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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Chuvash-Germanic Language Connections


Randomly discovered correspondences between the Germanic and Turkic languages could not go unnoticed by linguists who studied the vocabulary and compiled dictionaries of the Turkic languages. Especially many linguistic connections between the Chuvash and German languages could be noted by German linguists, but they remained without serious study. At least Yu.K. Kuzmenko, who often quotes German authors in his work on the history of the early Germans, does not write anything about such a phenomenon (KUZMENKO Yu.K. 2011). In Russia, the fact of German-Chuvash lexical correspondences was first noted by Ashmarin (ASHMARIN N.T. 1902). Later, his examples were supplemented by several other researchers (KORNILOV G.E. 1973, YEGOROV G. 1993, STETSYUK VALENTYN. 1998 ). According to calculations, about a third of German words are borrowed from an unknown language (KUZMENKO Yu.K. 2011: 99-101). Some may be a pre-Indo-European substrate, but without knowing the exact location of the ancestral home of the Germans and neighboring peoples, establishing the etymology of such words is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Even with a large list of Turkic-Germanic correspondences, many unanswered questions arise, such as where, when, and under what conditions contacts between the Germanic and Turkic peoples took place, as well as the most delicate of them – who borrowed from whom. All these questions are interconnected and the answer cannot be given only by a selective comparison of linguistic correspondences. To bring random linguistic facts to a regular result by induction is difficult, especially if we proceed from traditional ideas about the ethnogenesis of the Turks.

The idea about the presence of the Turkic peoples in Eastern Europe in the Bronze Age contraries many established views of science. The Turkic languages are traditionally included in the Altaic family on the warrant of the typological relationship (affinity) with the Mongolian languages. At the same time, many linguists have found a special closeness between the Chuvash and Mongolic languages.

Difficulties arise not only because of the lack of sufficient knowledge and methodology for comparing linguistic phenomena but also because of the prejudice that is observed among linguists of different nationalities, voluntarily or involuntarily giving preference to their own or related languages to find and prove, if not greatness, then at least would have a higher cultural level of their people in comparison with others in the past, which is fraught with false conclusions

At the same time, it is not without resentment and accusations. Eastern scientists accuse Western ones of almost racism since the latter allegedly do not allow the possibility of a high level of development of some peoples of Asia in the past, and to explain common linguistic phenomena by the borrowing of words and concepts from Indo-European languages, and consider reverse influences unlikely or insignificant in advance (KARATAY OSMAN. 2003-2, 126). Such a phenomenon exists, but we must pay tribute to European linguistics, which, thanks to its long existence, has accumulated a lot of experience and developed more or less effective research methods, often ignored by Eastern scientists. Moreover, modern European scholars acknowledge their previous mistakes: "The traditional European archaeological perspective ex orient lux has consistently underestimated cultural impulses from the east" (RASSMANN KNYT a.o. 2014, 97).

It should be borne in mind that some correspondences between the languages of different families and groups may date back to the period of the Nostratic community and should not be considered when studying the interaction of cultures of a later period. We must be careful when finding similarities in words that are most often used and mean the simplest concepts. On the contrary, when we find similarities, for example, in the names of rare plant species or tools, these cases have great importance. The number of lexical correspondences found in the languages under consideration is also important because the distribution of individual words and the concepts denoting them can be very complex, and it is simply impossible to restore their paths due to the lack of explanation of even visible phonetic correspondences. An example is the names of soap, which are similar in many languages, but their diversity does not allow us to restore their original form.

Erroneous ideas about the history of the development of languages, hastily established at the dawn of linguistics, also lead to a false path of research. If, for example, we believe that at a certain time, there was one common parent language of some kindred languages, but in fact, its existence must be attributed to an earlier period, then ignoring the exceptional features of one of the languages will not lead us to the truth. In the case of the study of the connections of the Turkic languages with the Indo-European ones, the Chuvash language is often left without attention, the features of which are explained by the far-fetched theory of its origin. Using the graphic-analytical method made it possible to establish not the ancestral home of the Turks in the Transcaucasus, but their subsequent settlements in Eastern Europe between the Dnieper and Don rivers. On this territory, the paternal language of the Turks was divided into separate dialects, from which developed the languages that gave rise to modern ones (STETSYUK VALENTYN. 1998: 49-52). At the same time, the Indo-European languages ​​were in the basin of the Middle Dnieper. The Turks, who were at a higher cultural level of development, had a cultural influence on the Indo-Europeans, traces of which are preserved in languages (see Traces of Contacts between the Türks and Indo-Europeans in Vocabularies).

At the end of the 4th millennium BC part of the Turks who dwelled on the left bank of the Dnieper moved to the right bank in the ​​distribution of the Trypillia culture. The Turks established a xenocracy regime here and assimilated the large local population. At the beginning of the 3rd millennium, they began to spread over the vast expanse of Europe, spreading their own culture, which was called the Corded Ware (ibid, 67). Since these Turks lost contact with their relatives left behind the Dnieper, the languages of these two groups of Turks developed differently. The language of the Western group retained the archaic features and features of the paternal language. The settlements of some of these Turks were located south of the Germanic territory in the basin of the Pripyat River. Living nearby did not remain without close language contacts, traces of which have been preserved in the Germanic languages till now. At the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, these Turks began to return to the steppes and became known in history as the Scythians. A millennium later, some of them moved to Povozhye, where their descendants still dwell under the name of Chuvash. Thus, the Chuvash language retained the features of the paternal language and it can be considered a relic of the ancient Turkic language.

Osman Karatay asserts that modern English has about 400 Turkic loan-words and a great portion of them belong to the Old Turkic common fund, although he considers only a few examples of Germanic-Turkish correspondences, some of which are highly questionable (KARATAY OSMAN. 2003-2: 135). Here is not a place for discussion, but indisputable matches given by the Turkish scholar, should be noted. For example, you cannot object that the German suffix -lich corresponds to Turkic -lık (-lik). It corresponds to –lăk (lĕk) in Chuvash. However, the English suffix -ly was not arisen from reducing the Turkic -lık (-lik) to - (-li), as O. Karatay believes, but from the Chuvash - (-, -llă, – ). You cannot have objections to borrowing some English words such as girl or to tell from the Turkic languages.

From the list of lexical correspondences of the Germanic and Chuvash languages given below, it can be seen that there are not always matches for them in other Turkic languages. On the other hand, of all the Germanic words, we find the most correspondence to the Chuvash words in German. This special relationship between the German and Chuvash languages must have its own explanation. As we can see in the article "Discussion", the ancestors of the Chuvash, the Proto-Bulgarians, lived for a long time in close proximity to the Teutons, and this could be an explanation for the mutual linguistic ties between these two peoples. However, later the Anglo-Saxons, who remained on the territory of Ukraine until the Scythian-Sarmatian time, also had to have no less close contacts with the Scytho-Bulgarians. This is evidenced by some English words of Turkic origin and some features of English grammar. For example, the disappearance of the category of gender in the English language can be explained precisely by the Turkic influence, since the category of gender is absent in the Turkic languages. However, there are significantly fewer Chuvash-English language correspondences than Chuvash-German ones. Obviously, in addition to the neighborhood, the special connections of the German and Chuvash languages have a reason in the influence of the Turkic substratum. As mentioned above Türks as Carriers of the Corded Ware Cultures about five thousand years ago, settled for a short time vast expanses of Central and Northern Europe. Their settlements were especially dense on the territory of modern Germany, as evidenced by place names that have survived to our time, which may be of Turkic origin (see the map in the Google system in German below).

View Ansiedlungen von Schöpfer der schnurkeramischen Kultur im Deutschland in a larger map

Map of creators of Corded Ware settlements in Germany.
On the map, the icons in the form of yellow asterisks show the locations of the Corded Ware culture sites in Germany, and the purple dots show toponyms that are deciphered using the Chuvash language.

The map shows that Corded Ware sites and Bulgarish place names are concentrated mainly in the same places, which indicates a high probability of the made assumptions. Thus, it becomes obvious that the later newcomers not only retained the names of pre-existing settlements but could experience certain influences of the previous population in the language, as can be seen from the list below.

Chuv apat “food, forage” – OE ofett, Ger Obst “vegetable”.

Chuv armuti “wormwood” (similar words are present in other Turkic languages) – Ger Wermut “wormwood”.

Chuv avăn "barn", a special work for drying sheaves – Eng., Dt. oven, Ger. Ofen "oven".

Chuv avlan “to marry” – OE ǽwnian, ǽwan “to marry”. Chuv. suffix -lan forms a verb meaning "to acquire the quality specified in the nominal stem" from the Germanic stem aw "legal (marriage)", "a wife".

Chuv ătăr “an otter” – P.Gmc *utra, Eng otter , Ger Otter.

Chuv ăvăs “asp, aspen” – P.Gmc *apso, OE æps, Ger Espe “asp, aspen”.

Chuv čělkhe 1.“tongue”, 2. "language" (common Turkic root til) – Eng to tell. The English word has matches in other Germanic languages and according to many experts all they refer to PIE root *del "to aim, calculate", but only some given to it matches stand far in meaning (Lat dolus , Gr δολοσ "fraud"), in contrary, words til/tili/dili meaning "language" are present in all Turkic languages.

Chuv čětre “to tremble” (common Turkic root titr) – Ger zittern “to tremble”.

Chuv ijja “yes” – Ger ja “yes”.

Chuv jěkel “acorn” – P.Gmc *aikel, Germ Eichel “acorn”.

Chuv kavle “to chew” – Ger kauen “to chew”.

Chuv karta “fence, kitchen garden” – P.Gmc *gardon, Ger Garten, Eng garden.

Chuv kěrt “flock, herd” – P.Gmc *herdo, Ger Herde, Eng herd, Sw hjord “herd, flock”.

Chuv. kěsle “shackle for sheep” (Bash, Tat. keshən, Balk., Karach. kishan "shackle") – P.Gmc. *skakula, OE. sceacel “shackle, fetter”, Old Norse skökull "pole of a carriage", Dutch. schakel “link of a chain, ring of a net”.

Chuv khaltară “to freeze” – P.Gmc *kalda, Ger kalt, Eng cold “cold”.

Chuv khatăr “cheerful” – OE hador, Ger heiter “cheerful”.

Chuv khămla, "hop" – similar words are common among many languages, including Germanic (e.g., O.Icl. humli, humla, humall, AS. hуmеlе) but Bulgar source of borrowing seems unlikely for them , despite the good phonetic matching. (VASMER NAX. 1973. V. 4: 249-250). However, it is so.

Chuv khăt, O.T. qut 1.“happiness, good, use”, 2. "soul, spirit, life vigor" – OE. gōd, Eng. good, Ger. gut, Eng god, Ger Gott.

Chuv khĕr “girl, daughter” (O.T. – qyř) – Eng girl. Turkic long vibrating consonant ř (rz) could be converted into sounds r or z in different languages during their development (at present in many Turkic languages qyz "a girl"). The sound ř had also an other modification ĺ () which could be converted into l or š. Turkic word qyrz “girl” was borrowed in English at prehistoryc times and later it was developed into girl retaining the tendency to a long vibrating consonant at the ending of the word. The borrowing of the Turkic *kir into English is explained by V. Terentiev in his own way, drawing on the alleged OE *gyrel, which is not recorded anywhere (TERENTYEV V.A. 1990: 69-74).

Chuv. khupax "inn, tavern", Kar., Balk. gabaq "village" – Low Ger. kabacke "closet, hovel".

Chuv khurlaxǎn (Uzb qorygat, Türkm garağat etc) “currants” – Eng currants.

Chuv khüšĕ “hut, cabin, light house” – Ger Haus, Eng house.

Chuv khüte “defence, shelter” – P.Gmc *hoda, Ger Hut, Eng hood, hat, Sw hatt“protection, defence”.

Chuv khyr, khyră (in other Turkic languages qarağaj) “pine” – OE furho, ON fura, Ger Fohre “pine”.

Chuv lank “to touch” – Ger lenken “ro direct”.

Chuv latlă “good” – Eng little (West Gmc *lutila).

Chuv lăkh-lăkh “to smile”, lăkhlat “to laugh aloud”, – Ger. lachen a.o. similar Gmc “to laugh”.

Chuv – (–, –llă, –llĕ) suffix forming adjectives from nouns and participles meaning "having qualities of" – Eng -ly (1) – similar suffix.

Chuv. lutra "low" – OE. loddere "beggar", O.H.G. lotar "vain", Ger. Lotterbube "lazy".

Chuv măkăn“poppy” – Ger Mohn “poppy” (old form *mæhon).

Chuv. năkă “stark”, Tat. nyk “stark” a.o. – OE ge-nàg “rasch, schnell”, Lett. naiks “heftig, rasch, schnell”.

Chuv palt “fast, quick” – P.Gmc *balþa, “bold, courageous”, Eng. bold, Ger bald “fast, soon”.

Chuv patak "a stick, cane", other Türkic bodaq "branch" from O.T. bod "body, trunk; tribe, clan" – O.E. bodig "a trunk, chest", N.E. body, O.H.G. botah "body".

Chuv. păltăr “wooden chimney cap”, “extension to the hut”, “canopy”, "corridor", “upper floor of a wooden barn” – OE bold, “house, dwelling”, “temple”, which Holthausen associated with byldan "build" (HOLTHAUSEN F. 1974: 30), but its origin is speculative. Corresponding to Ger. bilden based on Bild with the initial meaning “example, sample”, which over time acquired the meaning “image”. It is assumed the possibility of comparison it with Lat. filum "form" (KLUGE FRIEDRICH, SEEBOLD ELMAR. 1989: 84-85), which is difficult to explain phonologically. Judging by semantics, the Chuvash word should be borrowed from Old English, but according to Fedotov, Chuv. păltăr originated from Chuv. păl “wooden pipe in a chimney-less house” + tărry (tăr “stand”, “become”, “get up”, etc.) (FEDOTOV M.R. 1996. 1974: 396), which is unconvincing. Most likely Germanic words are borrowed from OT. bil “to know” with the widening -t and then the origin of this Chuvash word by borrowing Old English is explained.

Chuv. părt, pĕrt "flutter" – Eng. bird.

Chuv pichĕke, pichke “barrel” – P.Gmc *büka- (Ger. Bauch, O.E. būc “belly”).

Chuv pěçen “sow-thistle” – Ger Vesen “siftings, bran”.

Chuv pike "woman, lady", Tat, Bash pikә "lady", Tat bičä "wife" – OE bicce "female of the dog, fox, wolf".

Chuv. pulkkă “flock, herd, crowd” – this word can be correlated with Ger. Volk, Eng. folk, Sw. volc etc. “folk, army” originated from P.Gmc *fulka of unclear origin (KLUGE FRIEDRICH, SEEBOLD ELMAR. 1989: 768) and with OE flocc "hred" also of unclear origin (HOLTHAUSEN F. 1974: 109). Theo Vennemann compares Old Germanic *fulka and also Eng. ploug, Germ. Pflug a.o. with Hebr plC, a family of related roots including plg, which words have meaning "to divide, separate" (VENNEMANN THEO, 2005: 27). The Semitic root has good matches in Chuvash: Pülĕkh "a distributor", "providence", Chuvash ancient deity giving people a happy or unlucky lot, and pulkkǎ. The Chuvash words come from the Old Bugaris one, which was borrowed from the language of the Trypillians, which we identify with one of the Semitic tribes (see Semitic Tribes in Eastern Europe at Prehistoric Time). An Old Bulgarish word meaning “flock, herd, crowd” was borrowed in Proto-Germanic and other Indo-European languages and became a travelling word without clear phonetic correspondences: Lat. volgus, vulgus “(common) folk”, “herd”, “mob”, Lat. volgō, vulgāris “ordinary, common”, O.-Ind. vargah “division, group”, O.-Sl. pъlkъ “regiment”, Lyt. pulkas, Alb. plogu “mod” etc. (see VASMER MAX, 1971, V. III; WALDE A., HOFMANN J.B, BERGER ELSBETH. 1965). Obviously here also Lat. populus “folk”, plebs “folk, mob”, Gr. φυλον “people, folk, tribe”, ethnonyms "Volcae", "Poles", "Polans", "Bulgars" (Bulgar – Old name of a Turkic tribe, the ancestors of Chuvash).

Chuv pultăran “a kind of parsley” – Ger Baldrian “valerian”. Perheps, Latin name of the plant Valeriana, that is similar to parsley, is changed accordingly to Lat valere “be strong” and the first form of the name was other. German word is more similar to Tur baldiran “a kind of parsley” and other Türkic names of this plant (in Balkar, Tartarian and Altaian). Therefore, it is not clear, which of the languages, German or Latin, adopted the Türkic word first.

Chuv pülemes "fat, full" – this word is like to the name of the village and lake Pulemetz on the Urheimat of Tuetons, which is explained as “a full measure of grain” (Ger. volle Metze, O.U.G. fulle mezza.

Chuv. puç "head" – Ger. Butzen "core".

Chuv săpsa "wasp" – P.Gmc *wabso “wasp” (OE wæfs, wæps, Ger Wespe), (here also Sl osa “wasp”).

Chuv sepper "supper" – Eng supper. This word considered to be borrowed from Old French which itself is loanword from some Germanic language (Meyer-Lübke W. 1992, 8464).

Chuv sěnk "to drowse, doze", Turkic *siŋ (Tat seŋü, Kaz siŋdirlu, Uzb singdirmoq etc) "to sink, to be digested" – Ger senken, OE sencan "to droop", Eng “to sink”.

Chuv sěre "very" – M.H.G. sēre, OE sāre, Ger sehr “very”.

Chuv shalatka "infrequent, rare" – P.Gmc selda, OE seldan, Ger selten “seldom”.

Chuv çak(k) “to stick up” (the words of this root are present in other Turkic languages) – Ger Zacke “tooth, jag”.

Chuv çirěp “stark”, Sir Gerard Clauson restores Turkic *jarp (jarpuz) as “herb” (Uzb jalpiz, Kaz žalbyz the plant mint (Mentha L.), Xakani- jarp “firm, solid”, etc”) – Eng herb, Ger herb.

Chuv šěpěl “a small special shovel” – OE scofl “a shovel”, Eng Ger a shovel, Schaufel “a shovel”.

Chuv tărpa "chimney" – P.Gmc *þarpa "house, yard, hamlet", Eng thorp, Ger Dorf "a village".

Chuv tără “top” – Eng tor “stony top”. See Lat torus too.

Chuv tetel “fish net” – Ger Zettel “warp”.

Chuv tu “to do” – Ger tun, Eng to do, Dt doen “to do”.

Chuv turǎ “god” (from Turkic teŋgri) – P.Gmc þunre “thunder god, Thor”.

Chuv ulăp “giant, titan” – Ger Alp, Alb “evil ghost”, Eng elf . See also alap’-em “plunder”.

Chuv urpa (Turk arpa) “barley” – P.Gmc *arwa, Ger Erbse “pea”.

Chuv utar "apiary", "hamlet" (OT *otar having matches in different Turkic languages with meaning 1 "pasture", 2 "barnyard", 3 "farm", 4 "village", 5. "flock") [SEVORTYAN E.V.1974: 487-488] – OE eodor "hedge, surround, enclosure", Ger. Etter “fence” and other Germanic supposedly coming from P.Cmc edara “hedge” according to [KLUGE FRIEDRICH, SEEBOLD ELMAR 1989: 123-124].

Chuv vak “wake” – P.Gmc *wakwo, Ger Wake, Eng wake, Sw vak “wake”.

Chuv vălta “fishing-rod” – P.Gmc. *walþu "cluster, rod", OE., Eng. weald, Ger. Wald "forest".

Chuv vantă “weir-basket, coop” – P.Gmc. *wend- "to twine", Ger Want, Dt. want, "a rope for mounting masts", MDt. want "a net for catching herring".

Chuv. varak “gully, pot-hole” – Gmc. *furkh, Ger. Furche, OE. furh, MDt. vorke "furrow".

Chuv větel “a double-snipe” – Ger Wachtel (O.H.G wahtel) “a quail”.

Chuv. vĕrke "to warp", "to move to and fro" – I.-E. *werg "to make, work" (Ger. Werk, wirken, Eng. work and many other similar words in Indo-European languages).

Chuv vulǎ “trunk, stem” – OE wala, walu “stick, staff”.

Chuv ytla “superfluous” – West Ger. *ìdla “insignificant, vain”, Ger eitel, Eng idle, Dt ijdel.