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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Turkic-Slavic Language Connections.


For the first time Czech researcher J.Peisker (Peisker J.1905) has paid attention to language connections between Slavs and Turkis and has created the original theory of Slavic-Turkic relation which has been stated in the work “Die ältesten Beziehungen der Slawen zu Turkotataren und Germanen”. His sights have been criticized, in particular by L.Niederle as was considered, that Slavic-Turkic contacts could not exist, if the question was about any “Turanian approachment”. Now we know that contacts of the western Slavs with Turkic Scythians (Bulgars) have real basis and explanation. Certainly, Turkic language influences on Slavs cover very wide period and it is difficult to separate old and latest loan-words which are widely present both in South-Slavic, and in East-Slavic languages. But the presence of Turkic words in West-Slavic languages is very indicative. To tell the truth, Turkisms could penetrate into the Polish language through Ukrainian, and in Slovak and Czech – through Hungarian. Such words are a lot, however, there are in etymological Machek’s dictionary examples of Turkisms which ways of infiltration to Czech and Slovak languages remain enigmatical (А. Machek V., 1957).

As nowaday Chuvashes are descendants of ancient Bulgars, particular importance have Chuvashian-West-Slavic and Chuvashian-Ukrainian language correspondences, especially if they do not have parallels in other Turkic languages. Looking for such correspondeces, one should not forget the hypothetical Turkic sound rz (Stetsyuk Valentyn, 2000). Primary sibiliant sonoric rz/rs almost did not keep in Turkic languages though it exists in Czech (ř) till now and existed in Polish (it was kept in a spelling rz). It has transformed to z in Turkic languages in most cases but Chuvashian has r on such places. The list of found Turkic-Slavic lexical cirrespondences is adduced below.

Note: Bolg – modern-day Bulgarian Slavic language

Bulg – Bulgarian language as one of Turkic languages.

Ukr babay “an old man”. This word is mainly used in sense “an fearful old man” to frighten small children – Chuv papay “old man”. According Herodotus, main Scythian deity was Papai. Ukrainians didn’t worshipped the alien god but feared him lending him fearful features.

Ukr bačyty “to see”, Pol baczyć, Slk bačit' – Turk bak- (Chuv păx) “to look”.

Ukr (West Dial), batiar, Pol batiar, baciarz “a young brave man of cocky behaviour, a man of street” – Chuv mat’ar “frivolous, giddi man”. The word can originate from common Türkic batyr „hero“.

Rus braga, Ukr braha “home-made beer” – Max Vasmer supposed the origin of the word in Chuvach pěraga “home-made, watery beer”. Obviously, he bore in mind Chuv păraka "grains, draff".

Ukr budz „fresh sheep's cheese” – Chuv puç „head”.

Rus bugor, Ukr buhor „hill, hump” – Chuv măkăr „hump, cone, bump”.

Ukr čakan, čakan „reed-mace (Typha) ” – Chuv čakan „reed-mace (Typha) ”.

Ukr, Bulg., Rus., Blr. etc. čas – Chuv. čas "swiftly, quickly, at once, often, early".

Ukr čepurnyj „beautiful, smartened up”, Slvk., Cz. čiperný “alive, mobile”, Serb. čeperan “brisk, mobile”, "swagger" – Chuv. čiper "beautiful", Tat. čibär "beautiful”.

Rus. čert, Ukr čort, Pol. czart, Cz., Slvk. čert "devil" – xĕrt-surt „home deuce”.

Rus., Bulg., Serb. četa, Ukr. čota "detachment", Rom. ceata "crowd" – Chuv. kĕtü "herd, flock" from Trc. kütä "to pasture".

Ukr čumak “Ukrainian travelling salt-marchant”. This word is not enough old in Ukrainian language, but has no sure etymology. There is a good match for it in Qyrgyz language – čomču “Qazakh travelling salt-marchant”. Maybe, such word exists in other Turkic languages too.

Ukr čy? – interrogative word – Chuv šy? – interrogative word.

West Slavic *dǔbati (Ukr. dbaty, Pol dbać, Czech dbati) “to hold in order, good condition” – Chuv. tăp "accurate".

Rus gat’, Ukr hat, Czech hat, Serb gat “dam, dike” – Chuv kat “dam, dike”.

Сл. gǫba, Pol. gęba, Rus. guba, Ukr. huba, Cz. houba “lip, mushroom” – Chuv. kămpa “mushroom”.

Bulg. gъsla, Rus. i>gusli, Ukr. husl', Cz. housle, Slk. husle "an ancient stringed musical instrument" – Chuv. kĕsle 1.“an ancient stringed musical instrument”, 2. "shackle for sheep".

Proto-Sl. *jačmy “barley” (Ukr jačmin’, Rus jačmen’, Czech ječmen, Pol jęczmień etc) – Chuv. yasmăx "lentil”.

Sl. *jucha “fish-soup” (Ukr juxa, juška, Serb juha, Rus uxa etc) – Chuv jaška “soup”.

Pol harcerz “scout” – Chuv xarsăr "courageous" originated from Turkic *qors “bold, malicious”. Polish word kept old Turkic consonant rz. There are similar words in Turkic languages having meaning “robber”or “thief”. Ukr xartsyz, xartsyz’aka “robber” was borrowed from one of them later as Polish word was.

Pol, Rus kaganiec, Ukr kahanec’, Slvk., Cz. kahan “a primitive oil-lamp with handle” – M. Vasmer considered this word as “dark” but compared it with Chuv. kăкan "handle".

Ukr kapar “poor” – Chuv. kapar "avid for eating".

Rus, Ukr karman “pocket” – Chuv. kărman "basket".

Czech klobouk, Old Slvk. klobúk, koblúk, Rus. kolpak, Ukr kovpak “a kap with long top” – Türk qalpaq “a kap”. Türkic origin of the word is common accepted (Chuv kalpak “a kap”).

Sl *kǔniga “a book” (Rus, Pol kniga, Ukr knyha, Cz kniha etc)– M. Vasmer and others scholars are agree with Türkic origin of the word (Old Chuv. *koniv ← *konig).

Sl *kobyla “a mare” (Ukr, Rus, Cz, Slvk kobyla etc) Lat caballus “horse”, Pers kaval “fast horse”, Gr ιπποσ, Fin hepo, Est hobu “horse” etc – all these words have the origin from Turk jaby “horse”.

Ukr kolymaha, Rus kolymaga, Old Pol kolimaga, Old Czech kolimah etc “cart of various types” – Many scholars think this is a loan-word from Mong xalimag “Kalmuck, literally, high cart”. But the way of borrowing is ovscure. Most likely the word has Old Bulg origin (Chuv k’al “to harnish a horse”, jupaxjubax “horse”). In this case Mongolian word is borrowed from Turkic (jabaq, jaby “horse”are wide-spreaded Turkic words). Ukr kulbaka “saddle” has the same origin.

Sl. korĭcĭ Rus. korets, Ukr. korets', Pol. korzec a.o. “a dipper, scoop” – Chuv. kurka “a scoop”.

Ukr, Rus korčma, Pol karczma, Czech, Slvk krčma etc “inn, tavern” – M. Vasmer supposed this word to be “dark” but it has Old Bulgarian origin (Chuv kărčama “home-made beer”).

Rus kostra, Ukr. kostrytsia, Pol. kostra a.o. Sl. “flaxen or hempen chaff, sheave, boon” – Chuv. koštra “chaff”.

Rus kover, Czech, Slvk koberec, Pol kobierzec “carpet”, Eng cover – Max Vasmer supposed Slavic words have Old Bulg origin (Chuv *kavêr *kebir), meanig some Turkic words kiviz, kigiz “carpet”. Maybe all tese words origim from Turkic kap- “to cover”.

Rus, Ukr kovyl, Ukr kovyla, Bolg kovil “feather-grass” – Karl Menges gives three possible variants of supposed Turkic origin for kovyl (Menges K.G., 1979, 105-106). All three variants are far phonetically and semantically (compare 1. Old. Uigur. qomy “to be in movement”, 2. Alt. gomyrğaj “a plant with an empty stalk”, 3. Tur. qavla “to shed bark, leaves”). Old Bulgarian language as a source of loan can suit better, for Chuv. xămăl “a stalk, eddish” is more similar to the word kovyl according to the form and the sense. The word of this root is survived for the present in Tat qamlı too.

Rus krica “iron block covered by slag, bloom”, Ukr krytsia “steel” – Chuv xurǎç, xurçǎ (Tat. korıç, Kaz quryš etc) „steel” (erlier „sharp”).

Rus. kudr'avyi, Serb., Ukr. kudra, Cz. kudrna "curly" etc., Ukr. kucher'avyi "curly" – Chuv. kătra "curly" was borrowed in two froms kutŭra (gave kudr'a) and kutĭra (gave kuchera).

Rus kuga, Ukr kuha, kuka “reed-mace (Typha)” – Chuv kuka “reed-mace (Typha)”. The word is present in other Turkic languages.

Ukr kulbaka – see kolymaha.

Ukr kyjak, kyjax, kijax “reed-mace (Typha)” – Chuv xăjax “sedge (Carex)”. Red-mace and sedge are similar water- plants.

Sl kyta “bottle of hay, bunch” (Ukr kyta, Rus, Slvk, Pol kita a.o.) – Chuv kětě “bush”.

Ukr., Rus. lad, Pol. lad, Cz. lad "order" – Chuv. lat "use", Turkm. alat, Tur. alet "device".

Sl lava „bench, shelf” (Rus., Ukr., lava, lavka, Czech lavice, Slvk lavica a.o.) – Chuv lav “cart”.

Ukr, Rus loša “foal, colt”, Rus lošad’ “horse” – Chuv loša “horse” ( Tur, Tat a.o. alaša).

Sl *malina “raspberry” (Ukr malyna, Rus, Czech, Pol malina)– Chuv palan, Tat balan “guelder-rose”.

Old Czech ma(as “smart dandy, fop, fool” – Chuv m(naç “proud, arrogant”.

Sl *morzǔ “frost” (Rus, Ukr, moroz, Pol mróz, Czech, Slvk, Bolg, Serb mraz) – Common Turkic buř. that is burz ( Chuv păr, Tat boz, Tur buz “ice” etc).

Ukr nexaj “let, may” – Chuv ne “what” + xǎj “to dare”. See xaj.

Ukr. obid, Rus. oved, Pol. obiad "dinner" – Chuv. apat “food, forage”.

Rus., Cz. pakost', Ukr. pakist', kapost', Pol. pakośċ a.o. "dirty trick", "filth", "meannes" – Chuv. pakăç “bed, foul”.

Rus, Pol pirog, Ukr pyrih, Czech, Slvk piroh “pie, meat-pie” – There are similar words in Turkic langages (Tur börek, Chuv pürěk a.o.) but M. Vasmer rejected Turkic origin of the word grounded his opinion by the absence such word in South Slavic languages. As we know, West and East Slavs could have contacts with Old Bulgars directly.

Rus. plokhoy, укр. plokhiy – Chuv. pălukh "bad".

Sl *pĭšeno “millet meal” (Rus, Czech pšeno, Ukr pšono), Serb pšena "meliotus", Sl pĭšenica “weat” – Chuv. piçen "sow-thistle". Some species of such plants are edible and seeds of these plants could be used as food up to spreading of cultural grain crops and its borrowed from Bulgars name could be extended by Slavs on the name of millet or wheat. The meaning of Serbian word can support this idea.

Sl *proso “millet” (Ukr, Rus, Pol, Bolg, Czech, Slvk proso) – Both M. Vasmer, and V. Machek, and A. Brückner consider this word as "dark" origin, probably, even "pre-European". Maybe, it has Bulgarian origin? (Chuv. părça "peas").

Ukr pužalno “whip-handle”, Ukr puha, Rus puga, “whip” – Chuv puša „whip”.

Rus. pyrey, Ukr. pyriy "couch-grass" – Chuv pări “spelt”.

Czech sálat "to flare", Slvk. sálat’ "to radiate, flare" – V. Machek supposed the old meaning of these words "to throw”. In this case Chuv. salat "to scatter, throw about" can have connection with them.

Slvk sanka “low jaw, chin” – Chuv sanka "a frontal bone".

Rus sigat’, Blr sihac’ “to jump” – Chuv sik “to jump”.

Sl *smordǔ “stink, smell” (Rus, Czech smrad, Pol smród, Ukr smorid etc) – Chuv çěměrt “bird cherry (tree)”. It is known the flowerts of the bird tree have strong smell. Moreover Lusatian (Sorbian) languages have the word smrod which has the meaning “bird cherry (tree)”.

Ukr, Rus sorok “forty” – Cрuv xěrěx “forty” (the others Turkic languages have mainly the form qyrq for the meaning “forty”). Turkic origin of this word is not be ruled out the possibility by some scholars.

Ukr ša! “be quiet!” – Chuv ša! “stop, that’s enough!”

Ukr šuvar “sweet-rush” (Acorus calamus) – Dobrodomov supposed Old Bulgarian origin of the word (See Vasmer’s dictionary).

Ukr, Rus schuka and other Slav. similar names of fish pike Esox – Com. Turkic čöke "sterlet" (Acipenser ruthenus).

Rus, Pol tabor, Czech, Slvk tábor, Ukr tabir “camp” etc – Slavic words can be borrowed from Hungarian (Hung tábor “camp” which has its origin in Chuv tapăr “watering place”) but Chuvashian word can be borrowed in some Slavic languages directly as there is the word tabyr “herd” in Russian (M. Vasmer).

Rus telega, Ukr teliha, Bolg taliga “cart” a.o. Slavic words – The word has no sure etymology but supposed by some scholars to be of Turkic origin. Maybe it can be connected with Chuv talkăš “to go swiftly”.

Rus tolmač, Czech tlumač, Pol tłumacz a.o. Slavic words of the meaning “dragoman, translator” – Generelly accepted opinion tis is common Slavic ancient loan-word from Turkic languages.

Rus tvarog, tvorog, Czech, Slvk tvaroh, Pol twaróg a.o. Slavic words of the meaning “curds, cottage cheese” – Chuv turǎx “fermented baked milk”.

Ukr tyrsa “feather-grass” – Chuv tyrsa “feather-grass”.

Rus vataga, Ukr vataha “crowd, throng” – M. Vasmer supposed the origin of these words in Old Chuv *vătağ “family, room”. I did not found this word in modern-day Chuvashian.

Rus verenitsa "row"– Chuv. *vĕren “rope, cord”).

Ukr vyrij, irij “mythical south country where birds fly away in the autumn, warm lands” – The origin of this word has such explication. There are words ir "morning" and uj "a field, steppe" in Chuvashian. M Vasmer supposed the initial form of Ukrainian word as *vyroj. Hence, Old Bulg. *iroj could mean "morning (east or, south) steppe". When Slavs still occupied a wood zone they could see how birds fly in the autumn somewhere to the south, in the steppe, and said then, that they fly in "irij".

Sl vьrĕti, Ukr вріти, Cz vřiti, wrzeć “to boil” – Chuv vĕre “to boil”.

Ukr xaboz, xabuz “elder (Sambucus)”, “sow-thistle (Cirsium)”, chabaź “weed” – Chuv xăvăš “honeysuckle (Lonicera)”.

Ukr xaj “let, may” – Chuv xǎj “to dare”.

Sl xǔmeljĭ “hop, Humulus lupulus” (Rus xmel’, Bolg xmel, Bolg xmil’, Pol chmiel, Czech, Slvk chmel etc) – The words of this root are present in many Indo-European and Finno-Ugric languages. Scholars deem that the ways of their spreading are very complicated but they agree about their common sourse. Some linguists see it in Bulgar language (cf. Chuv xămla “hop”), others doubt in the possibility of infiltration Bulgarian word so far in Europe (Lat humulus, Old Eng hymele , N Germ humli).

Rus, Ukr xomut, Czech chomout, Slvk chomút, Pol chomąt “collar for horse” – Chuv xămăt “collar for horse”. Old Bulgarian origin of Slavic word could be sure as similar words are present in other Turkic languages, however the nasal vowel ą in Polish word has to be explained.

Sl xyža “hut” (Ukr xyža, Rus xižina, Czech chýše, Slvk chyža и т.д.) – Chuv xüše „hut, hovel”. The words of this root are present in Germanic languages (Germanic hūsa, Germ Haus, Eng house etc). This word is noted as “Herkunft unklar” (obscure origin) in Kluge’s dictionary.

Sl *zerz “iron, rust”. Most part of scholars restore Slavic word for the rust as *rǔdja according to Pol rdza, Bolg rǔžda, Rus rža, Ukr irža, Czech rez, and Slav *ruda “ore”. But there is the word zerz “rust” in Lusatian (Sorbian) languages which cannot be derived from *rǔdja. The root of this word has Turkic origin. Turkics use words jez, zez, čes (Chuv. jěs) for the name of copper or brass which derived from ancient forms jerz/zerz. Indo-Europeans have borrowed this word from Turkic at the time when the "know-how" of iron technology was unknown, and used it for the name of copper and bronze. Later this word has been transferred on the name of iron in the some Indo-European languages. Just the primary Turkic form for the name of copper is kept in Lusatian word zerz “rust”. This form was transformed in Slavic *zelz-o with the meaning “iron” (Ukr zalizo, Rus železo, Bulg, Pol żelazo, etc). On the other hand, the ancient Turkic word zerz in lightly altered form has kept in Ukr. žers-t’ “tin-plate” (similar Russian word žes-t’ has lost r).

Sl želězo “iron” (Rus želězo, Ukr zalizo, Pol żelazo etc) – See zerz.

The above list is the only raw material for a deeper analysis of phonetic and semantic correspondences between Slavic and Turkic, especially Bulgarian, words by specialists. However, my materials did not interest the Türkologists, although they are aware of the special connections between the Bulgar and Slavic languages ​​and they are studied on the basis of traditional ideas about the historical development of the Türkic languages. One of the works considering this topic is the article by Anna "Bulgars and Slavs: Phonetic features in early borrowings" (DYBO ANNA. 2010). Seeing the Hungarian language as an intermediary in Slavic borrowings from Turkic, she cannot give explanations of the Bulgar-Slavic correspondences, which have no analogs in Hungarian. On the other hand, being an adherent of the Altai ancestral home of the Turks, she gives far-fetched explanations for the phonetic phenomena accompanying borrowings and the ways of their penetration into the Slavic languages. There is no need to doubt the Türkic origin of the Slavic words cited by Anna Dybo, but many Türkic-Slavic matches require a different explanation. When the Türkologists agree with the long-term presence of the Bulgars on the territory of Western Ukraine, they will be able to more skillfully consider the Bulgar roots in the Slavic languages.

We may give just "a mathematical" proof of contact between the Bulgars and Slavs, namely the ancestors of the Czechs and Slovaks, and this contact could occur only near Urheimat of the latter. It was found the phonetic and semantic likeness of lonely among Turkic languages Chuv. salat "to scatter, throw about" and Slvk. sálat’ "to radiate, flare", Cz. sálat "to flare". V. Machek submitted these words with ancient meaning házeti, metati "to throw". We shall try to count up probability of such coincidences for this concrete case. For this purpose, we need to know the certain laws of word-building in Chuvash. 2100 Chuvash words have been taken for the analysis of such laws. Approximately 210 words of them begin with the letter s, i.e. the probability of that any Chuvash word will begin with the letter s is equaled 210 : 2100 = 1/10. Having analyzed all words with initial s, we can find probability of that the second letter of a word with initial s will be the letter a. This probability is equaled 1/6. In such a way we find the probability of that the third letter will be l, and the fourth again a. Accordingly these probabilities are equaled 1/12 and 1/8. Having analysed all words of a type kalax, salax, palax, valax where the second a is any vowel, and х is any consonant, it is possible to find the probability of that the like word will end by t. This probability is equaled 1/10. Having multiplied all these values of separate probabilities, we can find out the approximate value of the probability of arising the word salat in Chuvash: 1/10x1/6x1/12x1/8x1/10 = 1/57600. Now it is necessary to count up the probability that the word salat will have meaning close to sence "to throw". All 2100 Chuvash words present in our list can be shared into groups of words which can correspond to one certain general semantic units. Such division is subjective as the borders between semantic fields are always very dim in the certain measure. However, probably, nobody will object to that division of all 2100 words into 100 conditional semantic units is sufficient that the semantic field of each of these units in extremely small degree could overlay other semantic field. Then the probability of that the Chuvash word salat can make sense, close to value "to throw, scatter, quickly to move, take off outside” etc. will be equaled, at least no more as 1/100. Accordingly, the probability that a Chuvash word like to Slvk. sálat ’ and Cz. sálat‘ was arisen, is equaled 1/5760000. If we have some such "coincidences", then the probability of their casual occurrence in different languages can be determined by unity with several tens zeroes after a point in the denominator. Practically it means that the one of words of unrelated languages having good phonetic and semantic likeness and five and more phonemes was borrowed by any way. Though this is fairly if words have no onomatopoetic character what does probable occurrence of similar words in different languages independently. For example, the widespread Slavic word duda, dudka “a pipe” is like Trc. düdük "a pipe". F. Miklošič and S. Berneker asserted this Slavic word was borrowed from Turkic but M. Vasmer and A. Brückner thought that the consonance of these words was "mere chance" (VASMER M. 1964-1974). Clearly, that doubts about borrowing of the Slavic word from Turkic are substantiated, therefore Slav. duda cannot be included in set of doubtless loan-words.


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