Comparative Analysis of the Five Livestock Names of the Altaic Language Family
(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)
The so-called five livestock (tabun qosiγu mal) refers to the horse, cow, double humped camel, goat and sheep stocks that are herded by the Altaic language family speaking ethnicities in the Gobi desert area of Mongolia. The various names and terms of the Altaic lanauges for the five livestocks are diverse and descriptive. Using relevant historical documents as a basis, this article will systematically compare and analyze the meanings of 69 single-morpheme words in Altaic and other language families.
I. Common terms of the five livestocks for the Altaic Languages
Shared terms refer to terms common to and shared by the Mongolian, Turkic and Manchu-Tungusic languages, but whose origins cannot be determined.
Some words sound the same in each of the languages but represent different things. These differences may be in age, type, etc.
II. Common terms for the five livestocks in the Mongolian and Turkic languages
III. Common terms for the five livestocks in the Mongolian and Manchu-Tungusic languages
IV. Terms only used by the Mongolian languages
V. Terms only used by the Turkic languages
VI. Terms only used by theManchu-Tungusic languages
- There are indeed many words with the same or similar pronounciation in the Altaic languages. From the 69 words analyzed, 17, or 24.6%, had the same or similar pronounciations.
- There are livestock terms in the Altaic languages with the same or similar pronounciations but different meanings. Out of the 17 words described above, five (or 29%) had this property.
- The while common terms in the Altaic language family between Mongolian and Turkic languages (12 total, or 1.7%) and Mongolian and Manchu-Tungusic languages (6, or 0.87%), there are almost no common terms between the Turkic and Manchu-Tungusic languages.
- There are terms that are distinctive to each of the three sub-families (group) of the Altatic language family. These include 23, or 33% for the Mongolian languages, 4, or 0.58% for the Turkic languages, and 7, or 1% of the Manchu-Tungusic languages.
- Certain terms in the Altaic languages may have been borrowed amongst the sub-families, but it is difficult to distinct which have been borrowed and which merely share the same origin. For example, whether the terms for cow in the Turkic languages (kyz/giz), the Mongolian languages (hüker/üker) and the Manchu-Tungusic languages (ukur/uxur) come from the gender-neutral term “ox” or “oxen” from the Indo-European languages, or whether the terms for “bullock” or “steer” is derived from the Indo-European languages warrant further research.