Arabic and Persian Words of Religious Terminology in Chuwash

Feyzi Ersoy

Arabic and Persian Words of Religious Terminology in Chuvash

(62nd Meeting Friedensau, 2019)

Chuvash, which has an important place in Altaistic studies, has always drawn the
attention of scientists with its characteristic features. Chuvash has always been at
the forefront especially in the issue of rhotacism/zetasizm and lambdacism/stigmatism.
Chuvash differs from Turkish written language in terms of its many characteristics.
This difference even caused its being perceived as an independent branch of Altaic
languages in the past.

Chuvashes are one of the Turkic people living in the region of idil-Ural and today, their population is about 1.5 million. There are many words in the language of Chuvashes, who are now Orthodox Christian, from Arabic and Persian as from other languages. Some of these words are from religious terminology. These words are also seen in Alp Tales regarded as the most important texts of Chuvash. The languages of Idil-Ural Turks borrowed many Arabic and Farsian words since their meeting with Islam at the period of Idil Bulgarians. The most significant part of these words have no doubt religious terminology. Some examples of such words are pihampar , esrel “the angel of death”, suytan “devil”, kiremet “miracle” and masar “grave”. The introduction of Turkish people of Idil-Ural region to Islam has an interesting story. According to this story, Almis Khan, the son of Bulgarian Khan Selkey, wanted to meet Islam, and a committee, sent by Abbasid khalifa Muktedir Billah upon the will and request of him, arrived Bulgaria in 922. Therefore, Bulgaria introduced Islam. However, while Tatars and Bashkirs are today Muslim, Chuvashes are Orthodox Christian within Turkic people in the region of Idil-Ural. Gravestones of Idil Bulgarians, which have survived until today, provide data for us about Chuvashes.

This paper will discuss Arabic and Persian religious terminology taking part in the vocabulary of Chuvashes. Detected words will firstly be classified as the ones borrowed from Arabic or Persian. Next, sound changes in detected words will also be addressed. In addition, if there is any semantic change, these will also be analysed. One of the studies planned within the scope of this paper is to carry out a lexicological interclassification of the words.