From a recondite Yahoo search (“stress in evenki language”) that showed up in my referrer log, I arrived at a grammatical sketch of Tundra Nenets (part of Tapani SalmanenSalminen’s homepage, which includes links to other Nenets-related websites). This is a pretty detailed look at Tundra Nenets; if you want to know more, you’ll probably have to either study with Prof. Salmanen or take a trip to the tundra. But what led me to tell you about it here is the fact that, along with more common types of denominatives (verbs based on nouns, e.g. søwa ‘cap’ => søbyiq- ‘to have a cap, to use as a cap’; cf. English “to cap”), Tundra Nenets has a series of odorative verbs, e.g. xalya ‘fish’ => xalyayø- : 3sg xalyayi ‘to smell of fish’. A pungent language!


  1. I simply can’t believe nobody cares about odorative verbs in Nenets. Clearly, the US needs an intensive Nenets-awareness program, and I’ll bet we could get Prof. Salmanen to run it for the right price. I’m going to write my congressman today.

  2. Lars Mathiesen (he / him / his) says

    Oh, for the halcyon days when it was possible to keep up with reading a referrer log!

    (Probably the most misspelled word in the world, though invisible to Internet users: The name of the HTTP header is and will forever remain “Referer,” because compatibility, and there are about a million of those sent every second).

    It used to be said that the most printed phrase in the world ever was “Close cover before striking”. It has probably been overtaken by “Not suitable for children below 3 years, contains small parts”.

  3. Salminen

  4. David Marjanović says

    Odorative verbs occasionally pop up elsewhere. Standard German faulenzen “to revel in laziness” reportedly comes from some place where -enz- is a productive odorative suffix.

  5. PlasticPaddy says

    reek is interesting. It comes from smoke; did it mean originally “to smell (bad) like smoke”? In German riechen nach etwas can also be a good smelling etwas.

  6. Stu Clayton says

    In German riechen nach etwas can also be a good etwas

    Or a bad etwas. The word is completely neutral in that respect.

    An exclusively good-etwas word is duften. An exclusively bad-etwas word is stinken.

  7. PlasticPaddy says

    I thought of duften, so the connection with smoke of reek by analogy with Duft would be the transfer of an odour in the smoke, and reek would then be a non-odorative verb.

  8. David Marjanović says

    Don’t ask me, ask Wiktionary or the DWDS; the oldest meaning in German and English seems to be “to give off smoke or steam”, and beyond Germanic eructation seems to be a root cognate.

  9. PlasticPaddy says

    So non-odorative, the smoke is the medium, not the message☺

  10. Thanks for reviving this; I’ve not only fixed the spelling of Salminen’s name, I’ve replaced the dead links with working ones.

  11. I trust you know that Tapani is the Finnish take on Stephen?

  12. It has probably been overtaken

    Based on Google Ngrams, it seems that “Trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners” is the most common sentence on the Web, and therefore probably the most common sentence of written English as a whole. Unfortunately, it’s a sentence unsurpassed in vacuity even by “No Admittance to Unauthorized Personnel”, which unpacks to “Those who are not authorized to enter are not authorized to enter.”

  13. I trust you know that Tapani is the Finnish take on Stephen?

    I did not!

  14. Lars Mathiesen says

    on the Web — I believe you, but I wrote ‘printed’. I’ve even seen a two-foot plastic boomerang (for kids) with that label.

  15. John Cowan says

    Well, surely that is printed.

  16. Scandinavian has versions of ryge/røge v, røg n for ‘smoke’. The ODS connects it to E reek and G rauchen/räuchern/riechen — there is an umlauting suffix in some of those forms, probably a causative, but in English the vawels will have merged. In Danish the vowels are in danger of merging as well, (R will do that), and all preterites and pptcs have ø, so the verbs are hard to keep apart; Still, a fire ryger (st.pret.røg) and you røger a salami (wk.pret.røgede, but.røg can be found as well).

    ADDITION: røgelse means ‘incense’ so there is a hint of pleasant smoke there (personally it tends to give me a headache). ON had rjúka and reykja, making the umlauting more obvious.

  17. Hey, maybe you roger a salami — speak for yourself!

  18. But in Soviet Russia, salami roger you!

  19. Trond Engen says

    Roger out.

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