Reflexes of the Most Ancient Root *er “Male” in Eurasian Languages


The study was performed in the framework of Nostratic, which is defined as a branch of comparative historical linguistics that postulates a distant genetic relationship between the language families of Eurasia and North Africa. As an object of study, we chose the most ancient root *er “male”, which was part of the basic vocabulary of the primitive language, which served as the source for many modern languages, and which was not yet the subject of consideration in Nostratics. Aim of this work is a comparative analysis of reflexes in their most ancient roots in modern languages. The article suggests and substantiates the assumption that in the process of evolution and divergence of the proto-ethnos, the reconstructed root *er probably underwent various modifications, acquiring a new sound (*er > 1) ur/ar/ir…; 2) yer/yar/vor/ger…; 3) ere/ara/oro…; 4) e/ö/ä… etc.) in accordance with phonological patterns and semantic modifications (“male” > 1) “husband, man…”; 2) “leader, head…”; 3) “hero, ruler…”; 4) “Lord, God…”; 5) “master, owner…”; 6) “worker, slave…”; 7) “courage, heroism…”; 8) “male, brave” etc.), allowed by the rules of semasiology. The article argues for the position of the primacy of biological meaning (“male”) and the secondary nature of abstract-substantive, connotative-evaluative, derivational and other meaning in the transformations of the root.

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Zulpukarov, K. , Amiraliev, S. , Zulpukarova, A. , Akmatova, A. , Zhoroeva, A. and Abdullaeva, Z. (2021) Reflexes of the Most Ancient Root *er “Male” in Eurasian Languages. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 11, 104-119. doi: 10.4236/ojml.2021.111009.

1. Introduction

This article has been written in direction of Nostratic. As is well known, Nostratics is a direction in comparative linguistics that postulates a distant genetic relationship of a number of language families in Eurasia and North Africa. It usually includes Altaic, Afrasian, Dravidian, Indo-European, Kartvelian, Eskimo and Uralic languages (Dolgopolskiy, 1964; Dolgopolskiy, 1967; Illich-Svitych, 1976; Warf, 2018). Recently, comparativists have become more aware of the composition of Nostratic languages, including Nakh-Dagestan, Sino-Tibetan, Chukchi-Kamchatka, Eskimo-Aleutian and some other languages (Starostin et al., 2016; Zulpukarov, 2016; Zulpukarov & Amiraliev, 2019; Zulpukarov & Amiraliev, 2018; Zulpukarova, 2018; Amiraliev et al., 2020). Till today over a thousand root and affix morphemes common to these language families have been identified (Creemers et al., 2018). The corresponding list of etymologically identical units of Nostratic languages does not contain the name of a male and a male individual, although it should have been included in the basic vocabulary of the compared languages. This factor has been served as the basis for choosing the topic of this article. The article aims to fill this gap in Nostratics by reconstructing the corresponding the most ancient root and comparative characteristics of its reflexes in a number of language families of Eurasia.

The reason and significance of this research article is to reconstruct the name of a male in the Nostratic proto-language and a comparative description of his formal-semantic reflexes in Eurasian languages. This research is relevant due to insufficiency of study on the origin of the common Eurasian root er in the etymological aspect, and the importance of considering it for comparative studies.

2. Research Methods and Materials

The collected linguistic data allowed us to reconstruct the archetype of male and a male individual in Nostratic languages in the form of *er and present its reflexes in various sound variants and transformations: 1) er/ir/ar/ur/är… (with vowel gradation); 2) yer/yar/vor/gor/her…(with a prosthetic sound); 3) ere/ara/arv/oro/uro… (with an epithetic sound); 4) е/ē/ä/ǟ (with a final consonant ejection), as well as in semantic changes: 1) “male/male individual, husband, man”; 2) “hero, athlete, prince, lord; Lord, God”; 3) “master, owner; worker, slave”; 4) “strength, will, energy; courage, heroism”; 5) “masculine, courageous, brave, heroic; noble, worthy” etc. We believe that the biological meaning of the most ancient root was primary, and social meanings were secondary, so long as primitive people apparently had no ideas about family, social status, status and dignity of the individual.

From the Sino-Tibetan languages, we chose Chinese (Hanyu), which has a related root ér, which is met in the composition of compound words: érmă “stallion” (mă “horse”), ér “son”, érnü “children; sons and daughters; youth, boys and girls” (nü “woman; girl, maiden, young lady; daughter”), érzi “son” (zi “son; seed, egg, caviar”) (Imin et al., 2001). In these examples, the prepositive root er- acts as a carrier of the meaning “male, son, youth”, is easily raised to the reconstructed archetype, is connected and is not used autonomously.

The most ancient root *er (or *jer “husband” in another reconstruction represented with a separate lexeme in the Turkic languages with follow versions: 1) er—Altaic, ancient Turkic, Kazakh, Karagas, Karakalpak, Karaite (Crimean dialect), Karachay-Balkar, Koibal, Crimean Tatar, Cuman, Tuvan, Turkish, Sagay, Saryg-Yugur, Soyot, Uzbek, Uyghur, Chagatai, Yakut; 2) ir—Bashkir, Tatar, Tobolsk, Khakass; 3) ar—Uyghur dialects, Chuvash; 4) är—Azerbaijani, Turkmen dialects, Uyghur dialects; 5) ǟr—Turkmen; ēr—Altaic; 6) ey—Lobnor, Uyghur dialects; 7) ē—Uyghur dialects; 8) ǟ, ä—Uyghur; 9) yer—Kazakh, Saryg-Yugur; 10) yär—Uzbek dialects (Potseluyevskiy, 2001, 2006; Sevortyan, 1974).

As we can see, the most productive form is the er variant, which served as the basis for the reconstruction of the general Turkic archetype in the form of *er “husband, man”. In the Saryg-Yugur language and in the Kuramin dialects of the Uzbek language, has been appeared the prosthetic sound y-. The loss of the final -r is noted in dialects of the Uyghur language. In the Turkic languages, the reflexes of the archetype *er express meanings:

1) “husband, man”—in all languages except Koibal, Uyghur; “male”—ancient Turkic;

2) “hero, brave man, knight, athlete, strong man”—Altai, Kazakh, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz, Nogai, Yakut; “courageous man”—Turkish, Uzbek, Yakut; “courageous, brave”—Azerbaijani, Kazakh;

3) “husband, spouse”—Azerbaijani, Bashkir, ancient Turkic, Karaite, Karachay-Balkar, Kyrgyz, Crimean Tatar, Turkish, Uyghur, Khakass, Chuvash;

4) “male”—Karaite, Cuman, Tuvan;

5) “private, warrior, fighter”—Turkish;

6) “mature, grown up (person)”—Kyrgyz; “single”—Turkish dialects; “guy, young man”—Tuvan; “maturity”—Yakut;

7) “man”—Karagas, Koibal, Soyot, Uyghur dialects;

8) “strength, energy, firmness, courage”—Yakut.

All the above nominees of a person and his qualities are raised to the most ancient root *er “husband, man”. Scientists-Turkologists L. A. Pokrovskaya and E. V. Sevortyan establish the following order of development of the semantics of the most ancient root *er “male”: “male person” > “spouse, husband” > “hero, brave, athlete; knight, warrior; fine fellow, gentle man” > “brave (man); man” > “courage, strength, energy” (Sevortyan, 1974). The primary values (1 - 4) are quite productive.

3. Meaning in the Altaic Languages

The reflexes of the most ancient root *er are also found in other groups of Altaic languages:

1) Common Mongolian *er: Mongolian ere “husband, man; courageous, bold, brave, heroic”; Dagur, Kalmyk, Khalkha-Mongolian er, Buryat ere, Dongxiang ere (+kün), Baoan ere (+küng) “man, husband; male”, compare Buryat ernohoy “male dog” where nohoy “dog”. The root er is found in the composition of derivative words: Buryat, Khalkha-Mongolian eregtey “man (respectful)”, Khalkha-Mongolian erhes “male sable”, Khalkha-Mongolian ereg “screw”, er- “to twist, tug the rope; to secure with a screw”, Khalkha-Mongolian erēs “thread on the screw”; Buryat erhy, Kalmyk erke, Khalkha-Mongolian erhiy “thumb”. Some of these words remind the Latin word erectio “straightening” > Russian erektsiya “increasing the volume of the penis of a man and his hardening” in the meaning and commonality of the root. Compare also Buryat ershe, Khalkha-Mongolian erch “strength, energy; tightly twisted, tightly twisted, strongly rolled up” (for example, about threads); Khalkha-Mongolian “spring force, intensity” and others; Buryat erbey “weak, skinny; light, weightless” is similar to the Kyrgyz erbey- “to be barely noticeable, small, weak”, compare Kyrgyz bey “no, without, not to have” Chinese fey the same in the examples: Chinese feyfa “illegal, lawlessness”, where fa “law” of the Kyrgyz beyish “paradise” where ish “work, labour” (Zulpukarov et al., 2016); transform ar- has been presented in the words: Buryat, Khalkha Mongolian arad “laboring people,” the Kalmyk arbs “hero” ard (spoken) “people person”; Kalmyk arn “commoner, genus, generation” Khalkha Mongolian aran “commoner”, haran “man” (Sanjeev et al., 2005).

2) The transformations of the Common Altai *er in the Tungus-Manchu languages are limited. The found examples supplement and support the previous comparisons: the Evenk ur “male, male individual” (Sevortyan, 1974), the Manchu erki “self-will, violence, freedom” (Zulpukarov et al., 2016), which are compared with the Buryat ershe “strength, energy”, erid “directly, decisively, categorically”, the Kalmyk ers “suddenly, abruptly, rapidly” (Zulpukarov et al., 2016), the general Turkic erk “strength, will; power, strength”. Restoring the most ancient form of the names of male and man in type *er on the most productive option, we do not support or adopt the point of view of the G. Dyorfer, which is very difficult to explain the origin of the word er (<еrе < here < rere) (Sevortyan, 1974), in the compared languages.

The presence of the ancient hǟrǟ “husband” (Potseluyevskiy, 2001) indicates the existence of anlautny velar at the beginning of the root and at the same time allows comparison of this reflex of the common Turkic root er “husband” with the German Нerr “mister”, the Russian geroy “hero, strong man” (see below). The loss of the final -r (Uyghur dialects ее/ää/ä) or its transition to -y (Lobnor ey “husband”) probably occurred under the influence of the desire of Eastern Turkic languages for an open syllable (Zulpukarov et al., 2016).

The common Turkic root *еr, implemented in various transformations and variants, serves as a producing basis for a group of etymologically identical words in the compared languages.

1) The derivative with the suffix -еn was represented in the languages:

a) еrеn—Old Turkic, Old Uighur, Karaite, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz, Turkish dialects;

b) еrаn, ärеn—Karaite (Trakai dialect along with еrеn);

c) еyеn—Lobnor;

d) irеn—Khakas;

e) irän—Tatar dialects;

f) yärän—Kazakh.

These words express meanings:

2) “hero”—Kazakh, Kyrgyz; “fine fellow”—Kazakh, Kyrgyz; “brave”—Karaite (Crimean, Galich dialects); “warrior”—ancient Turkic; “courageous”—Kyrgyz; “strong”—Kazakh, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz;

3) “nobleman, dignitary”—ancient Turkic;

4) “man”—ancient Turkic; “good man, man of honor”—Karaite (Crimean, Galich dialects);

5) “business man”—Karaite (Trakai dialect), “business”—Karaite (Crimean, Galich dialects);

6) “young man”—ancient Turkic;

7) “husband, spouse”—the Karaite, Lobnor.

The first two meanings appear to be major, primary, and almost completely correlate with the semantics of the original *er root. The remaining meanings are derivative from them and act as figurative sense.

Some scientists see in the suffix -en a sign of diminutiveness: er + en (V. Bang, A. Zayonchkovskiy); compare ogul “son”—oglan (diminutive-hypocoristic form), ul “son”—ulan (diminutive-hypocoristic form).

Others see the suffix -en as a sign of multiplicity by P. Pello and K. Brokelman, gathering and collectivity by A. N. Kononov, proximity-amplification and multiplicity (Potseluyevskiy, 2006; Sevortyan, 1974). We believe that the suffix -en in the given examples is used to designate the denotation as a person and to separate a male person—husbandand man, in contrast to the meaning of “male, male individual” in the names of animals.

4. Meaning in the Turkish Languages

The common Turkic eren “man, hero, human…” remind the Chinese word rĕn “man, human race, mankind; adult, solid person, individual; minor official, worker; native, people (of country), citizen, citizens, people” (Zulpukarov et al., 2016). In modern Chinese (Hanyu), the wordrĕn “person, citizen, native” is pronounced as zhen. Compare bú shì Yīngguó rén, wŏ shì Sügelán rén.— I’m not English, I’m Scottish. Literally “I + am not + is + Great Britain/England + resident/citizen, I + am + Scotland + resident/citizen”, where the word rén [zhen] is etymologically related to the common Turkic word eren. We allow an apheresis: in the Chinese word, the initial sound е- has been dropped out.

The root er + suffix -kek is presented in the following transformations:

1) erkek—Altai, Kazakh, Karakalpak, Karaite (Crimean, Galich dialects), Karachay-Balkar, Kyrgyz, Crimean Tatar, Kuman, Nogai, Saryg-Yugur, Teleut, Turkish, Turkmen, Uyghur dialects, Chagata;

2) erkäk—Azerbaijani, Uzbek;

3) erkeh—Balkar, the Turkish dialects;

4) erkäh—Azerbaijani;

5) erkak—Karaite (Crimean dialect);

6) yerkek—Gagauz (with prosthesis);

7) yerkäk—Uzbek dialects (with prosthesis);

8) äkäk/ärkäk—Uyghur (with dieresis);

9) ēkäk—Uyghur dialects (with dieresis and lengthening of the initial vowel);

10) erkeg—Balkar;

11) eykek—Lobnor (with interchanging r/y);

12) ergek—Karagas;

13) ärkäk—ancient Uyghur, Shor;

14) erhäv—Uzbek dialects (with interchanging k/v in the final part of the word);

15) erkä—Uzbek dialects (with the opopoka (the process of dropping out) of the final velar and the transformation of the closed syllable into the open one);

16) irkek—ancient Turkic;

17) irkäk—Bashkir, Tatar;

18) irgäk—Koibal, Tobolsk;

19) ergäk—Kachin, Koibal, Sagay;

20) irgek—Tuvan, Khakass;

21) irgeh—Yakut (Sevortyan, 1974).

All forms can be raised to the archiform *erkek, which allows interchange: 1) e/ä/ye/i; 2) r/y/0 (zero sound); 3) k/g; 4) e/ä/а; 5) k/h/v/0 (zero sound) in their reflexes. They represent meanings:

1) “male/male individual”—Azerbaijani, Altai, Bashkir, Gagauz, Kazakh, Karaite, Karakalpak, Karachay-Balkar, Kyrgyz, Crimean Tatar, Lobnor, Nogai, Saryg-Yugur, Turkish, Turkmen, Uzbek, Uyghur, Khakass, Yakut; “male in mammals”— Bashkir; “male of quadrupeds and birds”—Yakut;

2) “man”—ancient Turkic, Gagauz, Kazakh, Karaite (Crimean, Galich dialects), Karakalpak, Kyrgyz, Crimean Tatar, Cuman, Nogai, Uzbek, Uyghur;

3) “husband, spouse”—Karaite (Crimean dialect), Kyrgyz, Cuman, Turkish.

4) “male”—ancient Turkic, Kyrgyz, Uzbek; “courageous”—Kyrgyz dialects; “boy”—Tuvan (folklore);

5) “ram older than one year”—Azerbaijani dialects, Turkish dialects; “two-year-old ram, emasculated ram”—Azerbaijani dialects;

6) “camel”—Turkmen; “camel, woolly camel older than 5 years”—Turkish dialects;

7)”male bear”—Tuvan, “rooster”—Balkar;

8) “non-rain cloud”—Turkish dialects.

Some scholars, such as E. V. Sevortyan, emphasizes the importance of biological meaning rather than social meaning of reflexes of the most ancient root *erkek “male, man” (Sevortyan, 1974). And the reflexes of the archetype *er have a wide range of meanings (“husband, man, hero, athlete, spouse…”) than the reflexes of the derivative word.

According to V. V. Radlov and A. fon Gaben, the word erkek is formed as a result of a combination of two morphemes, the root morpheme er and the suffix morpheme -kek with the meaning of an intensity (Sevortyan, 1974). Compare the Kyrgyz bysh- “to whisk, shake (koumiss, milk), churn (butter)” andbishkek “A churn-staff for beating up koumiss”, bat- “to be plunged, sink, penetrate; to go in; (about the sun, the moon) to set; to dare; to get along with” and batkak “mud, muddy place” etc.

This group of examples is formally and semantically related to the words in the Turkic languages, raised to the most ancient form *erkek “thumb”, so long as on significance its denotation occupies an important position in the functioning of the human hand, is often used to demonstrate approval actions, actions and behavior of people, acting as a non-verbal sign-symbol of the meanings “well done! great! excellent!” In the compared languages, we have the words:

1) erkek—Altaic, Turkic, Kuman, Tatar, Teleut, Chagatai;

2) ergek—Altai, Karagas, Kachin, Koibal, Sagay;

3) irgek—Altai, Koibal, Soyot, Teleut, Khakass;

4) erngek—ancient Turkic (with interchanging k/ng);

5) erengek—ancient Turkic (with epenthesis and interchanging k/ng);

6) ernek—ancient Turkic (with interchanging k/n);

7) eyegey—Lobnor (with interchanges r/y, k/g, k/y);

8) engrek—ancient Turkic (metathesis);

9) erbek—Yakut (with interchanging k/b). All types of interchanges have analogs and are typical for the compared languages. These words are used to express meanings: a) “thumb”—Altai, Karagas, Koibal, Lobnor, Khakass; b) “finger”— ancient Turkic, Tuvan, Yakut; “fingertip”—ancient Turkic; “finger of the glove)”— Khakass; c) “special tool for pulling seine belts out of the hole”—Yakut (Sevortyan, 1974).

Turkic nominees of the thumb are similar to examples: 1) in Mongolian languages: written Mongolian eregey, Middle Mongolian heregey, Dagur hergī, Dagur dialect ergī, Khalkha-Mongolian erhī, Buryat ergy, Kalmyk erkī “thumb” (Kalmyk erkī “thumb, male”); 2) in Tungus-Manchu languages: Evenk hürügün, ürügün, hürüvün, Even hörägän, ōrän, ōregen, hörögön/eregen, horogon, hüregen, heregen “thumb”, Solon urgun, ärgu, ärgä “thumb” (Illich-Svitych, 1976).

The names of the thumb in the Altaic languages are derivative from the word erkek “male, man, husband…” and are carriers of a figurative meaning. The metaphor is carried out within the framework of synecdoche techniques: the name of the whole is used to name its part. Reflexes of the root *erkek are the symbols of distinction of the strong half of people and animals and at the same time are used to nominate a functionally important and strong finger of the human hand.

5. Etymology in Kalmyk Language

The etymological identity of the most ancient root *erkek “male” and *erkek “thumb” has been the subject of scientific debate. Some comparativists recognize this connection according to A. fon Gaben, M. Ryasenen, others deny it, considering the corresponding words homonyms according to G. Ramstedt, V. M. Illich-Svitych (Illich-Svitych, 1976). We have a tendency to support the first point of view, taking into account the fact that, firstly, in the Kalmyk language there is the word erkī “thumb; male”, which combines two meanings, and, secondly, some peoples have a belief that the dignity of a man is determined by the shape of the thumb and nose. This also relates to signs of male animals. Compare the Kyrgyz proverb: Kochkor bolor kozunun tumshuk eti chong bolot; aigyr bolor kulundun zhaak eti chong bolot “A lamb that can become a breeding ram has large muzzle muscles; a colt that can become a breeding stallion has large jaw muscles”. As we see, people determine dignity of the male by individual external signs of the body.

6. Meaning in Indo-European Languages

Indo-European linguistic area is unique area that is richer in documentation of ancient languages (Carling et al., 2018). Additionally, the majority of Indian languages were originated from two language families including Indo-European and Dravidian (Sengupta & Saha, 2015). The root *er finds matches in Indo-European languages:

1) German er “he” means a personal prenominate of the 3rd person nominative case of singular masculine, which probably in ancient times was substantive and had a meaning “male, man…”, has been transformed later into the names of inanimate masculine nouns and into demonstrative pronoun;

2) Latin erus “mister, master of the slave”; arkuwar “gentleman”; gener “son-in-law, sister’s husband, groom” *gen “to give birth, wife”, *kеп “relationship, property” + er “husband” (Gamkrelidze & Ivanov, 1984); Italian eroe, Romanian erou, Maltese еroj “hero” (Online Dictionary In-Other-Languages, 2021);

3) Greek, Indo-Iranian, Armenian *ar-/r-: Avestan aršan-/arša- “man, person, hero”, ancient Persian aršan-/arša- “man, male, hero”, Scythian аrša “male, man”; Greek ăpoŋv “man, male; male (about animals)” (Rastorgueva & Edelman, 2000). Armenian air “man, person” arп in the genitive case (Gamkrelidze & Ivanov, 1984);

The following examples also belong to this group of examples:

1) Ancient Indian ari- “friend, alien, stranger”, arya- “master of the house, Aryan”;

2) Hittite ara- “friend, comrade”;

3) Ancient Irish aire “noble, free”, airech “free”, Eriu “Ireland” (literally “country of the nobles”), æger “God of the sea”, where æg “sea”, er “God”;

4) Ancient Persian ariya “Aryan, Iranian” (ar- = ir-); new Persian erman “guest”, Pahlavi еrān “land of the Aryans” (Gamkrelidze & Ivanov, 1984); the root ar- was represented as a part of derivatives: Indo-Iranian *arsti- “spear, lance”, ancient Indian rsti “spear, lance”; Indo-European *eres- “to plunge”, Lithuanian eršketis “prickly plant”, ancient Persian aršti- “spear”, Pahlavi aršt, Ossetian arc “pike, spear”; in the last examples, the names of the instruments of action of men and heroes were presented (Rastorgueva & Edelman, 2000).

7. Meaning in Uralic Languages

In Uralic languages, there are also words, whose roots may be related to the most ancient root *er:

1) Finnish oras “boar, emasculated boar”, orasa “male dog”, Vepsian оrač “male; boar; male dog”, Moksha-Mordovian urozi “emasculated boar”;

2) Finnish orja “slave”, Vepsian оrj “slave”, Estonian ori “slave”, Erzya-Mordovian ure “slave, hired worker” etc. (Gamkrelidze & Ivanov, 1984). The latter examples are similar to the Sumerian ere “slave”, and the previous ones are similar to the ancient Indian varāha “boar, pig”, Avestan varāza “boar”, Persian varāz, New Persian gurāz “boar”; compare the Kyrgyz (dialect) küröz “rough, decisive, merciless (man)”, the Russian gr- in the words groza “thunderstorm”, groznyi “terrible”, grubyi “rough”.

8. Meaning in Davidian Languages

In the Dravidian languages (South India) the reflexes of the most ancient root *er are found: Bragui are “husband” (Nafikov & Suleymanova, 2017). Kannada ere “master, spouse; state of being”, ereja “master, king, spouse”, Tamil irai “great, famous (someone); master, head; elder brother, spouse, king, supreme deity; top, head”, iraiwan “deity, head, master, spouse, venerable person”, Malayalam irān, rān “sovereign (when addressing the ruler)”, Telugu era “signor”, rēdu “king, signor, master, spouse” (Menges, 1987). We have similar names in Afrasian (Berber ar-gaz “man”), Basque (ar “male”, giz-ar “man”), Indian (Kinea ere “husband, male”), Sumerian (ur “man”) and other languages (Nafikov & Suleymanova, 2017).

In the languages of Eurasia, the most ancient root *er has transformations with the prosthetic sounds n-, h-, g-, u-, v-, y-. Similar phenomena occur even within closely related languages: Russian on “he”, ona “she”, ono “it”, oni “they”, Ukrainian vin “he”, vona “she”, vono “it”, voni “they”, Kyrgyz ar-Uzbek har “everyone” etc. Here are some examples:

1) Ancient Indian nar-, Avestan nar- “male, man”, the ancient Irish nar “wild boar” (“male”), Welsh ner “hero” (compare Evenki nari “man”, Kyrgyz nar “one-humped camel”, the Egyptian nr “people” etc.);

2) Hattic wur “male” (Nafikov & Suleymanova, 2017), Latin uir”man”, ancient Indian vira “man, hero”, Lithuanian vyras “man” (Gamkrelidze & Ivanov, 1984); Latvian waronis “hero” Malay (Austronesian) wira “hero” (Nafikov & Suleymanova, 2017);

3) with the protetic y-: Russian yornik “dissolute man, rake, mischievous person”, yeromyga “reveller, idler, scoundrel”, yeryga/yeryzhnik “swindler”, yeroha/ yeroshka “stubborn, squabbler” (Fasmer, 1986); compare also in the Turkic languages: Kazakh, Saryg-Yugur, Tatar dialect jer, Uzbek dialect jär “husband” (Potseluyevskiy, 2001) in the Uralic languages: Nenets jeru/jerwu “master, lord, judge, leader”; for example, in the Konda dialect witieru/witeru “spirit-master of water” (wit “water”) (Menges, 1987);

4) with the protetic h-, g-, k-: Latin, French heros, Portuguese, Catalan heroi, Spanish, Galician heroe, Albanian, English hero, Lithuanian herojus “hero”; Belgic, Bulgarian, Russian geroy “hero”; the anthroponym Herman “(literally) lordman, noble man”, compared with the Middle Latin toponym Germania “country of the Germans”, is consonant with the Kyrgyz kārman “hero, character” K. K. Yudakhin considers this word to be of Iranian origin and at the same time distinguishes the root word kār “anger, rage, malice” separately from it, calling the last one Arabic (Yudakhin, 1985). And it seems to us that the root kār with the prosthetic sound k- has a Nostratic origin and is a reflex of the most ancient root *er “male”.

It should be noted that the Indo-European suffix -ar/-еr/-оr… with the meaning of the subject and producer of the action, the owner of a certain quality and profession, probably goes back to the considered most ancient form *er. Compare, for example, the Swedish en direct-ör “director”, en stockholmare “Stockholm resident” (Zhukova et al., 2013) and the Hindi sun-ār “jeweler” (sonā “gold”), luh-ār “blacksmith” (lohā “iron”). The suffix -ār/-āri in Hindi is compared to the word kārah/kārī “doer”. Sanskrit svarna-kārah has correspondences in Prakrit sonna-āro, in Hindi sun-ār “goldsmith” (sonā “gold”), Sanskrit lauha-kārah corresponds to Prakrit loha-āro and Hindi luh-ār “blacksmith” (lohā “iron”). In some cases, the suffix -kār is found, which is ascribed to the Sanskrit word kārah/ kāri “doer”: itihās-kār “historian”, sāhitya-kār “literator” (Barkhudarov, 1969) comparing to the suffix -оr in the Russian words literat-or “literator”, reviz-or “inspector”, montazh-or “cutter” etc.

Similarly, in our opinion, the origin of the Kyrgyz suffix -kar/-kor/-ker/-kör/ -gar/-gor/-ger/-gör in the words ishker “businessman” (ish “business, work”), parakor “bribe taker” (para “bribe”), zerger “jeweler” (zer “gold”) and others, which allows comparison with the root kor “chief, head, leader” in a complex word korbashy (where bash-y “chief, head; beginning, outcome” with the possessive suffix of the 3rd person) “chief of the local police in the Kokand Khanate; leader of a group of enemies of Soviet power in Central Asia” (Uzbek kurboshi is the same). The noun kor is connected, it is not used separately from the complex word and has a narrow context of usage and numerous derivatives: korgo- “to protect, defend”, korgolo “to escape, hide yourself, seek protection”, korgon “fortress, stronghold, protection; high clay fence around a house or grave; sheep pen” etc. This fact indicates that the independent word has turned into a suffix morpheme and received a diverse semantic modification.

9. Transformations of the Most Ancient Root *er “Male”

The transformations of the most ancient root *er “male” without prosthetic sounds have also come down to our time in the form of a suffix morpheme. This suffix has been represented in structure of a number of international and intercultural names. For example, in the languages of Eurasia, a word that has various sound variants with a common meaning, is widely found:

1) Mongolian bagatur, bator, batur, Kalmyk bātr;

2) Turkish, Chagatai batur “brave, military leader”, Shor pagattyr “hero”, Kyrgyz bātyr “hero, brave, courageous”;

3) Manchu batoru/baturu “strong man, hero; brave”, Solon batar “strong man”, Nanai bātor/batoru “hero, strong man”, Ulchi bātur/baturi “hero”, Evenki batur “hot, hot-tempered (about a person)”, bagati “hero; strong, big”; Even bagtir “hero, strongman”, batur “brave, daredevil, adventurer, fine fellow; brave, heroic, manly” (Sevortyan, 1978);

4) Hungarian bator “bold”;

5) Bulgarian bagatyr, Ukrainian bagatir “rich, affluent”; Russian bogatyr “hero”, Polish bohater/bohatyr “hero” (Fasmer, 1986; Baskako, 1976). In these examples, the word *er “hero” has become a suffix -er with the allomorphs -еr, -оr. -ur, -ir, -yr, -r. We will discuss in more detail the question of the origin of these words in the languages of Eurasia below.

In the Turkic languages, we have the following transformations of the name of the hero, strong man and athlete:

1) bātyr—Altai, Kyrgyz, Turkish dialects, Turkmen, Yakut;

2) bātyr/paattyr/pettyr/mattyr/mātyr/matyr—Altaic dialects;

3) mādyr—Tuvan;

4) batyr—Balkar, Bashkir, Kazakh, Karakalpak, Karaite (Crimean and Trakai dialects), Crimean Tatar, Cuman, Tatar, Turkmen dialects, Uzbek dialects;

5) botyr, botir—Uzbek dialects;

6) patyr—Saryg-Yugur;

7) bātur—Uyghur dialects;

8) batur—ancient Turkic, Turkish dialects, Uyghur;

9) batuy—Lobnor;

10) matyr—Altai dialects, Sagai, Khakass;

11) bahadur—Cuman;

12) bahidur—Uyghur;

13) bahadyr—Karakalpak, Turkish;

14) bahadir—Tatar;

15) bahodir—Uzbek;

16) pagatyr—Altai dialects;

17) mādyr—Tuvan dialects.

It is assumed that the transformations of the inter-Turkic names of the hero can be integrated and raised to the formula: bag-/bah-/baa- “abundant, happy” + the prefix -at + er “man; hero; courageous”.

Common Turkic names of the hero express meanings:

1) “hero”—Altai, Bashkir, Turkish and other languages; “strong man”—Altai, Balkar, ancient Turkic, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Crimean Tatar, Cuman, Lobnor, Nogai, Tatar, Tuvan, Turkmen, Uzbek, Uyghur; “knight”—Baraba, Tatar, Yakut; “epithet of national heroes”—Kazakh, Kyrgyz; “male proper name”—Kyrgyz, Cuman, Uzbek, Uyghur dialects; “title”—ancient Turkic;

2) “brave, decisive, courageous, valiant”—Balkar, Bashkir, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Turkish dialects, Khakass, Yakut; “heroic, ballsy”—ancient Turkic, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Tuvan;

3) “brave man”—Altai, Bashkir, Balkar, Cuman, Tatar, Turkmen; “daredevil”— Turkmen; “fine fellow”—Bashkir, Turkish dialects;

4) “strong, fighting, brisk, brave, fearless”—Tatar, Yakut; “courageous”—ancient Turkic, Cuman, Nogai, Tuvan, Uzbek, Uyghur dialects, Khakass, Chuvash, Yakut;

5) “strong man”—Baraba, Tatar, Yakut; “athlete”—Tatar; “fighter”—Yakut; “winner”—Altai dialects, Teleutian; “wrestler”—Uyghur dialects;

6) “prominent”—Tatar dialects; “noble, imperious”—Saryg-Yugur (Sevortyan, 1978).

10. Origin of the Eurasian Interlanguage Name Hero

1) The ancient Turkic word batyr is borrowed from the Mongolian language: in the written Mongolian language there is the name bātur, which is the outcome of all the corresponding transformations of the nominee hero (V. Bang, G. Ramstedt, N. N. Poppe, L. Z. Budagov and others). For example, G. Ramstedt reconstructs the way of origin and distribution of this name as follows: Mongolian bagatur > Persian, Russian > Turkic. However, it is known that the Turkic form batur is registered in monuments many centuries earlier than its Mongolian form in the “Secret legend” (Menges, 1987).

2) The Turkic word batyr could have both Mongolian and Persian origin (S. E. Malov). Such a compromise solution also deserves attention in the sense that the Turkic, Mongolian and Persian names of the hero can be elevated to another more ancient source. In Altaistics, there is an opinion that the Turkic-Mongolian forms have a common source—the Hunnic language (M. Ryasenen, J. Clawson).

3) The common Turkic name of the hero has been arisen as a borrowing from the Eastern Iranian languages (V. V. Radlov, V. Henning, K. G. Menges, K. Lokos). The basis for this assumption was the presence of the word bakhtar in the Avesta language, the name of Ossetian leaders in the form of os-bagatariin Georgian monuments of the V century, the name Bahadar “brave, hero” in the Ossetian inscription of the X-XII centuries (B. Zelenchuk), the name Batur/Badur in the ancient Alans.

Taking into account the antiquity of attesting of the hero name in the Caucasus, scientists suggest that they are probably traces of the Huns’stay in the Caucasus (Sevortyan, 1978).

4) We put forward another hypothesis, which is based on Nostratic data and is closer to the second of the above assumptions. The facts of ancient and modern languages allow to reconstruct the most ancient root in form *bag, realized in allomorph bag/bak/bah/bay/… and expressing the meanings “happiness, well-being; the Lord, God” (ancient Persian bаgа- “God, Lord”, the ancient Indian bhagas “wealth, happiness”, Avestan bаgа- “share, the fate”, Slavic bog, bogat/ bogatyi, Albanian bageti “cattle, draft animals,” Kyrgyz bak “happiness, well-being; share, the fate; garden”, bak- “to feed, treat, care for; to adopt”; bay “rich, abundant” and others). The primary meaning of the root *bag- “giver; share, wealth; happiness, well-being”, the derivative—“God” (Shanskiy, 1965). The Mongolian word bogdohan “emperor” (bog-do “holy, great”, han “tsar”), borrowed by Slavic languages, Belarusian, Russian bogdyhan, Ukrainian bogdihan, Polish bogdychan, Czech bogdychan, Slovak bogdоchan and others (Baskakov, 1976), having in its structure the interfix -do, well motivates the origin of the Eurasian word bogatyr/bahatyr. Joining to the transformations bagda/bagat/bogdo/ bogat… of the most ancient root *bag of the word er as a suffix (as a result of weakening and loss of the primary meaning) could serve as the initial basis for the emergence of an interlanguage lexeme in the Altai and some other languages. This assumption is confirmed by the specific facts of the Russian language, where there is an adjective bogat “rich”, the combination of which with the root er “hero” could form the word bogater > bogatyr “hero”.

As we see, according to the originality of the sound design and the number of used sounds, the Eurasian nominees of the hero are divided into several groups:

1) nominees of five sounds: batyr/batur/botir/batar/bator/patyr/patar/matyr/batuy;

2) nominees of five sounds with a long vowel in the first syllable: bātyr/bātur/mātyr/mādyr/bātor;

3) nominees of six sounds with an epithet vowel: batoru/baturu/baturi/batori;

4) nominees of the six sounds: bagtir;

5) nominees from seven sounds: bahadur/bahidur/bahadyr/bogatir/bogatyr/bahodir/pagatyr/bohater/bohatur;

6) nominees with doubling of the interpositional consonant: pāttyr/pettyr/pagattyr.

We believe that the archetype is closely related to the transformations with velar g/h (4 - 6): they preserve the phonetic form of the ancient Indo-Iranian names of God and well-being. Other examples (1 - 3) reflect the transition of the closed syllable (bag/bog/bah…) to the open one and the acquisition by the syllable-forming vowel the longitude sign (bag/bog/bah… > /mā…).

Lobnor batui “hero” reflects the process of falling out of the final -r in Eastern Turkic languages and replacing the trembling sonorous sound with -y (compare Kazakh, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Uzbek dialect zhar “cliff”, Bashkir, Karaite, Kumanite, Nogai, Tatar, Turkish, Uzbek yar “cliff”, Khakass char “cliff”, Lobnor yay, Uyghur ya/yar “cliff” and Chinese ya/yay “rock, cliff; rocky, precipitous” (Zulpukarov, 2016) and at the same time allows us to suggest the origin of the well-known anthroponym Batyi, the name of the grandson of Genghis Khan, the ruler of the Golden Horde (1227-1255) from the word batur.

11. Other Eurasian Language Derivatives

The most ancient root *er was represented as part of many other derivatives in the languages of Eurasia. Let us turn to the facts of the Slavic languages. The reflex of this the most ancient root is clearly visible in the structure of the Eastern Slavic social term, implemented in transformations: Russian boyarin “boyar(d)” (from it as a result of compression formed barin “barin (In pre-revolutionary Russia a man belonging to the upper strata of society)”), Ukrainian boyarin, and the inter-Turkic word bayar “master, official person”, found in Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Tatar, Turkmen languages, in Uzbek dialects, the first part of which we can associate with the Eurasian the most ancient root *bag/bay “Lord, God; lord; happiness, well-being; happy, lucky; noble, rich”, and the second part is raised to the most ancient root *er (Fasmer, 1986).

The word boyare “boyar(d)s” in plural is found in the “The poem about Igor’s regiment”. Commentators explain its meaning as follows: boyar(d)s are nobles, persons occupying a high position in the feudal hierarchy. F. E. Korsh presents the origin of this word: Turkic baj “rich” + er “man, husband” + Russian suffix -in = boyarin (Baskakov, 1976).

Others explain the etymology of the word in a detailed and very complex way:

1) bojla/bulja “noble, ordinary foreman” + metathesis bojla/bolja + plural suffix -lar + suffix -in, from bolja + lar + -in as a result of haplological contraction, has been arisen bolyarin/boyarin > barin (P. M. Melioranskiy);

2) bojla/bujla “noble, ancestral elder” + еr = bojlar + suffix -in > bolyarin > boyarin > barin according to I. Marquart (Baskakov, 1976). We support F. E. Korsch: it is attractive for its simplicity and lucidity, clearly and convincingly demonstrates the origin of the suffix -ar in the word boyarin.

As it is seen, the most ancient root *er “male” in ancient times, probably had a wide geographical distribution. Its reflexes are preserved in almost all language families of Eurasia, especially productively represented.

12. Conclusion

A comparison of the reflexes of the most ancient root *er “male” in the languages of Eurasia allows us to draw some general conclusions.

1) In the outcome, the considered root was probably used to distinguish and name male animals and male individuals in primitive people. In its semantics originally was dominated the biological code.

2) In the process of development of consciousness, language thinking of people, ways of detailed cognition and nomination of the surrounding world and its elements, improvement of social organization in society, the archiform *er “male” is semantically modified, enriched and functionally developed, acquiring diverse denotative and connotative, concrete and abstract, direct and figurative, substantive, adjective or verbal, positive and negative, real and unreal (sacred, mythological), lexical and grammatical and other meanings.

3) The most ancient root *er “male” has come down to our time in various transformations that differ from each other in function, semantics and structure, as well as in the nature of interchange, prostheses, metatheses and other phonetic processes, sometimes changing their sound appearance up to recognition. It was open not only for semantic derivation, but also served as a starting point for the formation of numerous derivatives which function productively in the languages of the Eurasian linguo-ethnogenetic space, significantly enriching the cognitive-linguistic thesaurus of their native speakers.

Practical implication in this article based on the research results, brings something new to the theory and practice of Nostratic linguistics; research results can be successfully used in the comparative historical linguistics, in seminars on lexicology and etymology at the philological university faculties.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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