Discussion in 'Suomi (Finnish)' started by Maroseika, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. Maroseika Moderator


    Is it possible to explain from what parts the word vahvero (Cantharellus mushroom) consists? Is its etymology evident?

    Also, if I may ask one more question: does Estonian kukeseen mean coloured?

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  2. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    Hei Maroseika,

    Not all but most of the Finnish names of the mushrooms are quite new, usually less than a hundred years old.

    I'm not sure but I think that vahvero was chosen because this mushroom is "vahva", not easily split – compared with hapero (Russula) that is very brittle, frail, "hapera, hauras".

    I couldn't find the meaning of Estonian "kuke".
  3. Maroseika Moderator

    Thank you, Hakro.
    But how came such a "mushroom" nation did not have names for the mushrooms in the earlier times?

    By the way, could not vahva mean "caustic, pungent", as in some languages (like German, Polish and Kashubian) the name of this mushroom literally mean "pepper?
  4. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    "Mushroom nation"? Finland is a mushroom country but generally Finns are not mushroom eaters.

    Vahva can also mean a spicy taste but I wouldn't say that vahvero is spicy. On the other hand, similar mushrooms growing in different countries can have a different taste. In the UK Cantharellus is considered as a poisonous mushroom, if I remember correctly.
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Hi Maroseika,

    Here's the explanation of vahvero from Häkkinen's Nykysuomen etymologinen sanakirja:

    "The mushroom name vahveroinen, known in North Karelia and the Ladoga regions, refers in popular language to the milk cap mushroom [lactarius], primarily to the woolly milk cap. Karelian vahveroine corresponds precisely to the Finnish word, but besides vahveroine there are also the forms vahoi, vahvoi, vahvoine. Similar terms for the milk cap exist in other closely related languages -- for example, Ludian vahattšu or vahalauk, Veps bahalouk and South Estonian vahelik. Because of this variation, it is difficult to say whether the names were formed from the noun vaha ["wax"] or the adjective vahva. Both of these can be argued for semantically: the milk cap can be split up into pieces like wax, and its taste is pungently strong. It is possible that the two words have become conflated with one another in popular speech."

    (Häkkinen 1427; my translation)

    The -seen in kukeseen means "mushroom" (cf. Finnish sieni "mushroom"). As for kuke-, it looks as though it means "cock, rooster" -- compare kukelaul ("the crowing of a rooster", literally "rooster song") -- but I'm not sure exactly why the mushroom is called that. Maybe because of the color?

    (By the way, despite Estonian being very close to Finnish, I think Estonian-related questions should go in a separate forum.)
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  6. Maroseika Moderator

    Thank you very much, Gavrila, for the brilliant citation.

    Interestingly, in Lettish this mushroom is called gailene, probably also meaning cock. Maybe because it resembles a cock's comb. Loaning in either direction is very possible.

    I think you are right, just thought I might recieve the answer about Estonian here faster than in other forums. Maybe I ought to place it at the "All languages".
  7. Maroseika Moderator

    Really? Just did not know, sorry.

    Actually this mushroom is really bitter (if not spicy) when raw, so this propeerty might motivate its names in some languages (like German Pfifferling, Polish pieprznik or Kashubian peperlëszka).
    So the second explanation of Häkkinen is quite realistic.

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