Steam Instead of Soul.

I haven’t reported on my Russian reading in a while, which doesn’t mean it’s been uninteresting — I just haven’t had anything interesting to say about it. I read Ostrovsky’s Гроза [The Thunderstorm], which is just as great as they say (the 1933 film is surprisingly good despite the fact that it was heavily cut) and Turgenev’s Накануне [On the Eve] (not bad but not great — the Bulgarian hero is unconvincing) and Первая любовь [First Love] (just as great as they say). Now I’m on one of those books I wouldn’t have read except for my comprehensive reading program, Nikolai Pomyalovsky‘s Мещанское счастье [Bourgeois happiness — I don’t think it’s been translated]. Pomyalovsky is one of those “minor writers” nobody ever especially recommends (and the title is awful), but I’m enjoying it a great deal and already looking forward to the sequel, Молотов [Molotov — the protagonist of both is Egor Ivanych Molotov], and ruing the fact that the author died at 28 — I suspect he could have been one of the greats if he’d had a chance to mature.

But I’m not even halfway through, so I don’t want to comment on the story as a whole other than to say it has some very effective scenes; I just want to excerpt this self-contained section, which I found unexpected and striking (Russian after the cut):

Egor Ivanych walked onto the forest glade and on it saw two small graves. This caught his attention. “Who would be buried here?” he thought. “What a strange place — in a forest!” Looking around, he saw that he was completely surrounded by forest. After a moment’s thought, he climbed the highest tree and saw the road from there. He walked out onto the road and, hearing women’s voices, approached them. It turned out to be three peasant women; the oldest was nattering on about something. Molotov addressed himself to her.

“Auntie!” he called out.

The women looked around and made low bows, as simple peasant folk do when meeting someone dressed like a gentleman.

“What is it, sir?” she asked.

“Do you know whose graves those are, auntie?”

“What graves, sir?”

“Over there by the river, on the glade.”

“Ah!” cried the old woman. “There are graves, there are… That’s Miron’s little daughters… two of them died…”

“Why are they buried there?”

“The little girls? They died unbaptized.”

She raised her eyes to the heavens, sighed, said “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy,” and dropped her eyes. But suddenly her face became enlivened, and she began to talk:

“Of course, if an unbaptized child dies, it’s just like a piece of wood… You can dig anywhere, it’s all the same… There’s no spirit in it, it’s a kind of person who… it’s born without a spirit… it’s got steam inside… You don’t baptize one like that, it up and dies… God won’t allow it, no.”

“Where did you get the idea that an unbaptized child doesn’t have a spirit?”

“But how can a Christian child die without being baptized? Is that possible? It’s not possible… Sometimes one is born completely dead… this one doesn’t have a spirit… An unbaptized child isn’t born a holy child.”

She spread her hands and was silent. Molotov was amazed at her peasant woman’s sense.

“Goodbye, auntie, and thanks,” he said.

“Goodbye, sir.”

Molotov was even more amazed at her peasant woman’s sense later on, when he learned that this belief about unbaptized children was purely personal, that nobody in the village knew about it. He had run into a peasant woman poet, a peasant woman mystic. It might be that until that moment it had never occurred to her to try to explain to herself the fate, incomprehensible to her, of certain children, and then as soon as the question of the children entered her head, not wanting to remain long in perplexity, she at once, with the help of her inspiration, went past all contradictions and created an instant myth. And it’s very possible that this myth will be passed down to her children and grandchildren, will creep into other families, to neighbors and acquaintances, and in thirty or forty years will become a new local folk belief, and then you won’t be able to guess where it arose. It’s not only ancient times that stored up prejudices, they’re created even now.

Me, I’d rather have characters musing about things like that than the pressing social issues of the day.

Update (July 4). Sigh… Just as with Netochka Nezvanova, no sooner do I write an enthusiastic post than the book falls off a cliff. Molotov meets the neighbor girl Lenochka and they have a sort-of-romance, complete with heaving bosoms, flaming cheeks, and tears falling like hail; he overhears a conversation between the Obrosimovs, a family of landed nobility for whom he’s working, and decides they have contempt for him, which leads to just the sort of endless chewing-over of social issues that I was congratulating Pomyalovsky for resisting. It all ends in drawn-out and repetitious cliché. I’ll read the sequel, but no longer with high hopes.


The original Russian:

Егор Иваныч вышел на лужайку и на ней увидел две небольшие могилки. Это заняло его. “Кто бы тут похоронен был? – думал он. – Как странно – в лесу!” Оглянувшись кругом, он увидел, что его отовсюду окружает лес. Недолго думая, он влез на самое большое дерево и отсюда рассмотрел дорогу. Он вышел на дорогу и, заслышав бабьи голоса, пошел на них. Показались три бабы. Старшая тараторила что-то. Молотов обратился к старшей.
– Тетушка! – крикнул он.
Бабы оглянулись, отвесили по низкому поклону, в полспины, как обыкновенно делают деревенские простолюдины, встречая всякого одетого по-барски.
– Чего тебе, батюшка? – спросила старшая.
– Не знаешь ли, тетушка, чьи там могилки?
– Где это, барин, могилки?
– Вот тут и есть, у реки, на лужайке.
– А! – вскрикнула баба. – Есть могилки, есть… это Мироновы детки… двое померло…
– Отчего же они там похоронены?
– Кто… детки-то? а некрещены померли.
Она подняла глаза к небу, вздохнула и, сказавши: “Господи помилуй, господи помилуй”, понурила голову. Но вдруг лицо ее оживилось, и она заговорила:
– Известно, некрещеное дитя да померло – это все одно что дерево… Где ни закопай, все равно… В нем и духу нет… это уж такой человек… без духу он родится… пар в нем… Этаконького и не окрестишь, так и помрет… бог не попустит, нет…
– Откуда ж ты взяла, что в некрещеном духу нет? – спросил Молотов.
– А чего ж христианское дитя да без крещения помирает? разве можно? – не можно… Иной и вовсе мертвенькой родится… у этого и пару нет… Некрещеное дитя, так, знать, и родится не святое дитя.
Баба развела руками и замолчала. Подивился Молотов бабьему смыслу.
– Прощай, тетушка, спасибо, – сказал он.
– Прощай, батюшка.
Еще более подивился Молотов бабьему смыслу, когда после оказалось, что поверье о некрещеных детях у бабы было чисто личное, что оно в деревне никому не известно. Ему попалась баба-поэт, баба-мистик. Может быть, ей самой до сих пор не приходилось объяснять себе непонятную для нее судьбу некоторых детей, и вот, лишь только пришел ей в голову вопрос о детях, она, не желая оставаться долго в недоумении, сразу при помощи своего вдохновения миновала все противоречия и мгновенно создала миф. И очень может быть, что этот миф перейдет к ее детям, внукам, переползет в другие семьи, к соседям и знакомым, и чрез тридцать – сорок лет явится новое местное поверье, и догадайтесь потом, откуда оно пошло. Не одна старина запасает предрассудки, они еще и ныне создаются.

Comments

  1. Bathrobe says

    Happy Birthday, Hat. May Languagehat never run out of steamy, soulful topics!

  2. Thank you!

  3. SFReader says

    “Steam instead of soul” is an old expression. Of Biblical origin, I assume, perhaps someone can enlighten us.

    Googling found the oldest mention of this phrase – by none other than Czar Ivan the Terrible in his correspondence with Prince Andrei Kurbsky.

    Prince Kurbsky, political emigre, wrote from Poland an angry letter to the czar, accusing him of various crimes and rhetorically exclaiming “Do you think you are immortal, have you erred into unique heresy that you are not afraid to appear before your Creator on Judgement Day?”

    And Ivan the Terrible retorts: “I don’t consider myself immortal, since death is the common fate of all people for the sin of Adam; even though I am a purple-bearer (ie, a king), I know that by nature I am as feeble as all people, unlike your heretic philosophizing that I am above the laws of nature. This is laughable, it’s like believing that humans are like cattle, if you believe this, then humans must have steam instead of soul; beware, this is a Saducee heresy!”

  4. David Marjanović says

    a purple-bearer (ie, a king)

    Specifically an emperor, I’m sure!

  5. “Steam instead of soul” is an old expression.

    Very interesting, I had no idea!

  6. To have steam inside suggests some sort of pent-up energy or anger, which this use of пар does not imply. I think vapour would be a more accurate translation.

  7. Maybe, but it would sound odd in the mouth of a peasant woman.

  8. I hadn’t ever heard “steam instead of soul” as an expression, but it was a common folk belief across much of Europe that goblins, as well as evil folk who might or might not have sold their souls to the devil, were kept up and moving by being filled with steam, rather than divine breath. For example, Pope Alexander VI’s body was supposed to have spewed steam from all his orifices at the moment of his death.

  9. Fascinating! Anybody know of any research on this topic?

  10. SFReader says

    Steam (‘пар’) might be translation of Ancient Greek ‘pneuma’.


    In Stoic philosophy, pneuma (Greek: πνεῦμα) is the concept of the “breath of life,” a mixture of the elements air (in motion) and fire (as warmth).[1] Originating among Greek medical writers who locate human vitality in the breath, pneuma for the Stoics is the active, generative principle that organizes both the individual and the cosmos.[2] In its highest form, the pneuma constitutes the human soul (psychê), which is a fragment of the pneuma that is the soul of God (Zeus). As a force that structures matter, it exists even in inanimate objects.[3]

    In the Stoic universe, everything is constituted of matter and pneuma. There are three grades or kinds of pneuma, depending on their proportion of fire and air.
    The pneuma of state or tension (tonos). This unifying and shaping pneuma provides stability or cohesion (hexis) to things; it is a force that exists even in objects such as a stone, log, or cup.
    The pneuma as life force. The vegetative pneuma enables growth (physis) and distinguishes a thing as alive.
    The pneuma as soul. The pneuma in its most rarefied and fiery form serves as the animal soul (psychê); it pervades the organism, governs its movements, and endows it with powers of perception and reproduction.

  11. Steam (‘пар’) might be translation of Ancient Greek ‘pneuma’.

    I doubt it. The Church Slavic form translates Greek ἀτμίς ‘vapor’; доухъ represents πνεῦμα.

  12. David Marjanović says

    In Stoic philosophy

    The Christian/Pauline distinction between soul and spirit isn’t the Stoic one, but is a reaction to Epicureanism. Epicurus taught that the soul consists of the lightest, most volatile atoms, which disperse at death, so the soul can’t be reconstituted, and death is The End. Paul seems to have accepted this except for the conclusion, which is why he introduced the πνεῦμα, which is not composed of atoms, as a new concept distinct from the soul, puzzling Christians pretty much ever since.

    I’ll look for my source later, it’s out there.

  13. I forgot to mention in my grumpy update that Pomyalovsky for some reason decided to introduce a superfluous narrator who’s telling us the story, and for some reason decided to make him an old man: he’s always saying things like “we old men laugh at such silly ideas,” or “we old men are envious of the foolish carefree life of youth.” He was in his early twenties when he wrote it; somebody should have told him it was a bad idea to impersonate an elderly narrator.

  14. David Marjanović says

    I’ll look for my source later, it’s out there.

    Ah, yeah.

  15. puzzling Christians pretty much ever since

    Pardon me if this is trodden ground in comparative mythology, but I have to wonder if this distinction between a mortal soul and an immortal spirit might have any connection to the same as drawn by ancient Egyptians.

    Or, going a bit further: the Egyptians made quite a few further distinctions as well. And some of these find interesting counterparts e.g. in Uralic mythologies often also including a separate shadow soul. Which is making me wonder if “polyspiritism” in general might have been more widespread earlier in the age of polytheism, with “monospiritism” only prevailing once monotheism likewise set in.

    (Another common “soul component” in Siberia more generally is a separate dream soul, but that finds no exact Egyptian counterpart; most likely due to its strong connection with shamanism.)

    The collapse of such a system can also leave interesting traces. Finnish retains about four inherited terms that may have earlier meant something like ‘soul, spirit’, but only one of them still has such a meaning (henki ‘breath, spirit’). And looping back to OP: interestingly one of these has developed the meaning ‘steam in sauna’ (löyly, cognate to Hungarian lélek ‘soul’). Maybe a reshuffling of this kind has happened elsewhere too?

  16. David Marjanović says

    Very interesting!

  17. To save people clicking through: In chapter 4 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Dill wants to know what a “hot steam” is and Jem tells him: “A hot steam’s somebody who can’t get to heaven, just wallows around on lonesome roads an’ if you walk through him, when you die you’ll be one too, an’ you’ll go around at night suckin’ people’s breath.”

  18. David Eddyshaw says

    Among the Kusaasi in NE Ghana, and in culturally kindred areas, a human being consists of four components: a niŋgbin “body”; nyovur “breath”, shared with animals; it’s what makes the difference between being alive and dead; a win, which is the same word as used for the creator God, and in this case means something like “individuality” or perhaps the Roman genius, and may be inherited from dead forebears; you can talk to your own win, and this is what people sitting quietly alone are held to be doing; and lastly siig “life force”, which consists of several kikiris, rendered “fairies” in the local English. Men have three, women have four kikiris, needing more life force because of the dangers of childbirth. They are what witches steal from you; there are also wild kikiris in the bush which are hostile to humanity.

    The Bible translation avoids win altogether in this sense, and just uses it to mean “(pagan) god”, while pressing siig into service for “spirit”, which is really a very different concept. The verse in Hebrews about the word of God separating soul from spirit (whatever that means) is just rendered as separating “spirit” (siig) from vu’usum “life.” Kikiris is used just for “evil spirits.”

  19. More religious steam, from Dombrovsky’s Keeper of Antiquity; a grumpy old drunk is talking: “Мы ведь все на свете превзошли, и религии уж не придерживаемся, и открыли, что не Бог в небе, а пар. Ну, ладно, пускай пар, а не Бог, я не против.” [After all, we’ve surpassed everything in the world, and we no longer hold to religion, and we’ve discovered that it’s not God in the sky but steam. Well, okay, let it be steam, not God, it’s fine with me.]

  20. Owlmirror says

    Given that the original story is about buried unbaptized children, I wondered if there might be some connection to changeling folklore. Was there a belief that changelings were filled with steam?

    I have not found any corroborating evidence for this in Google Scholar, as yet. One paper on Irish folklore about changelings has a footnote with a reference to a folk remedy for severe constipation: “take a vessel and put some boiling water in it and have the patient sit on the vessel until the steam and heat had subsided”.

    Another hit which may be of greater relevance, is:

    Radenković, Ljubinko. “Slav beliefs on changelings.” Balcanica XXXII-XXXI (2001): 143-155. (PDF)

    Possibly relevant to “Of course, if an unbaptized child dies, it’s just like a piece of wood”:

    According to beliefs in the Russian north, when a mythological creature steals a child from the mother, it plants the double in the same image, made of aspen stump, log, or a broomstick made of stripped twigs. […] The changeling does not live for long (the Russians believe it lives up to 15 years).

    Paraphrasing a bit: Children can be taken and changelings substituted if the mother does something wrong (mostly leaving the child unattended), or:

    A child can be substituted as well in case its mother cursed it, e.g. if she says: “Хоть бы леший тебя унес!” (“May the leshi take you”) (Максимов 1996:13), or “Хоть бы баянник взял тебя!” (“May the banyik take you!”) (Криничная 2001/1:66). With the Slovenians, the devil exchanged the child of a mother whose husband cursed her while she was pregnant (Kelemina 1997:136).

    Then:

    Other reasons for exchanging the child are mentioned as well. With the Russians, this may happen if no one makes the sign of the cross over the child, or if no one blesses it when it sneezes, or if someone yawns in the steam bath when the nursing mother is present.
    [ . . .]
    According to an account from Poland, in case a nursing woman is left alone in the steam bath and the midwife on leaving her fails to make the sign of the cross for all the four corners of the bath, and evil spirit in the form of gushing wind may also come down from the roof and exchange the child.

    Final notes:

    With the Slav peoples there is general understanding that the birth of a child is a gift from the other world, or a gift of the ancestors. When a child is born to some family, the Serbs say that they “have got a new arrival”. The bestowing of a newly arrived actually depends on the goodwill of the ancestors, who may be represented in one figure – the mythical founder of the kin, the founding father.
    […]
    With the Russians, the one looking after the property and health of the family, and probably most likely after its development and growth as well, is the домовој, who can share his ‘responsibilities’ or ‘competences’ with some other spirit (spirit of the yard, or of a grain shed, of the steam bath). For the woman in confinement and her child the spirit of the steam bath – bayenyik (баенник) or bayanyik (баянник) is of great importance; the steam bath is situated outside the house, and the nursing women as a rule live there with their infant for seven weeks after childbirth.

    (A “steam bath” is not quite a sauna, right?)

    There’s nothing about changelings being filled with steam, that I can see.

    As the changeling literature reminds me, changeling lore is rather deeply intertwined with attitudes towards actual physical differences/abnormalities in newborns. and stillbirths. I wonder if that is something about the quoted text in the OP, that the woman who speaks either elides or miscommunicates: Not just that Miron’s children were unbaptized, but that they had something physically nonstandard about them, and were possibly or definitely considered to be changelings.

    Wouldn’t children ordinarily be baptized shortly after birth?

    Hm, it looks like banyik and bayanyik are the same word (баянник), transliterated differently. “May the spirit of the steam bath take you!” — Did I understand that correctly?

  21. Interesting stuff, thanks.

    Did I understand that correctly?

    Yes, as long as you understand “spirit” to be a supernatural creature rather than some vague esprit.

  22. David Marjanović says

    домовој

    Interesting, with a Serbian or Macedonian ј instead of a Russian й.

    transliterated differently

    No, banyik is just an error; the я can’t be silent or anything.

    the Serbs say that they “have got a new arrival”

    Compare auf die Welt kommen, literally “come onto the world”.

  23. No, banyik is just an error; the я can’t be silent or anything.
    I assume it’s an attempt to transcribe банник (bannik), which is the word that I actually can find as a dictionary entry in my sources – the other variants tend to be listed as dialectal or regional.

  24. Owlmirror says

    Huh, There are Wiki pages for Russian Домовой, and also for English Domovoy. And also Russian Банник and English Bannik.

    The Russian page for Банник offers alternate spellings: баенник, баинник, байнушко, банный, байник. The first alternate matches the alternate spelling in Radenković’s paper, but there are none with a “я”. For whatever that’s worth.

  25. Owlmirror says

    Searching Google Scholar for [steam soul], one of the early hits is: Modernism, postmodernism, and steam. It starts and ends with Tony Oursler’s “The Influence Machine” art installation in Madison Square Park in October of 2000 (which involves the projection of faces on the “fog” from a fog machine), and then wanders on to other works of art. I confess that I merely skimmed the text to see if there was any mention of historical belief in demons or spirits or whatever being steam or having steam for souls, and found nothing.

    I thought it amusing that “Old Man Yells at Clouds” ⇒ “Old Face of Man on Cloud Yells”.

  26. January First-of-May says

    The Russian page for Банник offers alternate spellings: баенник, баинник, байнушко, банный, байник.

    …huh. I always took it for granted that баня is somehow related to bath (is it? never checked that I could recall), but those forms look derived from **байня, which isn’t a version I recall having seen before.

  27. I always took it for granted that баня is somehow related to bath (is it? never checked that I could recall)
    FWIW, Vasmer rejects that connection and says it’s from Vulgar Latin *ba:neum (Classical balneum).

  28. Owlmirror says

    SFReader claimed, in 2017, that “Steam instead of soul” is an old expression. but my own Googling on that phrase has been deeply frustrated in that almost all of the links offered lead back to languagehat! I cannot find the letter that was cited above, other right here.

    However, I did find one lone hit which is actually quite interesting. It also expands on j.’s comment above about the Finnish/Hungarian soul/steam connection.

    As WikiP says, Vepsians are Finnic. I had never heard of this people before.

    Vinokurova, Irina. Some Ideas About the Soul Among Vepsians. Congressus XI Internationalis Fenno-Ugristarum. 311-318. VI. 2010. (PDF)

    One of the key notions of the traditional worldview and religion – the “soul”, understood as the vital force and spiritual nature of the man, has been scrutinized by researchers of many nationalities, including Finno-Ugric ones. This is however not the case with Vepsians, for whom this multifarious subject has never been specifically considered.
    [. . . ]
        There is one name for the human soul in the Vepsian language: heŋg’ (Cent., S. Veps.), heŋg (N. Veps.). This fact implies that the characteristic feature of the Pre-Finno-Ugric concept of the soul (4,000–3,000 BC) – duality and, possibly, plurality,expressed through two or several names (e.g. among Komi-Zyrians, Udmurts, Ob’Ugrians), has not been preserved in the mentality of the people. The Vepsian word heŋg’ (heŋg) has other meanings as well: heart; man (person); land lot (per capita); item, i.e. the human life or soul in the Vepsian worldview appears as a “complex interlacement of anatomical features, physiological processes and mentality, with social characteristics on top of that” (ТМ 1989: 54). A similar notion exists in all Balto-Fennic and in some Finno-Ugric languages, cf.: Fin. henki, N. Kar., Livvi hengi ‘breath, inhalation, exhaled air, life, soul, spirit, ghost, incorporeal creature, phantom, person’. Ludic heng and Votic entši have, in addition to the above, also a meaning of the “heart”. Estonian hing means ‘breath, sigh, smell, life, soul, specter, personality’; Sámi hĭękkε – ‘soul, life’; Udmurt tšįŋ – ‘smoke’; Mansi šεχ – ‘fog, mist’ (SKES 1955, I: 38). The semantic circle of the above Finno-Ugric terms reveals parallels in many spheres of the Vepsian national culture.

        The soul is one of the two constituents of a human being, the life of the other constituent being contained in the body. The soul corresponds to breath: Veps. heŋg’ (heŋg) ‘soul’ and heŋgaiduz ‘breath’ have the same root. This ancient perception has been preserved not only in Balto-Fennic languages, but also in the languages of many other nations (cf. Slav. душа – the root being “дых-“, “дух-“). Identification of the soul with breath is in a way mirrored in the North Vepsian popular belief that in order to conceive a child the spouses should breathe at each other during sex.

        Judging by linguistic data, Vepsians believed the human soul is located in the heart: Veps. heŋgenkareińe ‘heart’ – literally “soul’s pit”; heng’ ‘soul, heart’. As the same time, among Vepsians of the Beloye Lake area we discovered the idea that the soul resides in the centre of the human body, and the heart may be such centre. Local villagers suggest this is the reason for placing the grave post in the middle of the grave.
    […]
        Unlike humans, animals have steam instead of soul. These ideas, most likely of Russian origin, appear in the words of the shepherds’ Russian-language charm in usage among Vepsians: “And I, the servant of God, shall also pray to the heavenly Powers. Celestial angels walk there carrying vigil light, lighting up the steam and the heart in my cattle, for each beast to burn and yearn in their heart for their masters and mistresses and for me, the servant of God, the shepherd…” (Šimgäŕ) (Винокурова 2006: 265).

    [Bolding mine. I also note that the animals mentioned are specifically cattle, as also specified in the letter from Ivan the Terrible, above. Continuing on:]

    Vepsians have different ideas about the moment the soul appears in a person. According to the texts of North Vepsian birth charms, when a woman gets pregnant, she gains two integrated souls: her own, and the future child’s. A similar perception of pregnant woman as one to have two souls has been known also among Slavs (CМ 2002: 33). Vepsians believed the souls got separated during delivery. Parturition started with a rite in which the woman addressed the master spirits of the cattle shed – the most common place for child birth among Vepsians, or of another place, asking for permission to give birth: “Rodinsijan ižandaižed, rodinsijan emagaižed! Pästkat mindei rodimaha kakś heŋged eriži!” – “Masters and mistresses of the birth place! Let me have two souls born apart!”.
    […]
    Vepsians called a stillborn heŋgetoi – lit. “soulless”, implying he/she had no soul. On the other hand, the Vepsian word heŋgetoi was applied also to very little – live – infants. We thus see a contradiction, which may be due to the Vepsians having also other ideas about the time the soul appeared in a baby, which have presumably been adopted from Slavic people. Byelorussians and Ukrainians in Polesye, for instance, have had a belief that a child is born with no or with an “inferior” soul – steam, like in animals or non-Christians, and it is only through christening that they acquired a true soul (Толстая 2000: 62). This presumption is corroborated by a third meaning of the Vepsian word heŋgetoi – ‘godless’, i.e. having no Christian soul (see. heŋgetoin – Зайцева, Муллонен 1972: 115).
    […]
    One would “get a soul” for a stillborn child by rocking them in the smoke of a burning broom (Särgjärv) (Светляк, notebook IX, p. 2). The alleged connection between soul and fire is reflected also in the language: ön päivan heŋg’ paлab koďihe ńäht ‘the soul yearns (lit. “burns”) day and night for home’ (Pondal) (Зайцева, Муллонен 1972: 114)

    [Bolding mine. Also, I raise my eyebrow at that bit about “non-Christians” having “steam” as well!]

    The reference for the bolded part here is:

    Толстая, С.М. Славянские мифологические представления о душе // Славянский и балканский фольклор: Народная демонология. М., 2000. С. 52–95.

    Which Google Translate says is:

    Tolstaya, S.M. Slavic mythological ideas about the soul // Slavic and Balkan folklore: Folk demonology. M., 2000.S. 52–95.

    So at this point, it seems like the explanation is not that the woman speaking made up her belief ad hoc, but that she came from Polseye or somewhere similar with those beliefs, and whereever the narrative was taking place was somewhere that those beliefs did not exist.

  29. I wondered why it’s -toi and not -ton. Here’s why.

  30. So at this point, it seems like the explanation is not that the woman speaking made up her belief ad hoc, but that she came from Polseye or somewhere similar with those beliefs, and whereever the narrative was taking place was somewhere that those beliefs did not exist.

    Very likely; thanks for that great research!

  31. Owlmirror says

    If anyone has an interest in other papers that were part of Congressus XI Internationalis Fenno-Ugristarum, be aware that all of the PDFs are currently freely downloadable, but the site, fu11.btk.ppke.hu , is badly broken, displaying a fractal garden of error messages. It is probably unmaintained, and may very well stop working altogether at some point.

    For the sake of future access, here’s the web archive of the site’s pages that link to the PDFs:
    Pars I
    Pars IV-IX

  32. Hengetön for ‘dead’ is standard Finnish too, though this parses more as “unbreathing, breathless” than “soulless” (and would apply also to dead animals). Some overlap between hengetön and soulless could be found in metaphorical uses, e.g. for uninspired art or oration. I think this would be more likely the case also for any use of hengetön for non-Christians (cf. Fi. hengellinenhenki-ful; spiritual, having to do with religion’), thus not lacking a soul per se but rather lacking in the Holy Spirit = Fi. pyhä henki, Veps pühäheng (calques of course, but probably established a good while ago already in Veps too).

    Finnish dialects show a wide variety of other uses, mostly fairly concrete though, including ‘unconscious’; ‘unliving (object)’; ‘dead calm (of a body of water)’; ‘tasteless’.

  33. A link between “breathe” and words meaning “spirit / soul” isn’t limited to Uralic or to North-Eastern Europe; it can also be found in Indo-European languages (e.g. both Latin animus / anima and spiritus go back to words meaning “breathe”).

  34. Completely unrelated—I just don’t know where to put it (about the presentation of a book on Bukharan Jews):

    16 мая 2021 года в Еврейском музее и центре толерантности в Москве состоялась презентация книги «Елена Коровай: иной взгляд. Бухарские евреи в русской культуре», изданной только что Фондом Марджани при поддержке Фонда Ицхака Мавашева.

    Издание рассказывает о бухарских евреях через творчество советской художницы Елены Коровай (1901—1974), посвятившей им свои лучшие картины: художница использовала модернистскую живопись, чтобы запечатлеть, как еврейский квартал Самарканда переживает свой экономический и культурный расцвет.

    https://fergana.ru/news/122116/
    http://www.mardjani.com/ru/productdisplay/elena-korovay-inoy-vzglyad-buharskie-evrei-v-russkoy-kulture

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