On the Origin of the Borrowing Верги in the Russian Northern-Western Dialects

2024. № 2, 65-76

Alina S. Alekseeva, Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia, Moscow), alevtina.sergeevna@gmail.com


Since the end of the 19th century a lexeme верги ‘incantations, charms, sorcery’ has been illustrated by a single example recorded by G. I. Kulikovsky in Yalguba (Karelia) in the dialectical and etymological dictionaries of the Russian language. Researchers tend to believe that the word goes back to finnish verha ‘sacrifice’, but an increase in the source base allows us to take a fresh look at the history of the word. Firstly, the lexeme верга is contained in the rite in the Olonetsky collection of charms  (2nd quarter of a 17th century) and is currently the earliest fixation of the word in a singular form. Secondly, the dictionary of A. Neovius and the expedition records of 1935 in Koivisto and other places fix rituals containing the lexeme verha. In almost all the rituals with верга / verha the object must be thrown, which permits to suggest the Old Russian etymon (compare врещи, вьргоу ‘to throw’). The Finnish-speaking population from the contact territories could borrow the lexeme after the 2nd half of the 12th – the middle of the 13th  century, because the vowel in verha reflects the change of the reduced vowel.

For citation:

Alekseeva A. S. On the Origin of the Borrowing Верги in the Russian Northern-Western Dialects. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2024. No. 2. Pp. 65–76. DOI: 10.31857/S0131611724020058.