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The Scytho-Sarmatian Problems / Scythian Language

Scythian Language


Most experts agree on the Iranian language belonging not only of the Scythians, but the entire population of the Northern Pontic Region at the Scythian-Sarmatian time. But suddenly one of the staunchest apologists of Iranian origin of Scythians gives us an argument in favor of their Bulgarish ethnicity. The Ossetian language has the word fændyr, which by different musical instruments are called. V. Abaev wrote of it:


Cultural word of considerable historical interest. Evidenced by the Greek authors from the II century. BC: πανδουροσ "three-stringed musical instrument lute" they believe that the word came from the Lydian language Then it came in several European languages through Greek: Latin. pandura, It. pandora, mandora, Fr. mandore, (where from later It. mandolina, Fr. mandoline). To the north of Asia Minor region, spread of the word covers the Caucasus and southern Russia. In addition to Osset. fændyr cf. Arm. pandir, Georg. (dial.) panduri, Svan. pandvir, Tush. (Batsbian V.S.) pandur, Chech. pondur, Ing. pondær. Here also Ukr and Pol bandura. Dating the existence of the word in the Ossetian is essentially determined by initial f. The law of transition pf has ceased to operate in the Ossetian long; such the old words as padcax "a king", pyl "an alephant", paida "use", included in the Ossetian language through the Caucasian languages, retain p. Therefore, it is unlikely that fændyr was borrowed from the Caucasian languages. Likely it has to be referred more to the pre-Caucasusian, ie Scythian-Sarmatian period in the history of Ossetians, when it was in full force the law pf. Presupposed existence of the word in the Scythian language would shed light also on the Ukr. and Pol bandura. (ABAYEV V.I. 1958: 448).


Despite the fact that findings of musical instruments in sites of the Scythian period are very rare, yet found of remains of string instruments are enough to differentiate among three options: pizzicato type of harp, pizzicato stringed type of domra and fiddle instrument, the only copy of which is found in Pazyryk mound, dating back to the V cen. BC. (FIALKO O.Ye. 2012: 19-21).


Ar right: Scythian stringed instrument from the mound Pazyrik. Reconstruction of the appearance of O.G. Oliynyk.((FIALKO O.Ye. 2012: 23. Fig. 5)


, besides various stringed instruments, the Scythians yad a wird mentioned by V. Abayev and its existence is one of the evidence that the language of the Scythians was not Iranian bur Bulgarisg.


So, such a word existed in the Scythian language, and its existence is one of the evidence that the language of the Scythians was not Iranian bur Bulgarisg.

The Chuvash language has words păntăr-păntăr imitation of strumming strings, păntărtat 1. to strum, give jangling, cracking sounds (about stringed instruments), 2. to pop, rattle (about a drum). Since the Chuvash words do not mean a stringed instrument but only playing different instruments, ie, have a more general meaning, it is they to be taken as the origin for calling different musical instruments. This is logical, but, of course, single fact is few for sketics, so we continue to consider the language of the Scythians.

It has to be told that some researchers have tried to condider objectively the issue of the Scythian language without the prevailing doctrine but did not find support in the scientific community:


The concept of the Iranian-lingual Scythians is unequivocally dominated in the literature devoted to the study of the remnants of the Scythian language. Anything that does not relate to the extended position, in advance is excluded from the field of Scythological research. (PETROV V.P. 1968: 12).


This view began to emerge since the first studies of the Scythian language, and was finally approved by the researches of M. Vasmer and V. Abayev (ABAYEV V.I., 1965). Moreover, the implication of Scythian to the Iranian languages was even narrowed to only Ossetian by the efforts of V. Miller and V. Abayev. Unreasonable attempts of K. Neumann and G. Nagy to consider the Scythian language as Mongolian only strengthened the hand of the adherents of Iranian-lingual Scythians. Under such conditions V. Petrov, continuing a creative approach to deciding this issue of Professor at Novorossiisk University A. Biletsky, could only cautiously criticize an outdated method of research. A. Biletsky himself, according to V. Petrov gave a number of convincing discrepancy of the Scythian and Iranian languages and noticed that Hesychius glosses "least of all give the facts to determine the Scythian language as Iranian" (PETROV V.P., 1968: 24). However V. Petrov didnt expressed clearly his final views on the linguistic affiliation of the Scythians, but he urged not to limit the research of Scythian on Iranian basis and quoted as an example, some pretty convincing matches of the Scythian and Thracian languages. To investigate the relationship of the Scythian and Thracian languages, the scholar compiled the Scythian-Thracian Onomasticon, where each gloss was provided by the previously proposed by other linguists Indo-Iranian (mostly Persian and Ossetian), as well as their own and Deychev's the Thracian, and sometimes other matches (Ibid: 118-143). According to Petrov, "not in all cases, we can say with certainty that the actual name is just Thracian but not Iranian," and sometimes it is impossible to separate the Scythian and Thracian glosses as linguistic material of both languages is adjacent having the same qualitative related source base and associated chronologically (Ibid: 115-117). It should be noted that for the first time North Pontic epigraphy was collected and published by the Russian scientist V. Latyshev. Clearly, his data in some way were used by V. Petrov and V. Abayev, and already their lists were taken for this study.

Thus, the Scythian Onomasticon was composed in such way, and an attempt was made to find new matches for each of presented glosses from the Indo-European, Turkic, Finno-Ugric and Caucasian languages which could confirm or refute our assumptions about the linguistic origin of the Scythians.

The Onomasticon is under constant updating and verification. Some names refer to the later Sarmatian period, but their separating is not easy. Many of the etymologies are revised in accordance with the new data, dubious names are checked on correspondence to words of many different languages. Therefore, quantitative estimation is being something changed from time to time, although the results of the initial analysis remain nevertheless quite valid. It is shown from the list that about eight dozen out of more than 170 names can be satisfactorily explained only by the Chuvash language and another 30 may have as the Chuvash and Kurdish (sometimes Afghan) interpretation. Near 50 names have quite acceptable for anthroponymic sense with good phonetic correspondence. About 30 names can be explained by means of the Kurdish language, but only seven of them are quite convincing. Quite a few words (about 40) may have a different interpretation on the basis of the Chuvash, Iranian, Baltic and other languages. More than twenty names can be explained by various Iranian languages and half of them have a reasonable sense, six of which may have Ossetian, four or five Afghan roots and the rest are explained on the basis of common Iranian words. Originally conclusion, that one may sure say only about two components of the Scythian community (Bulgar and Kurdish), is confirmed. Some names, which have expressed Ossetian origin, belongs to the later times. Several names have distinct Baltic origin. However, this does not mean that among the Scythians could be also Balts. Obviously, these names refer to the tribal leadership of the Balts, whose representatives could have connections with the Scythians.

The fact that the majority of names of North Pontic Region material has not Iranian origin explains the fact that some of its phonetic phenomena can not be explained by the historical phonetics of the Iranian languages​​. In addition, when working with Onomastikon, my eye caught that some names have Germanic sound. Upon closer examination it turned out that they have a clear interpretation on the basis of Old English. These names were excluded from the Petrov's onomasticon Petrova and formed the basis for Alan-Anglo-Saxon Onomasticon.

Scythians called themselves skolots (Σκολοτουσ. The word has no relation to the Indo-Iranian languages (SHAPOSHNIKOV A.K., 2005, 41),, it is difficult to find it also in other languages. Closest in meaning and sounding is Chuv. salat "to scatter, to dissipate". Small phonetic discrepancy can be easily explained by the insertion epenthetic k, and the value of "scattered, diffuse" for the name of the people fit very well. Recall that the Slavs called themselves similar:


In ancient times, these two tribes (Slavs and Antes V.S.) were called spores [scatted], I think because they lived, populating the country "scattered", by individual villages (PROCOPIUS of CAESAREA. III, 14 ).


Some place names of Scythia, mentioned by historians, are well deciphered by means of the Chuvash language. Here are some examples:

Oium, the name of a place, area in Scythia Chuv. uçam place, area.

Panticapes River Chuv păntăh "mould" and kap "look".

Tanais, Greek name of the Don River Chuv. tănăç "calm, quiet".

Exampaios, area between Borysthenes and Hypanis Rivers . uksăm "wild garlic" and pay "a part (of weight, space, time, and so on)".


A significant part of the Scythian place names remained on the territory of Ukraine to the present time. This topic is covered apart.

Many names of Scythian mythology can be also explained by means of the Chuvash language. Eg names of the principal gods of the Scythian Papay and Api can be understood as "grandfather" and "grandmother", that is to understand them as "ancestors", according Chuv. papay "grandfather" and Chuv. epi "a midwife." Scythian mythology is considered more details separately.

Thus, the work of V. Abaeyv "Scythian-Sarmatian dialects" (ABAYEV V.I.1979), in which he tries to restore the Scythian language by contrived etymologies of proper names, and other realities 0f Scythian-Sarmatian only by means of the Iranian languages, has only historical value now. Most of his etymologies are refuted in our Onomastikon, and some of them are not payed attention because of their obvious absurdity. And if the name of the Scythians may hide different people, those Scythians, Herodotus wrote about, were the ancient Bulgars. While this view is not accepted, the whole scythology will stagnate.





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