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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Common Turkic – Indoeuropean Heritage in Names of Plants


There is a little-studied area of science that can attest to the ancient Turks stay in the immediate vicinity of the Indo-European populations, in particular, the Bulgars in the Right-Bank Ukraine. Biologists know that the folk names of the same species can vary greatly in different areas. Thus similar names may be used for different but similar species of plants, birds, fish, and even animals, whereas for the same species may be used different names. Popular names of species are literally a treasure-trove for historical linguistics, since they keep little-known words from the beginning of time, but started work on the collection and systematization of such names has not yet expanded in due measure. This particularly applies to the names of plants due to their large quntity, although the first botanical dictionaries in Ukraine and Russia were published hundred fifty years ago (VOLIAN W. 1854, A. ANNENKOV N. 1878). Recently released a solid vocabulary of Yuriy Kobiv (KOBIV Yu 2004) did not cover the whole set of Ukrainian folk names of plants and do not always contain information about the spread of a specific word in Ukraine. Information of other languages is generally not yet available, but while the research some Turkic and Indo-European similar names of plants were collected.

Common Türkic agač “tree”- Gr ακακια, Lat acacia “acacia”, Lat acastus “maple”;

Chuv armuti “wormwood” (Artemisia Gen) – Germ Wermut “wormwood”, Eng wormwood. Lat artemisia. German and Chuvashian words are the most similar. Latin word can be created from Chuvashian by the metathesis of t and m;

Common Tukic arpa (Chuv urba) “barley” – OG *arwa, Germ Erbse “pea”.

Common Türkic arpa “barley” – Gr αλφι “barley”, αλφη “barley porrige”;

Chuv ǎvǎs “asp” – Old Prus abse, Lat apse, Eng asp, Germ Espe – all “asp”;

Chuv kiken “hellebore” (Veratrum Gen), a toxic plant – Lat cicuta “hemlok” (Conium L), a toxic plant;

Chuv küken, Kr-Tat kögem “blachtorn” ( Prunus Spinosa) – Lat cokkum “purple berry” (Phytolacca L);

Chuv lăbăr “thistle” ( Carduus Gen) – Lat laurus “laurel” (Laurus Gen);

Chuv măkăn’ “poppy” (Papaver Gen) – Gr μηκον, Germ Mohn “poppy” (old Germanic form *mæhon).

Chuv mǎyan “pigweed, orach” (Amarantus Gen) – Ger Mai, Maien “bunch of flowers”, Ukr mayaty “to decorate with nosegays” during Old folk feast. The pigweed is alike bunch of flowers;

Chuv pěçen “sow-thistle” (Sonchus Gen) – Germ Vesen “siftings, bran”.

Chuv pări “spelt, kind of wheat” (Tricutum spelta) – Gr πυροσ “wheat”, Lit purai wheat, Old Eng furs, fyrez “weat”. M. Räsinän supposed Indoeuropean words are loanwords from Chuvashian.

Chuv pultăran, Tur baldiran, Kaz baltyrgan “angelica” (Angelica) – Germ Baldrian, Lett baldrini “valerian” (Valeriana officinalis). Perheps, Latin name of the plant Valeriana, that is alike angelica (cf. left valeriana, right angelica), is was changed accordingly to Lat valere “be strong” and the first form of the name was other. German word is more like to Turish baldiran “ and other Türkic names of this plant (in Balkar, Tatarian and Altaian). Therefore, it is not clear, which of the languages, German or Latin, adopted the Türkic word at first.



Chuv urtaš “juniper” – Lat *artus, restored by W. Meyer-Lübke from Sp arto “hawthorn” (Crataegus Gen);

Chuv věrene “maple” (Acer Gen) – Lat farnus “ash tree” (Fraxinus Gen);

Chuv věltěren “nettle” (Urtica Gen) – Lat * falterna (Aristolochia). Latin word was restored by W. Meyer-Lübke from Fr fauterne and Old Prov fauterna with the remark “Woher?” (where from?). One can suppose from Old Chuvashian (Bulgarian).

Chuv xyr “pine tree” – Old Eng furho, Old North Germ fura, Germ Fohre “pine tree”. Chuvashian has no sound f;

Chuv yălkha “ooze”- Lat. alga “alga, seaweed”;

Chuv yělme “elm” (Ulmus Gen) – Lat ǔlmus “elm”, Ger Ulme, Eng elm;


The Ukrainian language has many names of plantes borrowed from Turkic languages relatively recent historical times. Such loan-words are common mainly in the steppe zone of Ukraine or in its eastern part. However probative force for us have Chuvash – Western Ukrainian matches. Dozen of them can be found in dictionary of Yuriy Kobiv (KOBIV Yu. 2004, 2004).


Chuv kăškar "horse-sorrel" – Ukr. kashkara "Rhododendron Carpathian". Since absolute dissimilarity of the plants sound coincidence of these words may be accidental.

Chuv kepçe used as a common name for plants with hollow stems – Ukr kipets' is spread mainly in the steppe zone of Ukraine to cereal plants Koeleria.

Chuv sarana is used as a common name edible bulbous plants, Tat sarana “lily” – a word sarana was recorded by V. Volian on Western Ukraine in the 19th century for one of the types of lilies (Lilium martagon) (VOLIAN V., 1854), therefore it can not be borrowed from the Russian language, as it is noted in the Etymological Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language (A. MELNYCHUK O.S., 2006, 181). N. Annenkov noted that this type of lily eaten uncooked and baked (A. ANNENKOVÚ Í., 1878). He also pointed out that this word was recorded in Vyatka province. Obviously, this is a loan-word from the Chuvash or Tatar.

Chuv çepçe "tufted vetch" (Vicia cracca), perennial with climbing stems and blue-violet flowers – óêð. chepchyk "thymus" (Thymus serpilium), perennial shrub with purple flowers. Similar names in Rus chabrets, óêð. chebretsh', chebryk, Bulg chuber, Cz čabr, Pol cząbr and other widespread in many Slavic languages ​​for different kinds of thyme. M. Vasmer thought PSl form is impossible to reconstruct. Obviously, they all have Bulgarish origin with Slavic suffixes.

Chuv tyrsa "stipa", in other Turkic languages ​​is not recorded – Rus tyrsa "a species of stipa" M. Vasmer believed the word "dark". Ukr tyrza, tyrsa are widespread for names of different kinds of Stipa and (Carex).

Chuv xăvăš "Honeysuckle", similar words in other Turkic languages ​​not found – Ukr õàáç, khaboz, khabuz, khabzyna are used for different species of elder and various weeds at all. Possibility of borrowing from the Bulgarian is uncertain.

Chuv xăyax "sedge", the word has the form qyjaq in many other Turkic languages – Ukr kyiaky, kyiax, kyiashyna, kyiashnyk, kiyashky used for the names of Carlina, calamus (Acorus), cattail (Typha) and even corn in the Carpathians and partly in the steppe Ukraine. Sedge is similar in leaf shapes to water or bog plants calamus and cattails and also grows in humid, swampy areas.

Chuv čakan "reed-mace"; Tat čakan "the same" considered to be borrowed from Chuvash – the word is common in Russia in the Lower Volga and Don River for the name of marsh plant Typha (DAL V., 1956). Names chakan and chakon are recorded in Sloboda Ukraine. Fasmer considers this word borrowed from the Chuvash. In Western Ukraine, while this name is not revealed.

Chuv čečeê, çeçke "flower", similar words are present in many Turkic languages – Ukr chichka "flower" is particularly prevalent in the Carpathians. It is difficult to establish from what Turkic language happened borrowing.