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West Old Turkic: Turkic Loanwords in Hungarian.

West Old Turkic: Turkic Loanwords in Hungarian. 2 vols. Turkologica, vol. 84. By ANDRAS RONA-Tas and ARPAD BERTAI. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2001. Pp. x + 1494. 148 [euro].

This monumental two-volume work presents the state of the art of knowledge concerning the West Old Turkic (WOT) component of the Hungarian (H) language. It is important for the reconstruction of WOT and Proto-Turkic, for unraveling Turkic and Hungarian etymology, for the history of the Hungarian language, and for the general historical and cultural information that these loanwords bring to light. It is an ambitious work, highly technical, thoroughly researched, and should remain the standard reference for a long time. Until now, much literature in this field has been in Hungarian. Now scholars who read English have access to all of this rich material.

A few statistics illustrate the depth of detail. The bibliography occupies eighty-eight pages, and I estimate it contains more than 2,200 entries. Documents in Old and Middle Turkic are attested in eighteen different scripts. Thirty-two different modern Turkic languages are consulted and probably at least that many other languages, ancient and modern. The list of abbreviations takes up twenty-one pages.

Andras Rdna-Tas and Arpad Berta collaborated on this project for about a decade before Berta's untimely death in 2008. Berta was responsible for the entries C-G and L-Z in the "lexicon" while Rdna-Tas was responsible for the remaining entries and for the analyses and discussions before and after the lexicon.

The volumes examine in total "561 Hungarian words with a possible or hitherto proposed Turkic origin" (p. 1489). 70 of those were judged improbable and are discussed outside the lexicon (sections 8.1 and 8.2). 72 words are grouped under the entry for a related word, leaving 419 detailed etymological studies in the Lexicon. 35 of those Hungarian words of Turkic origin turn out to stem from Cumanian. The remaining 384 entries represent "the largest number of West Old Turkic words ever reconstructed" (p. 1489).

After the Proto-Turkic language period, Turkic divided into two main branches, Eastern and Western. Today, almost all Turkic languages descend from East Old Turkic (EOT). Similarly, most of the documentation on Old and Middle Turkic relates to the Eastern branch. Of WOT, the only modern descendant is Chuvash. Other information on this branch of the Turkic family is rather limited. There are some words in sources relating to the WOT-speaking Bulgarians (before they were Slavicized), there are some short inscriptions from the Volga Bulgarians, and there is the WOT component in the Hungarian language. Consequently, study of the latter is of great importance for the understanding of WOT, and for the reconstruction of Proto-Turkic. It is a curious fact that we should study a Central European language (Hungarian) to learn about a language from the Altai (presumed homeland of the Turks).

There is Turkic material in Hungarian that is not from WOT. Besides the loans stemming from the Ottoman occupation, there are loans from the Cumans and the Pechenegs. These are all East Turkic forms. The authors take great pains to identify the origin of these items in order to have a clearer picture of West Old Turkic.

Chapter one is a seventeen-page "brief" review of previous research on Turkic elements in Hungarian and on the historical lexicology of Turkic. Chapter two is a twenty-page summary of the complex historical context of Central Eurasia within which the Hungarian language evolved. Rdna-Tas carefully analyzes the sources (Greek, Arabic, Persian, Latin, Chinese, etc.) without, at this point, relying on linguistic evidence to set the historical framework. This section summarizes part of his major monograph on the subject, Hungarians and Europe in the Middle Ages (Budapest: Central European Univ. Press, 1999), which he clearly prepared as a prequel or companion volume to the work under review.

Chapter three is nine pages describing the structure of an entry in Chapter four, the lexicon. Actually, the entries might be better called articles. The 419 entries take up 955 pages. The average entry is more than two pages long.

The first part of an entry, the "head," is a summary of the etymology. It contains the oldest attestations of the Hungarian word, usually geographic or personal names, and then the most important data from the dialects. Then follows a derivation from a reconstructed West Old Turkic form. For instance, the first word in the lexicon, acs 'carpenter', is derived "ac < *ayaci [left arrow] WOT *ayacci." ac is the phonemic form of acs, it is derived (<) from a reconstructed older Hungarian form *ayaci which was borrowed ([left arrow]) from reconstructed West Old Turkic *ayacci. There follows the East Old Turkic form, either attested or reconstructed, and if reconstructed then a Middle or New Turkic form. For acs there is "EOT igacci 'carpenter', T agacci id. < agac 'tree' {with suff +cI}." In this case there is an attested igacci in East Old Turkic, with an alternate Turkic agacci derived from the well-attested agac 'tree' with the agent suffix +ci/ci.

The next part of an entry is the Turkic data divided into Old, Middle, and New. The New Turkic is further subdivided into Chuvash, Northwest, Southwest, Khalaj, Southeast, Northeast, and Yakut. The data is extensive, presenting all known relevant forms. In the case of acs I count seventy different sources. An enormous amount of work lies behind this thorough collection of data. Here the Mongolian data are also mentioned if the forms are relevant, or have been thought to be relevant by other scholars.

Next follows an analysis of the Turkic etymology. In this case much of the discussion has to do with the relationship between Turkic igac and agac, which "remains unclear, yet they clearly belong together." The authors discuss and explain other interesting features in the Turkic data set. Then there is the discussion of the Hungarian etymology giving a short overview of previous scholarship and more detailed argumentation for the derivations in the head. The origin of the word acs is not controversial. It has been considered to be a Turkic loan since the work of Vambery 1882. The post-vocalic / in some

Old Hungarian forms listed in the head, like the geographic name "1233 GN Alch [alc]," has to do with a hypercorrection found with long vowels that is well established in the phonological history of Hungarian.

The final feature of an entry is the bibliography including works cited in the entry with other important contributions. The result of this painstaking, detailed, and analytically balanced effort provides state-of-the-art data for the etymology of Hungarian, for Hungarian and Turkic historical phonology, and for the reconstrucion of WOT.

After the lexicon comes a series of chapters with the heading "Conclusions" which contain more than 150 pages of detailed analyses. Chapter five is "A Historical Phonology of Hungarian." Rona-Tas begins with the reconstruction of Proto-Ugric, using information from Proto-Finno-Ugric, Proto-Ob-Ugric (Vogul/Manysi, Ostyak/Hanti), and Hungarian. He carefully establishes the consonant inventory, giving twenty pages of data, then describing the phonological rules defining the development of these consonants into Early Ancient Hungarian. He is also careful to note where the conclusions are certain and where they are not. He then does a similarly detailed and balanced analysis of the development of the vowels (twenty-nine pages). This chapter lays necessary groundwork for understanding the structure of the Hungarian language at the time when it encountered WOT.

Chapter six is called "West Old Turkic and Hungarian." Here we find the conclusions which are the central focus of this enormous labor. In 6.1.1 he outlines the method used to reconstruct "the phonological system of the West Old Turkic group of languages" (p. 1071). In this task he uses information from East Old Turkic, Volga Bulgarian, Chuvash, and from the WOT loanwords in Hungarian. He also uses data from the phonological history of Iranian and Slavic where relevant. He defines Early Ancient Hungarian as the period before contact with the Turks and defines Late Ancient Hungarian as the period of intensive contact, sixth-tenth centuries. Old Hungarian lasted until the end of the Arpad dynasty (1301 AD) and Middle Hungarian lasted until the middle of the sixteenth century.

In 6.2-7 Rona-Tas examines the status of the reconstructed WOT segments by position in the word: initial, intervocalic, preconsonantal, postconsonantal, and final. A brief look at the analysis of the first segment, /p/, may illustrate the method. (For clarity, I have added data from the lexicon and from elsewhere in the volumes, and translated all glosses into English.)

There was likely no initial /p/ in WOT just as in EOT. There is no initial /p/ in Volga Bulgarian in genuine Turkic words. Chuvash changed initial /b/ to /p/ late. Rdna-Tas describes the change of the Chuvash segment as "more precisely to an unvoiced medial /B/" (1072). [This phonetic description is puzzling to me. Perhaps it would be simpler to describe it as unaspirated.] Proto-Ugric initial /p/ became /<p/ in Early Ancient Hungarian. Finally he mentions that Alanian initial /f/ was retained in Hungarian in "*pati-da- > *fida- [right arrow] EAH [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] > *fizet- 'to pay' " [no asterisk needed on fizet-].

WOT intervocalic /p/ was preserved in Hungarian, e.g., kapu 'gate' (WOT *kapuy | EOT kapig 'gate, door'), seper 'to sweep' (WOT *sipir- | EOT sipir- 'to sweep'). In later Turkic words from Cumanian the OT /p/ appears in Hungarian as /b/, e.g., esabak 'a fish, leuciscus souffia agassizii' (Cum *cabak | *EOT capak 'a small freshwater fish, the bream'), kobak 'gourd, calabash' (Cum *kabak | EOT kapak 'gourd, pumpkin'). There are no certain examples in Volga Bulgarian. Chuvash preserved WOT /p/ in intervocalic position, e.g., sapar, sappar 'broom' < WOT *sipir. Proto-Ugric intervocalic /p/ > EAH /w/ > later /v/, and long /pp/ > /p/.

WOT Ipl before consonants was preserved, e.g., gyapju 'wool' (WOT *Japayu | EOT yapagu 'a thick mass of wool, etc.'), gyeplo 'rein' (WOT *jipliy | EOT yip 'cord, string, MT yiplik 'cord'), kaptany (dial kapkany, kapkdna) 'trap, snare' (WOT *kapkan | EOT *kapkan, MT kapkan 'trap'). Volga Bulgarian has no examples. Chuvash preserved preconsonantal /p/, e.g., sepre 'yeast' < WOT *cuprek. Proto-Ugric preconsonantal /p/ "disappeared through EAT /[phi]/ > /w/ in H: PUgr *kupla > EAH *xowla > H holyag 'bladder'" (p. 1073).

WOT /p/ is preserved after consonants as in arpa 'barley' (WOT *arpa | EOT arpa 'barley'), gyarapodik 'to increase, grow stronger' (WOT *jarpa- | EOT *yarpa- 'to be firm, solid', yarpad- to become stronger, grow'). Volga Bulgarian has no examples. Chuvash preserved postconsonantal /p/ as in urpa 'barley'. Proto-Ugric /p/ in postconsonantal position became H /v/ through EAH /w/ as in Proto-Ugric *korpe < EAH *xurwa > *xirwa- > H hervad- 'to fade, wither' (p. 1297).

WOT final /p/ is preserved in Hungarian in kep 'picture, shape, form' (WOT *kap | EOT kep, keb 'mold, model'). Volga Bulgarian preserved final /p/ as in the name Alip; cf. Chuvash ulap 'giant'. Chuvash preserved final /p/ as in tup- 'find'. Proto-Ugric "originally had no /p/ in final position. H words with final /p/ go back to /pp/ > /p/ +reduced vowel" (p. 1073).

There are sections on the thorny topics of lambdacism (6.2.8) and rhotacism (6.2.9), reviewing previous scholarship. It is useful to have here the latest views of Rona-Tas in English on these subjects. 6.3.1 deals with the development of the WOT vowels into Hungarian. 6.5 discusses the reflexes of WOT derivational suffixes in Hungarian. 6.6 outlines the ways Turkic verb bases are integrated into the Hungarian system.

7.1 uses linguistic evidence to determine the geographic region in which Hungarian borrowed words from WOT, which he determines to be the Kuban-Don region. 7.2 is a complex and detailed examination of the times of borrowings. He establishes the relative chronologies of sound changes in Hungarian and Turkic and can thereby determine relative times of borrowings. 7.3 examines the cultural background reflected by the loanwords. He concludes that "the Hungarians already had a horse breeding economy when they met the Turks" (p. 1160). In contrast, the high percentage of WOT loanwords from animal husbandry, agriculture, viticulture, and horticulture "points to a type of nomad husbandry where agriculture was frequent at the winter resorts" (p. 1161). There are also many WOT words from fishing, falconry, and religious, social, and political life.

7.4 is an effort to determine which peoples spoke WOT. He examines the evidence for the still unknown language of the Avars. There is also scanty material relating to the language of the Danube Bulgars but it was clearly WOT. The language of the Khazars has been debated for a long time. Rona-Tas examines the evidence and the arguments of other scholars and concludes, referring to Bulgarian and Khazar, that "There was no essential difference between the two languages" (p. 1176), and that Hungarian borrowed the Turkic loanwords from "Oguric, which was spoken by both the Khazars and the Bulgars" (p. 1176).

In 8.1 Rdna-Tas deals with seventy etymologies that he has found to be unacceptable or at least improbable. For example, he rejects a connection between Hungarian dul 'to ravage, devastate, pillage' and EOT yuli- 'to plunder, pillage' because it "poses phonological and semantic difficulties" (p. 1184).

There follow three basic indexes with no analysis: 8.2 is an index of East Old Turkic Words, 8.3 an index of West Old Turkic Words, and 8.4 an index of Mongolic words. Later we also find two further basic indexes: 8.11 is an index of Slavic and 8.12 an index of Hungarian words.

8.5 is an annotated list of 494 Hungarian words with etymological derivations from Proto-Ugric or Proto-Finno-Ugric. 8.6 is essentially the reverse of 8.5, being lists of Proto-Finno-Ugric and Proto-Ugric words in Hungarian. He traces 344 Hungarian words back to Proto-Finno-Ugric and a further 121 to Proto-Ugric. These lists are not exhaustive but are intended to help in the reconstruction of early Hungarian language history.

8.7 is an annotated list of Hungarian words with problematic Finno-Ugric and Ugric etymologies. These words were excluded from the corpus on which he based the historical phonology of the Early Ancient Hungarian language. He cautions that some may later turn out to be Finno-Ugric or Ugric.

8.8 deals with semantic copies (caiques) from Turkic into Hungarian. Examples are del meaning both 'south' and 'noon', and ebihal 'tadpole' from eb 'dog' and hal 'fish', both Proto-Finno-Ugric; cf. Chuvash yet pulli and Uzbek itbaliq, both 'tadpole' but literally 'dog-fish'.

8.9 is a list of etymological studies on the Alanian and other Middle Iranian loanwords in Hungarian. This list also is not exhaustive but is meant to aid in the reconstruction of the history of the early Hungarian language. Seventy such loans have been suggested so far, but Rona-Tas considers only thirty-three acceptable enough for inclusion as data here (p. 1490). Many Hungarian words from Alanian also have close modern forms in Ossetic, an Alanian descendant, e.g., H asszony 'lady' ~ Os aexsijnae; H egesz 'whole' Os cegas 'whole'; H gazdag 'rich' Os qaezdig, gaezdug 'rich'; H hid 'bridge' ~ Os xid 'bridge'; H mu, acc muvet 'work' ~ Os mi, mivae 'work'; H sajt 'cheese' ~ Os cyxt, cigd 'cheese'. The Alanian component in Hungarian suggests strong cultural influence at one point in the history of Hungarian and indicates a significant period of contact.

8.10 is an annotated index of the thirty-five reconstructed Cumanian words from the lexicon. It is important to identify the source of this Turkic vocabulary so that it is not misused in the reconstruction of WOT.

It may be a bit impertinent to criticize a work of such breadth and depth but there are some features that I find inconvenient. In places the English is a little clumsy but always intelligible. In the listing of the Turkic data for each entry the authors keep the gloss in the language of the edition of the source. This means that to be able to read everything one must know German, French, Russian, Polish, and Turkish. With short glosses of uncommon words it was sometimes not obvious to me which language is being used. The Russian has been converted to Roman script, which to me is unnecessary and creates an obstacle to reading. Someone who reads Russian will read Cyrillic. Also, having the short glosses to uncommon words in Cyrillic would immediately tell the reader that the gloss is Russian.

Words transmitted from a foreign language are culled copies rather than loans. While this may be logical, the illogical "loanword" is a well-established part of linguistic terminology, with a specialized meaning. It is unlikely that the terminology will change and one day the use of "copying" instead of "borrowing" a word will look quaint. The same holds for "semantic copy" used in place of "calque."

The work is so large and has so many interconnected or interdependent sections that a few places where the ideas do not line up are to be expected. For example, in describing the absence of initial /p/ in WOT he suggests, "On the question of a possible AT or PT /p/ (> /h/) see below under WOT /h/" (p. 1072). But in that section there is no discussion but rather the comment "I shall not deal here with the origin of the initial /hi, which may be in various words of different origin" (p. 1100). Somewhat similar is the implication in the discussion of WOT final /p/ that its existence is demonstrated by Hungarian szep (p. 1073) 'beautiful'. In the lexicon under szep the position is the same: "The word *sip is a typical WOT word, preserved only in Chuv and copied fr WOT by Os and H" (p. 789). But in the list of problematic Finno-Ugric and Ugric etymologies, under szep < Proto-Finno-Ugric *sappa he states that neither the Proto-Finno-Ugric nor the Turkic comparison is without difficulty. He suggests, "Perhaps it is a quasi-onomatopoeic word" (p. 1322).

In these studies, Middle Iranian loans play a useful role: "For control purposes, I used Middle Iranian loanwords, in most cases Alan ones along with a relatively small number of Khwaresmian ones" (p. 1490). But, unless I have missed it, nowhere in this volume is there a discussion of the period(s) of borrowing, which will have important implication on the historical phonology. There is no doubt that Rona-Tas has thought about this a great deal and the absence of mention must just be an oversight. The etymologies in his list of Middle Iranian loans mention either E(arly)A(ncient)H, which is before Turkic contact, or AH, which is during it. From his 1999 work we learn that after defeat by the Mongols a section of the Alans joined the Cumans and "around 1245 came to Hungary with the second migration of the Cumans, and were settled by Bela IV in what became the Yas province (Jaszag)" (1999: 202). It would be useful to show why we have Cuman loans from this period, but not Alan ones.

This two-volume master work will be the authority on the reconstruction of WOT and the history of Hungarian for many years to come.


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Author:Hitch, Doug
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2015
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