On the Etymological Background of the Estonian Word põll ’apron’ Cover Image

Sõna põll taustast
On the Etymological Background of the Estonian Word põll ’apron’

Author(s): Vilja Oja
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: Estonian; etymology; loan-words

Summary/Abstract: The Estonian word põll, denoting ’an apron’, differs from its Finnic counterparts both in contents and form. Julius Mägiste has has tentatively associated its origin with the Finnish terms pellava, pellain etc. for flax (plant, fibre, cloth), but that etymology has been rejected. However, Mägiste’s version seems to harbour a grain of truth in that the Estonian põll and the Northern-Finnic pellava may well descend from a common root, while the Estonian noun is a diminutive form on -õi-. The origin of pellava is not clear either. Considering, on the one hand, the age, semantics and morphological variation of the pellava-words, and on the other hand, the linguists’ and historians’ conclusions about very early contacts between the Uralic and Indo-European languages, one might suspect the presence of a Proto-Indo-European sub- strate, which means that a word for ’cover’, ’clothing’, ’covering hide’ or the like can have been used by the local inhabitants well before Germanic contacts. The Estonian põll could easily represent this substrate to the south of the Gulf of Finland. After all, a *pel-stemmed word meaning ’to cover’,’to hide’, ’to wrap’ has been considered the original lexeme for words denoting ’cover’, ’hide’ etc. in many Indo-European languages.

  • Issue Year: XLVIII/2005
  • Issue No: 06
  • Page Range: 475-480
  • Page Count: 6
  • Language: Estonian