Forgotten Past

A look on ancient History, Language and Architecture


Diversification of languages

Doç. Dr. Haluk BERKMEN

  The Asiatic proto-language has been named as Nostratic by Russian linguists. This name immediately links the proto-language to Indo-European and especially to Latin, since Nostratic means “our stratum, our group” in Latin. I am of the opinion that the proto-language first became the common language of the large Eurasian continent and then diversified into several subgroups. This diversification into subgroups is shown in the Table below.

   At the top of the Table we place the Proto-language of Central Asia which was once the single language of the whole Eurasian continent. During this period, groups of people (tribes) were mostly nomads and moved their herds from pastures to pastures depending on the weather conditions. The Proto-language of Central Asia evolved into Eurasian as time went by and as people started to form independent rural stable settlements. Eurasian should not be considered as a specific language spoken by real people, but rather as a definition linked to a new era of fixed settlements.  One can loosely define Eurasian as the common language of the Neolithic period.

  On the left side of the Table we see the language groups which evolved on the central, eastern, western and south-western parts of Eurasia. On the right side of the Table we find language groups which evolved on the north-eastern and south-eastern parts of Eurasia. These groups eventually left the mainland and spread over new continents. The language groups which still have a clear link to the original Proto-language are placed at the top of the list. As the link weakens and becomes murky the language groups move to the bottom of the list.

  The vision supported by this Table is that presently there are two language groups that still have the strongest link to the original Proto-language. These are the Altaic group on the main Asiatic continent and the Eskimo-Aleut group extending from the north-eastern parts of Asia to the northern regions of America, up to the island of Greenland. It will be, therefore, most logical to start considering the Altaic language group in somewhat more detail.

  The above Table shows the three main branches of the Altaic languages. In the center we have the extinct languages. These were, most probably, languages that split from Eurasian before the clear distinction of Uralic from Altaic. Therefore, one can still find many linguistic clues connecting these extinct languages to both Altaic as well as to Uralic languages. Research has been done on the linguistic connection of Sumerian to both Turkish as well as to modern Hungarian. The validity of these links can be demonstrated by showing their origin stemming from the forgotten realm of the Proto-language.

  The Proto-language of Central Asia
  The words of the Proto-language were all monosyllabic. These monosyllabic words were made out of strong velar and dental consonants joined to 8 different vowels. The vowels were grouped into two groups of 4, according to an internal sound harmony. The 4 thick vowels are a (as a in abut), ugh (as a strong velar i or y), o (as o in go) and u (as u in you). The 4 thin vowels are e (as e in bet), i (as in i in hit), ö/eu (as u in burn) and ü (as u in burette).

  The vowels in one group were interchangeable and an “a” in a monosyllabic word could very well be replaced by a “u” as time went by. The same replacement could also take place within the vowels of the thin group. But no vowel belonging to one group could replace another vowel from a different group.

  Regarding the consonants, the labials (produced with the lips) such as p, b, m, f and v as well as pair of velars (produced with the tongue) such as t with d, k with g, kh with q, l with r and z could also replace each other as a result of normal linguistic transformation. A clear example of such a transformation happened within the generic name “Uighur”. This generic tribal name was pronounced in a much stronger version as “Okhuz” in the ancient Proto-language. As a result of labialization the thick O became “Ui”, the thick “k” became “g” and the “z” became “r”. A further change happened with the softening of the “gh” into a “g”, ending up as Ugor, Ungar, Hungar, and Hungarian. This transformation tells us that the Ural language group including Hungarian, Finnish and Samoyed are offspring of the ancient Proto-language, closely related to the Altaic languages.

  A similar change happened within Turkish which has a “z” and an “r” version. The more archaic z version is still alive in the Anatolian Oghuz Turkish. While the r version is found in the Chuvash Turkish. Chuvashia is an autonomous republic within present day Russia. In that Turkish dialect Oguz is pronounced as Ogur. “Kyz” (girl) is pronounced as “hyr”. The Chuvash language contains several similar cases.

  Okhuz is formed of a root “Okh” and a suffix –uz, which is a clear indication that the Proto-language was agglutinative. Words could be formed by concatenating root words and suffixes. The root word “Okh” lost its strong h and became Ok to mean “arrow” in modern Turkish. With the suffix –uz  “Okhuz” means “we are the arrow”. In this word we find several hidden meanings. First: “we are the arrow people and move as fast as an arrow”, second: “we are the warriors carrying arrows” and third: “we are the lucky superior ones”, since Ogur and Ugur mean both lucky and also superior.  The word “ugur” changed a bit and became “augure” in French and “augury” in English to mean “good omen”.

  The name Okh or Ogh did not represent a single tribe, but rather was the common generic name used during the early period of the Root-language. Being a hunter carrying a bow and an arrow was the prerogative of any adult male. This is why the word for “boy” in Turkish is Oghlan, meaning “acquire an arrow” or equivalently “become an adult”. Similarly, “Oksuz” or “Oeksuez” means a young person who lost his parent. In other words, having no adult person for protection. In this case the adult person is generally the mother, since the father is most of the time away from home.

  A further transformation of Okh is found in the ancient tribal name Akh. There was a nation living in Mesopotamia named as Acadians and another one next to the Helens known as the Akha people. Another Akha tribe is found in southern China extending into Thailand.

  The generic name Okh changed into Oc all over the southern cost of Europe. There is a rather large territory known as Occitania which is not anymore a legal or political entity. This cultural area, in which a language called  “Lenga D’Oc” (Oc language or Occitan) was spoken, is located between Spain and northern Italy, comprising the totality of southern France.

  The worldwide accepted OK (Okay) as an affirmation meaning “yes” has its roots in the Oc language. It was used to affirm the superiority of the Oc leader carrying a bow and an arrow and later on a spear. The large Oc territory is shown in the map below.

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