24000 entries!

While going through all of my sources again, I realized that I hadn’t entered much for Dolgan. This has been pretty quick going, thanks to Stachowski’s Dolganischer Wortschatz. Today I reached 24000 entries. Entry 24000 is the Dolgan word for “glass” – hǟrkälä. This word is pretty interesting – it’s ultimately a borrowing from Russian зеркало, which means mirror. It means mirror, too, in Dolgan, but also means glass. I haven’t been able to find any other forms with that meaning for Dolgan. Russian зеркало was borrowed into Sakha as сиэркилэ, where it also means mirror. I’m not convinced the Dolgan form is descended from the Sakha form, as the vowels are pretty different, but there is likely some relationship. It is likely that early Russian traders traded manufactured goods like mirrors with the locals, who borrowed the word. Apply some vowel harmony and Dolgan’s strong dislike for /s/-sounds, and you get hǟrkälä. As glass was the only unknown component of these traded mirrors, the terms became conflated.

As a side note, I chose the term “glass” because I wanted to see if the early Turks had access to this technology. Most Turkic languages either use terms for manufacture products (such as bottles or mirrors) to mean “glass”, or borrow from other languages. This indicates that glass was unknown to them in ancient times. Also, glassmaking was developed only about 4000 years ago in Mesopotamia and only in the 5th Century CE in China. So any glass objects that the oldest Turkic civilizations would have had would have to come from the Middle East or Europe, and would not have been made locally. This may tell us something about their metallurgical practices, as it is believed that glass was discovered as a byproduct of metallurgy, when hot metal came into contact with sand.


Naturally, after adding 50 new glosses to the database I’ve run across a new one that I’d like to add: chalk. Chuvash has пурӑ, пур, Kazakh and Kymyk have бор

Wiktionary suggests that the Kazakh for comes from Russian бор “boron”, but this is clearly conflating the boron meaning with the chalk meaning. Fedotov says this is a native Turkic term and ties it to Sakha буор “earth, clay”. (Tuvan has пор and Tòfa has бор for clay as well). In Bashkir, the form is either бур or аҡбур, suggesting that the original term may have referred to crumbly stone or soil, with color terms used to distinguish between chalk, clay, etc.

I’ve entered forms for the latest 50 glosses for Turkish, Tuvan, Dzhungar Tuvan, Sakha, and Chuvash, and I’m working on Azerbaijani. Once I’ve made my rounds, I may add chalk to the database, plus whatever else I find.

As you can see above, there are a lot of cases where it could be useful to suggest related terms. Knowing that chalk is related to earth and clay could be beneficial. I may work on this in the near future as well.