Swedish 'bra' and Russian 'добре'

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Roel~, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. Roel~ Junior Member

    Nederlands - Nederland
    A long time ago I was wondering how it come that the word for 'good' in Swedish, bra is so different from gut (German), goed (Dutch), good (English) and goed (Frisian). Than I was thinking about the geographical location of Sweden, which is west from Russia and as we know Sweden and Russia were neighbours before Finland was there. What I was wondering about is if this word 'bra' possibly came from 'dobre', which would explain the deviation of this definition in Scandinavian languages or if it is possibly the other way around and bra from Swedish or other Scandinavian languages was borrowed by Slavic languages, or is this just a coincidence?
  2. xari Junior Member

    According to SVENSK ETYMOLOGISK ORDBOK av Elof Hellquist, Swedish "bra" is related to German "brav", French "brave", Italian "bravo".

    link: http://runeberg.org/svetym/0146.html
  3. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Finland was between Sweden and Russia all the time.
    The land between the Novgorod duchy and Finland was colonized by Russians in late Middle Ages.
    The shores of Finland were colonized by the Swedes in the late Middle Ages too, and the land subject to Swedish rule. Russian has not contributed with many words in Swedish, but in Finnish it did.
  4. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Due to the particular use of "bra" in Scandinavian, there is a suspicion it entered more or less directly from Italian/Spanish, since it was, and still is, used as an acclaim or encouraging shout. And older form "braf", shows that is related to LG "brav" og F "brave" when used as an adjective.

    As for the Slavic connection. It seems unlikely they would have borrowed the second, unstressed syllable of the word. If anything, they would have borrowed 'dob'
  5. Roel~ Junior Member

    Nederlands - Nederland
    Interesting. Is there also anything known about the Slavic word 'dobre'? Is it related to 'brave' in some way?

    And my second question is why it is more likely to borrow the first part of a word, I don't know everything about linguistics.
  6. Ёж! Senior Member

    I don't think there is really anything to know here. The second vowel in the word добре is not only unstressed, that is, poorly heard, it does not even belong to the root of the word. It's like you borrow the Spanish word cercar as 'rcar' to some language. After all, why would one want to borrow only the second syllable in a word, especially if the second syllable is significantly 'less important', as is the case with the Russian word?
  7. xari Junior Member

    According to Vasmer it's related to Latin "faber", Armenian "darbin" : craftsman, smith.
  8. bibax Senior Member

    According to Vachek the Slavic dobrъ is a rearrangement of *bodrъ which is related to Skr. bhadra, and Germ. better/besser.
  9. xari Junior Member

    Is this a common occurance in Slavic? Are there other examples of such rearrangement?
  10. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    I think the main reason is that unless you have a language that does a lot of inflection through prefixes, the first part is usually where the meaning is conveyed. In all IE languages, endings are "reserved" for grammatical purposes, and in a different language, this is useless information. Pidgin languages usually keep the root words without endings.
    More importantly - in this case - the "re-"part of "dobre" is easily identifiable as an ending, and therefore not pronounced properly even by native speakers.

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