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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: There are basically three possibilities when form-meaning similarities are found between two languages. They may be similar because they are cognate, that is, descended from a common parent language. They may represent borrowing from one language to the other, or they may exhibit a chance resemblance. Turkish is a relatively late arrival in the Indo-European area, so the sort of early borrowings that show up, for example, between Indo-European and Uralic languages where there was early contact over an extended period and therefore also borrowing back and forth. The example you propose the sort of extended contact that we know did not occur between the two families. Germanic and Turkic belong to two separate, unrelated language families, Indo-European and Altaic. Although there is a Eurasiatic proposal, it's not one that has much support. So the words could by definition not be cognate. That leaves the possibility of chance resemblance, which seems to be the case here. Such chance resemblances are actually not at all uncommon. What distinguishes chance resemblance from cognates is that with cognates the correspondences between sounds will be found consistently across the vocabularies of the two languages.
Reply From: Herbert Frederic Stahlke      click here to access email
Date: 18-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'    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (19-Apr-2013)

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