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Thread: Turkish influence on your language

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    Turkish influence on your language

    Hi!

    Inspired by this thread and francois_auffret, I've decided to open this thread.

    It has struck me that many people in Eastern Europe still hold a grudge against the historic Ottoman domination of the region. They sometimes even refuse to acknowledge the linguistic and cultural influence of the Turkish language and culture.

    I've always thought that the Romanian people (maybe it's just me) have gotten over it and now accept that the Ottoman rule was a part of their history. The most significant example is the abundant presence of Turkish words in everyday vocabulary.

    So my question is; how has the Turkish influence affected your language and do people still hold a grudge?

    robbie

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    As far as Serbian/Croatian is concerned, there was a strong movement at the times of the civil war for a Bosnian standard language variety where many Turkish loans not accepted neither in Serbian nor Croatian (but still used in dialects) were revitalised.

    However, as far as Bosnian is concerned I am not up to date, unfortunately; I would be interested very much in statements of people living in this region about the course standard languages are taking down there.
    It would be interesting too if there was a new Anti-Turkish loan word 'movement' either in Serbian or Croatian induced by the Bosnian movement towards turcisms: as far as I am aware Turkish loans didn't cause much upset any more in pre-civil-war-times, and one of the most common Turkish loans - sat - certainly still is widely used (although with different connotations for Serbs and Croats, I think).

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    A few words from Turkish are common in various languages, such as kiosk (quiosque in Portuguese). I've only just found out about zapato/sapato in the other thread.
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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    I would recommend this old thread in which some of these issues were discussed in much detail for South Slavic languages.


    Quote Originally Posted by sokol View Post
    As far as Serbian/Croatian is concerned, there was a strong movement at the times of the civil war for a Bosnian standard language variety where many Turkish loans not accepted neither in Serbian nor Croatian (but still used in dialects) were revitalised.
    However, as far as Bosnian is concerned I am not up to date, unfortunately; I would be interested very much in statements of people living in this region about the course standard languages are taking down there.
    [As a side note, some people would dispute the designation of this war as "civil", but let's not get sidetracked. ]

    As far as I know, this movement in Bosnia never took much root. Today's official Bosnian language is pretty much identical to the variant of Serbo-Croatian that was used for formal purposes in Bosnia-Herzegovina during Yugoslavia. In formal Bosnian documents that I've read during the last decade, I don't remember seeing any of the colloquial Turkish words that were considered as substandard when I was a school kid in Bosnia in the 1980s.

    It would be interesting too if there was a new Anti-Turkish loan word 'movement' either in Serbian or Croatian induced by the Bosnian movement towards turcisms: as far as I am aware Turkish loans didn't cause much upset any more in pre-civil-war-times, and one of the most common Turkish loans - sat - certainly still is widely used (although with different connotations for Serbs and Croats, I think).
    In each of the three variants of the old Serbo-Croatian standard that are now officially considered as separate national languages, one might say that there are three levels of Turkish loanwords:

    (1) Those that are so ancient and well-entrenched that they have become part of the standard language, often without any native synonyms, and people generally don't recognize them as loanwords at all unless they're educated about their etymology.

    (2) Those that are used in informal spoken language, but considered as substandard in the formal standard language. Among these, there are different levels of formal unacceptability: some of them are commonly used in informal contexts even by educated people, while others can be perceived as markers of uneducated rustic speech.

    (3) Those that sound archaic and obscure to modern speakers, or even outright foreign since they've never been used in their particular region. These often have footnoted explanations when used in print.


    The number of Turkish words in each category varies across different BCS variants, although the words in categories (1) tend to be shared between Croatian, Serbian, and Bosnian, since they often don't have any surviving native equivalents (sat, boja, čizma, kutija...). The number of words in category (2) and (3) is minimal in most Croatian dialects, much larger in Serbia, and by far the largest in Bosnia, which is understandable given the history of Ottoman conquests in the Balkans and their later withdrawals.

    Generally speaking, the criteria used to classify the Turkish words into categories (1)-(3) are nowadays pretty much the same as those that were used in former Yugoslavia. As far as I know, since 1991 there haven't been any significant attempts at language reforms in Serbia, while the nationalist purism pursued in Croatia and the attempts at Turkish/Arabic word revival in Bosnia in the 1990s have never been taken too seriously by most people, so they didn't end up leaving a very significant mark either.

    In particular, I'm not aware of any recent anti-Turkish word campaigns in either Serbia or Croatia, but these wouldn't make sense anyway, since as I've already noted, those Turkish words that are recognized by the standard are so well-entrenched and domesticated that it requires specialized linguistic knowledge to even recognize them as Turkish.

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Quote Originally Posted by robbie_SWE View Post
    Hi!


    I've always thought that the Romanian people (maybe it's just me) have gotten over it and now accept that the Ottoman rule was a part of their history. The most significant example is the abundant presence of Turkish words in everyday vocabulary.

    So my question is; how has the Turkish influence affected your language and do people still hold a grudge?

    robbie
    It is difficult to say for languages which never were in direct contact such as French and English... It is possible though that a number of Arabic or Persian loanwords in these languages have come through the Turcs and the Turkish... Remember that in the 17th / 18th century in France the word Turc was used a a generic name for Muslims and that the Ottomans were seen with great respect and with great awe in Western Europe too...

    Thanks Althaulf for your very long, detailed and scholarly posting... We would like to know more...

    Robbie, what about Romanian? Could you be a bit more specific? Could you give examples and how much the Turkish language has affected Romanian???

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    In Arabic there are quite a lot of Turkish loanwords, most are colloquial but some have found their way to standard Arabic. I don't think people hold a "grudge", I don't believe they ever did; but they did reject Turkinisation (I think I spelled it right), which was a movement around the end of the Ottoman Empire to replace local languages with Turkish. For Arabs loan words was one thing, wiping out their language was another.

    Examples that come to mind are: basha, agha, takht, haramlak, doulma, some prefixes such as siz (as in adabsiz, meaning "mannerless") and chi (as in qahwachi, meaning "the coffeeshop owner").

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    I just found out that the Indonesian word for "shoe", sepatu, originated from Turkish (made its way into Indonesian through Portuguese).

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Hi,
    Quote Originally Posted by MarX View Post
    I just found out that the Indonesian word for "shoe", sepatu, originated from Turkish (made its way into Indonesian through Portuguese).
    Which means that Portuguese got the word from Turkish... which is not really sure. Dicionário etimológico da Língua portuguesa:
    sapato: calçado [...] De origem duvidosa. Talvez (=maybe) do turco çabata.
    Groetjes,

    Frank
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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    I really think that we should not start listing any Turkish loan word in any language. A Turkish word in language X on the other side of the planet doesn't really qualify as 'Turkish influence'. So, let's keep it at 'direct Turkish influence' in this thread. Before we know it, we'll be discussing which of the 6400 languages did or did not borrow the words yoghurt and baklava.


    I hope we can concentrate upon the original question and look at situations where people still hold a grudge against the historic Ottoman or Turkish domination of the region and where people even refuse to acknowledge the linguistic influence of the Turkish language for historical (or political) reasons.

    Groetjes,

    Frank
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    Last edited by Frank06; 10th February 2008 at 10:56 AM.
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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Quote Originally Posted by Athaulf View Post
    The number of words in category (2) and (3) is minimal in most Croatian dialects, much larger in Serbia, and by far the largest in Bosnia (...)
    Interestingly, this is exactly what I thoght would be the case but never expected (as I thought my knowledge is very much out of date) - at first, the distribution of loans (as is well known Croatian standard is more purist than Serbian, and more Turkish loans in Bosnia would be just as well natural if you take in the historical background).

    So my feeling that there was no real (newer) Anti-Turkish movement in Croatian/Serbian is confirmed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Athaulf View Post
    [but let's not get sidetracked. ]
    [Comments snipped, let's not get sidetracked, indeed.
    Frank
    Moderator EHL]
    Last edited by Frank06; 10th February 2008 at 10:54 AM. Reason: Please stay on topic.

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Quote Originally Posted by francois_auffret View Post
    ...
    Robbie, what about Romanian? Could you be a bit more specific? Could you give examples and how much the Turkish language has affected Romanian???
    Keeping in mind that Frank06 has asked us not to publish long lists with Turkish words in our languages; I'll keep this post strictly connected to the initial question.

    In Romanian it is estimated that only 0,73 % of the Romanian vocabulary can be traced back to the Turkish language. Taking in consideration that Romanian (according to DEX) has over 363 000 words, the Turkish lexis is appr. 2650 (not much, taking in account that the Greek lexis amounts to appr. 6200 words). These words are most often encountered when people talk about food, commerce, clothing and merchandise.

    I have discussed this subject with people I know, who come from South Slavic speaking countries in the Balkans and I have come to the conclusion that there is a difference in mentality depending on history and ethnicity.

    The people I talked to still feel some kind of hatred towards the Turks, blaming them for their own demographic problems (something like "if it wasn't for the Ottoman Empire then we wouldn't have religious problems in Bosnia and Croatia"). I'm not saying this is true for every single person from Bosnia, Croatia, Albania or Serbia. But this type of mentality doesn’t seem to occur in Romania.

    Hope this didn't upset anyone, because it really isn't my intention.

    robbie

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Quote Originally Posted by robbie_SWE View Post
    In Romanian it is estimated that only 0,73 % of the Romanian vocabulary can be traced back to the Turkish language. Taking in consideration that Romanian (according to DEX) has over 363 000 words, the Turkish lexis is appr. 2650 (not much, taking in account that the Greek lexis amounts to appr. 6200 words).

    However, if these two numbers (0.73% and 363,000) are coming from different sources, you can't derive any meaningful conclusion by multiplying them. Both the "size of the lexicon" and the "percentage of vocabulary" satisfying this or that condition are very inexactly defined notions. The numbers for either of them can vary wildly if you change the arbitrary definition of what exactly counts as a single "word".

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Quote Originally Posted by Athaulf View Post
    However, if these two numbers (0.73% and 363,000) are coming from different sources, you can't derive any meaningful conclusion by multiplying them. Both the "size of the lexicon" and the "percentage of vocabulary" satisfying this or that condition are very inexactly defined notions. The numbers for either of them can vary wildly if you change the arbitrary definition of what exactly counts as a single "word".
    I completely agree Athaulf. I just had to publish the official numbers to answer francois_auffret's question.

    robbie

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    I'm not sure whether it's off-topic but since it's related to the Ottoman Empire I write it and leave the decision to the moderators.

    I don't think Ottoman lingual (excluding other cultural aspects) influence was confined to vocabulary. There must have been literary influence too and mainly via Persian literature. Persian was, so to speak, the literary language (not to consider court, etc. language that is unrelated to our topic) of the Ottomans and even some Ottoman kings have composed Persian poems. Ottomans brought Persian language and literature to Balkans. I just found a Persian article titled "Persian language in Balkans", which apart from some Persian vocabulary passed to these languages via Ottoman Turkish, mentions several Albanian and Bosnian poets who have composed Persian poets. So Ottomans must have brought some literary influence to the literature of the languages spoken in Balkans. Unfortunately, the name of the poets is in Persian and I can't directly write you their names but if you are interested, I can try to find how their name is written in their native language and write them for you.
    Last edited by Alijsh; 10th February 2008 at 5:51 PM.
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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Quote Originally Posted by robbie_SWE View Post
    I completely agree Athaulf. I just had to publish the official numbers to answer francois_auffret's question.

    robbie
    Regarding the concrete numbers you cited, even though I don't speak Romanian, I would still bet that with any reasonable measure, Turkish words account for much more than 0.73% of the vocabulary of the everyday spoken language, whereas on the other hand, one could hardly compile a list of over 2,500 separate Turkish words that are still in effective circulation. As for the comparison with Greek words, in most European languages, their number is artificially inflated by obscure technical terminology.

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Quote Originally Posted by Alijsh View Post
    I'm not sure whether it's off-topic but since it's related to the Ottoman Empire I write it and leave the decision to the moderators.

    I don't think Ottoman lingual (excluding other cultural aspects) influence was confined to vocabulary. There must have been literary influence too and mainly via Persian literature. Persian was, so to speak, the literary language (not to consider court, etc. language that is unrelated to our topic) of the Ottomans and even some Ottoman kings have composed Persian poems. Ottomans brought Persian language and literature to Balkans. I just found a Persian article titled "Persian language in Balkans", which apart from some Persian vocabulary passed to these languages via Ottoman Turkish, mentions several Albanian and Bosnian poets who have composed Persian poets. So Ottomans must have brought some literary influence to the literature of the languages spoken in Balkans. Unfortunately, the name of the poets is in Persian and I can't directly write you their names but if you are interested, I can try to find how their name is written in their native language and write them for you.
    OK, this is a little confusing to me, I thought the Ottomans and Persians (of the time, I think they were Safavids?) were archenemies?

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    interesting about sapato / zapato = shoe

    because French chaussure (= shoe) is clearly related to calçado
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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    I once mentioned to a Bulgarian girl that "yoghurt" is Turkish, and she said with a horrified look that yogurt cannot be Turkish because it is obviously Bulgarian. Perhaps she thought I thought Turkish yogurt was better? I have never tasted anything but American and Western European yogurt, so I don't have an opinion, but isn't "yoghurt" a Turkish word?

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Quote Originally Posted by robbie_SWE View Post
    Keeping in mind that Frank06 has asked us not to publish long lists with Turkish words in our languages; I'll keep this post strictly connected to the initial question.

    In Romanian it is estimated that only 0,73 % of the Romanian vocabulary can be traced back to the Turkish language. Taking in consideration that Romanian (according to DEX) has over 363 000 words, the Turkish lexis is appr. 2650 (not much, taking in account that the Greek lexis amounts to appr. 6200 words). These words are most often encountered when people talk about food, commerce, clothing and merchandise.

    I have discussed this subject with people I know, who come from South Slavic speaking countries in the Balkans and I have come to the conclusion that there is a difference in mentality depending on history and ethnicity.

    The people I talked to still feel some kind of hatred towards the Turks, blaming them for their own demographic problems (something like "if it wasn't for the Ottoman Empire then we wouldn't have religious problems in Bosnia and Croatia"). I'm not saying this is true for every single person from Bosnia, Croatia, Albania or Serbia. But this type of mentality doesn’t seem to occur in Romania.

    Hope this didn't upset anyone, because it really isn't my intention.

    robbie
    It is interesting that in Romania, recent research says that some of the words known as having Turkish origins could have, in fact, Cuman origin, see Neagu Djuvara.
    It is also good to notice that Turks were not really invaders for Romanians, as presented in history books. They were seen more like partners; Romanian countries, unlike other Balkan regions, were not being Ottoman provinces but vassal states. Apart the local princes which were, sometimes, imposed by „the Gate”, Turks always respected religion and local habits of Romanians and they never liked the idea of raising the domination in these lands. The reason was mainly an economic one, since Romania always provided lots of grains and soldiers for the mighty empire.
    Last edited by OldAvatar; 11th February 2008 at 8:24 AM.

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    Re: Turkish influence on your language

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahaodeh View Post
    OK, this is a little confusing to me, I thought the Ottomans and Persians (of the time, I think they were Safavids?) were archenemies?
    The idea that military conflict between states automatically implies mutual hatred or aversion towards each other's language and culture is an invention of relatively recent times. As recently as during the First World War, the highest German military decoration still had a French name -- Pour le Mérite.

    The Ottoman Empire wasn't a nation-state in the modern sense like the present Republic of Turkey (and neither were any other states before modern times). Unlike most modern wars, the wars at that time were not seen as ethnic conflicts, and nationalism in the modern sense didn't exist. Thus, it was nothing unusual that Persian was the language of high culture in the Ottoman Empire, despite its numerous wars with Iran.

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