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The Urheimat of the Nostratic Languages

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


            Getting to the question of ethnicity of the Sauromatians and Sarmatians, we have in mind a well-known fact in the scientific community that the ancient historians did not care about the correctness of the use of ethnic names or understand them in a very peculiar way:

            Die Hunnen nannte man oft Skythen; Awaren und Bulgaren dafür Hunnenö Goten und nach ihnen sogar gelegentlich Slawen wurden als Geten bezeichnet; und das legendäre Gog und Magog der Bibel wurden noch auf hochmittelalterlichen Landkarten eingetragen (POHL WALTER, 2002: 4).

            Even the Ruses at the time of Prince Svyatoslav were called Scythians, in particular, Leo the Deacon did (LEO the DEAKON, 1988). Consequently, it should be cautious about the evidence of ancient historians when it comes to the identification of individual nations on the outskirts of the civilized world. In general, prevailing view among scholars was that the Sauromatians of Herodotus and the Sarmatians of later historians are of the same ethnic group; at least, that they were genetically related. The reasons for the alleged identity the Sauromatians and Sarmatians are rather not the same area of settlement and similar nomadic walks of peoples described by historians than similar ethnonyms. Reliable interpretation of the names of people would clear ethnic identity, but the etymology of the given by the Greeks names Σαυρωμαται and Σαρμαται for these two peoples living at different times of the northern Black Sea region, is still dark. It also remains unclear whether the name "Sarmatians" is a simplification of the formerly used "Sauromatians" or the words have entirely different roots. Obviously, both words are complex and just its the second part of them – mat can not be explained.
            In spite of visible simplicity of the word, satisfactory interpretation was hitherto not found in researched languages. Contrariwise, the first partial word assumes the most different interpretation, especially as other alike ethnonyms exist: Savires (Suwares), Severianes (Sever'), Seberes, Serbians. One can add to them also words meaning "a neighbour, friend", originated from Gmc *gabūr "dweller", "host". (Rus siabior, Ukr siaber, Belor siabr and many other). The ethnonym can have Iranian or Turkic origin. Just the name Sauromatians could be explicated by Iranian words meaning "a rider" (Pers sävar, Kurd suwar, Shugn sawor etc). At this rate, the second partial word must mean "people", i. e. "people of riders" and such name for the people could be given by neighbours, themselves the riders not being. Minimum three words could be got for explanation out of Turkic languages – 1. the word meaning "blow" (Tur sovurmak, Uzb sowormoq, Tat suyru, Chuv săvăr and other); 2. the word meaning "a marmot" (Chuv săvăr); 3. the word meaning "a croup of horse, hide of horse" (Kaz, Tat savyr, Karach saury etc). Scott Littleton and Linda Malcor interpret Σαυρωμαται as “Lizard People” according Gr σαυρωσ “a lizard” (LITTLETON C. SCOTT & MALCOR LINDA A., 1999: 13). While considering the whole word Sarmat, one could pay attention on Hung szarmazik "to origin", Let sarmots "covered by hoarfrost", Lit šarma "hoarfrost". As we can see, a final choice is hard to do.
            Herodotus wrote about the Sauromatian language as about spoiled Scythian. As large majority of the Scythians were the Bulgars, populating Left-side Ukraine, just they had to contact with the Sauromatians. If the Sarmatians and Sauromatians were the same people, and the Ossets are the descendants of the Alans, the Ossetic language must have enough likeness to Chuvash . But the facts of such likeness are very poor. Available scanty Ossetian-Chuvash lexical correspondences have often matches in Hungarian besides: Chuv. kavrăç "an ash" – Osset. kärz "an ash" – Hung. köris "an ash", Chuv. takana "a trough" – Osset. tägända "a trough " – Hung. teknö "a trough", Chuv. čăkăt "cheese" – Osset. cyxt "cheese " – Hung. sajt "cheese ".
            On the contrary, the Ossetic language has much more connections with the Hungarian, than with the Chuvash language. Some examples of the lexical Ossetian-Hungarian correspondences are resulted by Abayev in the etymological dictionary: Osset. arg "price" – Hung. ár "price", alku "trade"; Osset. avg "glass" – Hung. üveg "glass"; Osset. ävzist "silver" – Hung. ezüst "silver"; Osset. bud "smell" – Hung. büz "stench"; Osset. käsag "a fish" – Hung. keszeg "a bream"; Osset. marg "poison" – Hung. mereg "poison"; Osset. nymät "felt" – Hung. nemez "felt"; Osset. qád "a tree" – Hung. gaz "a forest"; Osset. sak'adax "a sleeve of the river" – Hung. szakdék "a gorge"; Osset. säfyn "to clean" – Hung. seper "to sweep"; Osset. säv "wide" – Hung. sáv "a strip", etc . Such pairs can be added too: Osset. kar "age" – Hung. kor "age", Osset. cäf "a wound" – Hung. seb "a wound ", Osset. cavd "impact" – Hung. sötni "to beat". Most likely the last group of the Iranians which stayed in Europe, namely the Proto-Ossets had contacts to the Magyars closer than to the Scythians at some time.
            One may suppose that the ancestors of the Ossets migrating from the Urheimat in the basin of the river Sozh to the North Caucasus did not stop near-by territory of Scythians. The accepted etymology of the name of the Don (ancient Tanais), based on Os don “water”, contradicts to this conclusion. The word meanin “water, river” is present only in Ossteic don and Av dānu “river”. This fact gives reason to conclude that the name Don was given by the ancient Ossets living a long period in Pontic steppes in time Herodotus and later. The Iranian languages have another common word darja for the name of a river. This word derives out of I.-E. der- to “to hurry, flow” (Av drāvaya-). The Ossetic word don is connected with other the Indo-European root meaning in most cases not fluid water, but the kindled fat (OGr δημωσ, Alb dhjamе, Kurd don, moisture in general (Arm tamuk), drops of water (OInd dana, danu), and in German even clay (Ton). The prevalence of the word darja puts a question, why Iranians named the Don just Don, not Darja and whether Os don derives from the name of the Don, not vice versa? An output out of this difficult situation could be prompted by the etymology of this name by means of Turkic languages.
            The ancient name of the Don (ταναισ) at Herodotus can stem from Old Turkic *tanas “calmness, quiet” (Chuv tănăç “calmness, peace of mind”, Kaz tanyš, “calmness, peace of mind”, Tat. tyn "still" etc), in fact the river Don has the usual epithet "still" among Russians till now. Conjecturing that, Os don could develop in the meaning “a river” under influence of quiet flow of the Don. At that rate one of the most solid arguments falls off in behalf on long adjacency of the Ossetic ancestors with the Scythians in the district of the Low Don, and then the Ossets can not be the descendants of the Sauromatians on two reasons. At first, the Ossetic ancestors did not populate the south Ukrainian plains at Herodotus’ time and, secondly, the Ossetic language is very distant from the language of the Scythians-Bulgars (the Kurds, which language at that time could be like Ossetic, remained on the Dnepr's right-side). If to take into consideration Herodotus’ words about the Sauromatian language as the spoiled Scythian, then it had to be some Turkic language. The European appearance of some Turkic peoples confirms the thought that their ancestors stayed on the territory of Europe always. Their settlements are to be located in the North and Fore Caucasus. There were nowhere places as here. Thus, it is quite possible that the Sauromatians are to be correlated with some Turkic people. However it is necessary to consider also another variant.
            Now we know that the ancient Bulgars, Kurds, Boudin (Mordvins), Anglo-Saxons, Balts, Hungarians, Cheremis, the ancestors of the Ossetians and one or two of the Finno-Ugric tribe had to live in the basin of the Dnieper and Don at the Scythian time. Jordan wrote the following about the tribes who inhabit a certain part of the East European Plain:

            Soon Geberich, king of the Goths, departed from human affairs and Hermanaric, noblest of the Amali, succeeded to the throne. He subdued many warlike peoples of the north and made them obey his laws, and some of our ancestors have justly compared him to Alexander the Great. Among the tribes he conquered were the Golthescytha, Thiudos, Inaunxis, Vasinabroncae, Merens, Mordens, Imniscaris, Rogas, Tadzans, Athaul, Navego, Bubegenae and Coldae (JORDANES. THE ORIGIN AND DEEDS OF THE GOTHS, translated by Charles C. Mierow: 116).

            Let us try to understand his testimony. While deciphering the names of the tribes we will take into consideration the Iranian, Turkic, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Finno-Ugric languages and languages of the peoples of the Caucasus, as Adyge (Adyghe, Cherkess, Kabardian), Chechens, Ingush, as well as the peoples of Dagestan inhabited the North Caucasus since time immemorial. Еheir settlements were not only in the mountainous parts of the country, but in the steppe foothills, ie in the basins of the rivers Kuban, Terek and Kuma, what has historical evidences. Even before the analysis one can note such matches: Merens – Finno-Ugric tribe Meria (Maris?), Mordent – Mordvins. The name Golthescytha is German (for example Got gulđ "gold"), so it may be a "Golden Scythian" or "Royal Scythians". Apparently, the word Thiudos means not the name of the tribe of Thiuds, but simply "the people" if the Goth Jordan used in the text the Gothic word þiuda "people" before reckonong tribes. On the other hand, this same root is concluded in the ethnonyms "Teutons" and "Dudlebs (Dulebs)". In addition, it can be the Slavic name of a German (and later Finnish) tribe "Chud’". Thus, the more likely it is a Germanic tribe. The translation of the word Inaunxis depends on the interpretation of the previous word. If it means "people", then this word should be read as In-Aunxis, where in – preposition "in" and Aunxis – name of the area, which may be of Baltic origin (Lit. auksas "gold"), and for secondary reference to gold should be addressed. The word Vasinabroncae is Slavic (cf. p., Ukr. vasn’ "dispute, dissension”, Cz, Slvk vášeň "passion", Slavic borniti "to defend", Rus bruniet’ "to flash by white", Serb. brnka "erysipelas," etc.).
            The Mari word imne "a horse" suits to decipher the names of Imniscaris and the combination sk was often transliterated the sound š in many languages having no such sound, especially in Latin, which used Jordan. In this case, for the second part of the word could be Mari šar "hair", ie, the name of the tribe was a "horse hair" though the motivation of the name is unclear. Is that the people of this tribe had long hair like a pony tail? The name of the people Tadzans can be deciphered by means of the Ossetian, Kabardian and Kurdish languages, although no transcript does not look quite convincing (cf. Osset tadzyn "to drip", Kabard tedzhyn "to get up, get on feet", tedzen "to apply", tedza "thrown", Kurd. tazî "naked"). Athaul was most likely a Turkic tribe (cf. Turk. at "name" ata "father", Tat atauly "nominal", Karach ata ulla "a founder"). Navego could be a Circassian tribe (cf. Kabard vague "a star", ne – verbal prefix implying motion from the speaker to the second person – the whole sort of "arrived from a stars"). The people called Bubegenae probably was a Hungarian tribe or dubbed by the Hungarians (a combination of bub égen can be translated as "top in the sky", ie, the "tall people"). Using Hungarian language the name of the tribe Coldae ccan be explained too: Hung. koldus "a poor". It is clear that the Hungarians cpuld not call themselves poor, but they could call disparagingly their closest neighbors. The name of the tribe of Rogas can be referred to an East Germanic tribe Rugii.
            In addition to these, conquered the by Goths tribes in the Northern Black Sea coast, there were other tribes. Their names Jordan gave later in connection with the Hun invasion:

            Like a whirlwind of nations they swept across the great swamp and at once fell upon the Alpidzuri, Alcildzuri, Itimari, Tuncarsi and Boisci, who bordered on that part of Scythia (Ibid: 126).

            All the names of the tribes listed here are decrypted only with the help of Turkic languages. Alpidzuri – Chuv ulăp "a giant", jura "a friend, servant, child"; Alcildzuri – Chuv alčăr "slash" çura "a baby"; Itimari – Chuv yită "a dog" (other Turk it), ămăr "chest of an animal”. Decrypting of the name Tuncarsi requires a separate explanation. We have already mentioned that some ethnonyms vave a partial word meaning "a goose" (see Παθαγωσοσ, Σατρα-Βατησ). In this case Turk. *qař (qarz) "a goose" (now qaz) suits to Turkic tun/tyn "quiet, calm". The existence in the ancient languages of the fricative trill was already considered our work more than once. The name of Boisci, maybe, has the Old Turkic boj (Turkish boy) "tribe, clan". In this case, the name of the tribe must sound like boy-iski, where the second part of the Turkic word is good eski/iski "old", ie "the old, the original race".
            We found that the ancestors of the Kurds stayed on the right bank of the Dnieper in the Scythian times. So far we have not seen their distinct traces in the names of the tribes of the Northern Black Sea coast. Jordan mentions in his work "treacherous" tribe of Rosomoni. Just they can be the ancestors of the Kurds. The name of Rosomoni is good decrypted by means of the Kurdish language: Kurd. ro "sun", saman "wealth." The last word is also available in the Chuvash (semen "wealth"), apparently they both come from the Goth. samana "together". Tribe of Rosomoni could not be Gothic, but the Chuvash language has no words with initial r, therefore the possibility that the linguistic ancestors of the Kurds were Rosomoni. Then the names of the insidious Rosomonian Sunilda who escaped from her husband and her her brothers Sarus and Ammius must also be decoded by means of the Kurdish language. The name Sunilda may hide the protoform Kurdish suhn "light", and the derivative of the Old Ir *ald "direct" (Yagn. ald "right"). The sense of the first word for the woman name is typical, and the root of the second word can be seen in the Kurd. êldar "leader". The name Sarus can be roughly explained as "-headed" (kurd. serî, in other Iranian languages sar "head"), and in the name of Ammius may hide Kurd. am "soul" and meya "wine" (or mejû "brain"). Elsewhere, Jordan mentioned a tribe of Cemandri. It is possible that this tribe was also Kurdish. We have already drawn attention to the proximity of a self-Kurdish "Kurmanji" with the name of Cimmerians. This pair can also be added by the word "cemandr".
            Thus, analysis of the names of the tribes mentioned by Jordan, suggests that the presence in the Black Sea region and in general in the southern part of the East European Plain the ancient Bulgars (the ancestors of the Chuvash), several other Turkic tribes, ancient Mordvins, Anglo-Saxons, the Balts, Circassians, the ancestors of Kurds, Slavs, Ossetians, Hungarians, Mari. Previously, we concluded that the Bulgarians were the Scythians, the Kurds were Alazonians, Anglo-Saxons were Neuroi, Budinoi were Mordovians. As you can see, the same tribes are present, but their names are changed. Melanchlainoi should have been the ancestors of the Ossetians, occupied the territory in the immediate vicinity of the Mordvinss and Hungarians what can be explained the Ossetian-Hungarian and Ossetian -Mordvin lexical convergence. A large group of German loanwords in the Ossetian language stem not from contact with the Goths in the steppes of the Black Sea, as was borrowed in earlier times, when the ancestors of the Ossetians settled the basin of the river Sozh next to the German territory. When under the pressure of the Balts ancestors of the Ossetians left their Urheimat and moved to the southeast after the Iranian tribes of Talishi, Gilaki, Baluchis, and Mazandarani, which we call by the common name of Cimmerians, they stopped at the border of the forest-steppe in the headwaters of the Seversky Donets and the Don. Here they had to coexist with Mordvins, and this neighborhood has found some reflection in the Ossetian language (for example, Osset limän «a friend» corresponds to the Mord loman’ "a man"). Obviously the Proto-Ossetians have been cut off from the majority of Iranians by Magyars, which we in this paper will refer to the ancestors of the Hungarians. The Magyars, expanding their territory, could massive shift to the right bank of the Don to the Seversky Donets, displacing the Cimmerians in the Azov and the Kuban steppes. In any case, the ancestors of Ossetians lived in close contact with the Magyars for a long time and have found refuge in the mountains of the Caucasus at historical time.
            After this analysis, we consider the question who else other than the Turks, may be associated with Sauromatians. The available data give reason to suppose that Sauromatians could be Magyars. I must say that the statement of Herodotus about the similarity of the Scythian ans Sauromatian language can not be understood on the basis of our current conception of the present Hungarian and Chuvash. At that time the relative number of common words in these languages was much greater than now, so the ancestors of the Chuvash and Hungarians could understand each other without difficulty (FEIST SIGMUNDб 1924: 11). Hence informants of Greek historian coild have an illusion of the similarity of the Sauromatian and Scythian languages. It is also possible to heed the opinion of the Khazars, which considered themselves to be related primarily to Ugric people (ARTAMONOV M.I., 1962: 114). The Urheimat of the Magyars was on the left bank of the Don, that on the Sauromatian territory or in proximity to it. Turkic element in the Hungarian language is so strong that the scientists of the 19th century. continued persistent debate about membership of the Hungarian language or to the Finno-Ugric or Turkic languages. Despite the efforts of Jamos Sajnovics and Sámuel Gyarmathi, Hungarians would have a better relationship with the Turks than with Voguls and Ostyaks (AULIS JOKIб 1973: 28). Only relatively recently supporters of Finno-Ugric origin of the Hungarian language have got the upper hand. The matter was complicated by the fact that the Turkic loanwords in the Hungarian language were divided into several layers, and the words of the ancient layers on sound reminiscent Mongolic. For example, Hung. ökör "a bull" is more like Mong üker than the common Turk öküz "a bull". Only much later it was found that the ancient Turkic loans in the Hungarian language have the Chuvash character. The conclusion of experts can be expressed by the words of Zoltán Gombocs:

            Ancient loanwords in Hungarian have such specific, characteristic only for them sound form that makes them consider Chuvash as a the source of borrowing, rather, that early separated branch from the Turkic family, which successor is the current language of the Chuvash, and which can be called Old Chuvash (GOMBOCZ ZOLTÁN, 1985-1: 26).

            Even the fact that in some cases matches to Hungarian words can be found only in the Mongolian language, does not really matter, because the vocabulary of the Old Turkic language remains insufficiently known (Ibid: 29). Zoltán Gombocs wrote the following about the scale of Turkic stock in Hungarian:

            Of 225 undoubted loanwords or allowable comparisons 90 words of the Hungarian language have Chuvash matches (Ibid: 40).

            From the time of this writing (the thirtieths of last century), presented above numbers were significantly increased by the efforts of researchers, but it is still believed that Turkisms in the Hungarian language should be separated on borrowing from Proto-Turkic and Turkic-Bulgar elements (LIGETI LAJOS. 1985: 113-114). N. Yegorov believes that there can be found in the Hungarian language hundreds Turkisms with hard Bulgar-Chuvash features (YEGOROV N.I., 1987: 24). His opinion can be confirmed also by the studies of G. Kornilov who found the Chuvash matches for more than two hundred Hungarian words only with the initial a, b, and c (KORNILOV G.E., 1973) and A. Rona-Tas who compiled a list os Old Turkic loan-words in Hungarian by number of 450 words (RONA-TAS ANDRAS. 2005: 114). However, we must bear in mind not only the general correspondence of Hungarian and Chuvash words, but also their external and internal similarities:

            The relevant words to Hungarian borz, cötkény, gyom, irö, kecske, kucsiny, szücs exist in other Turkic languages but the corresponding Hungarian derivate forms and undertones of meaning can only be detected in the Chuvash language (GOMBOCZ ZOLTÁN, 1985-1: 40).

            Turkologists know that there are in the Chuvash language on the site of the ancient – k, -g the Old Chuvash spirant γ which falls out in loanwords from Turkic to the Hungarian language: borz ← *borsuγ, kút ← *kutuγ, but it is unclear why the final -k remains the in other Turkic loanwords: árok, hurok, köldök (PALLO MARGIT K., 1985: 80). This fact can be explained in such way that the last loanwords had been borrowed at the time when the Turks were yet in Eastern Europe and the Magyars were their neighbors, and examples whith falling out the final -k come from a later time.
            Considering the facts of language matches of the Hungarian and Chuvash languages, we can conclude that there is hardly another pair of languages of different language families in the world, which would be so much like one another as these two languages. This similarity may indicate that the speakers of the Hungarian and Chuvash languages were in very close contact with each other for a long period, at least not one or two centuries. Scientists have long been looking for a time and place of such contacts, and it is believed that they would have to occur in the South Eastern Europe:

            Geobotanical data, the importance of which was first drawn the attention by István Zicsi, also force us to look for a place Bulgar-Hungarian relations not in the Middle Volga but more south. In this regard, the crucial role is played by the terms of viticulture bor "wine", szöllö "grapes", szürni "to percolate", seprö "sediment (in wine)”. Specific phonetic form of the last three words, which is characteristic only for the Chuvash language, makes undoubted fact that the Hungarians met with the vine through the Bulgars. But the northern border of the grape culture passes through the Mogilev on the Dniester – Ekatironoslav on the Dnieper – Serepta on the Volga River that is south of 49 degrees north latitude (GOMBOC ZOLTAN. 1985-2: 46-47).

            These and other facts give grounds to assume that the place of the Hungarian-Bulgar contact was the North Caucasus. Based on the fact that the ancient Turks in Eastern Europe were the Bulgars of the Khazar Khanate times, it is concluded that these contacts occurred in the 7-8th centuries Ad. However, the study of language processes of those times causes us to doubt the adequacy of this restricted period for extremely deep Chuvash-Bulgar effects on the Hungarian language. Knowing that the Turks were present in Eastern Europe always since the time of splitting the Proto-Turkic language, we can not discard the possibility of moving the time of these influences to an earlier and longer period.
            Herodotus wrote that the Sauromatians inhabited the land beyond the Tanais. If he took the Tanais the lower Don and the Seversky Donets, it can be assumed that the Magyars (alleged Sauromatians) by crossing the Don, for some time settled between the Don and the Seversky Donets, having the contact simultaneous with the Scythians, Bulgars and the ancestors of the Ossetians for a longer period what can explain separate lexical correspondences of he Hungarian language with Chuvash and Ossetian.
            These reasons, in general, are not contradicted by the discovery of archaeological sites of ancient Magyars in the Lower Kama and the Bashkir Ural, as they appeared there before the turn of the 6-7th centuries (KHALIKOV A.Kh., 1985: 28). Initially, crossing to the right bank of the Don Magyars could fall back again to their historical lands and beyond the Volga during the "Great migration of peoples." After withdrawal from the Kama and the Urals in the 9th century the Magyars returned to their historic ancestral home, where they were found by a Dominican monk Julian, who has made two trips (in 1235 and 1237) searching "Greater Hungary". It is known from the surviving descriptions of these trips that Julian found in the basin of tributaries of the middle Volga people who understood the Hungarian language and have preserved the legend about the departing of their fellows westward (SHUSHARIN V.P., Ed., 1971: 89). Obviously, we can talk about the right tributaries of the Volga the Sura and Sviyaga, otherwise in the description of travel would be an indication that the "Great Hungary" was "beyond the Volga", because the great river would have to be an important detail of the description Julian’s journey. On the other hand, Julian mentioned the town of Bunda, or Bundaz which some researchers attributed to Penza, located at Sura.
            The confirmation of the hypothesis about Magyar ethnicity of the Sauromatians could be an interesting phenomenon, to which was noted by Turkish scholar Osman Karatay. He drew attention to the similarity in the names of the Bashkir tribe yurmaty and Hungarian word gyarmati, which could correspond to a hypothetical Chuv *çarmaty (Hungarian gy often corresponds to j in most of the Turkic languages and ç in the Chuvash). Incidentally, this correspondence confirms Bulgar ethnic origin of the Scythians, from whom Herodotus heard about Sauromatians. So, on the basis of his reasoning Osman Karatay concludes that the Sarmatians and that the same thing Sauromatians were Turkic tribe (KARATAY OSMAN, 2003-2: 12-13). However, you might as well assume that Sauromatians were Hungarian tribe. However, we need to agree that Sauromatians and Sarmatians were two forms of the same ethnonym. This issue we will continue to consider in the next chapter. Here one can only add that gyarmat means "colony" in the modern Hungarian language, so Magyar archaeological sites in the Lower Kama and the Bashkir Ural should be considered as evidence of secondary Hungarian settlement

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