Uralic, Altaic, Ural-Altaic

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Frank06, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Split from this thread.


    First of all, welcome to this forum.

    I think only lecturers who don't give or cannot give solid arguments for their statements deserve some sort of distrust. But here, and I am sorry to say, here you are the lecturer...

    So, I am quite sure that you will elaborate on a few of your statements.
    Most lecturers will tell us that "Altaic" is a very shaky notion which is not completely accepted in linguistics. Even linguists who do defend the Altaic theory have to admit that. Nevertheless, you don't seem to have a problem with using this term 'Altaic'. On which basis?

    Hungarian is normally classified as an Uralic language. Some linguists claim to have arguments for an Ural-Altaic family, but this is even more speculative than the Altaic language group. Nevertheless, you don't seem to have a problem with classifying Hungarian as 'Altaic'. On which basis?


  2. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    In defense of Latinsporean, popularization books sometimes mention the Uralo-Altaic grouping without delving into the discussion of its plausibility. :)
  3. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England

    I thought Hungarian was normally classified as a Finno-Ugrian language. :confused:
  4. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
  5. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Thanks for putting me right.
  6. Athaulf

    Athaulf Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Not just books. My elementary school geography teacher casually mentioned it alongside Indo-European when she was explaining what makes Hungarian and Finnish peculiar within Europe, without even a hint of controversy. Could be a consequence of the books you mention. :D
  7. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Just for the record, the Uralic language family is little controversial. (Finnish and Hungarian, together with Estonian (Uralic as well) and e.g. Basque (language isolate), are peculiar in mainly Indo-European Europe.) However, the link between the Uralic family and the Altaic family (which, indeed, in itself is controversial in some respects), very much is.
  8. Athaulf

    Athaulf Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Yes, this is all true -- what I meant is that my teacher mentioned the specific term "Ural-Altaic" without any hints that the concept is highly controversial.
  9. 2x2isnot4 Member

    Miami Beach, FL USA
    English - USA, Türkçe - Turkey
    I doubt it is a coincidence:the Uralic-Altaic language group is divided into two: Fino-Ungaric subgroup: Finnish, Estonian, Lap (ian?), Hungarian. Altaic group:Turkish, Mongolian and others. This last group splits into two: Group "R": Bulgarian and others and Group "Z", which in itself also splits into two subgroups: Group "D" the western group, including Turkish from Turkey and Group "Z" certain Siberian languages, Mongolian and other languages, too unknown to have a proper English name ( at least, do not know them). My suggestion is that, though distant Hungarian ( Magyar) and Mongolian might have more words in common. The presence of these particular words in their quasi archaic format, explains most probably the significance of the words within the similar, nomadic, cultural context...
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2009
  10. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    (Mod note/sokol: post moved, this is off-topic in the Turk-thread.)
    First and foremost, welcome to the forum. :)

    Secondly, as you can read above (posts moved) it is not at all established that Uralic and Altaic really belong to the same group.
    The word "Turk" alone also changes nothing here - a single word is not sufficient by far to establish linguistic relations. So thanks for listing the sub-divisions of a hypothetical "Uralic-Altaic" group, but let's be aware of the fact that this is only a theory, disputed among linguists.
  11. 2x2isnot4 Member

    Miami Beach, FL USA
    English - USA, Türkçe - Turkey
    Thank you!

    I agree with you that is a highly controversial theory...nevertheless, it had some scientific following. I am not in a position to deny or accept a presumed connection between Uralic and Altaic, neither should you, don't you agree?:)

    Again, I am not trying to prove any connection, and definitely not on the basis of one word, I am humbly suggesting that it might have some explanatory power within this context, hypothetical or thetical.

    In any case, I agree with you that some note should have been added recognizing the fact that it is one theory among many.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2009
  12. Zsuzsu Senior Member

    Budapest, Hungary
    Originally Posted by Asgaard
    Hi all,
    Coincidence or not a coincidence?
    Hungarian words for crescent and turk are the same - török!
    crescent - хагас тойрог (jagas toirog)turk - тїрэг (Tireg) хїн (jin)

    Hi Asgaard,

    Where did you get this information from? Although "Turk" in Hungarian is really "török", "crescent" is "félhold" (a word very different from "török".)
    Furthermore, although "хагас тойрог" is really crescent (shape) in Mongolian (it is pronounced as "khagas toirog"), "Turk" is "түрк" and not "тїрэг (Tireg)" or "хїн (jin)" (why did you write this "ї" letter here, by the way? There is no such letter in Mongolian, and the sound it normally represents exists only very rarely in some dialects of Mongolian.)

    If you want to find similarities between Hungarian and Mongolian, you have to look at other words - of Turkish origin. Because there are about 100 words which are almost the same in Hungarian and Mongolian - because both peoples borrowed them from Turkish. It does not mean that Hungarian and Mongolian are language relatives - the first belongs to the Finno-Ugric languages, while the latter is said to be one of the Altaic languages alongside with Turkish and the Manchu-Tungusic languages (note, however, that many linguists do not agree with the grouping of Altaic languages.)
  13. 2x2isnot4 Member

    Miami Beach, FL USA
    English - USA, Türkçe - Turkey
    I am very glad for your response Zsuzsu, we needed someone with knowledge of Magyar in this discussion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2009
  14. Zsuzsu Senior Member

    Budapest, Hungary
    Now I have been told that some keyboards do not have the letter ү and substitute it with ї, if this is the case, Asgaard is right, "a Turk" can also be түрэг хүн (alongside with түрк) in Mongolian, where түрэг means "Turkish", and хүн means "man".
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2009
  15. dinji Senior Member

    Borgå, Finland
    Swedish - Finland
    On groupings I agree with Zsuzsu, Proto-Uralic is OK as a valid node for Uralic languages, although it is based on much scarcer data than Proto-Indo-European. There has been recent ill-argumented but well known attempts (the most notorious being Angela Marcantino's The Uralic Language Family: Facts, Myths, and Statistics. Publications of the Philological Society 35. Oxford - Boston 2002) to attack the validity of Uralic, but as the smoke disperses the hypothesis stands firm (see the review of the former by Petri Kallio in: Anthropological Linguistics 46, pp. 486-490. Bloomington, IN 2004.

    On Altaic, my knowledge is unsufficient, but authorities I have learned to trust paints a picture very similar to that of Zsuzsu: the three subgroupings are not controversial but the combination of the three into "Altaic" is very controversial and mainly based on evidence extraneous to the historical-comparative method. The looser the tie, the easier it would be to add a fourth established subgroup, notably Uralic. For such a larger looser family the notion of Uralo-Altaic would be misleading since there would be no "Altaic" node to compare with the Uralic one. And the fact would in any event remain, that evidence for genetic relation among the four groups is unconvincing and not based on the comparative method, this is my understanding. I this case the affinity becomes arbitraryany and any language family could easily be added on as well, such as Yukaghir and other Paleo-Siberian languages.

    On a point of methodology: comparing Mongolian and Hungarian takes us nowhere. In order to establish genetic relationship Proto-Uralic should be compared with "Proto-Mongolian" (or with Proto-Altaic if such a reconstructional level/node could be argued, which I doubt as seen above).
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  16. OBrasilo

    OBrasilo Senior Member

    Koper, Slovenia, Central Europe
    Brazil, Brazilian Portuguese
    Well I have noticed some similar words between Hungarian and Mongolian:
    Hungarian tenger vs. Mongolian tengiz (sp.), meaning sea;
    Hungarian orszag vs. Mongolian uls (sp.), meaning country;
    Hungarian nap vs. Mongolian nar (sp.), meaning day and sun.

    However I do agree that this isn't enough to establish relatedness.
  17. francisgranada Senior Member

    Tenger in Hungarian is a Turkic loanword.

    Ország derives from "úr" (lord) of Finno-Ugric origin and "-szág" is a suffix. The documented old Hungarian form is "uru" for lord and "uruszág" (spelled "uruzag" in the 12th century) for country or land (ruled by a lord, e.g. a king). So we have "uru" and "uls", two different words with different meaning.

    I don't know the etymology of "nap", but the old Hungarian form is "nopu" so only the initial "n" is common with "nar" which is not too much ...
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  18. Hulalessar

    Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    I think that at one time it was not controversial. What at one time seemed patently obvious on closer examination has become less clear as linguists began to formulate concepts such as sprachbunds. The books I read in the 1960s not only insisted on the Ural-Altaic family but also on including the Tai-Kadai languages in Sino-Tibetan family. Conversely, the number of language families in Africa has been reduced as relationships not previously perceived were demonstrated. We cannot blame non-linguists for not keeping up. It all depends on what questions are asked at what level. No one is going to deny that Spanish and Portuguese are related, but precisely how is something else. As we go up the levels we can see the similarities between the Italic and Celtic languages, but there is doubt as to whether Proto-Italo-Celtic ever existed.
  19. Pablo Hijodehoy New Member

    Just a few things you must know the Hungarian word úr (lord) is an unknown origin word, it was compared with Finnish and Lapp but no connection was proven.
    The Hungarian word nap (sun) is also of unknown origin, the stem word was most probably na or naa. this was comperd with other Uralic languages for instance Khanty, however this attempt has failed.
    If you open the Hungarian Ethimological Dictionary then you shall find the same.

    I wonder how you came up with uru and nopu when its urr and naa in reality??? [h=1][/h]
  20. francisgranada Senior Member


    I speak about the old Hungarian forms, e.g. 1192-1195, Halotti beszéd:

    ... yſa ki nopun emdul oz gimilſtwl halalnec halalaal holz ...
    ... eſ oggun neki munhi uruzagbele utot ...

    See also http://www.szokincshalo.hu/szotar/ the word ország: "... Az úr szó régebbi uru alakjának származéka ..."

    In case of unknown origin we can hardly speak about a prae-Hungarian supposed stem.

    Last edited: Oct 20, 2012
  21. Phosphorus Senior Member

    You are right Francisgranada. Mongolian "uls?" is actually a Turkic loan from "ulush" which originally means "country".

    And for the case of "tenger", there are some other direct borrowings from the Turkic proper in Hungarian (which are not shared by Finnish), such "alma" ~ "apple".
  22. ancalimon Senior Member

    According to Ord. Prof. Dr. Reha Oğuz Türkkan, the origin of Turkic culture is Urals and Proto-Turkic language existed before Proto-Turks reached Urals from Alp Mountains. (not surprisingly, alps (a form between ethereal and meat&bone) are mythological advanced-beings from Turkic mythology that are supposedly ancestors of human beings capable of stopping time and using tunnels to travel between dimensions (branches of the Cosmic Tree)
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2012

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