Thursday, December 30, 2021

Swedes and Finns, Czechs and Hungarians

I saw a quora question, while the access to the site was blocked, I got the question and first line of the response in the mail.

Now, Czechs and Hungarians can't understand each other if they speak slowly. Czechs and Poles perhaps can, but Czechs and Hungarians can't. There is a reason why Czechs and Poles are counted as Slavs in linguistic and Hungarians as Fenno-Ugrians.

Similarily, Swedes and Finns can't understand each other if they speak slow, they often can understand each other if the Finn speaks Swedish, but that's a different question. Swedes and Danes and Norwegians have some ability to understand each other, all being Nordic languages and Finnish being Fenno-Ugrian.

Can Finns and Hungarians understand each other? No. While both are Fenno-Ugrian, it's like saying Czech and Swedish are both Indo-European. A Hungarian immigration heritage comrade in the military service and a comrade whose girlfriend (now wife, I hope - perhaps already wife?) was Finnish spent hours trying to search words resembling each other in Finnish and Hungarian, and they did find some, but that doesn't mean they can understand each other when they speak slowly.

Finns and Estonians can understand each other about as well as Swedes and Danes. I've been told. Finns and Lapps are more like Swedes and Germans. Finns and Hungarians, if I am not to use the parallel Swedes and Czechs, it's at least a bit like Lithuanians and Czechs or Gaels and Romanians (Balto-Slavic and Italo-Celtic seem more credible to me than Indo-European original unities).

How many languages have the word meaning bear that is "ursus" in Latin and "arktos" in Greek? I try Pokorny. I fail to find it, since Pokorny was before the "h2-" notation of certain PIE words (and PIE, Proto-Indo-European, has changed vastly since 1868, probably more than any other language, except possibly Dyirbal.

But wiktionary gives a help.

h₂ŕ̥tḱos leads to:

1) Albanian ar, newer ari, arushë
2) Hittite ḫar-tág-ga-aš
3) Armenian (both old and new) արջ (arǰ)
4) Lithuanian irštvà (“bear's den” and not "bear" which is lokys)
5) Welsh arth, Breton arzh, Old Irish art, now replaced by "bear"
6) Greek ἄρκτος
7) Sanskrit ṛ́kṣa, Classic Persian xirs with Avestan arṣ̌a, Kamkata-viri and Ashkun , Tregami voć
8) Finnish karhu, Estonian karu, with this Indo-European word as only one possibility of two.
9) Latin ursus. With urso, oso, ours, orso ... depending on daughter language.

I think this is the PIE word I have seen most spread between families after the numerals 2 to 10 + 100! All the IE families have 2 to 10 (Greek doesn't have the usual one for "one"), and by contrast, Germanic doesn't have this word for bear, that's a bit like "one" lacking in Greek (though one could say it's not completely lacking, since oιoς is "one" on a dice - but the cognate would be normally oιvoς and that means "wine").

Note, since "8 Finnish" is not IE, it's just 8 families overall, 1 to 7 + 9. I typically see 3 to 5 for a word, so far. This is one reason to maintain the possibility of rather areal features than a common proto-language.

Coming from the same region doesn't mean speaking the same language.

Speaking nearly the same language, it's not just about speaking slowly. I am a Swede, and lived next door to Denmark, and I consider my three stages with Danish were:

1) understanding short phrases ("mang' tak", "ti' kroner" ...)
2) understanding Danish in writing
3) trying to speak Danish and being heard as if speaking Swedish, and sometimes having to tell Danes to speak slower, sometimes being told so myself
4) getting usefully good at speaking Danish
5) relapsing from 4 to somewhere 2 or 3, since losing the contact.

And the better you understand each other, spontaneously or after learning the other language and seeing it already has cognates, the better suited you are to take loans from it as if they were cognates. I just saw "main page" of Danish wiki. It is "forside" in Danish. I would borrow this as "försida" if "hufvudsida" (what it means in internet terms) and "framsida" (what it means in other terms) didn't already exist. Between "nedlåtande" and "nedladende" one may have been borrowed from the other, I don't think any is arguing it was there in Old Norse - a historic language which is parent to Danish, Swedish, Norse, Icelandic and fairly close to modern Icelandic. Proto-Indo-European is a reconstructed language supposed to be parent to Germanic*, Latin, Greek, Avestic and Sanscrit as well as Old Irish.**

Hans Georg Lundahl
St. Sabinus and Companions***

Spoleti item natalis sanctorum Martyrum Sabini, Assisiensis Episcopi, atque Exsuperantii et Marcelli Diaconorum, ac Venustiani Praesidis cum uxore et filiis, sub Maximiano Imperatore. Ex ipsis Marcellus et Exsuperantius, primum equuleo suspensi, deinde fustibus graviter mactati, postremnm, abrasi ungulis et laterum exustione assati, martyrium compleverunt; Venustianus autem non multo post, simul cum uxore et filiis, est gladio necatus; sanctus vero Sabinus, post detruncationem manuum et diutinam carceris macerationem, ad mortem usque caesus est. Horum martyrium, licet diverso exstiterit tempore, una tamen die recolitur.

* Germanic itself supposed and probable parent to Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, Old Saxon, Old High German and Old Norse. ** And a few more. *** One of them arguably patron saint of the family of a well beloved French children's book writer : Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

No comments: