Old Slavic ethnic names in -ь

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ahvalj

Senior Member
East Slavs used the ending to form names of their northern neighbors:
рѹсь/rusь — Ruotsi “Rus' from overseas” (apparently from Ros-lagen)
сѹмь/sumьSuomi “Western Finns”
ѥмь/jemь~ꙗмь/jamьHäme “Eastern Finns”
водь/vodьVotes
чюдь/čudьChud “Eastern Estonians (?)”
весь/vesьVepsians
черемись/čeremisьMari
пьрмь/pьrmьPermians
кърсь/kъrsьCuronians
либь/libьLivonians
голѧдь/golädьEastern Galindians

There was also a bookish word Скѹѳь/Skuθь conveying the Greek Σκυθία.

I am almost sure this *-i>ь was extracted from Baltic-Finnic tribal names (*sōmi>sumь), but just in case I'd like to ask if West or South Slavs also used this same pattern for any of their neighbors.

Update. I have also found серпь (that is сьрбь/sьrbь) for Serbs, but again in an East Slavic source.
 
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  • rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    East Slavs used the ending to form names of their northern neighbors:
    рѹсь/rusь — Ruotsi “Rus' from overseas” (apparently from Ros-lagen)
    сѹмь/sumьSuomi “Western Finns”
    ѥмь/jemьHäme “Eastern Finns”
    водь/vodьVotes
    чюдь/čudьChud “Eastern Estonians (?)”
    весь/vesьVepsians
    черемись/čeremisьMari
    пьрмь/pьrmьPermians
    кърсь/kъrsьCuronians
    либь/libьLivonians
    голѧдь/golädьEastern Galindians

    There was also a bookish word Скѹѳь/Skuθь conveying the Greek Σκυθία.

    I am almost sure this *-i>ь was extracted from Baltic-Finnic tribal names (*sōmi>sumь), but just in case I'd like to ask if West or South Slavs also used this same pattern for any of their neighbors.
    Is it true Lithuanians are naming Russians as "Goudi" (Goths?), that is probably - "гудь". Finns/Ests are naming Russians as "vene" ("вен(д)ы", (и)ваны?).
    offtopic:
    a) Ruotsi - "руцы"?
    b) Suomi - "swamp"?
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Gudai are Belarusians (also Gudija). There is also Gdańsk<*Gъdanьskъ nearby. Whether both are related and come from the name of Goths is unknown but not impossible.

    The names vene and venä- come from Vistula Veneti and later Venedī. In East Slavic, perhaps the name вѧтичи/vätiči is related. All coming apparently from the root *u̯enhₑ- with the full (*u̯enhₑ-et-) and zero (*u̯enhₑ-t-, note the stressed root in Russian continuing the old acute from the former laryngeal) grades of the suffix.

    What is руцы?

    Suomi does indeed come from suo<*sō.
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    Gudai are Belarusians (also Gudija). There is also Gdańsk<*Gъdanьskъ nearby. Whether both are related and come from the name of Goths is unknown but not impossible.

    The names vene and venä- come from Vistula Veneti and later Venedī. In East Slavic, perhaps the name вѧтичи/vätiči is related. All coming apparently from the root *u̯enhₑ- with the full (*u̯enhₑ-et-) and zero (*u̯enhₑ-t-, note the stressed root in Russian continuing the old acute from the former laryngeal) grades of the suffix.

    What is руцы?

    Suomi does indeed come from suo<*sō.
    As if there were not any "Belorussians" until 1918. As if Goths were lived not only in Danzig (today Gdansk) but in Crimea also in the East (Goths'-Slavs'-Jews' peninsula).

    Maybe, "руцы" is "руки"?

    I meant that maybe Finnish "suomi" and English "swamp" are related etymologically?

    Is it true, as if Räzan (Рязань) was Finnish tribe "Erzän" (Эрзянь) with letters changing often occur? I mean, Finnish names are also end with -нь instead of -ны.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    The Finnish uo is the result of a last millennium diphthongization of the long o retained for example in Estonian (Soome). The English w is old here. For basic questions of this kind one is encouraged to check Wiktionary.

    Рѧзань is the name of a city, not of a nation, and plus it is often masculine in the older texts. Its etymology is unclear (Нерознак ВП · 1983 · “Названия древнерусских городов”: 151–152), and may be indeed related to erzä. The metathesis of this kind did occur in Slavic in the last third of the 1st millennium.

    Couldn't we stay closer to the topic?
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    рѹсь/rusь — Ruotsi “Rus' from overseas” (apparently from Ros-lagen)
    I wanted to note that it was "rōtsi" in proto-Baltic-Finnic and its direct descendants, but you've mentioned it anyway. :)
    I am almost sure this *-i>ь was extracted from Baltic-Finnic tribal names
    It is possible, although in that case the Baltic names (жмудь, голядь) need to be also explained by the Finnic medium (which doesn't seem very likely, taking the geography into account), or by some sort of analogy.
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    I wanted to note that it was "rōtsi" in proto-Baltic-Finnic and its direct descendants, but you've mentioned it anyway. :)
    Yes, hence the Greek ω and Latin o in this name.

    It is possible, although in that case the Baltic names (жмудь, голядь) need to be also explained by the Finnic medium (which doesn't seem very likely, taking the geography into account), or by some sort of analogy.
    Thanks for жьмѹдь: I remembered to have forgotten a word or two but couldn't recall which one(s).

    I didn't meet this -is pattern in Baltic. For example, Русь is Rusia /ru'sʲa/ in Lithuanian. That's why I am asking: perhaps it was indeed in use somewhere else.

    My working hypothesis is that the borrowed Baltic-Finnic names had created a pattern in the East Slavic speech (like the modern Latin -ия for country names), so most of these variants were coined by Slavs themselves and probably had no prototypes in the native languages. (Likewise the Estonian name Eesti was created in the recent past after Suomi and Ruotsi).
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    Yes, hence the Greek ω and Latin o in this name.


    Thanks for жьмѹдь: I remembered to have forgotten a word or two but couldn't recall which one(s).

    I didn't meet this -is pattern in Baltic. For example, Русь is Rusia /ru'sʲa/ in Lithuanian. That's why I am asking: perhaps it was indeed in use somewhere else.

    My working hypothesis is that the borrowed Baltic-Finnic names had created a pattern in the East Slavic speech (like the modern Latin -ия for country names), so most of these variants were coined by Slavs themselves and probably had no prototypes in the native languages. (Likewise the Estonian name Eesti was created in the recent past after Suomi and Ruotsi).
    What is the matter? There are in Greek o-mega (ρως) and o-micron but both are o-sounds.
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    But they were called Ῥῶς and not **Ῥοῦς, reflecting the pronunciation of these people themselves and not the Slavic evolution/substitution *ō>u.
    Maybe, there was something like Greek ρως > rws (not рус)? If there would be "рус" then Greeks would write ρυς
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    By the way, wasn't the reconstructed proto-Mordvinic form closer to *ärzä (given the Iranic etymon and the Moksha correspondences of the Erzyan initial e-)?..
    I am only more or less fluent in Baltic-Finnic language history, so I wouldn't dare to comment the Mordvinic data… “Основы финно-угорского языкознания (прибалтийско-финские, саамский и мордовские языки)” · ВИ Лыткин, КЕ Майтинская, К Редеи · 1975: 257 writes that the Erzyan forms behind the imperfect Cyrillic orthography are eŕźa~eŕʒ́a and Mokshan eŕźä~eŕʒ́ä, thus both with the initial e.

    But they were called Ῥῶς and not **Ῥοῦς, reflecting the pronunciation of these people themselves and not the Slavic evolution/substitution *ō>u.
    And it is worth noting that Rootsi is still alive in Estonian (well, strictly speaking it is an estonization of Ruotsi since the proper Estonian form would be the syncopated **Roots), which didn't experience the diphthongization ō>uo. This ts apparently renders the Old Norse þs, which in Greek is optionally conveyed via σσ in Ῥωσσία.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    ВИ Лыткин, КЕ Майтинская, К Редеи · 1975: 257 writes that the Erzyan forms behind the imperfect Cyrillic orthography are eŕźa~eŕʒ́a
    True for modern Erzya indeed (/r/ undergoes an automatic regressive assimilation in Mordvinic languages), except /ʒ́/ must be dated or strongly dialectal (never heard that, and it's difficult not to notice). I don't know why they label the Cyrillic Erzya orthography as "imperfect", though, given that the phonology almost mirrors Russian (in the broad sense, of course), with only minor differences (the main orthographic issue, as far as I can remember, is reflecting /ng/ vs. /ŋ/). Moksha orthography is mind-boggling, of course, because it was once decided that both Mordvinic languages should use the standard Russian Cyrillic-33 alphabet, but that's another matter. Anyway, the modern Moksha form of the word well may be simply a later loan from Erzya. Still, it seems a good idea to read something solid on the development of the local languages from the supposed proto-Finno-Volgaic to the modern Mordvinic stage, my knowledge is obviously lacking as well.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    [At the risk of proliferating posts irrelevant to the topic: the words about the orthographic imperfection are my own old mantra, I should have better separated them from the retelling of that author's message].
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    East Slavs used the ending to form names of their northern neighbors:
    рѹсь/rusь — Ruotsi “Rus' from overseas” (apparently from Ros-lagen)
    сѹмь/sumьSuomi “Western Finns”
    ѥмь/jemь~ꙗмь/jamьHäme “Eastern Finns”
    водь/vodьVotes
    чюдь/čudьChud “Eastern Estonians (?)”
    весь/vesьVepsians
    черемись/čeremisьMari
    пьрмь/pьrmьPermians
    кърсь/kъrsьCuronians
    либь/libьLivonians
    голѧдь/golädьEastern Galindians

    There was also a bookish word Скѹѳь/Skuθь conveying the Greek Σκυθία.

    I am almost sure this *-i>ь was extracted from Baltic-Finnic tribal names (*sōmi>sumь), but just in case I'd like to ask if West or South Slavs also used this same pattern for any of their neighbors.

    Update. I have also found серпь (that is сьрбь/sьrbь) for Serbs, but again in an East Slavic source.
    Are these words names of the tribes/peoples, their lands, their individual representatives (male, probably) or something else?

    I'm asking because the only few names I can recall in Polish are :
    Ruś - referring to the land of the East Slavs,
    Żmudź - a region in Lithuania

    Figuratively they can be used to refer to the people (Żmudź cała ruszyła), but normally it would just be plural from the identification of the person: Żmudzin - Żmudzini, Rusin - Rusini.

    However historically it could have been different, especially that many originally soft consonants terminating the words are now hard, and they become soft only in inflection.
    Of the names you mentioned :
    Czeremis - Czeremisi (some -s words in plural have -si while others have -sy; perhaps a trace of original soft pronunciation)

    Serb - Serbowie, but Serbia - many countries have -ia or - ja after a consonant shift (Chorwat - Chorwaci - Chorwacja, Szwed - Szwedzi - Szwecja), which again can be traces of originally soft pronunciation. There are more traces of this kind, but it could also come from Latin.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Are these words names of the tribes/peoples, their lands, their individual representatives (male, probably) or something else
    By default these are collective ethnic names, potentially extending to the areas those tribes control (hence Русь). Names for individual representatives were typically derived from them using the -in- suffix (e.g. роусинъ).
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    By default these are collective ethnic names, potentially extending to the areas those tribes control (hence Русь). Names for individual representatives were typically derived from them using the -in- suffix (e.g. роусинъ).
    Indeed, it seems that nowadays we do not have collective ethnic names which would be something different than a plural form of a name for an individual of the ethnicity. Finowie, Czuwasze, Czerkiesi, Litwini, Rosjanie, Czesi, Słowacy, Niemcy, Szwedzi, Bułgarzy, Połowcy, Tatarzy - all follow this pattern.
    Thank you. So, Poland lacks this type. Ruś and Żmudź must be of East Slavic provenance.
    Apparently.
    There are some traces though that it could have changed over centuries. For example, there are words which might have had collective meanings (mężczyzna, włoszczyzna, chińszczyzna, ruszczyzna, tatarszczyzna, angielszczyzna), but apart from the former - which now refers to a single male person - they have a sort of collective figurative meaning, cultural traces, language, specific products, etc. rather than the people themselves.

    Another trace are quite consistent differences between inflection patterns referring to ethnicities and common objects:
    * Litwin -> Litwini, but morświn - morświny
    * Szwed -> Szwedzi, but pled -> pledy
    * Bułgar, Madziar, Tatar, Węgier -> Bułgarzy, Madziarzy, Tatarzy, Węgrzy, but ogar -> ogary, ogier - ogiery,
    * Czech - Czesi (there is also "Czechy" used as the name of the coutry as opposed to "Czesi" being a name of the nation), but cech -> cechy
    * Chorwat -> Chorwaci but krawat -> krawaty

    EDIT: it's also interesting that regionally the '-y' suffix may still be used in dialects: Litwiny, Szwedy, Tatary. Also names of locations derived from ethnic names, I'd rather expect to follow the latter patterns rather than the modern proper plural.

    One may argue that it's a male-personal versus non-male personal distinction, but it's quite characteristic that in all these cases there is a trace of a palatalisation in plural, which seems to be consistent me your question.

    This reminds me a case of city names like "Wrocław", "Radom", which in some cases receive palatalisation as well -> Wrocławia, Radomia (in plural as well, Wrocławie, Radomie - albeit semantically it does not make much sense). It was explained by the fact that palatalisation of the last consonant used to have a posessive function (Wrocław' = (belonging to) Wrocław / Wrzecisław). So a person named Wrocław / Wrzecisław was inflected - gen. Wrocława, Wrzecisława (compare: Wacław - Wacława), but his settlement with originally palatised "-w'" and now with hard "-w" is still inflected Wrocław -> gen. Wrocławia. Same goes with Radom and quite a bunch of other locations in Poland.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Indeed, it seems that nowadays we do not have collective ethnic names which would be something different than a plural form of a name for an individual of the ethnicity. Finowie, Czuwasze, Czerkiesi, Litwini, Rosjanie, Czesi, Słowacy, Niemcy, Szwedzi, Bułgarzy, Połowcy, Tatarzy - all follow this pattern.
    Russian still has мордва (which, however, is actually a collective exonym for Erzya and Moksha). Чудь is obsolete. There's still a very limited list of pejorative collective feminine names, formed with various suffixes (немчура, чухна, татарва). Русь and Литва have become geographical terms (the former being historical/poetic). Still, I believe that the (historically) affixated terms (like мордва and the old usage of литва; cf. modern литовцы) should be contrasted with the unaffixated terms we're exactly discussing (русь, чудь, весь, емь etc.).
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    The East Savic -ь-ethnonyms are feminine i-stems, which decline like vysь.

    The Polish Wrocław and Radom are grammatically, as you write, masculine possessive adjectives with the suffix *j: in West Slavic this is obscured, but in East Slavic *j>-ļ- (palatal>palatalized l) after a labial, hence Ꙗрославъ/Jaroslavъ (name) → Ꙗрославл҄ь/Jaroslavļь (city, “Yaroslav's”), which in Polish declines the same way as the toponyms you've mentioned: Jarosław, Jarosławia, …. That's a different type indeed.

    The -i in Chorwaci, Litwini etc. are actually etymological: a millennium ago the masculine o-stems had -i in the nominative plural and -y (hard stems) or (Old Church Slavonic) ~ -ě (North Slavic) (soft stems) in the accusative plural, that is rabi — raby “slaves” and koņi — koņę~koņě “horses”. Standard Polish retains this nominative -i in these cases and in the personal plural.

    [An update to the etymology of Suomi. Another opinion is that it is an old nominal derivative of *soodak, which still exists as an adjective/participle suoma “desired, granted, given, sent”: jumalan suoma “god-sent”. The a-stem is original here, compare suomalainen and a discussion Finnish sound change a->e].
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    ..... I'd like to ask if West or South Slavs also used this same pattern for any of their neighbors.
    According to my informations, the West Slavs probably not.
    ..... I am almost sure this *-i>ь was extracted from Baltic-Finnic tribal names (*sōmi>sumь) ....
    For curiosity, in Hungarian there is an adjectival ending -i which means the "origin of/from". E.g. londoni = Londoner, from London; római = Roman, from/of Rome; kerti = from/of garden, etc .....

    According to some etymology dictionaries, this adjectival endig -i comes from a former Finno-Ugric possessive ending. Thus, for example, in theory e.g. londoni once could have meant something like "of London" in the sense of "London's", "possessed by London".

    I don't know if this helps to support your Baltic-Finnic theory ..... Nowadays in Hungarian, regions or countries are not formed by the ending -i, however some toponyms do exist. E. g. Németi (német = German), Olaszi (olasz = today Italian, historically whatever Romance speaking people/person), etc ....
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    But Hungarians invaded Central Europe too late for their -i to be rendered via in the surrounding Slavic dialects. At the turn of the millennia the Slavic ь (at least in the south) had already lowered (when not adjacent to j) and could not convey the foreign i.

    The Hungarian -i is also interesting in that a number of other languages — at different times, completely independently and from unrelated original material — created the relational suffix of this (with some phonetic variation, yet always around i) shape: Afroasiatic (for example the Arabic -iyy-), Proto-Indo-European (for example the Latin -i- in words like Jūlius, or the Slovak in words like vlčí), Middle Iranic (from Old Iranic -īk-), Middle Indic (from Old Indic -īy-), see especially here.
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    According to my informations, the West Slavs probably not. For curiosity, in Hungarian there is an adjectival ending -i which means the "origin of/from". E.g. londoni = Londoner, from London; római = Roman, from/of Rome; kerti = from/of garden, etc .....
    Maybe, -i suffix is from Hungarian Jews (Yerushalmi - Jerusalem citizen, Teimani - Yaman inhabitant)?
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    But Hungarians invaded Central Europe too late for their -i to be rendered via in the surrounding Slavic dialects. .....
    Of course. I didn't want to say the Hungarian itself has to do something with this . I only wanted to show the existence of the ending -i also in Hungarian (a Finno-Ugric languiage), although not used for creating region names, etc.

    Maybe, -i suffix is from Hungarian Jews (Yerushalmi - Jerusalem citizen, Teimani - Yaman inhabitant)?
    Improbable, if not impossible (for many reasons).
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Yes, I see, thank you. By the way, I tried to find what people write about the origin of this -i and found nothing constructive: from *-j-, from *-k-, from elsewhere. The major problem of the Uralic etymology is the initial stress in all languages (the couple of exceptions are of a recent origin), which eroded the final syllables for the past millennia. Hungarian has lost all the original final vowels and has lenited most post-tonic stops and sibilants, so this -i necessarily comes from a vowel + j, which in its turn must have had its own phonetic prehistory. In particular, I found nothing relevant in Khanty and Mansi… Even Finnish, the most conservative in the entire family, has numerous examples of apocope and lenition.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    .....Hungarian has lost all the original final vowels and has lenited most post-tonic stops and sibilants ....
    This is true. This is not only a linguistic "deduction", but these final vowels are still present in written Hungarian doments from the 11th-12th century. E.g. hodu, varu, utu (today had, vár, út). This is valid also for verbal stems, etc. However, there are many words that seem to end a priori in consonant, also in Finnish.

    ...so this -i necessarily comes from a vowel +j ....
    I think I understand what you want to say, but I'm not sure if you are right. We have for example mundoá (= "he said", 12th century) which later became mondá. So, mundo- was the full stem with a final vowel "o", and the [long a] is the ending of the past tense. We have e.g. also ſzentii (= "his saints") in the old written documents, where the final "i" represents a vowel, not the consonant "j".

    Further more, e.g. the modern Hungarian adjective Moszkvai (= "of Moscow") is not pronounced ['moskvaj], but ['moskvai] or perhaps ['moskvaji], with a clear vowel "i" at the end. So it seems that two adjacent vowels are and were possible, at least in case of an ending or desinence attached to the stem or word ....
     
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