Alternative Historical Linguistics
Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv) Personal Site
The Altaic languages.
Origin and development.
          "It has been suggested that the Turkish, Mongolian and Tungus languages form such a family, commonly called the Altaic, and that they are all descended from a lost primaeval language called Altaic or Proto-Altaic. For some years now I have been coming more and more to the opinion that this is an error and that the fact that these languages gave a good deal of vocabulary material in common is best explained, not by assuming that they have inherited it from a common ancestor, but by assuming that a prolonged and complicated process of exchanges has taken place between these languages. … I am quite convinced that Turkish is not genetically related to either of them". (CLAUSON GERARD, 2000: Studies in Turkic and Mongolic linguistics. London, New York: 36).
          One can add to the words of Sir Gerard that Japanese and Korean are considered to be belonged to the Altaic family. Earlier, using the graphical-analytical method, we found the Turkic Urheimat in the South Caucasus (see The Nostratic languages. ) and then localized the habitats of Turkic tribes speaking particular dialects, originated from the common parent Turkic language, in East Europe (see The uprising of the Turkic Languages) . Only to the end of the 3rd mill BC the most part of Turkic tribes crossed the Don and dispersed in the Volga river basin, the Northern Caucasus, and further in the steppes of Kazakhstan. In such way they arrived to Altai. Such assertion contradicts Altaic theory of the origin Turkic languages based upon the fact of common features between the Turkic and Mongolic languages. But these common features can have other explanation as genetic relationship. At first we have to find the Urheimat of the other Altaic languages using their graphical models. The lexical material for constructing these models was found in the International Etymological Database Project The Tower of Babel.
          The received three models can be placed only on the areas of the Amur basin where the Urheimats of the Mongolic, Tungus, Japanese, and Korean languages should be located (see the map below).
Left: The ways of migration of Turkic tribes. Right: The graphic model of the Altaic (Mongolic, Japanese, Korean, and Tungus languages)
The Proto-Turkic language quite well fit to the general model of relationship of the Altaic languages what can say about their common genetic origin. For the final clarification of the issue, it is needed to find the territory of arising of the Altaic languages. As the graph has only five knots, it can be placed ion different places in Europe or Asia. To facilitate the search for the exact location, we have to construct the separate models of relationship of the Mongolic and Manchu-Tungus languages, which number is enough for the confident placing them on assumed places of ethno-forming areas. Having received such survey, it will be easier to establish the place of formation of the other Altaic languages.
The graphic model of the Mongolic languages
The group of Mongolic languages consist of the Middle Mongolian, Dagur, Buriat, Ordos, Kalmuck, Mongour, Khalkha, Shary Youghur, Baoan, Dongxian and some other languages or dialects. We set as principle the classification of the Mongolic languages made by Russian linguist Sergey Starostin and took for constructing graphic models of these languages the lexical material of the International Etymological Database Project The Tower of Babel Maybe the model can be completed by data of other languages but these data are not available in the meanwhile.
The graphic model of the Tungus languages
The languages of Tungus (Manchu-Tungus) group are spoken by the people of Eastern Siberia and Manchuria. Many of them are endangered to vanish but their vocabularies are composed by Russian linguists. The construction of the graphic models of Tungus languages was also made by means of the International Etymological Database Project The Tower of Babel
          Having three graphical models it was enough easily to find the territory of the primeval settlements of the speakers of the Altaic languages in the Amur River basin and adjacent areas where the ethno-forming areas were situated. According to the model of relationship, the Korean language, the most remote from the rest of the Altai, just was formed on the peripheral area, which was the Korean peninsula. That the Koreans populate this territory at present is an additional fact in favor of the correctness of the location of the graph. The ancestors of modern Japanese dwelt in the territory of Primorye, well limited by the rivers Ussuri and the Amur, and the Sea of Japan. From there they moved to the Japanese island trough Sakhalin, either directly on the frozen sea. The particular Mongolic languages were arisen on the common Altaic basis in the ethno-forming areas created mostly by tributaries of the Songhua River and the right tributaries of the river Amur. Obviously, no special Proto-Mongolic language existed, so the closer relationship between the Mongolic languages, comparing with other Altaic languages, can be explained by the proximity of areas of their formation and the boundaries being easy to overcoming. The same can be said of the Manchu-Tungus languages, with the only difference that they were arisen in the basins of the left tributaries of the Amur River (see the map below).
The map of Altaic  settlement areas at the time of the forming of particular languages.

          The territory inhabited by the Turks, was supposed to be on the Trans-Baikal region limited on the east by the river Argun, which separated them from the territory of the Mongolian tribes. Thus, we can assume that in the early second millennium BC, when the Turkic tribes left their ancestral home in the area between the rivers Dnieper and Don, and moved eastward. Scattering in Kazakhstan, ancient Turks created the Andronovo culture in this area. After arriving to the forest zone east of the steppes near Altai, the Turkic tribes came into contact with the indigenous population. Archaeological studies resulted that there were two large independent tribe associations on the territory of Mongolia already from the end the 3rd mill BC. One of these associations (the eastern) was related to Mongoloid population, and the second (western) had Europeoid origin.
          Belonging to the Mongolian anthropological type, the local inhabitants subsisted on fishing, hunting, and food-gathering that is, they were still at a relatively low level of social development. Archaeological data suggest that "agricultural" features in the economy of the Amur country began to show only in the 3rd-2nd mill BC (BROMLEY Yu.V., 1986: 257), and the development of agriculture can be connected precisely with the arrival here Turkic tribes. Until that time, the system of oral communication of the aboriginal people was not yet enough developed, in accordance with their primitive economy, it was rather poor, while the newcomers, the Turks were at a higher level of cultural development and use much more advanced languages. While adapting to the more advanced economy of new settlers, the consequence was massive infiltration of the Turkic lexical and grammatical forms in the language closest neighbours – the Mongols and Tungus, and from these languages in languages of more eastern ethnic groups. In this way, the Turkic and Mongolic languages acquired some formal similarities which deceive to-day linguists as if the Altaic and Turkic language families have the same genetic origin. Meanwhile, commingling between two populations resulted the acquisition of Mongolic physical traits by the Turkic peoples. Later, during the Mongolic expansion since the 13th century, the reverse process of borrowing from the Mongolic to Turkic languages started quite naturally. Mongolic loan words in the Turkic languages hid the question about relation the Mongolic and Turkic languages still more. Sir Gerard Clauson noted that “the existence of this massive volume of Mongolic intruders seems somehow to have escaped notice, or, if noticed, to have been regarded by those who accept Altaic theory as evidence of a common “Altaic” heritage in both language groups” (CLAUSON GERARD, 2000: XI). Exactly such circumstance gave us a chance to construct the graphical model of typological relation of Altaic languages.
The hypothesis about the nature of the rhotacism and zetacism in the Altaic languages
  The full version
          One of the puzzles of the Altaic languages is the nature of the phonetic correspondence r/l – š/s (z). This complex phenomenon assumes the existence of two groups of Turkic languages, differing as follows. Similar phonetically words of the same sense can have on the same position either the sounds r, l, or š, s, z. For example, the name of a bull is pronounced öküz, ögüz in many Turkic languages, but Chuvash has văkăr. Accordingly, these groups are called by scholars r (l/r)-languages and z-languages. The latter are called also standard languages. At present the group of r-language consists of the Chuvash language at present, but it is assumed that other r-languages existed too. However, we can often find even among the z-languages that semantic near words of the same stem can have as the sound z, and the sound r on the same position . For example, the Turkic word semiz “fat" corresponds to the verb semir “to fatten, get fat, grow".
         The question about which of these sounds was primary – whistling š(s) or sonorous r(l) remains obscure till now. The majority of scholars believed that r/l were the primary as they have been changed in *š/s (z) almost in all Turkic languages and kept in the peripheral Altaic languages that is Mongolic and Tungus-Manzhu ones as well in the language of the Chuvashians which are the ancestors of Proto-Bulgars. Further amount of Altaists come to the opinion that the primary sounds were *š/s (z) that is so-called rhotacism took place. Language facts evidences as about the primacy r/l and about the primacy s/š . This contradiction can be explained by the hypothesis about existence of the special sound sibilant-vibrant rz / rs in languages of the population of Eastern Europe. This sound could transform in different languages either in r/l or in s/š . The possibility of the existence of such sound is confirmed by the Polish and Czech grammar which use the letters rz and ř for the certain phoneme which has replaced Proto-Slavic soft r’ in the Czech and Polish languages. In the Czech language ř corresponds to sounds and , and Polish rz does to sounds ž and š . As the ancestors of modern-day Czechs occupied the area near to the area of Proto-Bulgars, the replacement of Proto-Slavic r’ to rz could take place under influence of the Bulgarish substratum, and the similar phenomenon in the Polish language has taken place under influence of Czech. The existence of the especial sound similar to r is confirmed also with the Armenian spelling which distinguishes two sounds, r and rr (long). The long rr is being used for the spelling of Armenian antar "wood" which corresponds to Gagauz andyz "a grove, a bush". This fact can confirm the hypothesis of the existing of the sound rz / rs in Turkic language. The Turkiсs who had moved to Asia, have brought this feature of the phonetics as well there. The ancient ancestors of Mongols and Tungus, having borrowed many Turkic words, articulated this sound from the very beginning as r while Bulgars have simplified the pronunciation of rz / rs to usual r much later. The identical result of replacement of the ancient complex sound by a simpler one gives the grounds to speak now about imaginary Bulgarian-Mongolian connections which actually never had places.
         The rhotacism phenomenon, that is replacing the phoneme z (s) by the phoneme r, known in Latin since the 4th century BC, has taken place also in some West-Germanic languages (YEGOROV V.G., 1971: 25). Some phonetic facts of the Ukrainian language may also produce evidence in favor of the existing of the sound rz: Ukr. zherst’ – Rus. zhest’ “tin”. This word was borrowed from the Turkic languages where it had meaning "copper, brass", in the form jes, zes, zis, etc. The unclear r in the Ukrainian word can suggest an idea that the word was borrowed at the time when the sound rz still existed. That is, the Turkic protoform can be restored as *zerz. Then, if existing the parallels *zelz, it becomes possible to explain the hitherto obscure etymology of Proto-Slavic *zelzo "iron".
The Sino-Tibetan languages
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Lat virga “twig, rod” – Old Turkic bergä, “twig, birch, whip”, Xak, Uyg berge “whip”. The Hungarian virgácz “twig, birch”... can be referred to them. In this case, Hung virgone “agile, nimble, lively” and Chuv virkěn “to race, rush” also correspond to these words. Obviously, it is a wandering word which traces are present in many languages having different but similar meaning (e.g. Erzya verka “quick”, Rus birka and other similar Slavic words “small twig”, “catkin”, Ger Birke “birch”, Hung virag “flowers”, Kurd wurg “lively”). If the creators of the Tripilla culture were Semites, all these words can originate from some word similar to the Ar firh and Heb perax "flower". Then Lat virgō "virgin" should be referred here (cf. "deflowering").

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