Vowels in Finnish military ranks

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muhahaa

Member
Finnish
What are the origins of the Finnish military ranks which seem to have strange vowels compared to the source languages?

Luutnantti: seems to be mix of English lieutenant <luutenant> and German Leutnant <loitnant> or Swedish löjtnant (loss of the e between tn)

Eversti: Swedish överste <öövärste>: Change of long öö to short e. The är->er could be a spelling based pronunciation. Oberst in German.
 
  • Häkkinen K · 2007 · “Nykysuomen etymologinen sanakirja”: 647 mentions the older Swedish form lutenant. For eversti (page 139) she writes:
    Suomen kirjakielessä eversti on ensi kertaa mainittu Hartikka Speitzin suomentamissa sota-artikloissa vuonna 1642 ruotsin mukaisessa asussa översti. Sanaa on vielä 1800-luvulla käytetty ö-alkuisena, vaikka myös e-alkuinen muoto on esiintynyt saman vuosisadan alkupuolelta lähtien.
    So, no proper explanation. I suspect this was just an adaptation of a foreign term with unusual phonetics, since there are very few Finnish words beginning with ö. Concerning the length: the Swedish long ö is not ancient here, it is secondarily lengthened from the short y>ö of yfir, so perhaps Finnish got this word in its older shape.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    the Swedish long ö is not ancient here, it is secondarily lengthened from the short y>ö of yfir
    What makes you think that?

    Yfir is Old Norse but the word has no ON etymology. It is a much later loan translation from German.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Yes, of course överste is a German loan, but adapted to the Swedish över.
    Yes, and after the lengthening. So any further loan from Swedish cannot have been influenced by a shift that had happened earlier and that has never taken place in that word itself.
     
    Last edited:
    Well, speculating, we can look at this from the Finnish viewpoint: this language doesn't have words with öö in the first syllable (since *öö>yö) except in few Swedish loans (like Töölö), and, if I am not mistaken, there are no words beginning with öö other than the name of this letter itself.

    Lengthening of short open syllables in Swedish occurred mostly in the 15th century. In 1642 översti is first attested in Finnish. So, there is still some chance for this word to have reached Finnish before that lengthening. Also consider hovi<hov, which has a long vowel in modern Swedish (loaned again into huovi).
     
    The Swedish etymological dictionary I've cited above mentions the Swedish attestation of 1621 in the form of a charming öfwerste luetenanbt, lytenambt and further mentions the German word oberstleutnant of the 1500's. If we find lytenambt, why not to admit that öfwerste may have been borrowed (as a variant) with a short vowel into soldier's slang.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Not without a time machine. The word arrived in Danish and Swedish too late for that and it is only marginally older in German. The word entered Swedish in all likelihood only through the Swedish involvement in the war in Germany.
     
    OK, I don't insist. Yet we have my above example hov>hovi, where lengthening has occurred later in Swedish (see the Danish hof with a short vowel) and where Finnish reflects the form preceding this lengthening (as well as has a second loan with uo substituting the Swedish lengthened o).

    For the context, lyte is “defect” in Swedish, so the German oberstleutnant was perceived by Swedish soldiers as “highest defect ambt”.
     
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