a comparative poem. Each Uralic and Greek word can be selected to be externally linked to detailed information. The phonological and semantic reasonings will not be explained for each term within this post (some have already been shared, and some will be shared soon). The Finngreek words herein include Uralic < Hellenic and Uralic > Hellenic loans; and they are not always equal to the linked Greek and Uralic forms (eg: Sami áidalas < Proto-Sami *ājtëlës shows Greek aídalos / αίδαλος – but the Greek form aídalā is used to match the grammatical gender of mukʰā́; the He. term mukʰā́ is glossed with Proto-Uralic mučka, but the loaning is proposed from Finno-Samic during a later period). The English translation is not always literal, but provides the best semantic approximation to the Helleno-Uralic / Finngreek terms.

UralicFinngreekGreekEnglish
pide puwe psīlḗ pʰuḗ ψηλή φυή tall tree
puna ora purrā́ ourā́ πυρρά ουράred squirrel
dáiddalaš kavazdaídalos kʰówosδαίδαλος χόϝοςartful dam
áidalas mučkaaídalā mukʰā́αίδαλα μυχάhidden river
jalo čirjaz íaros kǐ́riosίαρος κύριοςthe sacred master
mut pušɜ-mũtʰo pʰusáμῦθο φυσάexhales the word:
kiihkeä tule kǐkeĩe tʰuéllē κυκεῖε θυέλλη“frenzied wind,
wojke nojta woikeĩe noītá ϝοικεῖε νοητά true seer!”
to sooma jada-to sō̃ma iálei το σῶμα ιάλειthat person summons
täwde purka teleíā brokʰā́ τελεία βροχάthe perfect storm.