Finnisch-Ugrische Forschungen 54


László Honti
Numerusprobleme (Ein Erkundungszug durch den Dschungel der uralischen Numeri)

A good fifty years ago Paavo Ravila's study Numerusprobleemeja ("Problems of number") appeared in Virittäjä (Ravila 1938). The enlarged version of this study (Ravila 1941, in FUF 27) is perhaps the most important and most quoted work dealing with the syntactic problems of the Uralic language family. Its basic theses are: (a) the number suffixes of the noun in Proto-Uralic were originally part of the predicate, and they did not acquire their number function until they were transferred to the subject as a congruence phenomenon; (b) case declension existed only in the singular; there was no dual or plural except in the nominative case; (c) the Proto-Uralic plural suffix was *t; i as a plural suffix in present-day languages is the result of convergence, although in Proto-Uralic it might already have had a plural function.

In the following article the early stages of the number markers, their origin in Proto-Uralic and the development of new markers in the daughter languages will be dealt with. The following conclusions were arrived at:

(a) the plural marker *t and the dual *k(V) have developed from determinants functioning as appositions to the subject,

(b) the predecessor of *i was a collective suffix,

(c) *t was the plural suffix of the grammatical cases and *i that of the adverbial cases,

(d) there was probably an (almost) complete case paradigm in all numbers of Proto-Uralic,


(aa) the disappearance of ancient number suffixes in certain present-day languages (Cheremis, the Permian languages and Hungarian)

(bb) or changes in their function (as in Lappish and Samoyedic)
cannot be explained in terms of historical phonology.

In case (e) (aa) new collective suffixes have gradually replaced the ancient number suffixes, while for case (bb) there is (as yet?) no explanation; the author is of the opinion that this is to be sought from the development of the morphosyntax of the individual languages.

Hans Fromm
Germanen im bronzezeitlichen Mittelschweden?

This paper, originally presented at the 8th International Congress of Finno-Ugrists in Jyväskylä (1995), describes the archaeologists uncertain or negative attitude towards the hypothesis that the Bronze Age culture of Middle Sweden could already be called Germanic. The author states that as long as the results of the archaeological findings peter out in mere assumptions, the problematic relationship between them and the hypotheses of historical linguistics should be considered when drawing interdisciplinary conclusions, to make the methodological differences more clear.

Rainer Eckert
Baltisch-slawisch-finnougrische Entsprechungen im Wortschatz der Waldimkerei

The theme of this paper is the terminology of wild-bee keeping among some Finno-Ugrian peoples (Mordvin, Mari, and the Ob-Ugrian peoples, as well as Estonians and Livonians). The author also cites references to wild-bee keeping from old Russian sources. R. Gauthiot (1910) has already mentioned some pertinent Udmurt phraseologisms; some more examples are given in this paper especially from Paasonens Ost-tscheremissisches Wörterbuch. There are structural and semantic correspondences in the phraseology of the Baltic, Slavic and Finno-Ugrian (Udmurt and Mari) languages. The Finno-Ugrian examples can be interpreted as old calques from East Slavic.

Ildikó Kríza
Die Sage von der ungarischen Landnahme (Interpretation der Quellen aus dem 18./19. Jahrhundert)

The Hungarians' arrival in Hungary is the theme of one of their best-known historical tales, in which their leader Árpád asks for some earth, grass and water, giving a white horse with a richly decorated harness in exchange, and thus symbolically buying the whole country for his people. From the 13th century on, this story appeared in every chronicle and became widely known in epic songs, books and even school textbooks. From the 18th century on, along with the development of the new state of Hungary, the story acquired a new role and a new interpretation. Old, previously unknown sources were found, and new pictures and text versions appeared.

This paper analyses data from the folklore and cultural history of the 18th and 19th century, illustrating the complex picture of how the Hungarians' right to their land was legitimized. During the Enlightenment, old texts were published in new, popular forms. Popular paintings of the main scene, with captions and texts showing the speech of the characters, offered a naïve view of the actual situation rather than the symbolism associated with the "country bought for a white horse". In the 19th century, this story expressed a popular view of history. Its origins were in the culture of the elite, but its new interpretation shows the confrontation between the Hungarians and the Slovaks, which was to be essential in the development of the identity of these nations.

Terho Itkonen
Reflections on Pre-Uralic and the "Saami-Finnic protolanguage"

The article is a completed version of the author's commentary to Pekka Sammallahti's paper "Language and Roots" read at the 8th International Congress of Finno-Ugrists in Jyväskylä 1995. Sammallahti's vision of postglacial Pre-Uralic settlements along the deglaciated areas in northwestern Europe does not seem to be impossible; the least probable sections in his theory are the supposed postglacial extension of the Proto-Uralians up to the areas south and southwest of the Baltic Sea and the early Uralic substratum in Germanic.

Sammallahti, as usual, supposes Proto-Finno-Lappic as the last intermediate protolanguage between Proto-Uralic and present-day Finnic and Lappic. The author, however, does not consider such a protolanguage necessary. Also the notion of a Volgaic protolanguage (later divided into Mordvin and Mari) should be rejected. Early on the "Finno-Volgaic" group of languages seems to have consisted of four relatively independent protolanguages: Proto-Finnic, Proto-Lappic, Proto-Mordvin and Proto-Mari.

Johanna Laakso
On verbalizing nouns in Uralic

Because verbalizing a noun means "relativization" - it deletes information about the quality of the semantic relationship between the entities involved - denominal verbs can be interpreted in various ways, and denominal verb derivatives fall in several semantic subgroups. This means that vague semantics is an inherent feature of noun-based verbs, not a result of secondary developments; it is often impossible to determine any "original semantic function" for denominal verb suffixes of this kind.

This paper presents a short survey of primary denominal verb suffixes in the Uralic language family. The same primary suffixes – notably TA, L and J – appear in most of these languages with very similar characteristics. Thus it is possible that their denominal use, beside the deverbal use, is an ancient feature.

Bernhard Wälchli
Mordwinisch und ältere baltische Wortsemantik

Archeological and toponymical investigations have shown that a contact area between Baltic and Mordvinian peoples has probably existed over a long period of time in the upper region of the river Oka. However, the number of evident Baltic loan-words in Mordvinian, most of them known since Thomsen (1890), is not very large. In this paper two Baltic loans in Mordvinian, kardas '(cattle) yard' (Thomsen 1890) and mala- 'near' (Nuutinen 1987), are discussed, whose Baltic equivalents are of a residuary character. Beyond this, some other Mordvinian words are examined in their syntagmatic and semantic environment, as far as they shed light on additional Baltic structures.