LINGUIST List 2.590

Sun 29 Sep 1991

Disc: Turkic

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Ellen Kaisse, Re: 2.563 Queries
  2. , 2.576 Turkic
  3. Ron Kuzar, Turkic Languages

Message 1: Re: 2.563 Queries

Date: Fri, 27 Sep 91 16:34:06 -0700
From: Ellen Kaisse <>
Subject: Re: 2.563 Queries
About the mutual intelligibility of various Turkic languages -- here
are a few entirely anecdotal observations.
I sat in on a couple of Kazakh classes this summer. Having taken about
a semester's worth of Turkish, I could tell right off the bat that
this was Turkic, sure, and I could make decent guesses about alot
of the inflectionl suffixes and some of the lexicon. But it sure
didn't seem mutually intelligible with Turkish to ME. There were a
few Turks in the class, and they were soon speaking a hell of alot
better than the rest of us -- I got the feeling that once you had
internalized various sound correspondences and memorized the right
non-corresponding lexical items, you would do okay. I suspect an
Italian-Spanish sort of resemblance. It's probably more a political
matter than a linguistic one to decide whether these are vastly
differenr dialects, or two different languages (as usual...). The
funny thing was, in addition to a Chinese Kazakh and a Soviet Kazakh,
the Asian Lgs dept. had hired a Uyghur speaker as the TA!
I too have heard Turks say they can understand Azeri. I don't doubt it.
On the other hand, I had one Turkish friend who claimed he felt
like he could ALMOST understand Mongolian. Un-huh.
-ellen kaisse
dept. of linguistics
university of washington
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Message 2: 2.576 Turkic

Date: Sat, 28 Sep 91 21:12:16 EDT
From: <Alexis_Manaster_RamerMTS.CC.WAYNE.EDU>
Subject: 2.576 Turkic
Two small contributions to the discussion about the Turkic languages
of the USSR. One is that there are certainly some very divergent
Turkic languages spoken there such as Yakut or Tuvin which no one
would consider anything but separate languages. Also, while Kirghiz
and Kazakh are very close, as are Turkmen, Azeri, and the Turkish
of Turkey (Ataturkish, as I like to call it), and as are Uzbek
and Uigur (just to cite some better known languages), each of
the three pairs belongs to a fairly different group of Turkic
dialects. Yakut, Tuvin, and their ilk belong to a different
group yet. The second point is that one can easily find people
who will claim to understand some language which they have been
told their own language is related to, even when they do not
(many Poles thus would claim to understand Russian and Czech,
for example). My Tubatulabal informant thought she could
understand Hopi because some linguist once told her about the
(distant) relationship between the two languages. And so on.
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Message 3: Turkic Languages

Date: Sun, 29 Sep 1991 19:04 IST
Subject: Turkic Languages
With regard to the question about Turkic languages, their affinity and the
effect of soviet policies:
My friend Marcel Erdal, Turkologist, tells me that Azerbaijan and Turkish
Turkish are very close languages which split apart only ca. 300 years ago.
However, there are other languages, such as Chuvash or Iakut which are very
different from Turkish. A thousand years ago there existed already very
different Turkic languages, while even today there are very similar ones.
This has nothing to do with what happenede in the Soviet Union. The Soviet
established administrative units such as republics or autonomous areas
for which they needed justification. These administrative units suddenly
acquired a common history, culture and national sentiment. Where the Turkic
ethnic groups prevailed, some standard *written* language was created. This has
 nothing to do with the similarity and diversity of Turkic languages and
dialects. All in all, the Turkic languages show a similar mapping as the
Germanic languages and dialects.
A good collection of papers is Fundamenta Philologiae Turcicae, thats ;-)
editor's name my friend forgot.
Ron Kuzar
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