Old Turkic (more exactly East Old Turkic, in order to distinguish from West Old Turkic) is the earliest attested form of the Common Turkic languages, first found in Second Turkic Khaganate then in Uyghur Khaganate inscriptions. In marked contrast to Middle Turkic, the geographic extent of (East) Old Turkic is rather confined, being limited mainly to East Turkistan (Old Uyghur) and Mongolia (Orkhon Turkic).[1] In terms of the datability of extant written sources, the period of Old Turkic can be dated from slightly before 720 AD to the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. Orkhon Turkic and Old Uyghur are considered to be dialects of East Old Turkic, Orkhon Turkic being the earliest attested dialect of (East) Old Turkic. There is a difference of opinion among linguists with regard to Karakhanid Turkic (spoken in Kara-Khanid Khanate), some (among whom are Omeljan Pritsak, Sergey Malov and most importantly Marcel Erdal) classify it as another dialect of East Old Turkic, while others prefer to include Karakhanid among Middle Turkic languages;[2] nonetheless, Karakhanid is extremely close to Old Uyghur so much so that a single grammatical description will fit both of them.[3] East Old Turkic and West Old Turkic together comprise the Old Turkic proper.[4] East Old Turkic is the oldest attested member of the Siberian Turkic branch of Turkic languages, and several of its now-archaic grammatical as well as lexical features are extant in the modern Yellow Uyghur, Lop Nur Uyghur[5] and Khalaj (all of which are endangered); Khalaj, for instance, has (surprisingly) retained a considerable number of archaic Old Turkic words[6] despite forming a language island[7] within Central Iran and being heavily influenced by Persian.[8] Old Uyghur is not a direct ancestor of the Modern Standard Uyghur language[9] (also called New Uyghur[10]); the contemporaneous ancestor of Modern Uyghur was one of the Middle Turkic languages, later giving rise to Chagatai literary language (although Modern Uyghur does retain some features of Old Uyghur whereas Chagatai almost did not influence the spoken vernacular[11]).

Old Turkic
East Old Turkic
RegionEast Asia, Central Asia and parts of Eastern Europe
Era8th–13th centuries
Old Turkic script, Old Uyghur alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
otk – Old Turkish
oui – Old Uyghur
otk Old Turkish
 oui Old Uyghur

Old Turkic is attested in a number of scripts, including the Old Turkic script, the Old Uyghur alphabet, the Brahmi script, and the Manichaean script. The Turkic runiform alphabet of Orkhon Turkic was deciphered by Vilhelm Thomsen in 1893.

Old Turkic often refers not to a single language, but collectively to the closely related and mutually intelligible stages of various Common Turkic languages spoken during the late first millennium.

Sources edit

In stark contrast to Middle Turkic texts, the vast majority of available Old Turkic texts come from non-Muslim sources. The sources of Old Turkic are divided into two (three, according to Marcel Erdal) corpora:

Writing systems edit

The Old Turkic script (also known variously as Göktürk script, Orkhon script, Orkhon-Yenisey script) is the alphabet used by the Göktürks and other early Turkic khanates during the 8th to 10th centuries to record the Old Turkic language.[12]

The script is named after the Orkhon Valley in Mongolia where early 8th-century inscriptions were discovered in an 1889 expedition by Nikolai Yadrintsev.[13]

This writing system was later used within the Uyghur Khaganate. Additionally, a Yenisei variant is known from 9th-century Yenisei Kirghiz inscriptions, and it has likely cousins in the Talas Valley of Turkestan and the Old Hungarian alphabet of the 10th century. Words were usually written from right to left. Variants of the script were found in Mongolia and Xinjiang in the east and the Balkans in the west. The preserved inscriptions were dated between the 8th and 10th centuries.

Phonology edit

Front Back
Unr. Rnd. Unr. Rnd.
Close i y ɯ u
Mid e ø o
Open ɑ

Vowel roundness is assimilated through the word through vowel harmony. Some vowels were considered to occur only in the initial syllable, but they were later found to be in suffixes.[14] Length is distinctive for all vowels; while most of its daughter languages have lost the distinction, many of these preserve it in the case of /e/ with a height distinction, where the long phoneme developed into a more closed vowel than the short counterpart.

Labial Dental Post-
Velar Uvular
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p b t d k g q ɢ
Fricative s z ʃ
Tap/Flap ɾ
Approximant ɫ l j

Old Turkic is highly restrictive in which consonants words can begin with: words can begin with /b/, /t/, /tʃ/, /k/, /q/, /s/, /ɫ/ and /j/, but they do not usually begin with /p/, /d/, /g/, /ɢ/, /l/, /ɾ/, /n/, /ɲ/, /ŋ/, /m/, /ʃ/, or /z/. The only exceptions are 𐰤𐰀 (ne, "what, which") and its derivatives, and some early assimilations of word-initial /b/ to /m/ preceding a nasal in a word such as 𐰢𐰤 (men, "I").

Grammar edit

Cases edit

There are approximately 12 case morphemes in Old Turkic (treating 3 types of accusatives as one); the table below lists Old Turkic cases following Marcel Erdal’s classification (some phonemes of suffixes written in capital letters denote archiphonemes which sometimes are dropped or changed as per (East) Old Turkic phonotactics):

Case Suffixes Examples Translation
Nominative ∅ (unmarked) köŋül heart
Genitive -nIŋ Tämürniŋ Tämür’s
Accusative I (Pronominal Accusative) -nI bu this
Accusative II (Nominal Accusative) -Ig/-Ug[a] kïzlarïg, Karlukug girls, Karluk
Accusative III[16] -(I)n oglïmïn my son’s
Dative -ka[b] ordoka to palace
Directive / Allative[c] -gArU[d] ävgärü towards home
Locative -tA/-dA äv, suvlukta in house, in vessel
Directive-Locative / Partitive-Locative -rA asra[e], bašra[f] below, at/towards/on head
Ablative -dIn/-tIn -dAn kaŋtïn from father
Equative-Lative -čA[g] [h] tükägüčä up to/till end
Instrumental -In/-Un okun with arrow
Comitative[i] -lXgU[j] -lUgUn[k] iniligü together with young brother
Similative -lAyU yultuzlayu like star(s)
  1. ^ This Old Turkic accusative suffix is retained in Modern Turkish in the form of -jXg.[15] Karakhanid also employs this suffix.
  2. ^ Khalaj is the only modern Turkic language to have retained this archaic case suffix, which fact has led Mahmud al-Kashgari to regard the suffix as a distinctive marker of Arghu language (i.e. Khalaj). Most of the remaining Turkic languages usually have -GA.[17]
  3. ^ Old Turkic possessed an opposition between dative -ka and allative -gArU/-kArU cases, the latter perhaps derived secondarily from the former at the pre-Old Turkic stage. The dative case has been preserved intact in all the modern Siberian Turkic languages. On the other hand, the old allative has lost its case function, being preserved in a lexicalized manner in only a small number of adverbial expressions - for example, Uzbek ichkari ‘towards inside’. However, Tuvan and Khakas have reintroduced the formal opposition into their respective case systems.
  4. ^ Rare in Buddhist Uyghur and Karakhanid.[18]
  5. ^ In directive-locative sense.
  6. ^ In partitive-locative sense.
  7. ^ Today this Old Turkic suffix is preserved as a case form in Altay and Shor.
  8. ^ Though Khalaj retains this suffix as a case form (like Altay and Shor), it denotes locative case; which, at first glance, is aberrant.[19]
  9. ^ Out of all Turkic languages, today this case is preserved only in Sakha (i.e. Yakut).
  10. ^ In Orkhon Turkic. This ancient suffix is already rare by the time of Orkhon Turkic and the usage of this case with pronouns is not attested in the whole of Old Turkic. [20].
  11. ^ In Manichaean Uyghur

Grammatical Number edit

Old Turkic (like Modern Turkic) had 2 grammatical numbers: singular and plural. However, Old Turkic also formed collective nouns (a category related to plurals) by a separate suffix -(A)gU(n) e.g. tayagunuŋuz ‘your colts’.[21] Unlike Modern Turkic, Old Turkic had 3 types of suffixes to denote plural:[22]

  • -(X)t
  • -An
  • -lAr

Today, all Modern Turkic languages (except for Chuvash) use exclusively the suffix of the -lAr type for plural.

Verb edit

Finite verb forms in Old Turkic (i.e. verbs to which a tense suffix is added) always conjugate for person and number of the subject by corresponding suffixes save for the 3rd person, in which case person suffix is absent. This grammatical configuration is preserved in the majority of Modern Turkic languages, except for some such as Yellow Uyghur in which verbs no longer agree with the person of the subject.

Tense edit

Old Turkic had a complex system of tenses,[23] which could be divided into six simple[24] and derived tenses, the latter formed by adding special (auxiliary) verbs to the simple tenses.

Old Turkic simple tenses according to M. Erdal's classification
Tense Positive Negative
Imperfect Aorist -Ur -mAz
Preterite (Simple Past) -dI
Perfect Participle -mIš -mAdOk
Future -dAčI -mAčI
Vivid Past -yOk -mAyOk
Imminent Future -gAlIr

Hapax Legomena edit

Some suffixes are attested as being attached to only one word and no other instance of attachment is to be found. Similarly, some words are attested only once in the entire extant Old Turkic corpus.

Denominal edit

The following have been classified by Gerard Clauson as denominal noun suffixes.

Suffix Usages Translation
-ča anča at least one
-ke sigirke
-la/-le ayla
thus, like that
yesterday, night, north
-suq/-sük bağïrsuq liver, entrails
-ra/-re içre inside, within
-ya/-ye bérye
-čïl/-čil igčil sickly
-ğïl/-gil üçgil
grey haired
-nti ékkinti second
-dam/-dem tegridem god-like
tïrtï:/-türti ičtirti
inside, within
-qı:/-ki ašnuki
on or above
in the house
-an/-en/-un oğlan
men, gentlemen
-ğu:/-gü enčgü
tranquil, at peace
food given to a traveller as a gift
-a:ğu:/-e:gü: üčegü
three together
inside human body
-dan/-dun otun
track, trace
-ar/-er birer
one each
a few
-layu:/-leyü börileyü like a wolf
-daš/-deš qarïndaš
-mïš/-miš altmïš
-gey küçgey violent
-çaq/-çek and -çuq/-çük ïğïrčaq spindle-whorl
-q/-k (after vowels and -r)
-aq/-ek (the normal forms)
-ïq/-ik/-uq/-ük (rare forms)
ortuq middle partner
-daq/-dek and(?) -duq/-dük bağırdaq
nose ring
-ğuq/-gük çamğuq objectionable
-maq/-mek kögüzmek breastplate
-muq/-a:muq solamuk left-handed (pejorative?)
-naq baqanaq "frog in a horse's hoof" (from baqa frog)
-duruq/-dürük boyunduruq yoke

Deverbal edit

The following have been classified by Gerard Clauson as deverbal suffixes.

Suffix Usages Translation
-a/-e/-ı:/-i/-u/-ü oprı
evening, night
straight, upright, lawful
then, so
-ğa/-ge kısğa
-ğma/-gme tanığma riddle
-çı/-çi otaçı:
-ğuçı/-güçi ayğuçı
-dı/-di üdründi
-tı/-ti arıtı
completely, clean
-du eğdu
curved knife
desire, covetousness
-ğu:/-gü bilegü
gently nurtured
-ingü bilingü
be in the know
be prepared
be moving violently
-ğa:ç/-geç kışgaç pincers
-ğuç/-güç bıçgüç scissors
-maç/-meç tutmaç "saved" noodle dish
-ğut/-güt alpağut

Literary works edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Rachewiltz, Igor de; Rybatzki, Volker (31 May 2010). Introduction to Altaic Philology. BRILL. p. 17. ISBN 9789004188891.
  2. ^ Rachewiltz, Igor de; Rybatzki, Volker (31 May 2010). Introduction to Altaic Philology. BRILL. p. 19. ISBN 9789004188891.
  3. ^ Erdal, Marcel (September 2004). A Grammar of Old Turkic. BRILL. p. 8. ISBN 9789047403968.
  4. ^ Robbeets, Martine; Savelyev, Alexander (27 May 2020). The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. Oxford University Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-19-880462-8.
  5. ^ The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. p. 413.
  6. ^ Robbeets, Martine; Savelyev, Alexander (27 May 2020). The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. Oxford University Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-19-880462-8.
  7. ^ Ragagnin, Elisabetta (May 2020). "Major and Minor Turkic Language Islands in Iran with a Special Focus on Khalaj". Iranian Studies. 53 (3–4): 573–588. doi:10.1080/00210862.2020.1740881. S2CID 218924277.
  8. ^ Johanson, Lars; Csató, Éva Á. (29 April 2015). The Turkic Languages. Routledge. p. 280. ISBN 9781136825279.
  9. ^ Dwyer, Arienne M. (2007). Salar. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 49. ISBN 9783447040914.
  10. ^ Studies in Asian Historical Linguistics. BRILL. 19 July 2021. p. 209. ISBN 9789004448568.
  11. ^ Khalid, Adeeb (January 1999). The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform. University of California Press. p. 188. ISBN 9780520920897.
  12. ^ Scharlipp, Wolfgang (2000). An Introduction to the Old Turkish Runic Inscriptions. Verlag auf dem Ruffel, Engelschoff. ISBN 978-3-933847-00-3.
  13. ^ Sinor, Denis (2002). "Old Turkic". History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. 4. Paris: UNESCO. pp. 331–333.
  14. ^ Erdal, Marcel (2004). A grammar of Old Turkic. Boston: Brill. p. 88. ISBN 1-4294-0826-X. OCLC 73959547.
  15. ^ Dwyer, Arienne M. (2007). Salar. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 61. ISBN 9783447040914.
  16. ^ Irregularities in Turkic Languages. p. 228.
  17. ^ Robbeets, Martine; Savelyev, Alexander (27 May 2020). The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. Oxford University Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-19-880462-8.
  18. ^ A Grammar of Old Turkic. p. 177.
  19. ^ Heritage and Identity in the Turkic World. p. 42.
  20. ^ A Grammar of Old Turkic. p. 180.
  21. ^ A Grammar of Old Turkic. p. 160.
  22. ^ A Grammar of Old Turkic. p. 158.
  23. ^ Micro-change and Macro-change in Diachronic Syntax. p. 64.
  24. ^ A Grammar of Old Turkic. p. 272.

Further reading edit

External links edit