I recently received an inquiry as to the form of ‘grape’ in a certain Turkic language, so I decided to add it to the database.

It has been interesting doing this research, as I cannot find a single native (i.e. not Russian vinograd) form in any Siberian language. You would think that grapes might be able to grow in the Altay region, but apparently not.

It is very difficult to reconstruct the proto form. Wiktionary gives *jüŕüm, as does Siemieniec-Gołaś. This reconstruction is appropriate for Central Turkic (i.e. non Siberian and non-Bolgar). Interestingly, Khalaj exhibits an initial /h/ (hüzüm). This might explain why some languages in the Common group have initial /y/ and others do not. I’m still not sure what to make of Khalaj initial /h/…

Where is gets weird is when we look at Chuvash and Western Yugur. Chuvash has iśĕm, which is unexpected. Any intervocalic /z/ should change to /r/ in Bolgar (word final /z/ is another matter for another time…). In Western Yugur, the forms are öǰüm, öčüm, üčüm. The Western Yugur forms neatly matches the Chuvash form and points to a proto-form like *ečüm, which is very strange. There’s not way to reconcile Common Turkic *(h/y)izüm with that.

A couple more notes: Mongolian үзэм refers to raisins, while усан үзэм (literally wet raisins…ugh…) refers to grapes. The Western Yugur forms may apply raisins only as well. Also, Russian изюм refers to raisins as well. It’s clearly derived from Turkic, but it’s unclear what language it’s from.

I suspect that all of the Turkic forms are borrowings from some other language, but it is unclear which one. Chinese uses pútáo (or something like that), the Persian languages all use angur… It is tempting to try to link it to Persian raz, meaning vine, cognate with Greek rháx, Latin racemus (whence raisin). However, the origin of these words is unknown, and we still have to account for the rounded vowels and the –üm at the end of the word.

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