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481The grapheme _w_ in Finnish (was Re: Kalevala and Qenya)

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  • Petri Tikka
    Sep 13, 2003
      Christopher Gilson wrote:

      > Of course the difference could have contributed to Tolkien's
      > conception of early Q. with words beginning in _w_ and in
      > _v_, whether or not it reflects a distinction in the actual
      > history of Finnish.

      Which it does not. The use of both _w_ and _v_ to represent the
      same sound is only from cofusion of orthographies. Old Finnish
      spelling (before the regularization in the 19th century) usually
      employed the grapheme _w_ to represent the labio-dental fricative
      (see e.g. <http://www.pp.clinet.fi/~pkr01/historia/agricola.html>).
      It was still often used in the 19th century, but gradually fell
      away as the regularized spelling came more and more adopted.

      The use of both _w_ and _v_ in the orthography of your examples
      cannot reflect a distinction in the development of Finnish.
      For instance, all the words related to _walkea_, the nomin. sing.
      of the pl. iness. example you cite _walkeissa_, in Baltic-Finnic
      languages have _v_ in their orthography (e.g. Karelian _valkie_,
      Vepsian _vauged_ and Estonian _valge_). There is also a possible
      cognate in the far more distantly related Hungarian: _villám_
      'lightning', which also has the labio-dental fricative.

      Petri Samuel Tikka