Vlürch wrote: ↑20 Nov 2021 12:52
Xonen wrote: ↑19 Nov 2021 21:03
*/ʃt/ > /ht/ has
happened in Finnic, along with general /ʃ/ > /h/: lehti
'leaf' < *lešte
'hay' < *šaina
etc. But this happened at some stage in Proto-Finnic
Somehow I managed to completely forget about that.
Maybe subconsciously I was partially thinking of that, though... it having happened once doesn't mean it couldn't have happened again, does it?
No it doesn't; late medieval Savonian peasants probably
didn't have enough of an understanding of Proto-Finnic sound changes to go "hey we already did this one, let's think of something else".
Are you saying to you Finnish sounds more like Swedish than, say, Karelian or Udmurt?
No, I'm saying Finnish sounds like Finnish, Karelian sounds like Karelian and Udmurt sounds like Udmurt. Finnish and Karelian are closely related enough that they still sound quite similar, but neither of them sounds much like Udmurt. And none of these sounds much like Swedish, either, in the sense of rikssvenska
(although come to think of it, both it and Udmurt do seem to have a thing for alveolopalatal fricatives...). There are, I guess, similarities between Finnish and finlandssvenska
, but trying to separate which parts of that are Swedish influencing Finnish, Finnish influencing Swedish, both retaining charasteristics of some kind of ancient Baltic-Finnic-Germanic sprachbund, or whatever, is probably an exercise in futility (or maybe a topic for a doctoral dissertation; either way, not really something we're going to advance much by wildly speculating on this board).
In any case, the very fact that finlandssvenska
sounds quite a bit like Finnish, while rikssvenska
does not, is an excellent example of how different even two varieties of the same language can sound. I therefore don't really understand what a "Uralic" or "Indo-European sound" is supposed to mean. And certainly not how such a "sound" could depend on changes in some individual fairly low-frequency phoneme.
but have you never even heard of other Europeans being like "why does Finnish sound Asian?!", usually referring to Japanese specifically?
Not that I recall, no. But again, the very notion of something sounding "Asian" is... weird, to say the least. Japanese sounds absolutely nothing like Mandarin.
heard of people remark on the similar sound of Finnish and Japanese specifically, though. And hey, I agree: they do
sound kind of similar. Both have a relatively simple syllable structure and contrastive length both in vowels and consonants, with consonant length being independent of neighboring vowels and vice versa, and length in general being independent of stress.
So on one hand, two varieties of the same language can sound quite different, while on the other, even two completely unrelated languages can sound fairly similar due to pure coincidence. Indeed, I'd say Finnish sounds more like Japanese than it does like Udmurt. Which again brings us to the question of how there could possibly be such a thing as a Uralic sound.
I know about that, but I don't think it's necessarily relevant at least as far as the arguments about the development of /ts/
It's not, but it's another example of the modern standard pronunciation being influenced by Swedish.
As for the Germanic influence, why would Swedish having lost /θ/ and /ð/ before the standardisation of Finnish mean much? Swedish still had those sounds for a while after conquering Finland. And even before then, the vikings raided Finland a bunch and likely at least a few assimilated into Finns on the west coast, and since Old Norse had /θ/, that could've influenced the pronunciation of /*t͡s/ in the western dialects of Finnish. It wasn't long before Agricola's time that Swedish still had /θ/, anyway, from what I gather from the Wikipedia article about Old Swedish
... so its spread in Finland could well have simply corresponded with the spread of Swedish influence.
The modern standard pronunciations were established in the 19th century, so the relevant Swedish influence is 19th century Swedish-speaking intelligentsia getting caught up in Finnish nationalism and starting to learn Finnish. It has absolutely nothing to do with Old Swedish or Vikings or even Agricola.
Now, dental fricatives were probably on their way out from Finnish anyway at that point, so the fact that Swedish-speaking folks couldn't pronounce them either isn't the only or even the main reason why they were phased out from the standard. However, the pronunciations that replaced them, namely /ts/ for <tz> and /d/ for <d>, were quite clearly chosen at least partially because they were intuitive spelling pronunciations for Swedish-speakers; neither of these had much support in actual spoken Finnish dialects. Going by those, we'd expect /t(:)/ or maybe /s(:)/ for the former, and /r/ or nothing for the latter.
and since Old Norse had /θ/, that could've influenced the pronunciation of /*t͡s/ in the western dialects of Finnish [...] Besides, it's not like Swedish (or Norse) influence contributing to /θ/ is mutually exclusive with the existing /ð/ also having had influence on it. Symmetry is nice and all, and I do like dental fricatives, but I don't see any reason to assume the presence of /ð/ by itself would've had any effect on /*t͡s/ becoming /θ/ because it didn't in other Uralic languages or even in at the very least the far southeastern dialects of Finnish. That's why I think it's more likely /t͡s/ (or maybe even already deaffricated /ts/) was more widespread in the east, and the spreading Germanic influence (likely just Swedish influence) is what was behind the spread of /θ/.
If anything, it's kind of weird that some dialects of Finnish apparently had, for a time, a phonemic voicing contrast for just one pair of consonants, and that was the dental fricatives... Anyway, I guess it's possible
that Old Norse or Old Swedish influenced the development of /θ/ - but in that case, it's kind of weird that it doesn't seem to occur in loanwords from those. (Or does it? At least I can't think of any examples.) However, /t͡s/ > /θ/ is a perfectly natural sound change, so I don't see any reason why we'd necessarily have to attribute it to any outside influence at all.
Xonen wrote: ↑19 Nov 2021 21:03
Because it makes historical linguistics considerably harder. Not to mention leading to, shall we say, pointless and counterproductive "chicken and egg" debates in situations like this.
But aren't the mysteries part of what make languages so interesting?
You tell me: you're the one who made that complaint
in the first place.
Xonen wrote: ↑19 Nov 2021 21:03
And, as mentioned, it's still far from universal in colloquial speech, tending to occur mainly in words of a more literary register.
I don't know for sure much about outside (eastern) Helsinki
Well yeah, if I had to name a place in Finland that I think would be least likely to hold onto traditional dialectal pronunciations of any kind, that would probably be pretty much it.
but at least here most people pronounce words like metsä, paitsi, vitsi, satsi, Natsi, patsas, pitsi, hitsi, kaltsi, etc. with /ts/ and in conjugations of verbs like valita
Right, I should probably have specified: we're talking about /ts/ spreading to words which traditionally had some other sound in most dialects of Finnish (i.e. /θ(:)/, /t(:)/ or /s(:)/). Obviously, Mikael Agricola did not pronounce, say, natsi
as /nɑθ:i/, since he lived about 400 years too early to have to worry about Nazis. Similarly, vitsi, pitsi
are loans from Swedish (vits, spets, sats
), while hitsi
are modern slang. In none of these has /ts/ replaced an earlier sound.
The relevant ones for the discussion here are metsä, paitsi
, as well as the -itse-
verbs. Although I'd argue that patsas
might fall into the more literary register of words; how often do we actually talk about statues in casual speech? And as you mention, metsä
shows a lot of variation... But then, we don't actually have much real forest in Helsinki, we just have small metiköitä
, and at least a metikkö
is always a metikkö
, never a metsikkö
. I'll grant that paitsi
(in the combination sitä paitsi
) is quite common and pretty much always has /ts/; then again, paitsi että
can still become paittiet
And yes, a small number of -ita
verbs show -itse-
in conjugation. But the most common one, tarvita
('to need'), certainly becomes tartten
) and not tarvitsen
. The third person for verbs like valita
might also still be valittee
; I guess one factor influencing the preference for valitsen
in the first might be that valitten
feels wrong due to /t:/ otherwise being mostly under consonant gradation, but valiten
doesn't really look like a normal finite verb form, either (indeed, it would clash with the instructive gerund). Although I've heard some people solving the problem by using valiin
for it, and once caught myself using tuomiittekste
instead of tuomitsettekste
'to judge'), so who knows, maybe a new pattern is emerging here. Be that as it may, this verbal conjugation is kind of a special case, since it's subject to such odd alternations (and apparently, verbs of this class already showed a bunch of variation even back in the <tz> days).
So yeah, maybe "mainly in words of a more literary register" was exaggerating things a bit, at least for Helsinki (and to be fair, something like half the country speaks like Helsinki these days). However, at least the most common words, like katsoa
('to look') and etsiä
('to look for', 'to seek') etc. are certainly still pretty much universally pronounced with /t:/ in the strong grade forms and /t/ in the weak. No-one says mä katson
, it's always mä katon
I'd say it's more speech register if such a thing can be said to exist in Finnish (as separate from formality/informality), and not the words themselves).
Obviously, register matters: the more formal the register, the more people will approximate the standard. But the point is that some words are pronounced with /ts/ even when speaking in a highly informal register; no-one from Helsinki will ever say patas
for 'statue' (although someone from Savitaipale just might).