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The Urheimat of the Nostratic Languages

The Relationship of the Altaic and Turkic languages. Origin and development.


Language Substratum


            In presenting the material we have already given some examples of the substrate influences the most revealing of which may be the presence of a large number of common vocabulary in the Chuvash and German. This issue in a separate chapter Chuvash-Germanic Language Connections.

            Many languages have substrat words,the are present also in etymological tables used for the construction of relation models. However, they may not meet the phonetic laws considered related languages but, nevertheless, may undertake the inverse relationship between the number of common words in related languages and the distance between the areas of their formation. This is because the substrate words could be taken from related languages of previous population having completely different phonology, so reflexion of substrate words in the languages of the alien population could not meet laws formed in them. However, because the configuration of areas remains the same, the perceived substrate fits into the same law of inverse relationship.

            The language influence of substratum can have the syntactic, phonetic and lexical features. As V.I.Abaev asserted, " the substrate influences can reveal themselves (especially in phonetics and in syntax) long time after ethnic substrate environment has disappeared or was dissolved long ago and its language has ceased existing on this territory” (ABAYEV V.I. 1965: 48). One of the main phonetic features of the south Eastern Europe may be recognized immemorial existence here fricative h. This phoneme is present at the German, Turkic and Iranian languages. Replacing occlusive g to fricative γ and h was regularly showed also in the Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Upper-Lusatian, Belarus languages, in a southern dialect of Russian, in the western dialects of Slovene and partly in the Serbo-Croatian dialects. For the first time seriously the question on the reasons and time of these changes was put by Russian scientist N.Trubetskoj in the work “Zur Entwicklung der Gutturale in den slawischen Sprachen” (Sofija, 1933). He has supported the Proto-Slaic roots of the first phase of transition g to γ and saw the reason of it in phonologic system of the Proto-Slavic language. However there are rather impressive evidences of that explosive g was kept in the Czech and Slovak languages probable up to XII century (KOMÁREK MIROSLAV, 1983: 37-47). The basic argument confirming this opinion is that fact, that only in XII century the letter h starts to appear on a place g in the Czech annals, and the borrowed toponymic names from Slovak in Hungarian have sometimes the phoneme g. Nevertheless, V.I.Abaev found possible to explain transition g in γ (h), which is characteristic for Armenian and Phrygian, by influence of the Iranian languages (ABAEV V.I., 1965: 44-51). Probably the tendency to the specified transition had latent character in the Czech and Slovak languages or chroniclers kept up Slavic spelling rather punctually, and the Slovak toponymics has been earlier borrowed from German or Celtic and kept primary g during first time. We may do such assumptions as, having looked at the full circle of those languages (and among them Czech and Slovak), which are characterized by the specified transition, one can see that Urheimats of their speakers concentrate nearby the basin of the right inflows of the Pripyat’. This observation directed us on an idea that the powerful source of this phonologic phenomenon was just here. The Scythian (Proto-Bulgarish) language could so influence on languages of the adjacent ethnoi, in fact occlusive g does not exist in the Chuvash language till now. The fricative х regularly acts on place of g in ancient Turkic words of this language.

            Other phonetic substratum can be a hypothetical sound rz which has been considered above. The phenomenon of rhotacism, h.e. replacement of the phoneme z (s) by phoneme r, known in the Latin language from IV century AD, took also place in some West-German languages (EGOROV V.G., 1971: 25). Obviously, there was a sound rz in these languages, as well as in Turkic also was, which has passed in usual r later. The Czech language is keeping it till present time. Some phonetic facts say also about the existence of the sound rz in the Ukrainian language: Ukr. žerst’- Rus. žest’ “tin-plate”. This word is loaned from the Turkic languages where it has the sense “copper, a brass” and exists in the forms jes, zes, zis, etc. The Ukrainian phoneme r remains not clear, it is explained usually as arisen under the influence of the word šerst’ “wool”, h.e. unpersuasive (VASMER MAX, 1964-1974, MELINYCHUK O.S., The editor, 1982- 2004. The borrowing of the Ukrainian word from one of the Turkic languages can give the explanations of the presence of the sound rz in Ukrainian, if the borrowing has taken place at the time when the sound rz still existed in any of the Turkic languages. That is, the Turkic proto-form can be restored as *zerz. Then, by the existence of the parallel form *zelz the not clear etymology of Old Slavic *zelzo "iron" can be explained. The Ukrainian word stands phonetically closely to Turkic *zelz, but it is not clear, from which Turkic language it was borrowed. Nothing, except for çěrě "ring" (from zerze), is not found in the Chuvash language, but this word by the meaning stands rather far. There is one more very interesting example confirming the existence of the phoneme rz. The Latin cursarius is wide-spread in many languages in the form of corsar “a pirate’. Such parallels as Chuv xarsăr "courageous", Qarach, Balk ğursuz "malicious", Tur hırsız "a thief" and other Turkic words can be considered as matches to this Latin word. Ukr xarcyz, xarcyzáka “a robber” is loaned from some the Turkic language, but there is still Polish harcerz "a scout", which reflects the spelling of that phoneme rz. Usually, the etymology of the word corsar is explained to be descended from Latin curare "to run", but, undoubtedly, Turkic words stand much near by meaning. The Latin, Polish and Ukrainian words have been loaned from Turkic at various times, and Latin word was got in many European languages later.

            The fact, that the important phonetic features of the two branches of the Slavdom have no precise frontiers says about their deep substratum character too. The conservative phonetic phenomena closely become attached to the certain territory, but because of extremely long existence have dim frontiers. Proceeding from this, the transition gv, kv > cv, zv can have those roots as well as division "centum-satem", primarily caused by influence of the Finnish languages. The Finnish substratum very influenced on Russian southern dialect at moving its speakers up to banks of the Volga. This influence explains a-, c-speaking and some grammatical phenomena in the spoken Russian language (BIRNBAUM HENRIK, 1990: 8).

            Many lexical correspondences in the languages of different language groups, which have been revealed during the carried researches, also can be explained by the influences of substratum. We shall consider the most convincing of them according to ethno-forming areas which were populated by the primary Indo-European tribes lived at first, farther by the German and Iranian ones, then by the Balts, and the Slavs as the last. The Baltic tribes on these areas have been assimilated by Slavs, therefore we have no idea about their language, but the substratum vocabulary has been transferred partly by them to Slavs who have stratified on them. We shall begin the consideration with the western areas.

            1. The most western area between the Vistula, the Narev, the Yaselda, and the Upper Pripyat on both banks of the Western Bug consist actually of two areas, frontier between which is the Western Bug. Obviously, according to the accepted concept, languages which were formed on this area had always two primary dialects. We have authentic data not about all languages of this area, but this assumption is confirmed by the language of Lausitian Serbs, which is actually shared on two separate languages – Upper- and Low-Lusitian. The Dutch language was formed on this area before and Proto-Celtic earlier did. At processing „The Historian-Etymological Dictionary of Upper- and Low- Lausitian languages” (SCHUSTER-SCHEWC H., 1976), some words, which have no matches in the other Slavic languages, have been found. Two of them have conformity in French language: Laus bakut "snipe (bird)" – Fr bekot "snipe", Laus. barliś "to chat" – Fr parler "to speak". Having no explanation, Schuster-Schewc supposed with the great doubt the borowing of the Lausitian words from French. Most likely both words go back to the Proto-Celtic language. A.Dauzat deducted Fr bekot from Lat beccus (DAUZAT Albert, 1930), and in the Etymological Dictionary of the Latin Language (WALDE A., 1965)last word is noted as "Gal (Gallic)". Hence, Laus bakut can be a word of Celtic substratum. When this area was occupied by Germen after Celtics, the Dutch language started to be formed here. As the Celtic word has got in the Lausitian language, it has to be present as well in Dutch. Any match for Luz bakut was not found in the Dutch language, but there is a word bek "beak" there, which is as if borrowed from French bek, which is also considered to be of the Celtic origin (VEEN van, P.A.F.; SIJS van der, NIKOLINE, 1997). As it is known, the snipe has the long beak which takes its name. The connection of Fr parler with Celtic is not founr, as A. Dauzat considered this word to be the derivative from Lat parabolare which as if is borrowed from Greek. But Laus barliś can be put in correspondence with Dutch pralen "to brag" and brallen "to shout". The similar word is also present in the German language. F. Kluge noted it as of the obscure origin, most likely as onomatopoeic. It is specified in the etymological dictionary of the Dutch language (Ibid) that the Dutch word is borrowed from German: Low Ger pralen “to speak much”. Thus, one can suppose that the root *parl/pral "to speak" was in local use in the next areas still from the Celtic times. The Lausitian languages have more other words, for which one can suppose their possible Old Dutch origin. For example, Dutch vechtjas "soldier" can be compared with Laus witoša "soldier" having no sure etymology. Dutch stuur “ the rudder, a pole ” can be correspond to Laus zdor “a long pole which connects back and forward wheels of cart”, and a Dutch kolf "stick" is like to Laus kałpina “sprout of hop ” (also Slovin kolpina "stick"). Other German languages have matches to the Dutch words, but Dutch words are the most close phonetically to Lausiatian words

            2. The area between the Upper Western Bug and the Sluch (the right tributary of the Pripyat) was occupied by Illirians at first, then by the ancestors of modern Germans (we shall name them farther conditionally "Teutons"), and later by the Czechs. The Illirian language is unknown, and the Czech language has many German loan-words from different times, therefore the revelation of the lexical substratum is complicated and can be the aim of special researches.

            3. It is also difficult to discover the substrate vocabulary in the area of the Proto-Germanic tribes between the rivers Neman, the Yaselda, the Pripyat, and the Sluch (the left tributary of the Pripyat). Later this area was occupied by the Goths, and after them the country was settled by the Poles. We have not enough Gothic vocabulary for the discovering of the substratum phenomena, and the available words have almost always parallels in German.

            4. The Slavic Urheimat on the banks of the river Viliya has been populated with Slavs almost all time, therefore the concept of the substratum is absent in this area.

            5. The phenomena of the Baltic substratum should be shown in the area of Belorussians, but it is too difficult to discover it because of large amounts of the loanwords in the Belorussian language from Lithuanian which cannot be confidently divided by layers.

            6. The area between the Berezina and the Dnepr was occupied by Tocharians, later the Eastern Balt settled here, and after them, the speaker of the Northern Russian dialect. Because of the scarce of the Tocharian vocabulary, both the long neighbourhood of Balts and Slavs, the research of substratum phenomena here is the very much complicated target.

            7. The Greek language started to form in the area between the Low Berezina, the Low Pripyat and the Sluch (the left tributary of the Pripyat). The Old North-Germanic language was arisen as the second one here, and then the primary dialect of the Ukrainian language was separated from the common Old Slavic language. At last this country was settled by the Belorussians, therefore the Greek substratum can be found in the Belorussian language too. The ancient substrate word of this area is *krene “source, well”, though the majority of experts deny connection between Ukr krynyc’a, Blr krynica and Gr κρηνη – all “a source”. However G.Frisk (FRISK H., 1970)puts the Greek word in connection with Icl hrønn which is isolated among alle German languages. Obviously the Northern Germans have adopted this word from the remnants Proto-Greek population of this area, and it has been got from them to the ancestors of Ukrainians which have added to the word the Slavic suffix –yc’a. Then the word in the form krynyc’a, has been borrowed from the Ukrainians by the Belorussians, Russian, and Poles. The Ukrainian word kovbyk “gudgeon” (Cobio gobio), Blr kovbel “gudgeon” can be corresponded to Greek κωβιοσ “gudgeon”. At first, this Greek substratum got into the North Germanic which tracks are Icl kobbi “young seal” (a sea animal), Swd kobbe “a seal” and then it was adopted by Slavs. Other Greek-Ukrainian-North-Germanic correspondences, which can be considered as substrate words:

            Gr βλεμμα ”eye, look” – Icl blim-skakka “to be squint-eyed” (Icl skakka “curve”) – Ukr blymaty “to sea, blink”.

            Gr.σκαπερδα “the kind of game” – Icl skoppara-kringla “whipping top, whirligig” (Icl. kringla “ring”) – Ukr skopyrta “some game, during it a stock is thrown to be struck on the earth with both ends in turn”.

            Gr γλεπω “I see” – Sw glippa, Dan glippe “to see, blink”, Ukr hlypaty “to look”.

            There are in Ukrainian some other words which have coincidences in Greek, but similar words are not found in the North-Germanic languages. One of them is Ukr harnyi “beautiful”, which can be compared with Grχαρισ “beauty”.

            8. The area between the rivers Teterev, Sluch (the right tributary of the Pripyat), the Pripyat was occupied in turn by ancient Italics, Anglo-Saxes, and Slovaks. The substrate words:

            Lat merus “only” – Eng merely – Slvk mirn( “only”.

            Lat pellare “to beat, drive” – Eng pelt – Slvk pelat’ “to drive”.

            Lat faecare “to dirty” – Eng feculence – Slvk fakat’ “to dirty”.

            Lat valles valley” – Eng valley – Slvk valov “manger, trough”.

            Lat sulcus “furrow” – Old Eng sulh “furrow”.

            Lat collis “hill”- Eng hyll.

            Lat currare “to run” – Slvk kurit’ “to drive”.

            9. Some substrate words of Proto-Armenian population of the area between the Dnepr, the Desna, and the Sula were adopted in the Pushtu and tha Slovenian languages. France Bezlaj (BEZLAJ FRANCE, 1976: 16)means as possible to connect Slvn bek (the old form bъkъ) “furnace” with Arm boc "fire" and bosor "red", proving that this word cannot be Slavic and cannot be loaned from vulgar Latin (Lat focus "stove" is related to the Armenian word) for the phonologic reasons though it is not clear for him “in what way has come this word to the Southern Slavs”. The Armenian bosor can be connected to Afg busar “smouldering ashes” which stays isolated among the Iranian languages. Thus, the way of loan of a Slovenian word was from Proto-Armenian substratum through Proto-Pushtu in language of the latest Slavic population of this area. Bezlaj connects also Slvn bed, the Serb. bêd "air" with Persian bаd "air", "wind". The word of this root in sense "wind" is present in many Iranian languages including Afghani therefore it is not excluded, that Slavic words can be considered as the Iranian substratum. The word lopta/lapta (Slvn, Serb lopta, Rus. lapta etc.) is present in many Slavic languages, haaving sense “ball”, “a game with a ball ”, or seldom „a stick for beating a ball” Vasmer deduced this word from lopata "shovel", and this explanation is repeated in the Etymological dictionary of the Ukrainian language (VASMER MAX, 1964-1974, MELINYCHUK O.S., The editor, 1982-2004). However two reasons let us doubt of such etymology. At first the sense „a stick for beating a ball” can be found only in Russian and Belarussian languages, this word matters "ball", "sphere", "lump" in other Slavic languages. At second, in the Macedonian form of the word is lopka. The word lap/lop/lob in value "ball", "cheek", “something convex” is dispersed nn the Iranian languages. These facts give us the reason to conjecture that the word lopta had the primary form lop-ka (-ka – is the Slavic suffix) and that it is the Iranian substratum in Russian and South Slavic languages. Some South Slavic words can be considered as Iranian substratum (TRUBACHEV O.N., 1965).

            The area between the Desna and the Iput’ has been settled in turn by ancient Phrigians, Sogdians (novaday Yagnobians) and ancestor of Serbs and Croatians. The river Snov distinctly divides this area on two halves, therefore the division of the primary Slavic tribe into Serbs and Croatians could take place on the ancient home-land. However, the substrate phenomena are difficult to be found as we almost do not have the lexical material of Phrigian language, and the available Yagnobian is very scarce. Nevertheless, the substrate influences of the Proto-Sogdian language on Serbo-Croatian can be confirmed by such parallels: Serb budija "turkey" – Yagn búdina "quail", Serb. buva "fly" – Yagn buvva "flea", the Serb. kulaš “ dun horse” – Yagn kulo "dun horse", Serb. kuћа "a hut" – Yagn kuč "family", Serb. čuka "sheep" – Yagn šok "a ram".

            There are also some Serbo-Croatian words which are coincidences in the other Iranian languages: Serb badža "tot, cabby lad" – common Ir bača "boy", Serb. kurija “ room, a rent ” – Yagn kroî "to cost", Kurd kerin "to buy". Separately, by way of a hypothesis, one can about possible connection between isolated among the Iranian languages Yagn gajk "daughter" with Slavic words of type gajka “screw-nut”. Vasmer represents it with a mark “the difficult word”. It has more wide sense in the Serbian language, than in East Slavic languages, namely – 1) "a nut"; 2) “a ring an aim framework ”; 3) “a mobile ring on bridle”, therefore the word can be the most ancient in this language and occur from the Iranian substratum, if to take into account analogy: Germ Mutter 1) "the mother"; 2) "a nut".

            The Urheimat of ancient Indians was in the basin of the Sozh, between the Upper Dnepr and the Iput’, later here Proto-Ossetian language began to be formed and more late the Southeren dialect of the Russian language did. V.I.Abaev results many Indian-Ossetic and Ossetic-Russian parallels in his dictionary (ABAEV V.I., 1958-1989). Adding his data by other matches, the substrate phenomena appear rather expressively: Ind vraja "herd" – Osset ärwaz “herd of deers ”; Ind bala “military force” – Osset bal “military group”; Ind bаla "child" – Osset bälon "pigeon" – Lit. balańdis "gigeon" – Rus balovat’ "to indulge"; Ind dаrika "girl" – Osset dalys “annual ram ” – Let dиls "son" – рус. davis’ "coeval"; Osset ärvgä "weasel" – Rus ovrak, “hamster ”; Osset cybyr "short" – Rus čupyrka "dumpling, pudge"; Ind pakşa "side", "wing" – Osset fax "side", "wing" – Let paksis “ a corner of a house ” – Rus pakša “the left hand”; Ind manаy "to like" – Osset imonaw "tender, gentle" – Rus manit’ “to entice, tempt”; Osset käläx “slippery way” – Rus kalaga “bad way”; Osset kyr “a crossbeam of cart” – Rus kur "shank, rod"; Osset käbyla, qybyl "welp" – Rus kobel “male dog”; Ind aryati “to laud” – Rus orat’ “to shiut”; Ind anga “a member of the body ” – Osset ong "a member of the body "; Osset qilun "child" – Rus dial. kilun “young pig ”; Ind čhag "goat" – Osset säg " goat "; Ind s'ila "stone" – Osset sela “a flat round stone ”; Ind stubh "to make noise" – Osset stuf “noise, a sound ”; Ind stиka “wisp of hair ” – Osset styg “wisp, curls; Ind tomara “a spear, a dart ” – Osset tomar "to direct, aim" – Rus dial. tomar "arrow"; Ind tuvara "tart" – Osset twag "sour"; Ind vаsi “a kind of an axe ” – Osset wäs "axe"; Osset xorz "good" – Rus xorošo “well”.

            The extreme east area of the whole Indo-European territory on the watershed of the tributaries of the Dnepr and the Volga was the area of forming Thracian language. Then Proto-Kurds were separated from the Iranian community and then Balts have settled here, and after them those Slavs, who became ancestors of nowa-days Bulgarians, lived here. We know very little about Thracian language, and possible lexical coincidences between it and Bulgarian can be related already to the Balkan substratum. Thus, searching for only Bulgarian-Kurdish lexical parallels can give us some result. Bulg. bagazáj "matchmaker" is marked as "not clear" in the etymological dictionary of the Bulgarian language (GEORGIEV V.L., GЪLЪBOV Iv.,1971). This word can be explained on the Kurdish basis: Kurd. bava "father" and zava "son-in-law", having zayin "to give birth" and zoy "son" in Afghani. The origin of the obscure name of some plant bozlan which can be explained with the help of Kurd boz "grey" and lam "leaf". Bulgarian xubav "good" can be corresponded with Kurd. xob "good" though this word is the common Iranian.

            Many words of the Iranian origin, dispersed in the Slavic languages, cannot be told with confidence, in what way and during what time they have got to them.





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