Etymology of Tuomiokirkko?

While riding in the tourist boat along the Spree past Berlin's domkirche (cathedral), our group had an interesting discussion about the etymological origins of the Finnish word for cathedral, tuomiokirkko. Tuomio literally means 'judgement', so it plays into the whole christian judgement day, doomsday kind of thin g. At the same time, the word is still reminiscent of the German dom and especially Italian duomo. The general opinion held that dom and duomo originate from the Latin domus, 'house', in that a church or cathedral is literally the 'house of God' (Domus Dei). But then how to explain the closeness of German dom and English doom (not to mention the dome on top!) My online research so far hints at a linguistic fusing of two previously separate meanings. Or maybe just a complete coincidence between the similar sounding words in Greek/Latin (domos/domus) for house, and Germainic domaz for judgement. But that's a pretty big coincidence For example, the etymology of doom refers to Old English dom, meaning "law, judgement, condemnation", while the modern sense of "fate, ruin, destruction" emerged only later from the idea of Christian Judgement Day. This in turn points further back to a possible Proto-Germanic origin in domaz. The entry for dome meanwhile claims, "In the Middle Ages, Ger. dom and It. duomo were used for "cathedral" (on the notion of "God's house"), so English began to use this word in the sense "cupola," an architectural feature characteristic of Italian cathedrals."

In my favourite article, Tampere Sanomat's Kysy papilta ("Ask a priest"), priest and Doctor of Theology Matti Repo responds to Jussi's (I trust not our Ängeslevä) query about the origin of tuomiokirkko's sinister-sounding prefix. Alas, Repo rejects the teasing possibility that tuomio refers to the final judgement, and explains that it comes from a rough transliteration of the Swedish domkyrka (same Germanic origins as domkirche back to Latin domus). It is likely that when it was borrowed into Finnish, the spelling tuomio was erroneously used because it sounded like an existing Finnish word (itself likely borrowed from the Old High German tuom assumed it had a connection to God's judgement instead of God's house. English doom would be likewise linguistically unrelated to dome, but conceptually fused together in Christianity.

Can this really be? I'm still not sure I buy the remarkable coincidence. Do any other etymology geeks out there have some better information on the weird echoes contained in tuomiokirkko?

Posted on August 31, 2006 and filed under Finland, Language.