teisipäev, märts 18, 2008

püksid - byxor

In New York -- where I spent most of the last week -- the front pages of newspapers teem with fun headlines about former Governor Eliot Spitzer's appetite for call girls. In Estonia, on today's front page of Postimees is a debate over whether or not integration is an enemy of the Estonian language.

Urmas Sutrop, director of the Estonian Language Institute, made headlines last week when he said that integration was a threat to the Estonian language. Sutrop clarified his position today, explaining that by bringing 300,000+ speakers of Russian and Ukrainian into the estophone world, the language will inherit their grammatical errors and loan words from their native tongues, thus diluting the riigikeel (state language).

Rein Raud, rector of Tallinn University, writes in response that Estonian has already borrowed heavily from foreign tongues and sees no threat in borrowing some more. He gives several examples of common Estonian words of foreign origin in his piece. So, as I drank my morning coffee, I was able to learn that the Estonian word for trousers -- püksid -- comes from the Swedish word 'byxor'. I did not know that. See, that's what Estonian newspapers are for.

26 kommentaari:

phutty ütles ...

The Estonian word 'plika' also comes from Swedish. Maybe there are more Swedish words in Estonian than there are Russian?

Rainer ütles ...

I don't think so.
Swedish loans are rather scarce than common in Estonian. Pood is one that comes to mind (boda). Or maybe Swedes have loaned it from Italian "bodega"?

Giustino ütles ...

Isn't the riigikeel really the Northern dialect? I have met plenty of Estonian speakers who don't speak the riigikeel. They speak wõro or mulgi instead.

Frank ütles ...

Byxor may be Swedish, but in Hanseatic or Northern Low German it is Büx or Büxen ... and we might assume that this term was used in Estonia centuries before "vana hea rootsi aeg".

Doris ütles ...

Piin and piinlik (pijn, pijnlijk - pain, painful), taak (taak - task), ananass (ananas - pineapple), kalkun (kalkoen - turkey), kaneel (kaneel - cinnamon), rikas (rijk - rich) and many more also come straight from Low German rather than Russian.

Giustino ütles ...

Isn't it hard to tell the difference in German/Swedish loan words because the languages have similar roots? 'Püksid' may be older than the 'vana hea saksa aeg' too. It may just be a generic Germanic loan.

phutty ütles ...

Rainer: me neither. I was kidding :)

phutty ütles ...

http://www.fillu.edu.ee/sisu.php?id=30&teema=2#f - this page will tell you a bit too.

Andres ütles ...

Well, in the end we probably have no way to really find out whether some sailor who sailed to Sweden found out about "byxor" or did some Swedish bloke hear from "püksid" in Estonia and then went back to enlighten his fellow men. Sutrop seems like a jackass though. A Russian who speaks shitty Estonian doesn't make me speak Estonian any worse. The fact that I'm thinking and writing in English at the moment probably does more damage to he structure of my Estonian than when I hear someone really messing up some sentence in Estonian. I'm going to correct him/her then or something, not take over the wrong way of saying things.

hullu poro ütles ...

Swedish borrowed heavily from Low German during the Middle Ages, so püksid/byxor might both be loanwords deriving from the same source. German was the nearest thing to a common language that the Swedish realm had until the Great Northern War.

n-lane ütles ...

It's not only about words, but also about idioms, images and structures, which were incorporated into Estonian as a result of contacts with other cultures.

or did some Swedish bloke hear from "püksid" in Estonia and then went back to enlighten his fellow men. (Andres)

That would be a rather unusual way for the Swedes to learn a Germanic word, I think :)

Rainer ütles ...

Unusual maybe, but likely all the same ;)

Giustino ütles ...

I think this should be on the cover of tomorrow's Postimees: 'Püksid -- A Swedish or Low German Loan?'

We can get experts to sound off with opposing viewpoints. I like the 'sailor theory' though. After all, he filthy buggers go from port to port ...

Andres ütles ...

It probably boils down to who wore pants first :P Were the Swedes still jogging around in Tarzan-style belts when the Estonians had better leg-wear or was it vice versa. And n-lane, sure it's unusual but I also liked Malev and I'm sceptical towards any historian who says he's SURE it was really different, so *shrug* :)

Frank ütles ...

It may all boil down to "buck" or "buck-leather" as the material the büksid were made of.
It is Bock or Buck in most Germanic tongues.
I suggest to skip the sailor and to salute the merchant ...

Frank ütles ...

Those of the Anglo-Saxon persuasion might prefer the terminus buck-skin: soft leather / a soft pliable grayish yellow leather, usually with a suede finish ...

AndresS ütles ...

Interestingly enough Sweden is proposing a law today to protect it's language from, among other things, the introduction of foreign words.

http://www.thelocal.se/10568/20080318/

nipi ütles ...

Well, back to roots - Sutrop also says that no problems with words. Only grammar and language structure matters, words are cleared within time - either replaced with new creations or adopted. That's language normal interaction and development.

Well, from my mind, point is another. Language rules have been changed as there have been long time two separate linguist-centers, in Tallinn and in Tartu. And these do not agree with each other, so in language rules nowadays often different options are allowed. Sometimes I am not sure which way is correct to say. After checking find that both are correct. Ambiguous way and not good for language. It should be more strict. I agree that something is changing. But then it could mean that change has to be adopted, not letting parallel correct versions existing.
At my secondary school times, now over 30 years ago, I had teacher from Tallinn training, mother of one classmate linguist from Tartu. Friend had good training at home, perfect in everything, but not in Estonian. Just because he was trained at home by different rules than our teacher tried... Inevitable conflict. And such remains.

Finally, yes, Sutrop is right in saying rules have to remain. And language training has to be improved. But on the same, language inspection has to do more. Too many cases in service sector we see errors in pricetags. Or in food lists (menu). Again bad training issue. Teachers have to be better paid. And state has to use carrots to get good teachers of estonian and other things in estonian - into mainly russian-populated areas.

Heli ütles ...

I´m just wondering how we named "püksid" before that. Or we didn´t have trousers at all before Swedes came here :DD?

Kristopher ütles ...

I'm picking up a different northern dialect here in Narva-Jõesuu -- they eat something called xleb, which I'm afraid to try to pronounce, but it even tastes the same as Estonian bread! There are days when I think integration is not a lost cause. Major dialogue going on here.

Your new governor is really cool, BTW.

Colm ütles ...

Thank you for that nice linguistic tid-bit. Püksid is, funnily enough, my favourite Estonian word.

Colm ütles ...

Interestingly, trousers
1612, earlier trouzes (1581), extended from trouse (1578), with plural ending typical of things in pairs, from Gaelic or Middle Irish triubhas "close-fitting shorts," of uncertain origin. The unexplained intrusive second -r- is perhaps by influence of drawers.
http://www.etymonline.com/

space_maze ütles ...

Wikipedia has a nice overview on what was loaned from whom when:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estonian_vocabulary

The most important Slavic loans in Estonian are just that - Slavic. They predate the existence of the Russian language as a defined something, and are words you'll find in any Slavic language from Czech to Serbian to Russian - aken, turg, raamat (which I believe Slavic languages themselves got from greek, and which I was told shares roots with "grammatika" an all those words)

n-lane ütles ...

aken, turg, raamat (which I believe Slavic languages themselves got from greek (space_maze)

This is interesting.

*оkъnо (okno, Old Slavic, not Greek, from око 'eye', the same inner logic as in 'window' or the Old Icelandic 'vindauga') ->
aken

торг (torg, Old Slavic, not Greek) ->
turg (and Finnish 'tori', Swedish 'torg')
The modern Russian word for 'turg' is of Germanic origin: рынок (rõnok <- MHG rinc)

γράμματα (Old Greek for 'letters') ->
грамота (gramota, Old Slavic for 'document') ->
raamat
But the modern Russian word for 'raamat' is not of Greek origin: книга (kniga, of Turkic origin)

n-lane ütles ...

The most important Slavic loans in Estonian are just that - Slavic. They predate the existence of the Russian language as a defined something (space_maze)

In the Wikipedia article you mentioned, there are two separate paragraphs: Old Slavic loans and Russian loans.

I could add 'vot' and 'ei ole tolku' to that :)

But the most interesting part for me are not single word loans, but idioms and structures borrowed from other languages. But this has not been studied much yet, I think.

space_maze ütles ...

I'm not sure about idioms borrowed from Russian, with the exception of "ei liha ega kala", or whatever it was. My Russian does not go much beyond "Izvinite, ja ne ponemaju" :-)

I do know that there is some debate in regard to recent developments in Estonian .. if they're "natural", or Russian influences. Such as asking yes/no questions without kas particles, and thus formulating them just as one would formulate sentences. While I've heard people claim this is a Russian influence .. it's quite possible to make normal sentences questions in German or English too, in colloquial speak. ("You're going to Paris?")

Another thing is "aga" becoming "a". Is that the same Estonian laziness that turned the "kanssa" postposition (still alive and well in Finnish) into -ga (minun kanssa --> minun kaa --> minuga) or is this the Russian "a" weaseling its way into Estonian? Who's to say?

As for idioms, it's sometimes quite humorous for me how often I find 1:1 translations of German idioms in Estonian. "ette heitma", for example - vor+schlagen.