A Pre-Finno-Mordvinian comes to a neighbouring Proto-Indo-European village and looks around in bewilderment.
— What are you looking for here?—someone asks him (a Pre-Aryan, as it turns out later—though there are also many Pre-Greeks, Pre-Slavs, PreBalts and especially Pre-Germans dwelling in the same village).
— Oh, I’d like to borrow a word for boat…—the guest answers.
— What are you speaking about? Do you want to borrow one of our boats?
— Why should I? We have plenty of boats ourselves. In fact, we are a long way ahead of you in boat-making! How else could we become skilled fishermen? I only need your word for boat!
— Don’t you have your own word for it?
— Surely we do! But you know, nowadays it’s all the rage—to use Indo-European loans!
— Well,—the Pre-Aryan scrunches up his brow.—Naturally we do have a name for boat. It is *nāus—everybody, except these stupid and stubborn Pre-Slavs and Pre-Balts, knows and uses it! But I just cannot lend this word to you! I need it for myself, and for my Old Indic offsprings, who will call boats nāu, and for my Ossetic descendants, so that they could call them naw! No, you won’t get this precious lexical item!
— What shall I do then? I cannot come back empty-handed. Maybe you will find for me something less valuable or little needed, if you have such a thing? And you must have, Pokorny tells us that your language is so rich in stems!
— He is right, we do have some other boat-names, *aldhu, *(s)kolmos, and *plou̯os, for example. But lending them is out of question, forget it! We Indo-Europeans need these items for ourselves, if we are going to have our languages spread over all continents!
— Have pity, give me something, at least!—moans the poor creature.
— I’ve had enough of your begging! Here, take the word *wen-(e/o-)— this is the only one I can give you! At present nobody really uses it here—this word will emerge only in Sanskrit as vána and in Avestan as vanā-, without and Indo-European etymology and without any trace of the vowel e. So nobody will now notice it is missing. But I must warn you, this word does not really denote a boat! It is a word for tree, or for wood, or for timber. At best you can refer to a chunk of wood or a wooden vessel, like a bucket or a trough, with this name…
— No matter, our boats are after all no less wooden than troughs! You know, sometimes we just use dug-out stems as canoe boats! That will suit me! Thank you very much indeed, now I can head home with this wonderful new loan!
— Hey, wait a moment! You cannot borrow *wen-(e/o-) just so as it is. What if one of our guys hears and recognises it? He’ll take it back, and I’ll get into trouble for squandering words! You must disguise the loan. Look, you may add some unusual non-Indo-European suffix to it. For example, -š—this will be a proper disguise.
— What a wise idea! I will do so. Many thanks again, it was so kind of you!
And the happy Pre-Finno-Mordvinian leaves the village whispering: «*Veneš, *veneš! How sweet these Indo-European words are!»
I do not think that the etymological proposal by J. Koivulehto is much more realistic than the above dialogue.
An excerpt from
Helimski E., Early Indo-Uralic Linguistic Relationships: Real Kinship and Imagined Contacts –
Carpelan C. / Parpola A. / Koskikallio P., Early Contacts Between Uralic and Indo-European: Linguistic and Archaeological Considerations = Mémoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne 242, Helsinki, 2001, 187-205