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Thanks for clearing up those Finnish questions in the Etymology Scriptorium. Would you happen to have any information on the etymology of (and lack of a final vowel on) mies which would be pertinent to the discussion here? - -sche (discuss) 04:19, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
(Continuing this discussion here) When you mentioned Germanic *mēgaz I started wondering. Proto-Germanic *g was actually [ɣ] between vowels, so is it possible that this was borrowed as *mexas before the loss of *x? A sequence like *exa would give *ee I would think. And if that's not plausible because of the relative dating of changes and loaning, maybe this could still be applied to a native word. The explanation, then, would be that *mees was originally a two-syllable stem which contracted, and therefore did not necessarily have a final consonant. I don't know if the loss of *x must necessarily precede the apocope of *i after two syllables, though. If it does, then *mexVs must be the earliest known stage, but if it doesn't then *mexVsi > *mexVs > *mees is also a possibility. —CodeCat 23:22, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
- Interesting idea. We don't know of any precedents for anything like *-exa-, so that's not entirely ruled out.
- Still, I believe that there was a change *ŋ > *x fairly early on in the Proto-Finnic era; the two are vocalized completely indistinguishably, and unlike the other nasals but alike semivowels, *ŋ fails to condition primary long vowels (the change *a *ä > *oo *ee). Given *keŋäč > *kevät "spring", I'd expect an incoming *mexäs (disharmonic stems might be anachronistic this early) to similarly end up as **meväs; or, even if vocalized completely, as **möös, given *mexə- > *möö- "to sell".
- Your second approach clearly won't work, I'm afraid. There are quite a few roots like *šiŋərə > *hiiri "mouse", not **hiir; *śäxərə > *sääri "thigh", not **säär.
- What might be possible is to assume that the root was adopted after the rise of primary long vowels, yet as an *ə-stem (there are plenty of examples of Germanic *-az ~ Finnic *-eh or *-es). I.e. *mēɣas → *meexəs > *mees. Though that does seem chronologically difficult — sufficiently old Germanic loans only ever seem to show *k/*g/*x → *k, I think. And *-eexə- might have still yielded *-eeve- anyway.
- Even better regularity might be attainable if this were an older loan still. I don't know the etymology of the Germanic word — but if this had an original palatovelar, something like Late PIE *mēǵʰos would be expected to be adapted as Pre-Finnic *mejəs, from which *mees would be entirely expected. --Tropylium (talk) 03:14, 5 April 2014 (UTC)