Il primo re.

News flash (bolding added):

The First King: Birth of an Empire (Italian: Il primo re), released as Romulus v Remus: The First King in the UK, is a 2019 Italian historical drama film directed by Matteo Rovere. Set in the 8th century BC, it is about the shepherd brothers Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome. The main actors are Alessandro Borghi and Alessio Lapice. All spoken dialogue is in an early form of Latin.

Via zyxt, who adds:

I came across this after listening to an interesting episode of the BBC radio program “In Our Time” where they mentioned that there were some 66 versions of the Romulus and Remus myth.

I wonder how plausible the Latin is, of course; the Wikipedia article says:

The language was created by a team from the Sapienza University of Rome led by professor Donatella Gentili. The team studied archaic Latin and “fleshed it out” with help from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language.

Comments

  1. Stu Clayton says

    All spoken dialogue is in an early form of Latin.

    I thought dialogue was always spoken.

    The film had grossed 2.1 million euros after the first three weeks of screening

    I hadn’t expected there to be so many people interested in a made-up early form of Latin.

  2. I thought dialogue was always spoken.

    Signing!

    I hadn’t expected there to be so many people interested in a made-up early form of Latin.

    Maybe they’re interested in Romulus and Remus.

  3. Curious notion, though really hard to judge without the script. I mean, it sounds like they wanted something older than prisca Latinitas.

  4. Stu Clayton says

    So the signing in the film was not done in an early form of Latin ? Quelle surprise !

    Maybe they’re interested in Romulus and Remus.

    Even if they can’t understand what they say ? Are R&R portrayed as Chippendales? I’m too old for that kind of thing.

  5. The Wolf-Milk Marketers’ Association approves.

  6. According to the Italian reviews there isn’t that much dialogue. Mostly a lot of dirty people fighting and walking. „Courageous“ is used a lot, which I take to mean „respect the effort but not very entertaining.“

    One review also mentioned they backfilled missing Latin words with putative Indo European constructions and that it is very much an „imaginary language.“

  7. David Eddyshaw says

    Manios med fhefhaked Numasioi.

    (Sadly, there seems to be a possibility that this fhefhamous fhefhibula is a fhefhake.)

  8. I thought dialogue was always spoken.

    Tell it to Plato.

  9. marie-lucie says

    “All spoken dialogue is in an early form of Latin. ”

    Italian movies are usually dubbed or translated into other languages in order to reach the international market, so I suppose that the spoken Latin heard by the spectators is complemented by a caption in Italian (or English, etc) written at the bottom of the screen, translating the early form of Latin.

    When we were young teen-agers, my sisters and I were sometimes taken to the movies by our parents. A popular type of film at the time was “Franco-Italian co-productions” dealing with Antique subjects such as well-known classical legends. They were dubbed into French, but the actors’ lips were often not quite synchronized with the sounds we heard. Especially, names were usually longer in Italian, for instance “Télémaque” (3 syllables) was “Telemacco”, so after the French final “k” sound we could see the actor’s mouth form into a soundless “o”. These films were fun, often because of the rather low intellectual level of the production – quite often we could guess exactly what the next reply would be, and laugh at our guess. The movie reviewed here must be more ambitious.

  10. You can do reasonably well watching many old-fashioned Italian and Franco-Italian sword & sandals movies without speaking any Italian. The details of the plot are not terribly important (and, as marie-lucie suggests, often extremely predictable anyway). The real point is to see Maciste, et al. clobbering people. It’s easy to imagine something in the same genre being made today, albeit probably with much higher production values.

  11. I imagine it could be very entertaining if someone created a subtitle file (*.srt) in pig Latin, to emphasize the imaginariness of it all but still be understandable.

  12. ” Mostly a lot of dirty people fighting and walking.”

    Csillagosok, katonák, “Stars and soldiers” in Russian translation, accurate except the comma, The Red and the White in Enlgish, a1967 movie by Miklós Jancsó. I watched it in the Museum of Cinema. Unusally there was an interpreter from Hungarian – instead of a usual student translating from English script and subtitles – and headphones. And the director (Jancsó), but to my shame I do not remember what the audience of some 12 people was asking him about and what he was answering (maybe because people were talking to him before the film).

    But there were only a few lines of dialogues, almost all in Russian, so in the middle I found myself taking the headset off and not wanting to put it on again. It si just people murdering people. Reds were trying to shot their own too. 90 minutes of absolute pointless and senseless murder. Young Mikhalkov has a role there, but a brief one: his superior sees him preparing to rape a village girl (or after that?) and shoots him immediately. The opposite of the Romulus and Remus film, in its message, I assume.

    That was before their asses were kicked out of the Valuable, even if tiny, corner of the Kinocentre (by an organization run by Mikhalkov) and went underground. Another great thing about the Museum was 1$ tickets, well below normal prices for films, and affordable even for people who we call the poor here, that is old people.

  13. One review also mentioned they backfilled missing Latin words with putative Indo European constructions and that it is very much an „imaginary language.“

    – imaginary constructions
    – designing dialogues in such a way, that only known words are needed (and introducing a different bias)
    – beeps instead of unknown words.

    I imagine:
    1. the third solution is the least popular, and I would prefer it if not
    2. pragmatically, even if it was set in Classical times, spoken dialogues would be bullshit, and my beep solution becomes just “beep beep beep cunnus beep”.

    So why not imaginary)

  14. 90 minutes of absolute pointless and senseless murder.

    I’m currently reading Trifonov’s Старик (The Old Man), which is also about the Russian Civil War and its pointless and senseless murders; I’m amazed he was able to get it published in 1978.

  15. There were a few Soviet authentic novels about Russian Civil War.

    They all feel the same – absolutely pointless and senseless murder.

    Artem Vesely’s “Russia Washed In Blood” (1927-1928) probably holds the record for sheer bloodiness. Everyone in the novel is a villain bordering on homicidal maniac – Reds, Whites and especially the peasants.

    Predictably, he was arrested and shot in 1938 for being part of “Trotskyite terrorist organization”.

  16. i could have sworn this film came up in the comments to this language log post about sanskrit in a chinese movie, but i don’t see it…

    https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=48516

    maybe there’s another similar post i’m thinking of…

  17. David Eddyshaw says

    Red Cavalry includes quite a few senseless and pointless murders.

  18. Why is the title in Italian instead of Latin? Surely Primus Rex is understandable. Or even Primo Rex, the king at the beginning.

    I am no expert, but I thought that the amount of archaic Latin we have was rather limited. Just a few inscriptions and such. That makes it difficult to write dialogue.

    It would be much easier to do it in the Latin that is still taught today, that is the Latin of about Julius Caesar’s time. It’s not the Latin that Romulus and Remus would have spoken if they existed, but it’s the Latin that those stories were written down in so that we have them to read now.

    If you did a film of the Iliad (speaking of pointless and senseless murder) in ancient Greek, surely you’d use Homeric Greek and not try to backdate to the kind of archaic Greek that Agamemnon would have spoken.

    What about other ancient epics that have been filmed, like the Mahabharata? Wikipedia says it was written down around 3rd c. BCE, but the events probably happened around 8th c. BCE.

  19. From a thread on Latin-language movies on StackExchange:

    …To me (who am not an expert in the history/linguistics of the Latin language), this appeared to mean mainly that the writers took a bit of classical Latin text and changed all the intervocalic Rs to Ss. There did seem to be many mistakes, not all of which I’m sure can be explained away as just pre-classical usage. It was hard to tell, though, because most of the actors mumbled their lines and could just as easily have been speaking Norwegian as Latin. Still, it would be interesting to have a look at the screenplay; it’s possible that the text itself is perfectly sound but was undermined by the actors.

    Otherwise, the film is fine: a sort of blockbuster action film on a small scale (a cast of tens!) set in and around a swamp, with a bunch of characters who, according to the end titles, all had names, though there was little enough to differentiate them in the film itself (a complaint that can be raised against many other, larger, more expensive action films too).

  20. Maxim Gorky wrote an essay called “On the Russian peasantry” (1922) when he became disillusioned with the Russian people after what they did to each other during the Civil War.

    Probably the most Russophobic piece ever written in history.

  21. A popular type of film at the time was “Franco-Italian co-productions” dealing with Antique subjects such as well-known classical legends.

    The law is the law is not bad at all. I wouldn’t call the subject exactly Antique…

  22. Roberto Batisti says

    I, for one, went to see it for the early Latin — of course! Turns out the movie is quite good, actually.

    Here is an interesting review by the Philological Crocodile, with good discussion of both the linguistic and the cinematic aspects. As I pointed out in the comments over there, the Latin dialogue was ‘translated’ by Luca Alfieri, who is associate professor of Linguistics at G. Marconi Univeristy in Rome. The strange and anachronistic mixture of Latin from different historical stages and reconstructed Proto-Italic or even PIE is the product of directorial pressures toward a more ‘primitive’-sounding language.

  23. Y and Roberto Batisti: Thanks for those very helpful reviews!

  24. They blew it up into a series that came out last year: Romulus https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10405220/
    Cuter actors and a lot of dialogue. Unfortunately, no Faliscan (or whatever they’re supposed to be speaking) subtitles. They say fhefhaked a lot.

  25. What syllable do they stress on fhefhaked?

  26. @maidhc, who asked about language used for filed epics such as the Mahabharat— I haven’t seen all the versions of course, but all those that I have are filmed in a Sanskritized register of Hindi. While our Bollywood films would probably be 95% intelligible to a Pakistani, I imagine the versions of the Mahabharat would tumble down to 60%, all super vague approximations of course.

    I imagine South Indian versions of the Mahabharat would also feature highly Sanskritized varieties of their respective languages as well.

  27. Lars Mathiesen says

    Wasn’t it like inherited pitch accent (no stress) was replaced by unrelenting first syllable dynamic stress (and vowel reductions for the rest) and then Greek-like stress got adopted from somewhere? If they do pitch accent and reduplication, hat off.

    The trailer was in Italian, though.

  28. Yes, it should have initial stress; I’m just wondering if they knew/did that.

  29. PlasticPaddy says

    For a different and perhaps more entertaining film set in ancient Rome:
    https://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satiricosissimo
    The purist will discover one or two anachronisms (the use of warm milk from the Empress’s bath to prepare caffelatte springs to mind).

  30. The text of the English article may have been provided by GT.

  31. Doing historical series fully or partially in the original languages seems all the rage now. Among things I watched, there are Vikings which has bursts of Old Norse, Old English, Old French, ecclesiastical Latin, and (attempts at) Old Russian*), and there’s a German Netflix series called Barbaren, about the battle of the Teutoburg forest, where the Romans all speak (quite serviceable) Latin. The Germanic tribes all speak Modern Standard German, though. (The Germanic names in the series are a mess – some are names attested from Roman sources, some are Old Norse, and some seem totally made up from Germanic / Old High German elements.)
    *)The series started off with only a loose relationship to the history and the sagas it is based on, and it gets progressively worse over the course of six seasons. At least, I think there never was an invasion of Norway by the Kievan Rus…

  32. David Eddyshaw says

    I don’t hold with all this modish innovation.
    Baddies have to speak British Received Pronunciation. It’s the rule.

  33. I’m looking forward to the first all-Oscan blockbuster.

    That other All-Latin movie, Sebastiane, is on archive.org. At the time it was X-rated, these days it would probably not get past R. I watched snippets of the movie and can attest that the pronunciation is very clear and the acting is all very bad. And everyone is a naked or semi-naked man.

  34. senseless and pointless“- a correction: Actually, I saw that film long time ago, and as I remember there were not too “many” murders in it (certainly there are more of them in the Iliad). They are just pointless: they are not really connected much to what was before and after, and are casual. Most of the time it is people and groups of them trying not to get killed.
    So maybe “pointless and senseless murder” is just my impression and the film was about pointless and senseless something else. This is why Vanya’s words reminded me of it.

  35. More optymistically, the girl who was a “usual student” once came to a sad Japanese film about the hard life of a Japanese geisha unprepared. The workplace of geishas was “shop” in English subtitles, it was repeated in every second line, and it gives no information about the nature of the place. I immediately could see the problem, and I thought that she found a great solution: ‘заведение’. A Russian word, more vague than “shop”, but also longer, fancier, more abstract and used humorously as an euphemism for anything that needs an euphemism, not necessarily sexual, or also for institutions you do not know how to name properly: thus suggestive. Does it sound as a perfect solution?

    But then they used “shop” in the next line, and then in the line after the next, and as I said, every second line. As suitable as it is for suggesting somethign ironically once, the word can’t be used twice, much less 100 or 200 times, and I can’t think of another vague Russian word to translate that vague “shop”. It was not a store for sure.

    In the middle of the film at 70th “shop” she failed to suppress laughter, and the relieved audience followed suit, and laughed hysterically for next 30 minutes: “shops” did not disappoint and kept appearing in every second line.

    I still can hear her sad voice reading the first monologue of the film:
    Если бы у меня была одна сена… я бы могла купить чашку риса. Если бы у меня была чашка риса, я…

    “If I had 1 sen… I would be able to buy a cup of rice. If I had a cup of rice, I …” (“would not be hungry”?)

  36. David Marjanović says

    If we can have rice, we can have everything. (Especially senseless and pointless murders.)

    Artem Vesely’s “Russia Washed In Blood” (1927-1928) probably holds the record for sheer bloodiness.

    Clearly he had to make up for his name.

    Wasn’t it like inherited pitch accent (no stress) was replaced by unrelenting first syllable dynamic stress (and vowel reductions for the rest) and then Greek-like stress got adopted from somewhere?

    There never was pitch accent, and the most common definition of “pitch accent” is “tones are distinguished only the stressed syllable”, so it presupposes stress. What there was was phonemic placement of stress like in early Vedic (or modern Russian), which was lost in favor of predictable first-syllable stress some time before Proto-Italic (but after Proto-Italo-Celtic).

    Late Vedic actually was a pitch-accent language: after stressed i before y and u before v were lost, the low pitch of the following syllable became a distinctive low tone on what had become the stressed syllable.

  37. marie-lucie says

    D.O. “The law is the law” is not bad at all. I wouldn’t call the subject exactly Antique…

    I checked this film on Wikipedia, it seems to be totally “franco”, while the ones I remember were definitely “italiano”.

  38. Marie-Lucie, I don’t know what you mean by “franco”. Fernandel is French (with some Italian roots), Totò is Italian. Judging by the list of actors’ names they are a mix of French and Italian. Directed by a Frenchman, filmed by Italian, producer is French, score is by Italian. Nah, by Nino Rota, no less. How much more mixed a production could there be? Action happens right on the border.

  39. Do we really know that fhefhaked had initial stress? Obviously the stress-associated vowel reductions haven’t happened yet; these seem to have been an areal feature that spread through the languages of Italy somewhat later than the date of the Praeneste fibula, and this may be true of initial stress itself. The odd punctuation on the fibula itself, FHE⋮FHAKED with an internal “word divider”, seems to suggest that the part after the reduplicant was felt to be a prosodic word, i.e. had some kind of accent.

  40. Lars Mathiesen says

    There never was pitch accent — Oh. I picked up somewhere that the PIE accent was pitch not stress, is that not true (any more)? It could have been an assumption based on Greek…

    And I guess it would be hard to tell if the Old Latin initial stress came in before a lot of the reduplication syllables got lost, or if the loss of pre-stress reduplication syllables fed into the fixing of the stress…

  41. There was no loss of reduplication syllables in Latin. There was a merger of the IE aorist and perfect into the Latin perfect. In some paradigms, perfect stems won out, in others, aorist stems did. fhefaked is not a precursor of fecit; if it had survived into Classical Latin, it would have become *feficit, parallel to forms like cecinit, tetigit from cano, tango.

  42. Exactly.

  43. PlasticPaddy says

    @hans, hat
    There was some “eroding” of unstressed syllables in forms that were originally reduplicated perfects, e.g., *obcecidi > occidi. Maybe this is what Lars was thinking about.

  44. Does anyone know why fhefhaked is spelled with fh rather than just f? Is there another example of such spelling?

  45. fhefhaked

    that is whewhaked or vhevhaked for fefaked?

    Reminds Russian /f/~/xv/~/x/:

    – foreign words with f pronounced as /xv/ or /x/, axvit͡ser “officer”, xrant͡suz “Franzose”,
    – variation: kufarka instead of kuxarka “female cool”, fost (xvost) etc.

    P.S. I noticed prase’s comment only now. I think there are people who know historical phonology and othrograpy of Greek, Italic, Etruscan, (Messapic) etc. much better here.

    But: F. It is a really feird Roman infention, to use the letter F /w/ for P.

  46. @prase: As drasvi implies, F was originally used in Greek for /w/.

  47. Lars Mathiesen says

    I’m just faking this, you know. Asking questions instead of looking up stuff… and of course ?feficit would have had initial stress in the later stages, as shown by the reduced second vowel in the analogous forms. Could the Fibula be older than the fixing of the stress, i.e., do we know when that happened?

    (And drasvi has a point, the spelling is more like whe:whaked, presumably for the lack of a single letter for the F sound — so keeping the H when using an actual F is misleading weird).

  48. feird.

  49. F was originally used in Greek for /w/

    I know. It even occurred to me that this could be analogous to Maori wh, which is today basically /f/. (Or, less directly, Welsh chw in words like Chwefror “February”. Cannot miss an opportunity to mention Welsh.)

    But:

    1. Latin did have a /w/ and did not choose to spell it as F. (Of course, we don’t know how the author of the fibula inscription spelled it as the inscription does not contain it.)
    2. If F was not immediately suitable for /f/, why did not Latin adopt the letter which Etruscans used for /f/?

    (I thought that F stood for /f/ already in Etruscan, but checking Wikipedia I see that it was not the case and it was still /w/, and there was letter shaped like 8 for /f/.)

    Another question is, if F was /w/ in early Latin, why did it change and when.

  50. foreign words with f pronounced as /xv/ or /x/, axvit͡ser “officer”, xrant͡suz “Franzose”

    Is it still productive in Russian now (dialectally or whatever)? I thought that /f/ was introduced with Greek borrowings together with Christianity and has long been standard part of the consonant inventory.

    In Old Czech, /f/ was usually replaced by /b/ in loans, as in Lat. firmare > Cz. biřmovat “confirm” (in religious sense), or OHG frīthof (modern Friedhof) > Old Cz. břitov > modern hřbitov “cemetery”. In the last example the change in the initial cluster is by contamination. I am not sure why the final /f/ was mapped to v, which is /f/ in contemporary Czech but was more likely a /w/ at the time of the borrowing.

  51. By the way, what was the exact quality of Old / Middle High German f? I believe it must have been voiced at least in some dialects or stages, both because of the spelling alternating between v and f and its regular replacement by /b/ in Czech loans.

  52. prase, Wikipedia actually says Etruscan has ???????? and borrowed ???? later.
    As for Russian dialects, to my shame, I am as bad at them as I am at Faliscan:(
    I do not know.

    Maori wh Welsh chw
    Is [hw~f] phonological classics? Is there a list of langauges where it occurs? And what are correlates?


    I did not mention:

    – the Russian examples are from dialects, Russian and Ukrainian. The literary language adopted /f/ as a phoneme.
    – in dialects (and East Slavic langauges) there is a range of realizations [v~ʋ~w] for /v/.
    – positional voicing/devoicing. I can not say -ʝ. So I either make -j / -i̯, or -ç. I mean, i personally employ both strategies.

  53. @drasvi: How often it happens that you need to say ʝ? In Modern Greek?

    As for [hw~f], I am afraid my examples of Maori and Welsh are not much alike. In Welsh, chw appears as reflex of Latin /f/*, but I don’t think it was ever pronounced /f/ in Welsh – more likely it was a substitute for a foreign sound that Welsh was lacking, and pronounced /xw/ or /χw/ as today. (But let’s wait for what David Eddyshaw has to say about this.)

    In Maori, I believe, it is a native phoneme whose sound was originally /ʍ/ or /ɸ/ and wh was just English-like orthography for that. Now it has shifted to /f/. So its relation to /hw/ is sort of accidental.

    *) Unrelatedly, chw also evolved from PIE /sw/, as in chwech “six”.

  54. marie-lucie says

    ‘f – hw – xw’

    Some years ago I saw a movie about a British woman who becomes a teacher in New Zealand in a Maori village. She becomes very involved in her students’ lives, especially a boy whose name sounded to me approximately like “Matafero”, but not quite. Actually it was “Matawhero”, as I discovered later, but at the time I had never encountered the “wh” sound. I think this phonetic novelty was a major reason why I remember the movie.

    I have forgotten the title, but it was well received at the time. It was based on a memoir written by the actual teacher, played in the film by (I think) Shirley MacLaine. The other major character was a male teacher played by Laurence Harvey, whose mention alone is enough to give a clue to the character’s personality.

  55. Latin borrowings into Welsh involving initial f- mostly seem to become Welsh ff- (i.e. the same sound), e.g. ffawd from ffatum or ffata, ffydd from fides. ff- was available in Brythonic usually as the outcome of *sp (with ffr- being the outcome of *sr-). Chwefror from Februarius is obviously an exception to this, but there must be some other reason for that; perhaps contamination from another word?

  56. Latin borrowings into Welsh involving initial f- mostly seem to become Welsh ff

    You are right. I somehow thought that I had seen more examples like Chwefror and that they constituted an older class of borrowings from than the ff- borrowings, but on reflection I see that cannot name another ex-Latin chw- word. Apparently I have generalised from one example.

  57. Stu Clayton says

    Is it a function of those double f’s and d’s in Welsh to be insistent, in that they signal: “we mean business: an ff is pronounced f, a dd is pronounced d. None of your ‘sp’ and ‘t’ foolery !”

  58. Stu Clayton says

    x

  59. Whoever invented the system of doubling the letter to be insistent was unfortunately not consistent. The d’s (and l’s) work contrary to the f’s.

  60. January First-of-May says

    Is it still productive in Russian now (dialectally or whatever)? I thought that /f/ was introduced with Greek borrowings together with Christianity and has long been standard part of the consonant inventory.

    IIRC the hv for /f/ persisted for longer in the southwestern “dialects” that became Ukrainian; though I don’t know remotely enough about modern dialects (to the extent that Russian still has any) to be particularly sure if any of them still do that.
    Of course [f] entered the consonant inventory sometime relatively close to the introduction of Christianity as the voiceless allophone of /v/, which probably helped /f/ to get established, at least in the areas where /v/ was in fact [v].

    Note that Greek loans with original /θ/ were, as far as I can tell, also borrowed with /f/ (though written differently until 1918).
    This coincidentally means that (post-1918) ф is the regular correspondence to both ph and th in words of Greek origin (though many of the more recent loans, transmitted via e.g. French, have т for th); when I see a name like Фалес I have no way to tell if it is “Phales” or “Thales” if I didn’t happen to already know. (This is an actual mistake I made.)

    It’s often told (not sure if that’s actually true) that even to this day there are no known inherited Russian words with the phoneme /f/ (though there’s a lot of borrowings with it).

  61. David Eddyshaw says

    Old Welsh f was probably [ɸ], but Welsh /f/ does appear regularly for Latin /f/ in loans, as with ffrwyn “bridle” from frēnum, ffo “fleeing” from fuga, ffenestr “window” etc.

    I don’t know what’s going on with Chwefror exactly. In native vocabulary, chw goes back to *sw via /hw/ (just as initial *s alone became /h/, as in hen “old.”)

    It may well be significant that in native words /f/ is mostly secondary, deriving from *pp, or arising from *rp ->rf. Accordingly, it’s pretty marginal word-initially except as a mutation of *p: the only non-loan word I can think of offhand with initial /f/ is ffroen “nostril”, where the /fr/ comes from *sr (cf Old Irish srón.)
    Ffrwd “torrent” is another such, now I think of it.

    So that may account for Latin initial /f/ getting represented as the more “natural” /hw/ in some words. Well, in Chwefror, anyhow.

    Old Irish, too, represented Latin initial /f/ by s sometimes, leniting to f, this being the behaviour of native words in earlier *sw.

    [EDIT: anhweol beat me to it again. He’s right about *sp too, of course. Ffon “staff” is from *spondho- according to GPC, for example]

  62. How often it happens that you need to say ʝ? In Modern Greek?

    I am a Russian speaker:) By “-” in “-ʝ” I mean word-final /ʝ/, where a consonant would be devoiced.

    It is physically impossible for a Russian learner of a language that can have voiced /-d/ to say /-d/, she would say /-t/ or for less phonetically innocent, would try to approach it from the /-də/ side. And so she would keep doing do until foreign phonology is adopted at levels other than segments/, because doing anythign else is impossible technically.
    Basically, this is why segmental representation of phonology is inadequate:( Not to mention what Chinese accent does to European syllables.

    So, back to my underlying й, I can weaken it to -j / -i̯, or strenghten it to -ʝ and devoice to -ç.

  63. I didn’t know that й is /ʝ/ in Russian. Always thought that it was /j/. I also spent two years living in Russia without realising that. /xuʝ/!

  64. pronounced f,

    I told you, a letter F means /v – w/. I do not know how exactly the Welsh reestablished the historical truth.

  65. David Eddyshaw says

    Druids revealed it to us.

  66. That is why Romans hated druids. Scref Romans.

  67. I heard young Arabs explaining that they use 9 for ق in transcription (which I misread as و) “because Latin alphabet does not have a letter for /q/”.

    That is, Europeans preserved the letter for /q/, namely the letter q for 2-3 thousands years, without having such a sound, only to make it available to Semites writing in transcription, only to hear this!

  68. David Eddyshaw says

    My all-time favourite Welsh word of Latin origin, ever since I discovered its etymology, fferyll “chemist”, shows another odd correspondence, seeing as how it comes from “Vergilius.” Normally, Latin initial v turns up as gw in Welsh, as you’d expect: gwin “wine”, Gwener “Friday” (“[dies] Veneris”) etc.

    I presume it must date from after Latin initial /w/ had become [v] or [β], with /f/ because Welsh initial /v/ only arises from the mutation of /b/ or /m/ in native vocabulary (words like fel “like” etc have lost a former initial vowel.) The late date would make sense, as Virgil took some time before acquiring his mediaeval reputation as a magician. It must have been early enough for the g to have ended up as Old Welsh /ɣ/ and then have been lost as usual, though.

    That is why Romans hated druids

    The official explanation was that they objected to our traditional and ecologically sound practice of human sacrifice. Even taking this at face value, I must say that the Roman attitude shows a marked lack of cultural sensitivity.

  69. PlasticPaddy says

    @prase
    Between vowels f is voiced but at the beginning of the word in middle Bavarian it should have been unvoiced, I think. But this does not prevent Czech speakers from borrowing German f consistently as b, especially if they hear some fixed phrase where initial f is between vowels and voiced.

  70. @PlasticPaddy:

    Was there a non-allophonic contrast between /f/ and /v/ in middle Bavarian? (I assume that written w was still realised as /w/ then.)

    Wiktionary says that modern frei was spelled vrî in Middle High German and frî in Old High German. And of course there’s Dutch vrij. What’s precisely behind this alteration of f and v?

  71. I didn’t know that й is /ʝ/ in Russian. Always thought that it was /j/. I also spent two years living in Russia without realising that. /xuʝ/!

    A range, I think, between i̯ and ʝ, depending on position and how you articulate a particular word.

    Wikipedia Russian Phonology article does not seem to mention it, elsewhere it describes
    ʝ, ç as emphatic or possible, based on The palatal /j/ can be realised as an approximant [j] (especially in the onset of a stressed syllable), a semivowel [ i̯ ] (especially when unstressed), or emphatically as a fricative [ʝ] or even a devoiced fricative [ç].
    (From)

    The question of what sign (j or ʝ̞ or ʝ) we use for the phoneme only makes sense phonologically when you have a reason to diagnose a phonological semi-vowel based on its behaviour. Phonetically it is a range anyway.

    I can’t agree with how “Russian phonology” avoided mentioning ʝ.
    I think fricativity or at least more tenseness must be heard in thick Russian accent in English.

    The note from the Journal of the IPA says “emphatic”, and it is not, like, emphatic. It occurs in casual speech. Also what is “emphatic” (that is, what you say when you try to say it clearly) has to do with how native speakers think about the phoneme, with how we teach a learner, and with the resulting range of allophones, so much different for Russian.
    But I do not know how frequent it is: must depend on our sample.

    /xuʝ/
    [xuʝ] (square brackets) is exactly what I can’t say*:) “[Xui̯…]” or “[Xuç!]”
    /xuʝ/ is what I think.

    * Or maybe I can… I don’t know. Foreign langauges spoiled me. Certainly with stops, like “-d” it is worse. But I have learned to do even this.

  72. Ah! and I mumble/whisper. [x_ç]. (how do you represent whispered version of /u/?)
    Because how do you whisper /i̯/?
    So it is not like emphatical, it is done comfortably when mumbling xuç…xuç…xuç…xuç…, which I just did when making some tea for myself.

  73. What a great thing to mumble when making tea!

  74. Does anyone know why fhefhaked is spelled with fh rather than just f? Is there another example of such spelling?

    It’s an Etruscanism: the Etruscans at first used FH (that is, ???????? / ????????) for their [f], before they came up with the ???? symbol. This is the only known example of its use in Latin, and is a strong argument for the fibula’s authenticity given that at the time of its discovery the phonetic value of Etruscan FH was not yet known. (Likewise the triple-dot divider between the reduplicant and the perfect stem was unparalleled at the time, but later showed up in a Faliscan inscription. It’s rather reminiscent of the Shapira business.)

    Could the Fibula be older than the fixing of the stress, i.e., do we know when that happened?

    That was my question too; a priori it seems to me more likely that the innovation that spread through Italy in the mid to late 1st millennium was strong initial stress with its associated effect of vowel reductions, rather than just the latter spreading through languages that already had the former. I don’t know if there’s any evidence either way.

  75. David Eddyshaw says

    Whoever invented the system of doubling the letter to be insistent was unfortunately not consistent. The d’s (and l’s) work contrary to the f’s.

    Well, the l’s and f’s work the same way, if you think about it: single for voiced, double for voiceless.
    The double dd for /ð/ is a relatively recent invention, as it’s not Middle Welsh. I don’t know who came up with it: I suspect it was to do with the practicalities of printing the Bible (which also led to the abandonment of the letter k, curiously enough); see the “History” section in

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_orthography

  76. If we write
    fh
    lh
    dh
    won’t it look more logical? I do not mean that “fh” is more logical than “ff”. I mean, -h for various ‘weird’ qualities is normal and using it for devoicing, spirantization or interdentals hardly would surprise anyone.

  77. It would help to reverse dd and d, so that double letters were fortis and single were lenis, as a minimal improvement. Or what you say. After all, there are already ch, th, ph (h marks frication), rh, mh, nh and ngh (h marks unvoicing).

  78. Or if one insists on dd for /ð/, why not use bb for /v/, which would free single f for /f/. It would spoil the great historical truth about the letter F, though.

  79. David Marjanović says

    There are like 2 or 3 native words in Czech and Polish, and perhaps elsewhere, that contain /f/ in positions where it contrasts with /v/. That comes from *pъv > *pf > f. (Naturally, I forgot the examples.) Other than that, /f/ in Slavic words of native origins only comes from |v| in devoicing positions, and the existence of /f/ as a phoneme is entirely due to loans.

    I think it was here that I learned that [f] outside of positions where it occurs natively was considered difficult to pronounce for uneducated Russians all the way into the early 20th century (i.e. for as long as there were uneducated Russians).

    It has been argued that the Not Very Early Etruscan and Old Italic ???? was derived from B and meant to represent [v] mostly, with [f] only initially and (if they existed) in other devoicing positions. At that time, Latin had already turned [v] into [b], so it didn’t need that letter.

    There never was pitch accent — Oh. I picked up somewhere that the PIE accent was pitch not stress, is that not true (any more)? It could have been an assumption based on Greek…

    There’s a lot of history of science to unpack there. There’s pitch accent in late Vedic (if marginally), in Ancient Greek, and in Balto-Slavic (lost in most Slavic languages, but always leaving clear traces), and there was a strange distinction in Proto-Germanic long final vowels that was also interpreted as pitch at some point. Therefore, for a long time, pitch accent was reconstructed for PIE.

    I’ve mentioned the origin of the late Vedic pitch accent. The Greek one comes from the new long vowels & diphthongs (from the loss of syllable boundaries) not merging with the old ones: if you have stress (and high pitch) on one syllable and no stress (and low pitch) on the next, and then the two merge, you get a falling tone. The Balto-Slavic system started with proper tonogenesis from the loss of laryngeals and from the vowels lengthened by Winter’s law not merging with the old ones (though the phonetics of that have not been worked out, and nobody seems to have even tried – they all seem to treat “acute” as a completely abstract feature). The Germanic distinction has been interpreted by some, Ringe most notably, as a distinction between long and overlong vowels (with a very odd distribution of what vowel qualities can be overlong and which ones can’t); more likely, we’re looking at vowel clusters, with syllable boundaries still in them (…and most of them actually of two short vowels, not a long and a short one).

    But because people were so used to associating the term “pitch accent” with PIE, many ended up reinterpreting that term to mean “stress is expressed as high pitch and not as volume”. I’ve never seen anyone claim that that exists in any language today: in languages that don’t distinguish phonemic pitches on the stressed syllable, pitch and volume always go together in that stressed syllables have both more volume and a distinctive default pitch (that can be changed or overridden by intonation to varying degrees).

    We can tell, though, that the default pitch for stressed syllables was high, as in most stress languages today, and not low, as occurs all around the Germanic periphery, e.g. Scottish & Irish English, Swiss German, and apparently much of Norwegian. At least that’s far more parsimonious than the alternative.

    By the way, what was the exact quality of Old / Middle High German f? I believe it must have been voiced at least in some dialects or stages, both because of the spelling alternating between v and f and its regular replacement by /b/ in Czech loans.

    Short initial and intervocalic /f/ was indeed spelled v in late OHG and in MHG, and still is in Dutch; in southern Dutch, it is in fact pronounced [v], and so it is at the other end, in the topmost Walser dialects (above the Aosta valley) and in Cimbrian (in Italy well south of historical Tyrol). This also holds for the other short fricatives: short /s/ became [z] and mostly still is, and is now spelled z in Dutch. Likewise short /θ/ – in Low German and Dutch, because in most of High German it didn’t exist anymore – became [ð] and then [d], and is of course spelled d now. Finally, the southern Dutch /h/ has been described as [ɦ], which may actually explain why it’s lost in West Flemish.

    (None of this touched Frisian. But English south of the Danelaw likewise turned /f θ s/ into [v ð z] where possible, and lost /h/.)

    The change from [w] to [ʋ]* exerted pressure on [v] to revert to [f], which happened in German in the gap between Middle and Early New High German; we know that because it’s reflected in spelling in what seems to be a completely random subset of the words in question (e.g. Fuß but not Vater, fressen but not ver-, and so on and so forth). There are also reasons to suspect that the whole voicing never happened in most of Bavarian in the first place, but I’m not aware of any direct evidence either way. In northern Dutch, and in Afrikaans, the voice distinction in fricatives has been lost across the board.

    * Tellingly, that never happened in the mentioned Walser dialects, which keep [w], or in Cimbrian where [w] became an actually voiced [b] instead; it has happened in most of Dutch, but rather recently, and the places where it still hasn’t happened are all southern, AFAIK. Also, the Dutch v has been described as a voiced fortis; I haven’t heard enough to comment on that, but I can in any case articulate voiced fortis fricatives, while voiced fortis plosives are impossible.

  80. I think DM’s account of the PIE accent is right, though even linguistically savvy descriptions like Fortson’s in IE Language and Culture still often state that “PIE had a pitch accent” without rigorously defining the term. It’s worth noting that this accent had prosodic effects of the kind typically associated with stress, like unaccented long-vowel shortening and accented short-vowel lengthening in Anatolian, as well as of course the PIE ablaut system insofar as full grades align with the accent.

  81. There are like 2 or 3 native words in Czech and Polish, and perhaps elsewhere, that contain /f/ in positions where it contrasts with /v/. That comes from *pъv > *pf > f. (Naturally, I forgot the examples.)

    In Czech, they are doufat “to hope” and zoufat “to despair”, plus derivatives. It’s the same stem with prefixes do- and z-, just the unprefixed form is not used.

  82. PlasticPaddy says

    @prase
    In all the WGmc. languages, as in North Gmc., there was lenition of medial fricatives wherever it was not prevented by an adjacent voiceless consonant. Lenition
    amounts to voicing of f, þ, s, but x is lenited to h…”

    “In a fashion complementary to the voicing of fricatives between voiced sounds in the WGmc. languages, there was fortition (devoicing) of final fricatives in the Ingvaeonic languages. Examples are pret. OE geaf, OFris. ief, OS gaf ‘gave’ < *ʒaƀ; OE burh, burg, OS burg, burch ‘fortress’, OFris. berch, dat. berge ‘mountain’. This change probably occurred independently in OE, OFris., and OS, given that b is still used finally in early OE texts to represent the reflex of PGmc. ƀ, whereas PGmc. f is represented by f, e.g. ob ‘from’, salb ‘ointment’ : wulf ‘wolf’, fīf 'five’ …"

    Source:
    A Comparative Grammar of the Early Germanic Languages, R.D. Fulk (© 2018 –John Benjamins B.V)

    So according to this (and as DM says), the voicing of initial f to v (where it occurred) would seem to be a later development. FWIW I think the pattern in English "five" is the original pattern and Dutch "vijf" is an innovation. I think in (some realisations of) German "fünf", the second f can be voiced but not the first. But I am not sure. For Middle Bavarian you would really want to consult a handbook.

  83. In Czech, they are doufat “to hope” and zoufat “to despair”,
    Polish has /f/ in the same word, ufać “to trust”. Cf. Russian уповать “to trust, hope”, where the yer was vocalised, like in some other Church Slavic words.
    I think in (some realisations of) German “fünf”, the second f can be voiced but not the first
    I haven’t encountered that in the basic numeral (where a voiced second /f/ is impossible due to final devoicing), but one can frequently hear it in inflected forms like fünfe (nowadays mostly used in the fixed expression fünfe gerade sein lassen “to turn a blind eye to s.th., to let s.th. slide”, literally “to let five be even”), and nouns like Fünfer “five-Euro-note, grade 5 (in school)”.

  84. Ufati (to hope) is found in Croatian too.

    Also informal ‘fala’ from ‘hvala’ = thanks.

  85. My all-time favourite Welsh word of Latin origin, ever since I discovered its etymology, fferyll “chemist”, shows another odd correspondence, seeing as how it comes from “Vergilius.” Normally, Latin initial v turns up as gw in Welsh, as you’d expect: gwin “wine”, Gwener “Friday” (“[dies] Veneris”) etc.

    WIkipedia’s “Vienna” that I just consulted because of my comment here begins its “history” part with:

    The Irish monk Saint Colman (or Koloman, Irish Colmán, derived from colm “dove”) is buried in Melk Abbey and Saint Fergil (Virgil the Geometer) served as Bishop of Salzburg for forty years. Irish Benedictines founded twelfth-century monastic settlements; evidence of these ties persists in the form of Vienna’s great Schottenstift monastery (Scots Abbey), once home to many Irish monks

    I wonder why the Geometer, though.

  86. J.W. Brewer says

    The “Geometer” story, which supposedly got the saint into trouble with the then-Pope, is told here if you scroll down far enough. https://virgilofsalzburg.com/telling-the-virgil-story/

  87. David Eddyshaw says

    @drasvi:

    I’m pretty sure fferyll comes from the Roman poet (also a Celt, of course. All men are Welsh, ultimately.) The geometer seems to have been a Fergal in private life. Interesting that “Vergilius” was taken as the natural Latin version. I wonder what the Roman poet was called in mediaeval Irish? (He seems to be Veirgil nowadays.)

  88. …and all women are Russian, but we are fiding here that all scientists are Virgils!

    Let’s don’t be distracted by less well concealed truths.

  89. David Eddyshaw says

    Well, so far we’ve really only demonstrated that all alchemists and geometers are Virgils (and once that’s been pointed out, you realise that it should have been obvious all along.) However, you are right: these are highly suggestive initial findings, and may well represent the seed of a future Grand Unified Theory of Virgils.

  90. Reminded me about the article (Russian) John Grammatic and Leo Mathematic* as a target of Othodox critics: parallels and historical context
    by Tatyana A. Senina (nun Kassia) from
    Saint Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation

    https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2016.5.9
    …that I once began reading, but haven’t finished yet.

    *The Grammarian/Mathematician, but I preserved Russian forms to preserve the rhyme, which I think, matters.

    Nun Kassia’s blog combines an appropriately Orthodox pirate hijab and the Jolly Roger in the avatar. Which reminds me

    Fagr stóðk, meðan bar brúði
    blakkr, ok sák á sprakka
    — oss lét ynðis missa
    augfǫgr kona — af haugi.
    Keyrði Gefn ór garði
    góðlôt vala slóðar
    eyk, en ein glǫp sœkir
    jarl hvern, kona snarlig.

  91. David Eddyshaw says

    Yaroslav had got
    What Olaf
    Had not.

    That’s what being Wise does for you, I suppose. All the nice girls go for Wise.

  92. On /f/ as a phoneme in Slavic: I think this is an isogloss in the Balkans, which runs (roughly) parallel to a number of others which separate South-East Slavic (Bulgarian and Macedonian) from South-West Slavic (Slovenian and the continuum of varieties further South whose name is a sensitive political matter these days). If I recall correctly, whereas in the Eastern Balkans /f/ appears to have been a separate phoneme for quite some time, in the Western Balkans its introduction (via foreign influence, internal sound-changes, or some combination of the two) seems to have been much more recent.

    (IF I am remembering correctly, my source is almost certainly this one:

    https://books.google.ca/books/about/Die_serbokroatischen_Dialekte.html?id=tXw0AQAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y)

  93. /f/ was a phoneme, or at least a grapheme in the slavic alphabets glagolitic and cyrillic. Etienne is correct in that it took some dialects more time to adopt /f/ in the spoken language.

    Another example in Croatian is the island name Hvar. This originally comes from the Greek Pharos, which was presumably something like [far] in Vulgar Latin or a Romance dialect from which it entered Croatian. In the dialect spoken on the island, HV has become F again – the name is For (with [a] changing to [o]).

    In another place name, the change from HV to F has entered the literary language: Fojnica was originally Hvojnica.

  94. Oops. The post about Leo the Grammarian started with (that part somehow was not sent):

    @J.W. Brewer, thank you! I did not know that he (Virgil the Geometer) was (is?) popular in the context of history of science.

  95. @David Eddyshaw, I read this vísa in a book I bought in my teens, and somehow remembered. The context that I remembered was this: “Seeing Óláfr outraged at this breach of faith, Ingigerðr’s sister Ástríðr pleads with him not to sacrifice the lives of Christian men and instead to accept her hand in marriage. When he proves intransigent, she rebukes him and rides off. The king climbs a nearby burial mound and speaks the stanza, reflecting that Ástríðr is right that it is a terrible misdeed (mikill glæpr) to sacrifice the lives of many Christian men for the sake of the difference between two sisters. He then accepts Ástríðr in marriage.

    The translation : “I stood, handsome, as the dark horse bore the bride, and I gazed on the lady from the mound; the handsome-eyed woman caused us [me] to forfeit happiness. {The courteous Gefn {of the track of falcons}} [ARM > WOMAN], quick-witted woman, spurred her mount out of the yard, but one error afflicts every jarl. reconstructs a word order, where “quick-witted woman” spurs her mount, but the vísa has “one mistake finds every yarl, keen woman” (possible too), which sounds vaguely romantic.

    A king watching a woman riding off from above and thinking is totally Tolkienish.

    Basically I just meant, I am positive about people combinging monkhood and Jolly Roger (and Byzantines was the aerospace), but as the line spung to my mind, why not, it belongs in here.

  96. @zyxt, is /hv ~ f/ natural enough for Croatian speakers? I mean, is it natural to consider these “similar”?

    For me it is not. Not something I heard about in literary Russian (unlike a simplification ch.t > sh) , and I would never think about ‘hv’ as a possible way to represent /f/. (Yet, again, I say [v]. I suspect dialects with [ʋ~w] have more issues with [f])

    If in Crotaitan hvala-fala occurs in coastal dialects, I could also think about Romance influence.

    (Hvar is very coastal, Fojnica is not)

  97. J.W. Brewer says

    I cannot read Nun Kassia’s blog that drasvi linked to because I have no Russian, but I am certainly impressed by her institutional affiliation. (To be fair, the internet does suggest that the university has over time expanded the range of scholarly disciplines it houses even while its name remains more particularistic.)

  98. David Marjanović says

    In all the WGmc. languages, as in North Gmc., there was lenition of medial fricatives wherever it was not prevented by an adjacent voiceless consonant. Lenition amounts to voicing of f, þ, s, but x is lenited to h…”

    Fulk is clearly unaware of the Bavarian dialects, this time including Yiddish, where intervocalic *x is still [x] (or [ç] as the case may be, or [χ] in Yiddish and Tyrolean). For details and examples see the first comment subthread of this post.

    I suppose that may have gone *[x] > *[ɣ] > [x], but the total lack of g spellings is not encouraging.

    Fulk is, of course, right that short intervocalic fricatives were all voiced even in Frisian and all of English, where the initial ones remained voiceless with the mentioned exception of southern/southwestern England.

    FWIW I think the pattern in English “five” is the original pattern and Dutch “vijf” is an innovation.

    The original is neither, but voiceless at both ends, as in Gothic fimf. The loss of *-e in *pénkʷe happened before Proto-Germanic.

    I haven’t encountered that in the basic numeral (where a voiced second /f/ is impossible due to final devoicing), but one can frequently hear it in […] fünfe […] Fünfer

    Huh. I’m familiar with the -e extensions of numerals, and -er is the only way to nominalize numerals in these parts (die Fünf is wholly unknown), but I’ve never heard voicing there. It must be a northern and north-central feature, because that’s where /f/ and /v/ interact through final devoicing (doof, doo[v]e).

    Over here, final devoicing or rather final fortition doesn’t exist. Latinate words with final v are pronounced with /f/ because /v/ still behaves like the [w] it once was and can’t occur syllable-finally – but this /f/ is then extended throughout the entire paradigm, so that -iv, -ive ends up as [ˈiːf], [ˈiːfɛ].

    It certainly helps that the /fː/ that came out of the High German Consonant Shift remains long to this day, and has even expanded to very unetymological places (Nerven!) because the short /f/ is so rare.

    /f/ was a phoneme, or at least a grapheme in the slavic alphabets glagolitic and cyrillic.

    That was just to preserve the spelling of all the Christianity-related Greek words. Early Cyrillic was just Greek with additional letters, and Glagolitic was basically a code for Greek with additional letters.

  99. Stu Clayton says

    I’m familiar with the -e extensions of numerals, and -er is the only way to nominalize numerals in these parts (die Fünf is wholly unknown),

    So an average Austrian would throw up her hands in astonishment at the first sentence of the German WiPe on “Fünf” ?

    # Die Fünf (5) ist die natürliche Zahl zwischen Vier und Sechs.#

    And I don’t mean due to the mind-blowing recursive steps an alien would need to perform in order to understand that sentence. If he falls into right-descent he’ll never understand it. In fact that recursive definition is not well-founded.

  100. So an average Austrian would throw up her hands in astonishment at the first sentence of the German WiPe on “Fünf” ?
    I assume the average Austrian is able to understand and even to speak and write literary German when necessary, and formal discussions of mathematics is probably one of the areas where they will at least partially code-switch to Standard German.

  101. @drasvi

    I don’t believe that /hv ~ f/ is considered to be close by present-day speakers, who have no trouble with [xʋ] eg. in words like “zahvatiti” (encompass)/. The pronunciation with a [f] would be considered substandard.

    It is more of a dialectical phenomenon, where the situation might have been something like /xʋ ~ ɸ/, assuming the bilabial pronunciation for /f/

    The word “fala” is also attested in northern Croatia (kajkavian-speaking region), as far away from the coast as you can get.

    In Slavonia too, we have “fat” used for “hvat” (fathom, measurement equal to 6 feet) in the 18th century.

  102. David Marjanović says

    So an average Austrian would throw up her hands in astonishment at the first sentence of the German WiPe on “Fünf” ?

    “Wholly unknown” was a bad wording. We’ve all read it, recognize it and understand it. It’s just not in anybody’s active vocabulary – spoken or written.

    I do mean anybody, though. I’ve sat through both parts of a “mathematics for chemistry students” course at the U of Vienna. There is such a thing as Austrian Standard German, and die Fünf is just not in it.

    I’d word the first sentence of the Pffft! article as follows: Fünf (5) ist die natürliche Zahl zwischen vier und sechs.

    In Slavonia too, we have “fat” used for “hvat” (fathom, measurement equal to 6 feet) in the 18th century.

    I would guess that’s from “fathom” (German: Faden), and hv is an etymological nativization or just a hypercorrection.

  103. “fat” used for “hvat” (fathom

    The next question si what is the etymology of hvat itself:/

    For fathom Wiktionary has this:
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Germanic/faþmaz
    1 outstretched arms
    2 embrace
    3 fathom

    P.S. I would guess that’s from “fathom”
    modern Russian: ohvatit’ “embrace”, zahvatit’ “capture”, uhvat (for taking a pot from an oven), hvatka “grip”, hvat (e.g. “wide hvat”) “way of holding or gripping somethign”.
    And without prefixes, “to grab”

  104. David Eddyshaw says

    This reminds me of the Scots dialect of Aberdeen, which has f for wh, as duly noted in many a ponderous joke involving the local form “fit” for “what.”

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doric_dialect_(Scotland)

    Sadly, though my wife is from Aberdeen, and two of my children were born there, none of them has this feature: not even my daughter, for all that she be an archetypal daft wee quine.

  105. PlasticPaddy says

    @de
    I remember an acquaintance who used the greeting “Fit fay, cheel?”

  106. Hvat is the Croatian name for the unit called Klafter in German. I don’t believe that a unit called Faden was used by the Austrians.

    1 Klafter = 6 Fuß or Schuh
    Similarly, in Croatian the foot (stopa) as a unit of measurement was also called a shoe (cipeliš).

  107. David Marjanović says

    1 outstretched arms
    […]
    “to grab”

    Oh, so it looks like a Germanic borrowing that was already present in Proto-Slavic. Interesting. That would definitely explain the hv.

    That would also mean the meaning “thread” of Faden comes from the (nautical) unit of measure, rather than the other way around as I had always assumed…

  108. John Cowan says

    In North-East Scots we have /hw/ > /f/, and when my father was speaking 19C Hiberno-English instead of Philadelphia English, he said /fw/ for /hw/.

  109. marie-lucie says

    Years ago when living in Vancouver BC, I had an Irish landlord who also said /fw/ for /hw/, as in for a fwile.

  110. fost (xvost)

    18th century Russian army had provosts (pronounced in German manner with an f) – non-commissioned officers responsible for corporal punishment of soldiers.

    Naturally, ‘provost’ was called by soldiers ‘prokhvost’, a new word which entered Russian language with a meaning “crook, scoundrel, bastard”.

  111. ‘prokhvost’
    For those who don’t speak Russian – this is not simply a substitution of /f/ by /xv/, but also a pun, as khvost means “tail”.

  112. PlasticPaddy says

    @ml, jc
    I am not sure about f in fwhile as anything other than a speech defect or idiosyncracy. Basically if you “speak out of the side of the mouth” or have your tongue in the “wrong” position (in the manner that people who say “r” for “w” do) and say “hw”, it comes out as “fhw”.

  113. John Cowan says

    In my father’s case it may have been an idiosyncrasy, but remember that he was born in 1904, and although in America, was completely surrounded by native Hiberno-English speakers of that day (Stage Oirish had to come from somewhere, after all), a variety for which our documentation is sadly lacking. He must have learned his Fuluffyan at school, in which there was no trace of /hw/ > /fw/, so it was certainly not a speech defect.

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