by Peter B. Golden
From the time of the appearance of the "European" Huns until the
collapse of the Cinggisid khanates, the Ponto-Caspian steppe zone
and as a consequence, to varying degrees, the neighboring sedentary
societies, have been dominated by or compelled to interact
intimately with a series of nomadic peoples.
Although Scythian and Sarmatian tribes of Iranian stock had held sway here for nearly a
millenium before the coming of the Huns and Iranian elements both in
their own right and as substratal influences continued to have an
important role in the ethnogenesis of the peoples of this region,
the majority, or at least politically dominant element, of the
nomads who became masters of these rich steppelands were Turkic. In
the period after the Turk conquest of Western Eurasia in the late
560's, until the Cinggisid invasions, the Turkic polities of the
area all derived, in one form or another, from the Turk Qaganate.
Of these peoples, only the Khazars, the direct political
successors of the Turks, produced a qaganate in the classical Turkic
mold. The others remained essentially tribal confederations which,
for a variety of reasons, did not feel the impetus to create a
sturdier political entity, i.e. a state. Those that were driven from
the area into sedentary or semi-sedentary zones, such as the
Hungarians (a mixed Turkic and Ugrian grouping under strong
Khazar influence) and parts of the Oguz, under Seljuq
leadership, did create states but along largely Christian (Hungary,
Danubian Bulgaria) or Islamic (the Seljuqs) lines.
These polities, whether full-blown
nomadic states, such as Khazaria, or tribal unions, such as
the Pecenegs, Western Oguz (Torks of the Rus' sources) or
Cuman-Qipcaqs, however great their military prowess and
commercial interests, have passed on little in the way of literary
monuments stemming directly from them in their own tongues. Khazaria,
for example, which as a genuine state had a need for literacy, has
left us only documents in Hebrew, reflecting the Judaization
of the ruling elements. Indeed, their language about which there are
still many unanswered questions, is known, such as it is, almost
exclusively from the titles and names of prominent Khazars
recorded in the historical records of neighboring sedentary states.
The Balkan Bulgars who, living in close physical propinquity
to and cultural contact with Byzantium and ruling over a Slavic
majority to which they eventually assimilated, have left somewhat
more in the way of scattered inscriptions in mixed Bulgaro-Greek
(in Greek letters) and in mixed Slavo-Bulgaric.
Their kinsmen on the Volga who adopted
Islam in the 10th century, have left a number of
tomb-inscriptions (dating largely from the Cinggisid era, 13th-14th
centuries) in a highly stylized, mixed Arabo-Bulgaric language in
Arabic script. Volga Bulgaria, as an Islamic center, used, of
course, Arabic as its principal language of communication with the
larger world. The inscriptional material, it might be argued,
bespeaks a long-standing Bulgaric literary tradition. But, in this
respect, as in a number of others, Volga Bulgaria, which did form a
state, in the forest- steppe zone ruling over a largely Finnic
population and in which denomadization was well-advanced, was
What is interesting to note here is that unlike the Turkic peoples
of Central Eurasia and Inner Asia (the Turks, Uygurs, Qarakhanids),
the Western Eurasian Turkic tribes did not create significant
literary monuments either in Turkic runic script, several variants
of which were in use among many of them or in any of the other
script systems that were available to them (Greek, Arabic, Hebrew
and even Georgian). This seeming lack of literary ambition (which
may yet be disproved by archaeology) is probably to be attributed to
the weak articulation of political organization among peoples such
as the Pecenegs, Western Oguz and Cuman-Qipcaqs. Thus, it should
come as no great surprise that one of the most significant literary
monuments connected with the language of one of the dominant tribal
confederations of the region, the Codex Cumanicus, was largely the
work of non-Cumans. Before turning to the Codex itself, we must say
something about the people whose language it describes.
The tangled knot of problems that revolves around the question of
Cuman-Qipcaq ethnogenesis has yet to be completely unraveled.
Even the name for this tribal confederation is by no means entirely
clear. Western (Greek and Latin) and infrequently Rus' sources
called them Comani, Cumani, Kumani. Medieval
Hungarians, who had close relations with them and to whose land
elements of the Cumans fled in the 13th century
seeking sanctuary from the Mongols, knew them as Kun.
This name is certainly to be identified with the Qun of Islamic
authors (such as al-Biruni and al-Marwazi, the notices in Yaqut and
al- Bakuwi clearly derive from al-Biruni) who, according to al-Marwazi,
figured prominently in the migration of the Cuman- Qipcaqs to the
west. Whether the Qun are, in turn, to be associated with the Hun (*
u n) = Xun/Qun people affiliated with the T`ieh-le/Toquz Oguz
confederation is not clear.
Old Turkic sources knew elements of what would become the
Cuman-Qipcaq tribal union as Qibcaq and perhaps other names. The
ethnonym Qibcaq was picked up by Islamic authors (e.g. in the forms
Xifjax, Qifjaq, Qipcaq etc.) and Transcaucasian sources (cf.
Georgian Qivc`aq-, Armenian Xbsax). These Altaic names were
loan-translated into some of the languages of their sedentary
neighbors. Thus, Rus' Polovcin, Polovci (Polish, Czech Plauci, Hung.
Palocz), Latin Pallidi, German and Germano-Latin Falones, Phalagi,
Valvi, Valewen etc. Armenian Xartes. These terms are usually viewed
as renderings of Turkic qu *qub or similar forms meaning "bleich,
gelblich, gelbraun, fahl." A variety of sources equate them, in
turn, with the Qangli, one of the names by which the
easternmost, Central Eurasian branch of the Cuman-Qipcaq
confederation was known.
These tribes included Turkic, Mongol and Iranian
elements or antecedents. The inter-tribal lingua franca of the
confederation, however, became a distinct dialect of Turkic that we
term Qipcaq, a language reflected in several dialects in the
Codex Cumanicus. The Cuman-Qipcaqs held sway over the steppe
zone stretching from the Ukraine to Central Eurasia where they
constituted an important element, closely associated with the
Xwarazmian royal house via marital alliances. They had equally close
relations with Rus' (with whom they often warred), Georgia (where
elements of them settled and Christianized), Hungary and the Balkans
where later, under Mongol auspices, the Cuman Terterids established
Cuman-Qipcaq hegemony extended to much of the Crimea as well. Here
their interests were, as in many other areas, commercial. In the
pre-Cinggisid period, the Cumans took tribute from the Crimean
cities. The city of Sudaq, an ancient commercial emporium, was
viewed by Ibn al-Air (early 13th century) as the "city of the Qifjaq
from which (flow) their material possessions. It is on the Khazar
Sea. Ships come to it bearing clothes. The Qifjiqs buy (from) them
and sell them slave-girls and slaves, Burtas furs, beaver,
By virtue of their political hegemony,
Cuman became the lingua franca of this area. It spread to the
other communities resident there as well. Thus, the Crimean
Armenian and Karaite Jewish communities adopted this
language and preserved it for centuries afterwards in milieus far
removed from the Crimea. With the Mongol conquest of the Qipcaq
lands completed by the late 1230's, some Qipcaq tribes (most notably
those under Kten) fled to Hungary. The majority, however, were
incorporated into the Mongol Empire.
The pan-nomadic empire of the Turks was
thus recreated on an even larger scale. The Qipcaq language,
far from receding into the background, established itself as a
lingua franca in the Western Eurasian zone of the Cinggisid state
within a century of the Conquest. Thus, a Mamluk scholar, al-`Umari
(d.1348), observed that the "Tatars," whose numbers, in any event,
were not great and whose ranks already included numerous Turkic
elements from Inner and Central Asia, had intermarried extensively
with the local Turkic population and had, in effect, become
In the latter half of the 13th
century (beginning in the 1260's), as the Cinggisid khanates began
to squabble over territory, the Jocids of Saray in their struggle
with the Hlegids of Iran, found a useful ally in the Qipcaq Mamluks
of Egypt-Syria to whom they continued to supply mamluks from their
Crimean ports. The spread of Islam to the Mongols beginning
with Berke (1257-1266) and culminating with Ozbeg
(1313-1341) helped to strengthen this tie.
DATING AND ORIGIN
The Codex Cumanicus, which is presently housed in the Library
of St. Mark, in Venice, Cod. Mar. Lat. DXLIX, is not one but several
unrelated (except in the broadest sense) works which were ultimately
combined under one cover. The Codex may be divided into two distinct
and independent parts :
I) a practical handbook of
the Cuman language with glossaries in Italo-Latin, Persian and
II) a mixed collection of
religious texts, linguistic data and folkloric materials (the
Cuman Riddles), stemming from a number of hands, with
translations into Latin and a dialect of Eastern Middle High
It is also clear that a number of
subsequent hands made contributions to both sections. Many scholars
have simply termed these two, distinct works, the "Italian" part and
the "German" part. This is undoubtedly true with respect to the
ethno-linguistic origins or milieus of the authors. But, Ligeti
is probably closer to the mark in calling the first part, the "Interpretor's
Book" and the second part the "Missionaries' Book."
The Codex was first mentioned in the 17th century
and was believed to have come from the library of the great Italian
Humanist Petrarch (1304-1375). This attribution, however, has
been shown to be incorrect. The dating and place of origin of the
Codex's different sections have long been in dispute. Bazin,
who has closely studied the calendrical entries (CC, 72/80-81)
concluded that the "Interpretor's Book" was probably composed
between 1293-1295. Drull, however, would place it as early as
1292-1295. The date found in the Venice ms. "MCCCIII die XI Iuly"
(CC, 1/1) should be viewed as the date of the first copy or the
beginning of the first copy.
The copy preserved in the Venice ms., as
an examination of the paper has demonstrated, stems from, or was at
least copied on, paper made in the mid-13th century. The
"Missionaries' Book" comes from a variety of sources and was put
together ca. 1330-1340. Other elements were perhaps added later. The
authors are unknown, although it seems likely that they were part of
the Franciscan community. The German Franciscans who played an
important role in the creation of the "Missionaries' Book,"
came from an Eastern High German-speaking background.
The "Interpretor's Book" was
compiled by Italian men of commerce (Venetians or Genoese) or their
scribes in Solxat (Eski Krim) or Kaffa (Feodosija). There is
evidence to indicate that different individuals (perhaps many) were
involved in preparing/translating the Persian and Cuman sections of
the tri-lingual glossary. The first copy (1303), it has been
suggested, was done in the monastery of St. John near Saray. The
later copy which is preserved in Venice, dating to ca. 1330-1340,
probably came from some Franciscan monastery. Here too, it seems
likely, is where the different sections of the Codex were combined.
Somehow, these various parts came again into Italian hands and thus
The work, then, is a pastiche of larger
and smaller pieces which were composed/compiled with different
intentions. The "Interpretor's Book" was largely, but not
exclusively, practical and commercial in nature. The "Missionaries'
Book," in addition to its purely linguistic goals, contains
sermons, psalms and other religious texts as well as a sampling of
The Venetians and Genoese were actively involved (as well as
competitors) in trade in the Crimea. This trade, as we know from
contemporary accounts, such as Pegolotti, went by stages from
Tana (Azov, a major unloading site for goods coming from Asia to the
Crimea) to the Lower Volga (Astraxan-Saray) and thence to the Urals
and Xwarazm and ultimately to China. It dealt with a wide variety of
items, e.g. wax, metals (including precious metals), spices and
other foodstuffs, silk and other fabrics, pelts of valuable furs
etc. The Italian commercial colonies in the Crimea, had, of course,
regular contact with Tana.
There was also contact with Ilkhanid
Iran via Trapezunt. Indeed, Drll argues that the author(s)
of the Latin-Persian-Cuman glossary of the "Interpretor's
Book" must have been Genoese, operating from Kaffa, as the
Genoese were the only ones who had contact with merchants from both
the Ilkhanid and Jocid realms. Although the Italian merchants were
not involved in the slave or mamluk trade with Egypt, the
Crimea had a long history of involvement in this activity. There is
a Modern Kazax proverb that reflects this : uli irimga, qizi
Qirimga ketti "the son went as a hostage and the daughter went off
to Crimea (i.e. to slavery)." The trilingual glossary reflects this
trade orientation and as we shall see has extensive lists of
LANGUAGES OF THE Codex Cumanicus
The Latin of the Codex is found in two variants, indicating the
ethno-linguistic affiliations of the authors and their educational
level. The Latin of the "Interpretor's Book" is a Vulgar
Italo-Latin, while that of the "Missionaries' Book" is more
"correct," reflecting the ecclesiastical training of its Franciscan
authors. The Persian material has been the subject of two recent
studies. Daoud Monchi-Zadeh has argued that the Persian material
came through Cuman intermediaries, a kind of Cuman filter, and was
translated by them. Andras Bodgrogligeti, on the other hand,
suggests that this Persian was rather a lingua franca of the Eastern
trade. As a consequence, it had undergone, to varying degrees,
standardization, back formation and simplification. Some words are
archaic, others unusual. In short, what we see reflected is not the
living language of a native speaker, but rather a kind of simplified
The Cuman of the CC also represents some kind of lingua
franca, one that was understood throughout Central Asia. This
language, however, was not perfectly reflected in the CC. The
latter, we must remember, was compiled by non-Turkic-speakers with
varying levels of command of the language. There are a number of
"incorrect" syntactical constructions as well as mistakes in
grammar, phonetics and translation. Some of these are simply the
result of faulty knowledge or scribal errors. Other deviations from
the "norms" of Turkic are probably to be attributed to the word for
word, literal translations. These types of translations in the
Middle Ages, were well-known, especially when translating sacred,
Thus, in Karaim, one of the closest
linguistic relatives of the Cuman mirrored in the CC, we find
sentences such as : kisi edi yerind'a Ucnun, Iyov semi anin, da edi
ol kisi ol t'g'l da t'z, qorxuvcu t'enrid'n ("There was a man in the
Land of Uz whose name was Job and that man was perfect and upright
and one that feared God," Job,1) , a word for word rendering of the
Hebrew. Some of the forms which have an "unturkic" character about
them may almost certainly be attributed to the influence of the
compilers' native Italian/Italo-Latin and German. Many of these
forms, however, are ambiguous in origin as similar phenomena can be
found in other Turkic langauges as well and may here also reflect
the influence of Indo-European languages.
Of greater interest is the fact, hardly unexpected in a work in
which so many different hands were involved, that the CC lexical
material is comprised of several Qipcaq dialects. Some of
these can be most clearly seen in the different sections :
"Interpreter's Missionaries' Book"
Book" kendi kensi "self" tizgi tiz "Knee" bitik bitiv "book,writing"
berkit- berk et- "to strengthe" ipek yibek "silk" ekki eki "two"
todaq totaq "lip" etmek tmek "bread" yag yav "fat" tag tav
"mountain" kyeg kyv "bridegroom" igit yegit "youth" sag sav
"healthy" abusqa abisqa "old, aged" qadav xadaq "nail" agirla-
avurla- "to honor"
In some instances, one of the sections indicates several
dialects, e.g. "Interpretor's Book" (CC, 52/57, 57/61) Lat.
similo Pers. chomana mecunem (homana mekunm "I resemble") Cum.
oscarmen (osqarmen), (CC, 76/86) Lat. similtudo Pers. manenda
Cum. oasamac (or oosamac which Grnbech reads as oqsamaq) and the
"Missionaries' Book" (CC, 141/199) ovsadi (ovsadi "resembled,
was like"), (CC,162/226) ovsar (ovsar) "enlich;" (CC, 131/183)
job sngnc (ypsengenca) "sin quod tu approbas," (CC, 140/195),
iopsinip (ypsinip) : ypsen- / ypsin- "billigen, genehmigen,
The well-known shift in Qipcaq g w/v is
clearly indicated in the "Missionaries' Book." The latter also has
greater evidence of the q x shift (e.g. yoqsul yoxsul "arm,
mettellos"). The "Interpretor's Book" appears to represent an older
or more conservative dialect.
We may also note that whereas the "Missionaries Book" clearly
renders j with g in non-Turkic words, e.g. gahan =jahan "World," gan
= jan "Soul," gomard = jomard "generous" (all borrowings from
Persian), the "Interpretor's Book" renders this with j or y. This
might indicate a pronunciation with y (although the Persian forms
with j are also regularly rendered with i), cf. jaghan = yahan or
jahan, jomard, jomart = yomard or jomard, joap = yowap or jowap (Ar.
jawab "answer") and yanauar = yanawar or janavar. This shift in
initial j y is known to some Qipcaq dialects, especially in
loan-words, cf. Baskir yawap
"answer," yemeyt "society, community" (Ar. jam`iyat), yihan
"universe" (Pers. jihan, jahan).
Finally, we might note that intervocalic v/w which Grnbech regularly
transcribes as v, may just as easily represent w, e.g. (CC, 65/72)
youac = yovac or yowac "opposite," (CC, 102/121) culgau = culgav or
culgaw "foot-wrappings," (CC, 90/105) carauas = qaravas or qarawas
"maid, slave," (CC, 139/192) koat = qovat or qowat (Arab. quwwat)
"might" (CC, 109, 113/130,134) tauc, taoh = tavuq or tawuq, tavox or
The numerous orthographic peculiarities (e.g. s is transcribed by s,
s, z, x, sch , thus bas "head" in the "Interpretor's Book" is
rendered as (CC, 29,86, 94,/30,99,109) bas, bax and in the
"Missionaries Book" (CC, 121,126,128/161,171,175) as bas, basch, baz;
basqa "besides, apart from" the "Interpretors's Book" (CC,
64/70) bascha and in the "Missionaries' Book" (CC,
121,123,138/158,163,189) baska, baschka, bazka) clearly indicate
that there were many contributors to the CC and little attempt was
made at regularization. This, of course, makes many readings
CONTENTS OF THE Codex Cumanicus
The "Interpretor's Book" consists of 110 pages (CC,1-110/1-
131). Pages l-58/1-63 contain a series of alphabetically arranged
(by Latin) verbs in Latin, Persian and Cuman. The first entry is
A sampling of some of the forms is
audio "I hear" mesnoem (mesnowm)
eziturmen (esitrmen), audimus "we hear" mesnam (mesnowim)
esiturbis (esitrbiz), audiebam "I was hearing" mesin(.)dem (mesinidm)
esituredim (esitredim), audiebant "they were hearing" mesinident
(mesinidnt) esiturlaredj (esitrleredi), audiui "I heard".sinide
(= sinidm) esitum (esitm), audiueratis "you had heard"
sindabudit (sinada budit) esitungusedi (esitnguzedi), audiam "I
will hear" bisnoem (bisnowm) esitcaymen (esitqaymen or
esitkeymen), audiemus "we will hear" besnoym (besnowim)
esitqaybiz/esitkeybiz, audi "hear!" bisn^isno) esit (esit),
audirem "were I to hear" ysalla mes(i)nde (isalla mesinidm "if I
should only hear") chescha esitkaedim (keske esitqayedim/esitkeyedim)
audiuisse(m) "If had heard" y sinada budim (isalla sina budim
"if I had only heard") c esitmis bolgayedim (keske esitmis
bolgayedim), audiam "if I should hear" y besnoem (isalla besnowm
"if I should only hear") c esitchaymen (keske esitqaymen/esitkeymen
"would that I hear"), audire(m) "were I to hear" zonchi
mesnide(m) (conki mesinidm "since I hear") esittim essa (esittim
ese), audires "were you to hear" z mesnidi (conki mesinidi
"since you hear" nezic chi esiti(n)gassa (necik ki esiting ese "lorsque
tu as entendu" , audiueim (=audiverim) "were I to have heard" z
s(.)ndidem (conki sinidm "since I heard") esittim ersa (esittim
erse), audire "to listen" sanadae(n) (sanadn) esitmaga, yzitmaga
(esitmege, isitmege),audiens "one who hears, hearer" sanoenda (sanownda
"he who hears") esattan (for esatgan = esitgen), auditurus "one
who will hear, is about to hear" ghoet sinidn (xoht sinidan "he
who wants to hear") esitmaga cuyga (esitmege kyge "one who
expects to hear").
No other verb is given such detailed treatment. Most have 3- 5
entries, e.g. (CC, 5/6) adiuuo "I help" yari medehem (yari
medehm) boluzurmen (bolusurmen), adiuuaui "I helped" yari dadem
(yari dadm) boluztum (bolustum), adiuua "help!" yari bide (yari
bideh) bolus (bolus) adiutorium "help, aid" yari (yari) bolusmac
Some Latin terms are translated by
two verbs in Cuman,
eg. (CC, 6/7) albergo hospito "I
lodge" ghana cabul mecunem (xana qabul mekunm) conaclarmen
vel condururmen (qonaqlarmen or qondururmen, (CC, 9/10)
balneo aliquid " bathe something" tarmecunem (tar mekunm) "I
wet" us etarmen vel iuunurmen (us etermen or yuvunurmen). In
a number of instances, we are given deverbal nouns as well
as the verbs,
e.g. (CC, 12/13) coquo "I cook"
mepaxem (mepazm) bisuturmen (bistrmen) coqui "I cooked"
pohten (poxtm) bisurdum (bisrdm) coque "cook!" bepoh (bepox)
bisur (bisr) motbahi (motbaxi) bagerzi (bagirci baqir
"copper," cf. Nogay baqirsi bala "junosa obsluzivajuscij
ljudej v roli povara u kotla iz medi") coquina "kitchen"
muthagh (= mutbax "kitchen") as bisurgan eu (as bisrgen ew
(lit. "house where food is cooked").
Compound Verbs (henceforth, unless
needed to further explicate the Cuman forms, the Persian entries
will be omitted and the Cuman forms will be given only in
yk tsrrmen "I unload," tinimdan
kecermen "I despair," (CC, 19/21 eligo "I pick, I choose") kngl
icinde ayturmen "say what is in my heart," eygirek etermen "I
make better," (CC, 35/37, nauigo "I sail" dar driya merowm "I go
on the sea") tengizda yrrmen ("I go on the sea"), qulluq etermen
Compound Verbs with Arabic Elements
are fairly well represented.
The Arabic element does not always
correspond to the that found in similar compound verbs in the
Persian entries : (CC,20/21) denpingo (sic) "I paint" naqs
mekunm naqslarmen (naqs "painting"), (CC, 23/25) expendo "I
spend" xarj mekunm, xarj etermen etc. But, cf.(CC,44/47-48)
quito "I quit" raha mekunm tafs etermen Arab. tafs "flight, run
Compound Verbs with Persian
In many instances it may be presumed
that the Arabic elements entered Cuman via Persian. The words
considered here are only those that are etymologically Persian.
(CC,23/26) estimo "I estimate, value" baha mekunm "I consider
the value" bacha ussurmen (baha usurmen "I consider the value,"
KWb., p.266 reads it as baha ur- "schtzen bewerten," paha
"price." (CC, 42/454) penito "I repent" pesman m, pesman
bolurmen pesman "penitent."
The verb "to have" is expressed
using three different forms (CC, 29/30-313):
habeo "I have" mende bar, habui "I
had" tegdi (teg- "treffen, berhren, erreichen, gelangen, zuteil
werden") habeas "you have!" dar "have!" saga/sanga bolsun "may
The section of verbs is followed
(CC, 59-65/64-72) by one on adverbs (many of which are expressed
by postpositioned forms), e.g. (CC, 54/61) ante "before" eng
borun or ilgeri ab "from" idan, aput "at, near, by, with"
qatinda (qat "Seite, der Raum neben oder bei etwas"), brevitur
"soon" terklep, bene "good, well" yaqsi or eygi, benigne
"benignly, heartily" xos kngl bile ("with a good heart"), com
"with" birle, bile, (CC, 61/66) hodie "today" bu kn, (CC, 61/67)
ideo "on that account, therefore" aning cn, jam "now, already"
saat digar "immediately" bir anca or imdi, (CC, 62/68) multum
"much" kp, malicioxe "maliciously" knavishly, wickedly" yaman
kngl bile, non "no" yoq, nihil "nothing" hec-neme-tagi, (CC,
62/69) postea "afterwards" songra (CC, 63/70) quid "what?" ne,
(CC, 64/70) sane "healthily" sagliq bile.
Personal Pronouns (CC, 66-68/72-74)
follow the listing of adverbs, examples are :
ego "I" men, mei "of me" mening,
michi "to me" manga, me "me" meni, ame "from me" menden, nos
"we" biz etc.(CC, 68/74) ipse met "himself" anlar ox (anlar z ?)
"they themselves." This same section contains a series of
indeclinable nouns, e.g. : alius "other (than)" zge, (CC, 69/74)
omnis "all" tegme or barca, solus "alone" yalguz, talis "of such
a kind, such" falan, qualis "of what kind?" qaysi and basic
adjectives, e.g. : ulu "big," kici "little," yaqsi or eygi
"good," yaman "bad," yngl "light," agir "heavy."
Vocabulary Pertaining to Religion
Tengri "God," Maryam qaton "The
Queen (Virgin) Mary" mater dey, friste "angel," peygambar
"prophet," ari, algisli "holy, saint" santus, xac "cross," bapas
"priest," tre "law,"yarligamaq "mercy," bazliq "peace," tengri
svmeklig "love of God" (caritas, dosti-i xuda).
The Elements (CC, 71/78-79):
hawa "wind" and salqon "wind" (cf.
Mong. salkin "wind" and Old Turkic salqim "cold, hoar-frost,"
Siberian Turkic salqin "violent (cold) wind"), su "water," yer
"earth, land," ot "fire."
Humours of the body (CC, 71/79):
qan "blood," balgam "phlegm ( Ar.
Gr.), qursaq "stomach," sari "gall, bile" (lit. "yellow,"cf.
Pers. safra (Ar. safra "yellow"), sauda "melancholy" (cf.
Pers.sauda Ar. sauda "the black (bile)").
Terms Relating to Time (CC,
yil "year," ay "moon, month," kn
"day," kece or tn "night," etc. This fairly full section
contains a list of the days of the week (largely deriving from
Pers.) and the months of the year : tu-sanbe (Pers.) "Monday,"
se-sanbe (Pers.) "Tuesday," caar- sanbe (Pers.) "Wednesday,"
pan-sanbe (Pers.) "Thursday," ayna (Iran. a ina) "Friday," sabat
kn "Saturday," (sabat ultimately derives from Hebrew sabbat. It
is also found in Qaraim (sabat kn, hardly unexpected there),
Armeno-Coman (sapat' k`un) and Qaracay-Balqar (sabat kn), all
Western Qipcaq languages deriving from Cuman.
This culture-word also entered into
Cuvas ( samat, samat kun) and Volga Finnic (Ceremis/Mari sumat
Votyak/Udmurt sumot, perhaps from Volga Bulgaric). In all
instances, the ultimate source for this word in Turkic was most
probably Khazar.)ye-sanbe "Sunday," aybasi "first day of the
month," kalendas. The Cuman calendar is given below, together
with the Latin and Perso-Islamic equivalents :
januarius safar safar ay februarius
rabi awal swnc ay martius rabiolaxer ilyaz ay aprilis
jimedi-awal tob(a) ay madius jimedi-al axel songu yaz ay junius
rejeb kz ay julius sa'ban orta kz ay augustus ramadan song kz ay
september saugal (sawwal) qis ay octuber zilga'da orta qis ay
november dilhija qurban bayram ay december muharam azuq ay
The Five Senses (CC, 72/81) :
kormek "sight," esitmek "hearing,"
tatmaq "taste," iylamaq "smell," tutmaq "touch."
Other Terms relating to Time, the
Seasons, Direction, Orientation (CC, 73/81-82) kun towusi
"East," kun batisi "West,"yarix, yariq "clear, bright," bulud
"cloud" (for nubiloxum "cloudy") etc.
Opposites (CC, 73-74/83-84) :
jift "like, pair," par, hamta, taq
"unalike," behamta, dispar, btn "whole," sinuq "broken," tatli
"sweet," aci "bitter," sismis "swollen," sisik ketken "the
swelling has gone" (cf. Pers. amah raft "it went down").
Qualities of Things (CC,
eygilik "goodness." Sometimes these
are given in pairs of opposites, e.g. yaqsi or eygi "good,"
yaman "bad," korkul "beautiful," korksuz "ugly," uzun "long,"
qisqa "short," jigit "young, youth," abusqa or qart "old," tiri
"alive," l "dead."
Things of the Everyday World (CC,
jahan "world," tengiz "sea," tag
"mountain," yol "road," tos/toz "dust, powder," terek (Old
Turkic "poplar," in Qipcaq it has comes to mean "tree" in
general), yemis "fruit," sa(h)ar or kent "city," qala/qalaa
"fort, castle," xala "village," saray "palace," ev/ew "house,"
kebit or tugan "shop," kopru "bridge."
Business, Names of Articles of Trade
and Things Pertaining to Them (CC, 80/90-91) :
saraf "banker," tarazu "scales,"
bitik or taftar (cartularius "ledger book, calendar," taqwim
"calendar"), naqt or aqca "money," borclular "debtors," bitik
"letter," (litera, xat) etc.
These are followed by several
lengthy lists of:
Articles of Trade and Handicraft
(CC, 80-86/91-99) and the professionals involved in them. Many
of the terms are "international" in character, often of Indic
origin via Persian and Arabic :
atar (Arab. `attar)
"spice-merchant," comlek "cooking pot," sakar/seker "sugar"
(Middle Iran. sakar Sanscrit sarkara), bal "honey," burc
"pepper," (Sanscrit marica via Iranian) jinjibil "ginger" (Arab.
zinjibil Sanscrit sringgavera), darcini "cinnamon" (Pers.), nil
"indigo" ( Pers. nil Sanscrit nili), qondroq "incense" (Pers.
kundurak "mastic" kundur Gr.) baqam "brazilwood" (baqqam),
tutiya "tutty, zinc" (Arab. tutiya' Sanscrit tuttha), etc.
oglanlar "servants," otlar "herbs," maajunlar "powdered
medicines, electuaries" (Arab. ma`jun), altunci "goldsmith,"
temirci "blacksmith," caquc [ cekc ] "hammer," temir "iron,"
kmis "silver," altun "gold," baqir "copper," qalaj, aq qorgasin
"tin," qorgasin "lead" (Mong. qorgaljin ?), kmr "coal," kre
"furnace, forge," tonci "furrier" (Saka thauna "clothing" )
igine "needle," bicqi "saw," oymaq "thimble," ip "thread," tlk
"fox," teyin "squirrel," qara teyin "grey squirrel," kis
"sable," silevsn (Mong. silegsn), teri ton "fur coat," derzi (Pers.),
cekmen "woolen clothing," qipti "sheers," arsun, qari "yard,"
tsek "mattress, cushion, " etikci "shoemaker," basmaq "shoe,"
balta "axe," burav "augur," trg "chisel," toqmaq "mallet" etc.
Barbering and Related Equipment (CC,
ylci "barber," ylngc "razor," saqal
"beard," kzg "mirror," tas "barber's basin," snglce "lancet,"
bilev "whetstone, " ot, malahan ( Pers. malaham Arab. marham)
Professions (CC, 87-90/100-104):
qlic ostasi "sword-maker," eyerci
"saddle-maker," ygenci "bridle-maker," otaci "medical doctor
(physician and surgeon)," xkmci (Arab. hukm) "lawyer," siqriq
"courier," yalci "pommel-maker,"astlanci "middleman, broker,"
talal, miyanci (Arab. Pers.) "broker, br(k)ci "hat-maker,"
naqslagan (Arab. naqs) "painter," qulluqci "servant," julaxak (Pers.
jullahak) "weaver," yaqci "bow-maker," qobuzci "musician," bitik
ostasi "Magister Scolarum," etc. To this list various words were
added: etmek "bread," urluq "seed," tb "root," olturguclar
"seats," is "work," kc "labor" etc.
Political Titles, Offices and
Related Terms (CC, 90/104-105) :
qan "emperor," soltan (Arab.)
"king," beg "prince," bey "baron (amir)," ceribasi "army
leader," elci "envoy," yarguci "judge ( potestas, sana Arab.
sahna "prefect"), seriyat (( Arab. sar`iyyah "Islamic law")
"judge" (consul, qadi), bogavul/bogawul "servant of the court,
Gerichtsdiener" (placerius, tatawul) Mong. buqawul (see below),
atlu kisi "mounted soldier," qan qatuni "empress," evdegi/ewdegi
epci "female servant," tilmac "translator," etc.
Things Pertaining to the Bazar,
Merchandise (CC, 91-92/105-108):
bazargan "merchant," satuq "trade,"
alici "buyer," satugci/satuqci "seller," behet (Arab. bai`at
"commercial transaction ?) "deposit, down payment," tlemek
"payment," naqt (Arab. naqd) "money," kendir "hemp," skli
"flax," fanar (Gr.)"lantern," qoz "nut," cuz "light taffeta," g
yungi "owl feather (brush ?)," baliq "fish," brinc "rice," ipek
"silk," frangi suf "Western wool, bolting cloth, " isqarlat
(Middle Latin scarlata Arab.Pers. saqallat) "scarlet," kvrk "sulphur,"
jonban ketan "linen of Champagne," Rusi ketan "linen of Rus',"
alamani ketan "German linen," orlens ketan "linen of Orleans,"
Colors (CC,92- 93/107-108):
aq "white," qara "black," qizil
"red," qrimizi "crimson," kk "blue," sari "yellow," yasil
"green," ipkin "violet," etc.
Precious Stones (CC, 93/108=109):
yaqut (Arab.) "ruby," laal (Arab.)
"ruby of Badakhshan," kabut, yapqut "saphire," zmurut (probably
for zumrut, zumurut, Pers. Arab. zumurrud Gr.) "emerald," yalmas
(Pers. almas Gr.) "diamond,: ingc (Chin.) "pearl," etc.
The Human Being, Parts of the Body
azam ( Arab. adam), kisi "man, human
being," epci "woman," bas "head," elat (Arab. axlat) "humors,"
alin, manglay (Mong.) "forehead," qas "eye-brow," kirpik
"eyelid," qulaq/qulax "ear," kz "eye," kz yaruxi "light of the
eye," burun/burin "nose," yangaq "cheek," tis "tooth," til
"tongue," qursaq "stomach," kngl "heart," icex, sucux "gut,
intestine," teri "skin," sik "penis," tasaq "testicles," am
"vulva." kt "anus," qol "arm," qoymic "coccyx," tamar "vein,"
qan "blood," el, qol "hand," barmaq "finger," ayaq "foot," tin
The Family, Relatives (CC,
at(t)a "father," anna "mother," er
"husband," epci "wife," ogul "son," qiz "daughter," qarandas
"brother," qiz qarandas "sister," ul(l)u at(t)a "grandfather,"
qayin "father-in-law," kyeg "son-in-law," abaga "uncle(Mong.),"
ini "nephew," ortaq, nger (Mong.), "friend, comrade," qonsi
Good Qualities of People (CC,
tkel "complete, whole," yaqsi, eygi
"good," barlu kisi "wealthy," ustlu, aqil (Arab.) "intelligent,"
krkl "pretty, handsome," kn "legal, lawful," xalal ogul
"legitimate son," zden "noble, free," erdemli "virtuous," kcl
"strong," tanur kisi "experienced person," sver kisi "amiable
person," erseksiz "chaste," qiliqli "honest," etc.
Human Defects (CC, 98-99/116-117):
yaman "bad," yarli, yoqsul "poor,"
qart, abusqa "old (person)," teli, aqmaq (Arab. ahmaq ) "insane,
stupid," soqur, calis "squint-eyed," kzsiz, kor "blind," tvlk
"blind," kniden towgan "illegitimately born, bastard," aqsax
"lame," tasaqsiz "castrated," qaltaq "pander, procurer,"
qulaqsiz "deaf," tilsiz "mute," trkci "liar," yazuqlu "sinful,"
egri kisi "false person," etc.
Things Pertaining to War (CC,
ceri "army," sancis "war," sagit (?)
"arms," sirdaq (cf. Mong. siri-deg "gesteppte Filzdecke,
saddlepad," siri- "to quilt, stitch") "coat,"tovulga/towulga
"helmet," kbe "coat of mail," btlk "cuirass," qlic "sword,"
bicaq "knife," etc.
Things Pertaining to the Home (CC,
izba (E.Slav.) "room," boxorik (Pers.)
"oven," yuzaq "lock," acquc "key," qadav/qadaw "nail," olturguc
Things Pertaining to Sewing and
Clothing (CC, 101/119) :
opraq "clothing," teri ton "fur
clothing," tvme/twme "button," yeng "sleeve," etc.
Things Pertaining to Construction
(CC, 101-102/119-120) :
tb "fundament," tas "stone," kirec
"lime-stone," qum "sand," su "water," taqta, qanga "floor," tik
agac "column," kerpic "baked brick," aginguc "ladder," etc.
Sundry Articles of Attire and Travel
Gear (CC, 101-102/120- 121):
kvlek/kwlek "shirt," kncek
"trousers," qur, beli-gab "belt," yanciq "purse," kepes, brk
"hat," calma "turban," etik "book," basmaq "shoe," tizge
"garter," artmaq "saddlebag," yasman "flask," catir "tent,"
qamci "whip," araba "wagon, coach," etc.
Things Pertaining to the Horse (CC,
at "horse," naal (Arab.)
"horse-shoe," ayran "stall," eyer yabogi "saddle-blanket,"
tizgin "reins," aguzluq "bit," zengi "stirrup," kmldrk "pectoralis,"
yingircaq "pack-saddle," etc.
Things Pertaining to the Bedroom
(CC, 103-104/123) :
tsek "couch, bed," tsekning ayagi
"tripod," yastuq "pillow," yorgan "blanket," kilim "rug," gali/qali,
kvz/kz "carpet," ksegen "bed-curtains," etc.
Things Pertaining to the Table (CC,
tastar, sarpan "table cloth,"
yiltrin, sise (Pers.) "bottle," piyala (Pers.) "goblet, cup,"
bardaq "pitcher, mug," ciraqliq "candelabrum," as "food," etc.
Things Pertaining to the Kitchen
qazan "pot," cmic "ladle," qasuq
"spoon," cmlet/cmlek "cooking pot," yaglav/yaglaw "frying pan,"
qavurqina/qawurqina "kind of frying pan" (tianus, tawa), ttn
"smoke," yirgaq "hook," tepsi (Middle Chin.*dep tsi).
Trees and Fruits (CC,
terek "tree," butaq "branch,"
yabuldraq "leaf," agac "wood," klege "shadow," yemis "fruit,"
kiras "cherry" (Gr.), armut (Pers.),kertme "pear," alma "apple,"
catlavuq /catlawuq "hazel-nut," qoz "nut," saftalu (Pers.)
"peach," erik "plum," limon (cf. Ital. limome Arab. Pers. laymun)
"lemon," pistaq (Gr. "pistachio," qovun "melon," etc.
Herbs and Vegetables (CC,
sadaf (Pers.) "rue," yisqic "mint,"
ispanaq (Pers. Gr.) "spinach," marul ( Gr.) "lettuce," qabuq
"rind, crust, bark," cgndr "carrot," etc.
Names of Animals (CC,
janavar "beast, animal" (Pers.), at
"horse," astlan "lion," qistraq "mare," qatir "mule," esek
"donkey," tonguz "pig," keyik tonguz "wild boar," kz, sigir
"ox," inek "cow," buzav/buzaw "calf," tisi qoy "female sheep,"
qocqar "ram," qozi "lamb," ecke "goat," it "dog," maci "cat,"
pil (Pers.) "elephant," sazagan "dragon," ayu "bear," qoyan
"hare," br "wolf," sicqan "mouse," boga "bull," etc.
Names of Reptiles, Vermin and
Insects (CC, 108-109/129) :
qurt "worm," sazagan "snake," yilan
"snake," cibin "fly," bit "flea," qandala (?) "bug."
Names of Birds (CC, 109/129-130) :
cipciq "bird," qaraqus "eagle,"
balaban "falcon," qarciga "hawk," qirqiy "sparrow- hawk," turna
"crow," yabalaq "screech-owl" sigirciq "dove"(?) etc.
Grains, Dairy Products and other
Comestibles (CC, 110-130-131):
boday,bogday "wheat," arpa "barley,"
tuturgan, brinc "rice," marjumak (Pers.) "lentils," bircaq
"vegetables," un "flour," st "sweet milk" (lac dulce, sir),
yogurt "sourmilk" (lac acer, mast), kptelk "a dish of flour and
meat" (granum marcengum, koptaluk) etc.
The Missionaries' Book (CC,
111-164/132-235) consists of several very different sections or
parts from undoubtedly a number of authors. A strong impression is
left that this is hardly a finished work, but rather one that may
have been still in progress at the time in which our copy was made.
It contains a variety of vocabulary listings (not in alphabetical
order), grammatical notes, a conjugation of the verb anglarmen "intelligo"
(CC, 129-134/177-180), a section of Cuman riddles, a number of
religious texts and a scattering of Italian verses. It begins with
the verbs seskenirmen, elgenirmen "ich irschrake" (= Eastern Middle
High German trans.) and several other verbs and phrases, e.g. yiti
bicaq "eyn scharf messier," satov etermen "ich kouflage," yp yp ulu
bolur "is wirt y lengir y grossir."
Some of the phrases are translated into
both East Middle High German and Latin, e.g. it redir "d' hunt
billit canis latrat," it ugrayadir "d'hunt gru(n)czet," qoy
mangradir "ouis balat," kisi incqaydir "d' menche brehtit (Gronbech,
KWb., p.273 reads this as "der mensche krHcit"), ucamda yatirmen "ich
lege uf dem rucke," etc. Without any preamble there is on CC,117/141
a brief religious text that begins with : bilge tetik kisiler menim
szm esitingler, eki yolni ayringlar ("Wise and intelligent persons,
listen to my words, distinguish between two paths..."). Given the
fragmented and highly variegated nature of these texts, we will not
follow, as we have thus far, a page by page analysis, but rather
will excerpt texts and sections that best illustrate the character
of the whole.
The Cuman Riddles (CC, 119-120/143-148) are a very important
early source for Turkic folklore. Indeed, they represent the oldest
documented material that we have for Turkic riddles. They are, as
Andreas Tietze has remarked in his excellent study "early variants
of riddle types that constitute a common heritage of the Turkic-
Some of the riddles have clear,
virtually identical modern equivalents, e.g. : (CC, 119/144): kecak
ut(a)hi kegede semirrir. ol huun, which Tietze reads as : kkce
ulaxim kgnde semirir. Ol xowun "my bluish kid (tied) at the
tethering rope, grows fat, The melon. Cf. Qazaq kk lagim kgende
turup semirgen. Qarbiz. "A green kid grew fat lying tethered. The
watermelon," Osm. Gk oglak kkende bagli. karpuz "the bluish
(greenish) kid is tied to a tethering rope. Watermelon." Cuman
olturganim oba yer basqanim baqir canaq ( Kuun : camek which Tietze
reads as ck, but Grnbech, KWb., p.73 has, correctly in my view,
canaq).Ol zengi. "Where I sit is a hilly place. Where I tread is a
copper bowl. The stirrup." Cf. Qazaq otirganim oba zer basqanim
baqir sanaq. uzengi (CC, 120/145) yazda yavli/yawli toqmaq yatir. Ol
kirpi-dir. "In the plain a fatty club lies. It is the hedgehog." Cf.
Xakas: cazida caglig toqpag cadir. Cilan "On the plain a fatty club
is lying. The snake." Qazaq : Dalada zabuli toqpaq zatir. Kirpi "On
the plain there lies a closed club (or "club covered with a horse
Other riddles show close structural or semantic parallels, e.g. (CC,
119/143) aq kmening avzu yoq. Ol yumurtqa "The white- vaulted
structure has no mouth (opening). That is the egg." Cf. Qazaq: auzi
biten aq otau. zumirtqa "A white yurt whose mouth is closed. Egg,"
Qazan Tatar : ber aq y bar, kerege isegi yuq. yomirtqa "There is a
white house, it has no door for going in. Egg." (CC,120/145)
burunsiz buz teser. Ol qoy bogu. "Without a nose it breaks through
ice. It is sheep dung." Cf. Qazan Tatar borinsiz cipciq boz tis.
Tamci, Baskir boronho turgay bo tisr. Tamsi. Qazaq murinsiz muz
tesedi. Tamsi "Beakless sparrow pierces the ice. Drop."
At the time of the composition of the "Missionaries' Book,"
attempts to convert the Cumans already had a considerable history.
An episcopatus Cumanorum seems to have been in existence by 1217 or
1218. The Papacy and the Hungarian kings were particularly
interested in their conversion for a variety of reasons, both
foreign and domestic. The Dominican and Franciscan orders were
tapped for this program. The mission took on further momentum when a
Cuman chieftan Borc/Bortz and his son Membrok as well
as a goodly number of their tribesmen converted in 1227.
Robert, the archbishop of
Esztergom, received Papal permission to go to Cumania for this
purpose. These missionary activities appear to have survived the
Mongol invasions. By 1287, the Franciscan mission was flourishing
under Cinggisid protection. They had a church and hospice at Kaffa
and a chapel at the administrative center of the Crimea, Solxat.
Yaylaq, the wife of Nogay, the Tatar strongman of the late 13th
century, was baptized there. From the Crimea, missions were sent to
the more northern Qipcaq-Tatar lands.
The religious texts consist of homililetics that would be useful in
the task of proselytixation, the Ten Commandments, the Nicene Creed
and various Psalms. An illustrative sampling is given below.
(CC, 132/184-185) :
Tengrini svgil barca stnde "Love God
above all else" (= "Thou shalt have no other gods before me"),
Tengrining ati bile anticmegil = "Thou shalt not take the Lord's
name in vain," ulu kn avurlagil = "Remember the Sabbath day, to
keep it holy," atangi anangi xormatlagil "Honor they father and
thy mother," kisini ltrmegil = "Thou shalt not kill," ogur
bolmagil = "Thou shalt not steal," (h)ersek bolmagil = "Thou
shalt not commit adultery," yalgan tanixliq bermegil "Thou shalt
not bear false witness," zge kisining nemesi suxlanmagil = "Thou
shalt not covet thy neighbor's house " etc. The prohibition on
graven images in curiously absent. Added to these commmandments,
however, are a number of others, e.g. sevgil sening qarindasin
sening kibi "Love thy brother as thyself."
"Ari Augustus alay aytir : yazuqlu
kisi, kim tiler kensi yazuqin aytma(ga), necik Tengri tiler daxi,
sening janing aringay, anga kerek trt neme burung qaygirmax
kerek kirti kngl bile kensi yazuxung cn..."
"St. Augustine says thus : a sinful
man who wishes to confess his sins, as God wishes it, so that
your soul may be pure, four things are necessary for him (to
do). First, it is necessary to regret (repent) with a true heart
"Kim egi kngl bile bizim yixvge
kelse ulu kn agirlap anga bolgay alti yil bosaq"
"He who comes with a good heart to
our church and honors the Sabbath, to him will be (granted) six
(CC, 137/186, the Psalm Ave Porta
"Ave ucmaqning qabagi tirilikning
agaci yemising bizge teyirding Yesusni qacan tuwurdung"
"Ave gate of Paradise, tree of life, Thou hast brought forth thy
Fruit to us, when thou gavest birth to Jesus"
(CC, 124/164, "Parable of the
"Kristus alay aytti kelepenlerge :
barungiz krngiz papazlarga. Ol szin Kristus bugn aytir barca
yazug(li)larga kim kerti kelepenler Tengri alinda."
"Christ spoke thus to the lepers :
`Go, show yourselves before the priests.' These words Christ
today says to all sinners who are true lepers before God."
(CC, 126/171, the "Pater Noster") :
"Atamiz kim kte sen. Algisli bolsun
sening [ating, kelsin] xanliging bolsun sening tilemeging necik
kim kkte alay yerde. Kndegi tmekimizni bizge bun bergil daxi
yazuqlarimizni bizge bosatgil necik biz bosatirbiz bizge yaman
"Our Father which art in heaven.
Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in
earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And
forgive us out sins as we forgive those who have done us evil"
(instead of "for we also forgive every one that is indebted to
This may be compared with a somewhat
garbled "Pater Noster" which survived in Hungarian Cumania (CC,
"bezen attamaz kenze kikte,
szenleszen szenadon, dsn szenkklon, nicziegen gerde ali kekte,
bezen akomazne oknemezne ber bezge pitbtr kngon..." = "Bizim
atamiz kim sen kkte, sentlessen ading, dznsen kngln nicekim
zerde alay kkte, bizim ekmemizni ber bizge...kngn..."
Finally, we may note the "Nicene
Credo" (CC, 148/211-212) :
"Inanirmen barcaga erkli bir ata
Tengrige kokni yerni barca krnr krnmezni yaratti dey. Dagi bir
beyimiz Yesus Kristusga barca zamanlardan burun atadan tuwgan
turur (Kuun : ata tuuptrur = ata towupturur), Tengri Tengriden,
yarix yarixtan, cin Tengri cin Tengriden, etilmey ataga tzdes
tuwupturur, andan ulam bar barca bolgan-turur kim biz azamlar cn
dagin bizim ongimiz kkden enip ari tindan ulam erdeng ana
Maryamdan ten alip kisi bolup- turur..."
"I believe in one God the Father,
all-powerful, who created heaven and earth and all things
visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the
only-begotten Son of God, who was born of the Father before all
times, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
not created, born (of) the same substance as the Father, through
Thee all things were made, who for us men and our health
(=salvation) also descended from heaven and through the Holy
Spirit and from the Virgin Mother Mary took flesh and became
There are many other aspects of the CC
which we may explore further. Given the limits of space, however, we
will touch on only a few of them here.
The CC is very rich in the international mercantile vocabulary that
had developed in the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Eurasia. This
vocabulary is particularly well-represented in the trilingual "Interpretor's
Book." These terms, as we have seen, were largely of Persian or
Arabic origin, often going back to still earlier borrowings into
those languages from Greek and Indic. On the basis of the CC, it
would appear that this international vocabulary had entered
virtually every aspect of Cuman life. Having noted this, a word of
caution is necessary.
We must bear in mind that the vocabulary
of Cuman urban dwellers was undoubtedly richer in these terms than
their steppe neighbors. The polyethnic origins of the population of
the Crimean cities almost certainly increased the "foreign" elements
in local Cuman speech. Moreover, the compilers of the CC, given
their origins, may have also been more inclined to use and hence
include in their glossaries these lingua franca elements.
Greek Elements :
bapas, papas, papaz "priest" is also
found in Qaraim, Armeno-Coman, Mamluk Qipcaq, Balqar and
Ottoman. This term probably entered Cuman directly from Greek
perhaps through Orthodox missionaries or merchants in the
Crimea. Fanar "lantern" , cf. also Osm. fener. It is found as a
recent loanword from Russian (fonar') in Qazan Tatar and
Qaracay-Balqar. K(i)lisia "church" , cf. Qaraim kilise,
Qaracay-Balqar klisa Osm. kilise. Limen "port" , cf. Osm. liman.
Mangdan "parsley" Arab. maqdunis/baqdunis, cf. also Osm.
maydanoz Mod. Gr. . Marul "lettuce" Lat. amarula (lactuca), cf.
Osm. marul, Mamluq Qipcaq marul. Timean "incense" possibly via
Eastern Slavic timian. Trapes "table"
Eastern Slavic :
izba "room, chamber" (CC, 100/119
camera, hujra) izba "house, bath." Ovus "rye" Old Rus' ov's,
Russ. ovs "oats," cf. Qaraim uvus. Pec "stove" pec', cf. Qaraim
pec. There are also more recent borrowings of this word into
other Turkic languges from Modern Russian. Samala "pitch" smola
"soot," cf. Mamluk Qipcaq samala, samla, salama. Salam "straw"
soloma, cf. Mamluk Qipcaq salam, kk salam - saman, found also in
Qaraim, Qaracay-Balqar, Qazan Tatar salam and in Hungarian
szalma. The connection of Turkic saman "straw" with this term is
unclear. Some terms are problematic, e.g. terem "tabernacle,
shrine," cf. Old Rus' terem "high house, court, cupola,
watch-tower," Russ. "room, tower-chamber" - Gr. "room, chamber."
But Sagay Turkic has trb "yurt," cf. Mong. terme "wall."
Similarly, bulov "some kind of weapon, probably a club (cf.
Mamluk Qipcaq bulav, bula'u) may be taken from Eastern Slavic
bulava. The reverse may also be true.
The CC contains a number of Mongol
loanwords. Given the historical contacts of the Turkic and
Mongolian peoples, not to mention the much-debated Altaic
question, the dating and nature of these words pose many
problems. Our task is further complicated by the fact that
Mongol-speaking, or bilingual, Mongol and Turkic-speaking (i.e.
Mongol tribes that were becoming Turkicized) joined the
Cuman-Qipcaq confederation before the 13th century. Other Mongol
influences undoubtedly stem from the era of Cinggisid hegemony.
Thus, there are many layers of Cumano-Qipcaq- Mongol
interaction, some very old, which cannot be easily
differentiated. Poppe has done a very thorough study of these
words. As a consequence, we shall give here only a
representative sampling :< P> Codex Cumanicus
Mongol abaga abaga "uncle" abra- "to defend" abura- "to save"
bilev "grindstone" bileg, bile', bile-, bili- "to stroke,
stripe, streak" ceber "pleasant, amiable" ceber "pure, sober"
egeci "father's sister" egeci *ekeci "older sister" elbek
"richly" elbeg "richly" kenete "suddenly" genete, genedte
"suddenly" maxta- "to praise" magta-, maxta-, maqta- "to praise"
nger "friend, comrade" nker "companion" olja "war booty" olja
"booty" bge "grandfather" ebge *ebke "grandfather" qaburga "rib"
qabirga "rib" silevsn "lynx" silegsn "lynx" etc.
Among some of the problematic words, we may note Cuman bagatur,
Pers. bahadur, Mong. bagatur "hero" which Poppe considered a
Mongol loanword. Clauson, however, suggested that this very old,
Inner Asian culture word went back to the language of the
Hsiung-nu. Cuman qarav, qarov "recompense, reward, retribution"
(CC, 43/46 premium, jaza) and qarav berrmen "I forgive, absolve"
(retribuo, miamorzm), cf. Qaraim qaruv "answer" --Mong. qarigu,
xarigu "answer, response, return, retribution." Cuman tepsi
"plate, dish" (in numerous Turkic dialects) -- Mong. tebsi
"large oblong plate, platter or tray, trough" Chin. tieh-tzu
Middle Chin. dep tsi. Of uncertain origin is (CC, 90/105)
bogavul/bogawul "officer of the court" placerius, tatawul, cf.
the Ilxanid functionary bukawul/buqawul "Vorkoster, vielleicht
Arabic elements, as we have seen,
are quite numerous in all the socio-linguistic categories noted
in the "Interpretor's Book" and elsewhere. This reflects the
important Muslim political, commercial and religio-cultural
influences in the Crimea. That these words were not limited to
the Muslim population can be seen by their presence, without
sectarian connotations, in Qaraim and Armeno-Coman. Elsewhere in
this study, frequent reference has been made to words of Arabic
origin, many of which entered Cuman via Persian. We shall cite
here only a few examples : alam "banner" Arab. `alam, albet
"certainly, of course" Arab. albatta, azam "man" adam, seriat
"judge" Arab. sar`iyyah "Muslim law." This use of a specific
Muslim term for a broader category is also a feature of the
Tolkovanie jazyka poloveckogo (13th century ?, discussed below),
cf. alkoran "zakon" al-qur'an, elfokaz "uciteli i velikie
tolkovnici" al-fuquha "jurists of religious law." Xukm "judgement,
decision" Arab. hukm, hakim, xakim "doctor" Arab. hakim, aziz,
haziz "rare, costly, pilgrim, holy, sacred" Arab. `aziz, nur
"light" Arab. nur, safar "journey" Arab. safar, seir "poet"
Arab. si`r "poetry," sa`ir "poet," tafariq (CC, 132/184,
tafsanyt) "difference" Arab. tafriq, pl. tafariq "separation,
differentiation." Persian: The principal Muslim lingua franca of
the East, Persian, is also well-represented in the CC. As these
words have been pointed out in much of the foregoing, the
following is only a very brief sampling : daru "medicine" Pers.
daru, drust "true" Pers. drust, durust, bazar "bazaar,market"
Pers. bazar, bazargan "merchant" Pers. bazargan, hergiz, herkiz
"never" Pers. hargiz "ever, always, continuously," jahan, jehan
"world" Pers. jahan, jihan, jigar "liver Pers. jigar, piyala
"goblet" Pers. piyala etc.
Hebrew, Syriac and Others
as was noted earlier, Cuman sabat
kun "Saturday" derives ultimately from Hebrew sabbat via a
probable Khazar intermediary. The name (CC, 143/202) Hawa/Hava
"Eve" also appears in its Hebrew form (Hava) rather than the
expected Eva. Interestingly, the word for "Messiah" appears in
its Syriac form, or a form derived from it : (CC, 138/189)
misixa Syr. Mesiha. There are a number of words of undetermined
origin. Among them is (CC, 160/222) kesene "grave mound," which
is preserved in Qaracay and Balqar k`esene, kesene "Friedhoff,
grobnica." Ligeti suggested a Caucasian provenance without
adducing further evidence. Zajaczkowski noted Pelliot's earlier
Persian etymology, kasana "a small house." But, it is not quite
clear how the Cuman form could have emerged from the Persian.
The authors of the "Missionaries'
Book" had to create or elaborate a special Christian Vocabulary.
Certain religious terms were already known to Cuman, as part of the
Inner Asian Turkic legacy of long-standing contacts with a variety
of religions. Thus, terms such as tamu,tamuq, tamux "Hell," ucmaq
"Paradise," both loanwords from Sogdian (tamw, 'wstmg) or some other
Iranian language , were already familiar concepts and not
necessarily in a Christian form. These and other Old Turkic terms
were now given a specific Christian nuance,e.g. bitik (biti- "to
write" Middle Chin. piet "brush") "anything written, book" now
became "The Book," i.e. the Bible.
Other terms were loan- translated into
Turkic, e.g. Bey(imiz) Tengri "Dominus Deus," clk "the Trinity," ari
tin "the Holy Ghost," kktegi xanliq " the Kingdom of Heaven," etc.
An interesting usage (if not original in Cuman) is yix v (iduq ev
"holy, sacred house") "church" (found in Qaraim as yeg'v "church," a
semantic parallel can be seen in Hung. egyhaz "church, " lit. "holy
house"). The notion of "saviour" was directly translated into Turkic
: (CC, 122/160) "Yesus Christus bitik tilince, tatarca qutqardaci,
ol kertirir barca elni qutqardaci" "Jesus Christ, in the language of
the Book, in Tatar, is the Saviour, that means the Saviour of all
The Cuman calendar (see above) shows neither specific Christian
influences nor any trace of the Sino-Turkic 12 year animal cycle.
This appears to be an archaic system, typical, perhaps, of the
Northern Turkic milieu from which the Qipcaqs emerged.
Other examples of this older Turkic culture can be seen in words
such as qam "sorceress" qam "shaman, sorcerer, soothsayer,
Documents Contemporary to the Codex Cumanicus
A number of Qipcaq-Arabic grammar/glossaries (sometimes containing
other languages as well) appeared in Mamluk lands in the 14th and
15th century. Close in content to the CC, although very different in
the Kitab al-Idrak li'l-Lisan al-
Atrak (ca. 1313 or 1320) of Abu Hayyan (1286-1344)
the Kitab Majmu` Tarjuman Turki wa `Ajami
wa Mugali wa Farsi (now dated to 1343)
the Kitab Bulgat al-Mustaq fi Lugat
at-Turk wa'l-Qifjaq of Jalal ad-Din Abu Muhammad `Abdallah at-Turki
(which may date to the late 14th century, but certainly before
the mid-15th century)
the At-Tuhfah az-Zakiyyah fi'l-lugat
at-Turkiyyah of as yet undetermined authorship (written before
the al- Qawanin al-Kulliyyah li-Dabt
al-Lugat at-Turkiyyah written in Egypt at the time of Timur
To this list may perhaps be added the
thus far partially published six-language Rasulid Hexaglot
(dating to the 1360's) which contains vocabularies in Arabic,
Persian, two dialects of Turkic (one of which is clearly Oguz, the
other may be viewed as Qipcaq or a mixed Eastern Oguz-Qipcaq
dialect), Greek, Armenian and Mongol.
There are also fragments of Cuman-Rus' glossaries such as Se
tatarsky jazyk which is found in a 15th century sbornik
from Novgorod and the Tolkovanie jazyka poloveckago found in a 16th
century menologium. These undoubtedly date from an earlier period.
Finally, mention should be made of the Qipcaq translation of
Sa`di's Gulistan done by Sayf-i Sarayi in Cairo in