University of Szeged, Hungary
Human diseases in Yakut
47th Meeting of the PIAC, Cambridge 2004
There were several scientists and administrators traveling and living in Yakutia in the 19th century. In addition, the Russian Tsar sent a great mass of people into exile in Yakutia for their political points of view being contrary to government policy. Some of these travelers and prisoners made accurate records of the traditional life and culture of the Yakuts presenting, for instance, valuable information on diseases and special cures. This material, supplemented by lexical sources, can help us to reconstruct a relatively detailed description of this special part of Yakut culture. In the present paper I am focusing on the human diseases of Yakutia from the linguistic point of view: terms of human diseases with the emphasize of their origin; human diseases derived from ethnic names; special terms created because of tabus. I will also discuss some special terms which cannot be found in the dictionaries but have appeared in the sources as common or well-known words. At the end of my presentation I will deal with a specific, serious disease in today’s Yakutia named after the city of Viliuisk, in an attempt to find a possible connection between this disease and descriptions in 19th century accounts.