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Turkish - English Cognates
1.       kali1969
22 posts
 30 Jan 2012 Mon 09:02 am

Hi Everyone!

I am on a search for Turkish-English Cognates!  I searched the internet but there is no definitive list out there that I can find.

Does anyone know a website?

Do you have a list that you wouldn´t mind posting or PM-ing me?

Any help would be great!


Thanks a million!


2.       si++
3785 posts
 30 Jan 2012 Mon 09:55 am

Contacts of peoples always mean contacts of languages. Language contacts result in words being borrowed from one language to another and the other way around. Languages of such active peoples as Turkic peoples left numerous traces in different languages, including the English language. Different sources show different numbers of words of Turkic origin in English – from 10[2] to 800[3]. According to our data[4], there are about four hundred Turkic loan words in English, 55% of which are ethnographical words, 26% belong to social and political vocabulary, and 19% are words designating natural phenomena.

The natural terms belong to the terminology of corresponding sciences and thus they are a necessary part of the English vocabulary, although some of these words are familiar only to specialists. Among the most well known words of this group are such words as badian, beech, irbis, jougara, mammoth, sable, taiga, turkey etc. There are 18 names for minerals in the same group, for example dashkesanite, tabriz marble, turanite etc.

Turkic borrowings, which belong to the social and political vocabulary, are generally used in special literature and in the historical and ethnographical works, which relate to the life of Turkic and Moslem peoples. The most well known Turkic loans forming this group are: bashi-bazouk, begum, effendi, chiaus, cossack, ganch, horde, janissary, khan, lackey, mameluke, pasha, saber, uhlan.

The ethnographical words are generally used in the scientific literature, and in the historical and ethnographical texts. There are Turkic borrowings that became an integral part of the English vocabulary: caviare, coach, kiosk, kumiss, macrame, shabrack, shagreen, vampire etc.

The words with Turkic etymology began to penetrate the languages of the English ancestors’ (Angles, Saxons and Jutes) not later than the end of the fourth century, when they fell under the influence of the Huns, a Turkic people. By the 376 AD, all of the Central Europe was controlled by the Huns. In 449 AD, not long before the death of the Huns’ king Atilla, the first groups of Angles, Saxons and Jutes began moving to the British Isles. This process lasted for about 150 years. Thus, the direct influence of the Turkic language of the Huns on the Old English language, fostered by the Huns’ dominance over the Germanic tribes, lasted for at least 73 years. If one takes into consideration the unquestionable domination of Turks at that time over the Germanic tribes both in culture and military field, then there must be a lot of Turkic loans which penetrated the Old English, especially its military terminology, titulation, horse-breeding vocabulary and terms designating the structure of a state. We believe that such words as beech, body, girl, beer, book, king were borrowed during the Hun – Old English period[5]. Unfortunately, we didn’t examine the Old English vocabulary thoroughly.

In the process of the development of the English language, most of the Old English words, including Turkic borrowings of the Hun period, were replaced by words from the other Germaniclanguages and from the Old French. Thus, for example, tapor, the Old English word of Turkic origin was ousted by axe[6], a common Germanic word. It is interesting that tapor was also borrowed by the Arabic[7], Persian[8] and Russian[9], and hitherto has been saved in them as well as in Eastern Turkic languages. In the Western Turkic languages, e.g. in Tatar and Turkish, it was subsequently replacedby the word balta having the same meaning, leaving a trace in Tatar only in the form tapagoch – “a chopping knife for vegetables”. The verb tapau – “to chop, to whip”, from which the noun tapar is derived, is still active in the Tatar language.

There is another possible way of adoption of the Turkic words by the Old English as well as the Middle English – the Viking route.

Vikings for a long time – from the 9c until the 12c – actively contacted with Turkic peoples – Bulgars, Pechenegs, Kypchaks, etc. And, apparently, they borrowed some notions from them. Vikings, known as the sea nomads, warriors and merchants, began their expansion only in the 800 AD, but it is known that already in the 5c they highly valued Hunnish swords[10]. The recent research shows that Vikings’ ancestors lived in the Don river basin, and left the region only in the 4c AD, supposedly forced out by the Turkic tribes. During the epoch of the Scandinavian Reign of England (9-12cc)[11], the Scandinavian language of the Vikings had a strong influence upon English.

In the 9-12cc the Turkic words penetrated English also through the Old French[12], which at the time was spoken by all the English aristocracy and their servants and warriors. Direct contacts of the English and Turkic peoples were resumed again during the Crusades, in which the English nobility participated along with their warriors. From the 1096 to 1270 AD, Europeans undertook eight Crusades to Palestine “to free the God’s coffin” and “to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims”.

The Crusades had positive consequences for the European culture. In the West, people began to wash hands before meals, learned how to use knives and forks, began to take hot baths, learned to change clothes and underclothes. Europeans began to grow rice, buckwheat, lemons, apricots, watermelons, to use cane sugar as food, learned to manufacture silk and mirrors and improved the quality of metals they produced.

The main opponents, whom the Crusaders had to fight against, were the Turks, or the Saracens, as they were called in the West. What is interesting is that one of the names for buckwheat in English is Saracen corn, which directly shows the place and the time of borrowing this crop. Europeans, fighting the Turks in Syria and Palestine, expanded this name of the Turkic and partly Kurdish tribes on all the Moslem peoples of the Middle East, including the Arabs of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. As a result, most of the etymological dictionaries attribute saracen to the borrowings from the Arabic.

This is an example of a typical mistake of the European linguists in revealing the etymology of an Oriental borrowing, when the Turkic factor is not taken into the consideration[13]. E.g. if an English word, let’s say kourbash or kismet, is present both in Turkic and Arabic, the European etymologists automatically attribute this word to English borrowings from Arabic. They even do not assume that Arabic or Persian, languages of ancient cultures, could borrow something from theTurkic, the language of the wild nomads in theEuropeans’ view. And, meanwhile, there are considerable layers of borrowings from Turkic in the Arabic and Persian.

As an example of a misguided etymological analysis, we can use sabot, dating back to the Crusades’ epoch. The closest to the truth version says that sabot and its derivatives saboteur, sabotage were borrowed from French, while the word sabot itself was borrowed from the Arabic language via Turkish. The Arabian word sabbat – “sandal” was identified as the etymon for sabot. But, actually, Arabic and Old French borrowed it both from the Turkic language of Saracens, who lived in the Middle East.

It is well-known that the Turkic word chabat (chabata, sabat, shabat) comes from the verb chabu – “to cut, to chop” and initially meant “shoes made of one piece of wood”, then it denoted a different type of wooden shoes, including wattled ones, i.e. there was an expansion of its meaning. As most kinds of wooden shoes kept falling out of use, this word began to mean shoes made of other materials. In the Modern Tatar language the word chabat means a bast sandal, i.e. a shoe, wattled of bast.

The Old French adopted this word in its original meaning – “a shoe made of one piece of wood” – sabot.

Russian word “choboty” has the same Turkic etymon – chabat. In Spanish, this word apparently was borrowed from the language of the Turkic tribes, which settled down during the period of Arabian Khalifats in Spain, and is currently known as zapata. {If not earlier, in the Gothic-Alanian times)

In Spanish, its meaning expanded further, and now zapata means shoes in general, and has a lot of derivatives.

Besides sabot, saboteur, sabotage, there are some other Turkic loans in English – derivatives of the verb “chabu”, such as chabouk – “a scourge, a long whip”; chibouk – “tobacco-pipe”; saber (sabre); sjambok – “a lash, a scourge, made of rhinoceros skin”.

The derivatives of the verb “chabu” penetrated English through the French, German, Afrikaans, Malayan and Indian languages. All these Turkic borrowings have generally preserved their original semantic meanings – “to cut, to chop, to whip”. Turkic words “sablya, chubuk” penetrated many other languages. By the way, there are two more Turkic borrowings in English, which mean “lash, scourge”– kourbash and nagaika.

Many Turkic loans came to English through Arabic, Persian and the Indian languages.

The first Turkic settlers in Egypt and in Syria were Oguz Turkic tribes of Turkmen, part of them settling down in Spain, when Arabian Khalifats existed there. Since the 10c, Kypchak tribes began to arrive in Egypt, gradually changing the language situation.

As a result of Mameluke sultan Aybek’s ascension to power in 1250, Kypchakian becomes the state language of Egypt. In Egypt, until the conquest of the Mamelukian state by Turks-Ottomans in 1517, existed and flourished the literature in the Kypchakian-Oguz language, which was very close to the Tatar language of the period of the Golden Horde. Kypchaks had a tremendous influence on the Arabian literature and on the vocabulary and grammar of Egyptian Arabic[14].

The Persian language also has experienced an intensive influence of the Turkic languages, especially in its vocabulary. In the Turkic-Persian states of the 10-16cc on the territory of Iran, Central Asia and India was an original linguistic situation, when the language of science and religion was Arabic, the language of literature and clerical work was Persian, and in the courts of Shahs and Sultans and in the army was generally used Turkic language.

In a few centuries’ time, Persians and Indians assimilated a large part of the Turks who lived in Iran and India. Thus, naturally, the Persian and Indian languages adopted numerous Turkic words. Except for the Azerbaijanis and Turkmen, only certain tribes, living in isolation, preserved the native Turkic language.

The data of the Turkic language dictionary of the Delhian Sultanat of the 16c, composed by Badr Ad-Din Ibrahim, clearly shows the Kypchakian nature of this language, which was spoken in the Northern India[15]. Therefore, Aphanasy Nikitin, a famous Russian traveler, who knew Kypchakian, the language of the Tatars, well, and was in the service of the Russian Princes, lived freely first in Iran, strictly observing the Moslem customs, then moved to India, where he called himself Khoja Yusuf Khorasani. He had no special need to study local languages, because in the second half of the 15c, when Aphanasy Nikitin was in Iran and India, it was possible to speak Turkic everywhere[16].

The adoption of Indian words, among which there were Turkic borrowings, became one of the ways for the words of the Turkic origin to penetrate English. The direct borrowing of Indian words by the English began in the 16c, when the first English factories were founded in India.

Most of the Indian words were borrowed in 19c, when India became a part of the British Empire. English absorbed about 900 words from different Indian languages[17], and 40 of them were the words of Turkic origin. Among them are such words as beebee, begum, burka, cotwal, kajawah, khanum, soorme, topchee, Urdu.

More than 60 words of the Turkic origin penetrated English through Russian. Among them: astrakhan, ataman, hurrah, kefir, koumiss, mammoth, irbis, shashlik etc[18].

Such Turkic words as hetman, horde, uhlan, came to English through Polish. The etymological dictionaries of English wrongly derive uhlan from the Turkish oglan – “a young man”. In the Tatar of the epoch of the Golden Horde, uglan meant not only “a child, a young man”, but also “a noble warrior”, and was also applied in relation to the Khan’s Guards.

In 1313 Tatars helped Hediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, to repel the attack of the German Crusaders. In 1397, after the defeat of the Kipchak Khanaate by Tamerlane, the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vitautas invited Tatars to his service and permanent residence. These Tatars played the main role in the defeat of the German knights in the Grunwald battle, and in honour of that, a large Mosque was built in Kaunas, which was taken away from the Tatar community in 1940. Taking into account that in Poland and Lithuania Tatars have lived for about 600 years, there are no reasons to identify the Turkish vocabulary as the only source of Turkic borrowings in the Polish language.

Horde derives from the Turkic urda (orta, urta) – “the center, the middle of something”. This word obtained the meaning of “Khan’s headquarters, camp”, and later “army” (e.g. in Turkish – “ordu&rdquo. The version “orta” in the modern Turkish began to mean “company, battalion”. In Arabic, “urta” began to mean “battalion, squadron”. “Ordu” – “army” was adopted by Arabic in the meaning of “detachment, corps&rdquo.

Such Turkic words as coach, haiduk, kivasz, vampire were borrowed by English from Hungarian via German and French.

Coach, one of the most frequently used words of Turkic origin in English, was borrowed in its original meaning – “a large, covered carriage”. Coach has many other meanings: “a van, an automobile, a trainer, a tutor”, etc. Most of the etymological dictionaries show that the origin of this word is the name of the village of Kocs in Hungary, where the first large covered carriage issupposed to have been made. But yet in Old Russian, there was a Turkic borrowing koch that meant “a large covered carriage for nomadizing”, which was later called “kibitka”.[19]

From the word of Turkic origin kuch – “to nomadize, to move, to shift”, were made many derivatives in different languages. Such Russian words as kochevat, kochevnik, kosh, koshevoi, koshey, kucha have the same etymon kuch. There is another derivative of this Turkic verb in Russian – kucher, borrowed from French.

We cannot deny the mediation of Hungarian, in which, at present, 800 Turkic loan words are used, in conveying the word coach into English. Considering that Old Russian already knew the word koch in the same meaning, when the Hungarians only came to the Avarian lands in Pannonia, it wouldbe logical to assume that both Hungarian and Russian, and German borrowed this word from one of those Turkic peoples, which Hungarians, Russians and Germans had contacts with, and, to be exact, with the Turks-Avars, who lived in the territory of the Modern Hungary and were overcome by Charlemagne, and, digging further into history, with the Huns, Turks-Avars’ ancestors. We can add that,in Spanish, the Turkic borrowing coche – “a car, a van” has a lot of meanings and derivatives.

Turkic words directly passed to English from many languages, e.g. from German: shabrack, trabant; from Spanish: bocasin, lackey; from Latin: janissary, sable; from Italian: kiosk. Most of them penetrated English through French: badian, caique, caviare, odalisque, sabot, turquoise. When the Turkic loans came to English through other languages, very often the last mediator was French.

Direct contacts of French speakers with Turks began yet in the time of Crusades. Many Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Italians were in Turkish service during the extensive expansion of the Ottoman Empire (14-16cc). In 1536, France and Turkey signed a Union agreement. Frenchmen were given commercial, consular and court privileges. The admiration of the luxury and richness of the Ottoman Empire caused a phenomenon of Turkophilia. For Europeans of the 14-16cc, who were experiencing the religious persecution and the oppression of the feudal lords, Turkey was a state of religious tolerance, justice, and well being of the people. The interest to Turkey was so enormous that only in the first half of the 16c were written over 900 scientific works about Turkey. Naturally, numerous Turkic words appeared in French and in other European languages.

Since 1579, between Turkey and England also were established friendly relations. William Harnbourn, the first British Consul in Turkey, began what could be called the direct penetration of written Turkish words into English. Many English merchants set out towards Turkey. There were founded the English trade colonies and built Anglican churches. Englishmen, who lived and worked in Turkey, in their letters, diaries and reports described the customs, material culture, and the political system of Turkey in great detail.

English writers began to actively use Turkic words in their works about the East. Christopher Marlow, Shakespeare, Byron, and Scott were especially fond of Turkic loans.

In the 19c, Turkic loanwords, generally of Turkish origin, began to penetrate not only through the writings of the travelers, diplomats and merchants, and through the ethnographical and historical works, but also through the press. In 1847, there were two English-language newspapers in Istanbul – The Levant Herald and The Levant Times, seven newspapers in French, one in German and 37 in Turkish.

Turkish contributed the largest share of the Turkic loans, which penetrated into the English directly. This can be explained by the fact that Turkey had the most intensive and wide connections with England. Nevertheless, there are many Turkic loans in English, which were borrowed by its contacts with other peoples – Azerbaijanis, Tatars, Uzbeks, and Kazakhs[20].

In 1558–59, Englishmen tried to use the Volga trade way, which at that moment had just fallen into the hands of the Moscow State, to reach India via Iran. In 1558, Anthony Jenkinson, an English businessman, with his assistants Richard and Robert Johnsons and a Tatar interpreter, supplied with the letters of the Russian Czar Ivan IV, went down the Volga. They visited Kazan, Astrakhan, the Mangyshlak peninsula, Baku, Bukhara, and Samarkand. After Jenkinson, many English travellers visited the Volga region. In 1601, Sir Anthony Sherly with his assistant William Paris made a trip to the Caspian Sea. In 1625, he published his impressions about that trip.

In 1858, was published a book of travels of Thomas Atkinson, who visited Kazakhstan, [21]. In addition to the travelers, diplomats and merchants, there were a few British intelligence officers who penetrated Central Asia in the 19c. Thus, in 1824 Captain Connolly and Colonel Stotgardt, who infiltrated Turkestan under the guise of Indian Muslims, were executed in Kokhand,. Up to the beginning of the 20c, almost all of the copper, polymetal and coal mines on the territory of the modern Kazakhstan were in the hands of English businessmen, who employed quite a few qualified workers and engineers from the Great Britain. The diaries, reports, letters of the British, who lived and worked in the Volga region, Transcaucasia, Central Asia and Siberia were full of Turkic loans, which reflected concepts and things, hitherto unknown to the British, and which had no equivalents in English: astracan, aul, batman, carbuse, jougara, pul, saigak, toman, turquoise (in the meaning of “a semi-precious stone&rdquo etc.

Most of the Turkic loans borrowed by the English before the 19c are now out of use. Most of the Turkic loans in English carry exotic or ethnographical connotations. They do not have equivalents in English, do not have synonymic relations with primordial words, and generally are used to describe the fauna, flora, life customs, political and social life, and an administrative-territorial structure of Turkic regions. But there are many Turkic loans, which are still part of the frequently used vocabulary. Some Turkic loans, for example bosh, caviare, coach, horde, jackal, kiosk, etc, have acquired new meanings, unrelated to their etymology.

The word bosh was adopted by the English language in the meaning of “rubbish, nonsense, empty chattering”, and later was used in the meaning of “to spoil something, to fool”.

The word caviare, originally meaning only “pickled roe (eggs) of a large fish”, in the end of the 19c began to be used in the meaning of “a paragraph or lines, which had been obliterated by censorship, or withdrawn by it”. Later, by conversion it began to be used as a verb meaning “to obliterate, to cross out, to withdraw” in the context of censorship.

The word coach, borrowed in the meaning of “a large covered carriage”, in due course gained many other meanings: “a coach, a cart, a carriage, a tourist bus, a tutor, an instructor, a trainer etc”.

The word horde, initially absorbed into English in the meaning of “a Turkic nomads’ state”, subsequently evolved into “a group of rough, crude people”.

The word jackal, in addition to its main meaning, transformed into “a man doing another one’s preparatory draft work”, giving birth to the verb to jackal, “to do the preparatory work”.

The word kiosk, having the meaning of “a tower, a cabin on a deck of a ship; a villa, a summer palace” in Turkish, was borrowed by English in the meaning of “a villa, a summer residence”, and later became “a newspaper booth, a convenience shop, a telephone box, a box at the entrance to the underground transportation, a warehouse for tools”.

Turkic names of such formidable conquerors as Atilla, who was called “the Scourge of God”, Genghis Khan, Baber, Tamerlane became common nouns, i.e. occurred an expansion of the meaning. The same happened with the following ethnonims: Hun, Saracen, Tartar, Turk. The British may call an obstinate, naughty boy “a young Tartar”. “To meet a stronger opponent” may sound in English like “to catch a Tartar”.

To conclude, the words of the Turkic origin began penetrating English as early as the end of the 4c AD, when the ancestors of the modern Englishmen – Angles, Saxons and Jutes – lived in the European continent. In the Middle Ages, the Turkic loanwords found their way into English through other languages, most frequently through French. Since the 16c, beginning from the time of the establishment of the direct contacts between England and Turkey, and Russia, in English appeared new direct borrowings from Turkic languages.

The German, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, French, Arabic, Armenian, Afrikaans, Hungarian, Jewish, Indian, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Malayan, to a different extent, took part in the process of the transfer of the Turkic words into English. The main language, from which the borrowings were made, was Turkish.

3.       Abla
3647 posts
 30 Jan 2012 Mon 02:02 pm

Cognates? Do you really mean cognates, kali1969? How could English and Turkish have cognates when they are not etymologically related languages? I would rather talk about loanwords but maybe our definitions differ. The best source for loanwords is an etymological dictionary of English. Sure there are good ones.

A really interesting article, si++ (and simple English is always appreciated). The influence of the Vikings was something new for me.

I always think those narrow-minded racists and nationalists in every country who are afraid of contacts with people from other cultures should really be explained how our languages reflect the unity of different peoples and all mankind. (Sure they wouldn´t understand.) Loanwords didn´t come straight to the dictionary books, they came through people who dealt with foreigners in all times: sailors, salesmen, slaves, learned men, missionaries of different religions, soldiers, those who married a stranger... Bilingual people played a significant role in this.  -  To say nothing of learners and cosmopolites like us.


Edited (1/30/2012) by Abla

4.       si++
3785 posts
 30 Jan 2012 Mon 05:49 pm

Online dictionary:



For example:

bridge (2) Look up bridge at Dictionary.com
card game, 1886 (perhaps as early as 1843), an alteration of biritch, but the source and meaning of that are obscure. "Probably of Levantine origin, since some form of the game appears to have been long known in the Near East" [OED]. One guess is that it represents Turkish *bir-üç "one-three," since one hand is exposed and three are concealed. The game also was known early as Russian whist (attested in English from 1839).

jackal (n.) Look up jackal at Dictionary.com
c.1600, from Turk. çakal, from Pers. shaghal, from or cognate with Skt. srgala-s, lit. "the howler." Figurative sense of "skulking henchman" is from the old belief that jackals stirred up game for lions.

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