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[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/Developing our vocabulary. Rare Mari words.


Ivan Ivanov's dictionary titled "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" (Developing our vocabulary. Rare Mari words) is the result of forty years of conscious and devoted scientific research and the major achievement of the author's career as a lexicographer and language planning specialist. The dictionary's publication--which sadly turned out to be posthumous--was preceded by several studies in the fields of lexicology and Mari lexicography, some published individually, others as chapters in other Ivanov's monographs (e.g. Ivanov, Moisio 1998; Ivanov 2003 : 164-191; 2005; 2009 : 90-158).

The material for dictionaries of rare Mari words mainly comes from the Mari neologisms of the 1920s and 1930s, from cultural conferences, writers and poets of the time as well as from writers later on, and from the new neology of the 1990s. However, a neologism is not necessarily a rare word. The dictionary aims to present only those which are correct and necessary Mari words, but for some reason are not commonly used. Therefore, it is important to emphasise that Ivanov's dictionary of 2015 is neither a scientific dictionary of Mari neology, nor a complete inventory of Mari neologisms, but a language developing handbook written for a broad audience. A short example to illustrate the relation between a rare Mari word and a neologism: Based on the vernacular words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'birch' > [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'birch forest', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'fir' > [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'fir forest', a derivational suffix -er was abstracted in the 1920s, and an army of words were created with this new suffix, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'museum', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'theatre stage', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'dictionary', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'academy', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'bacterium', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'archive'. Out of these, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] were widely known and used until 1937. The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'bacterium', for example, was used in Falkner's textbook on healthcare for schoolchildren (the textbook was translated intoMari from Russian). Nowadays the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'dictionary' is widespread again, replacing the Russian loanword [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which is why [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is not included in the dictionary of rare words. The words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'museum' and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'theatre stage' are included, since these are not widespread, despite being important terms. However, although neither [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'academy' nor [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'archive' are widespread, Ivanov still excluded them from his work. This speaks of his taking his massive amount of research material, in which he attempted to discover basically each and every neologism that ever existed in literary Mari, and with a sound mind, carefully narrowing it down. Those concepts for which wellestablished intellectual words--often of Latin and/or Greek origin--were in use already, were left out of the dictionary. It is probably unnecessary to refer to concepts such as 'academy' and 'archive' by Mari neologisms, as it is questionable whether the majority of language users would find it necessary and whether they would start using these purist synonyms.

Throughout his life Ivanov was striving for a unified Mari literary standard, for a competitive Mari language that is lexically rich and avails of modern scientific terminology, at least in the fields of social sciences and humanities (see Iva nov 2005). In many of his studies he proved that besides the Meadow, Hill, North-Western and Bashkirian Mari dialects it is possible and reasonable, both from the linguistic and language political viewpoints, to create a single Mari standard that would be easily spoken and understood by everyone (Ivanov 2008; 2009 : 179-189). With the dictionary of rarely used Mari words, he made his attempt to accomplish the same Mari dream that Upomarij had phrased in the first issue of "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" in 1906: "to create a common literary language".

The introduction (pp. 3-8) tells about the circumstances of creating the dictionary, along with its goals. This is followed by a list of abbreviations (pp. 9-12), which contains the sources as well as editorial abbreviations and special stylistic labels.

The dictionary's body (pp. 13-283) contains nearly 6000 headwords in alphabetical order. The Mari-Russian part gives the Russian equivalents of the words, but the words are presented in context only in Mari. Such an entry structure is completely sufficient from the user's point of view, as Ivanov created the dictionary for the Mari speakers, that is, for all those who would, with their own use of the language, contribute to a terminologically developed, beautiful Mari language, not for foreigners learning Mari at the beginner level. At the end of the entries, if possible, he points out the first record of the term, mentioning either the journal or the name of the writer or folklore collector. In addition, he assignes style labels to certain articles: from the fields of anatomy to those of jurisprudence; 31 labels are included in the dictionary's list of abbreviations. A minor deficiency of the work is that such labels were seldom used.

Ivanov's dictionary takes into account each and every source of importance for vocabulary enrichment. Out of these, three groups should definitely be pointed out.

1. Among the sources of rare words, the most important ones, considering their abundance, are the neologisms of the 1920s and 1930s. Although many of them were used at that time, from 1937 onwards most of them simply had to be replaced with Russian loanwords. Some of them, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'answer', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'tuber', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'daily wage', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'salary' stayed in use despite of the political pressure of Moscow, whilst others like [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'dictionary', poaelamut 'poem' were rediscovered later, partly just in Gorbatshow's era. Most of them are tried to be revived in Ivan Ivanov's works, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'human force', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'physical work', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'horsepower', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'abode'. Finally, a small fraction of these words have already been replaced by widespread Mari terms and therefore their revitalization would be pointless, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'canteen'.

Some Mari words of the 1920s and 1930s, which were forgotten either for political or some other reasons, can often only be found in difficultly accessible newspapers or journals of the time, which Ivan Ivanov systematically and passionately investigated since the 1970s. 2. The second considerable part of neologisms, or at least of their well-known first records, come from the outstanding figures of Mari literature and journalism, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'founder' (Miklaj Kazakov), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'homeland' (Vitalij Petuchov). These are also natural compounds, not artificial ones, as their authors revived some archaic and/or dialectal elements and added them to the literary language. The main literary source of the dictionary are V. Kolumb's works, which were called by I. Ivanov "the golden source of Mari vocabulary" (Ivanov 2015 : 3-4). Hundreds of words come from Kolumb; here is a few examples: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'to enmesh', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'placenta', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'living, alive', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'to exist', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'bandit', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'to become embittered, desperate' > [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'embittered, desperate' > [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'despair, bitterness'. The verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'to save', connected with the word family of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'thrifty' originating in Valentin Kolumb's work, occurs in the vernacular language as well. However, in Ivanov's dictionary there are several important neologisms of everyday life using the revived root [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'thrift' > 'economy' either in compounds such as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'savings bank', or in derivated adjectival forms such as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'economical, thrifty'. 3. The third considerable source of neologisms are Mari dialects, as oral traditions and folklore in general are an enormous treasure trove of vocabulary. Ivan Ivanov is well aware of that, too: In the introduction to his dictionary he is happy to mention how much Odon Beke's nine-volume dictionary on Mari dialects (1997-2001) has helped him (Ivanov 2015 : 4). From Beke's dialect materials come several words, e.g. the verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'to straighten out' from the homonymous adjective 'straight, direct' > adjectival compound [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'sincere, open'; noun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'shame' from the verbal stem [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'to be ashamed'; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'East, eastern' < 'sunrise'; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'nematode worm'; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'to burn', especially of the sun; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'dirty' > 'vile'; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'proud'; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'help(er) of kart'; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'linden flower'; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which has also been put to use in the sense of 'economy and thrift' (the latter may be related to the vernacular word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'multitude' and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'even number', which is another word from Beke's dictionary.

Finally, loan translations may occur (in smaller quantities), and these often belong to the everyday basic vocabulary, mostly designating essential objects or concepts, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'railway' (< 'iron' + 'way') based on the Russian adjectival phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

The articles of the dictionary do not explain how the headwords have been formed. But according to Ivan Ivanov's previous publications (Ivanov 2003 : 164-190; 2009 : 90-158) most Mari neologisms from the 1920s have been created in three ways: (a) creating compounds, which generally consist of two words and can be divided into subordinate compounds, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'founder', (actually 'mother' + 'head'); attributive compounds, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'railway' > [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'railway employee', > [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'railway-'; and coordinate compounds, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'dairy products' (actually 'milk' + 'curd'), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'passenger' (actually coming+going), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'sale and purchase'; (b) using derivational suffixes, e.g. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'old' + suffix -er > [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'museum'; (c) expanding the meanings of the given words: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] '(life-)work' > [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'culture', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'cultured, educated', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'educated, cultured, intelligent', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'to educate, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'root' > 'stem', [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'word' > 'sentence', etc.

In addition, several artificial lexemes were created in the 1920s and 1930s, but not recommended either by Valerian VasilIjev (Upomarij) or by Ivanov. Thus Ivanov did not publish them in his dictionary. According to Ivanov, an idiomatic and rich way of Mari expression cannot be achieved without first understanding Mari mentality, the spirit of Mari language and the natural ways of word formation. Therefore it is indispensable to learn and use the Mari words that are as yet considered rare (see Ivanov 2015 : 6-8).

All words suggested by Ivanov's dictionary are phonologically perfect, and most of them have antecedents either in the thousands years old sociocultural context of the Mari language, or in the neology of the early 20th century. So, the rare Mari words of Ivanov's dictionary are good Mari words from every viewpoint. Naturally, the Mari community will not start using them all just for that, since both the sociocultural situation and language policy conditions of the Mari language are quite problematic. For the new words' acceptance, a vital language and motivated speakers are required, and as we know, the road is long to a complete acceptance of neologisms by any community, even in optimal circumstances. Ivanov, however, with his dictionary--that crowns and sadly closes his life's work--has created a possibility for the Mari language to be lexically modern and to develop during the 21st century as well. The rest mainly depends on the Mari language users and the possibilities of Mari schooling.


Peter Pomozi

Eotvos Lorand University

Department of Finno-Ugrian Studies



Beke O. 1997-2001, Mari nyelvjarasi szotar I--IX, Szombathely.

Ivanov, I., Moisio, A. 1998, Marin kielen sanaston kehitys 1900-luvulla, Turku (Turun yliopiston ja yleisen kielitieteen laitoksen julkaisuja 57).


--2005, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Szombathely (Vocabularia Terminologiae 1).

--2008, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]--Navigare humanum est... Pusztay Janos hatvanadik szuletesnapjara, Budapest, 273-282.



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Author:Pomozi, Peter
Publication:Linguistica Uralica
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2017
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