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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Subject: Germanic 'Jörð' vs. Turkic 'yer/yurt'
Question: Hello everyone. I am preparing a presentation of compared mythology
and I reached an interesting point. The word Jörð in Old Norse is
etymologically related to ''earth'' as you know. In Turkic, there is
two words: ''yer'', which directly means ''earth'' and ''yurt'' (t/d
change is observed in Old Turkic), which means ''homeland''. These
two words are also used in today's Turkish. I see a phonological
and semantical similarity here. I need to know if these words are
originally related or not. Thank you!

Reply: My fellow panelists have already covered this one. As they say, it seems really implausible that this resemblance could be more than a simple coincidence. When you think about it, a language has so many words, even counting only simple root words, that a few coincidences between any given pair of languages are to be expected. The example I usually quote is that the Chinese word for 'dawn' is "dàn": the Chinese word sounds just like 'dawn' (said with an American accent, at least), but the histories of the two words have nothing to do with one another.


Geoffrey Sampson
Reply From: Geoffrey Richard Sampson      click here to access email
Date: 19-Apr-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Germanic 'Jörð' vs. Turkic 'yer/yurt'    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (18-Apr-2013)
  2. Re: Germanic 'Jörð' vs. Turkic 'yer/yurt'    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (18-Apr-2013)

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