Kipchak

Kipchak

 

(Cuman, or Polovtsian), the language of the Po-lovtsy, or Cuman, Kipchaks—the main body of a tribal union that appeared in Eastern Europe in the mid-tenth century and occupied vast territory in the east (Central Asian steppe of Desht-i Kypchak) and west (Black Sea steppes, and later the Crimea and part of the Balkan peninsula).

The Kipchak language, as well as modern Karaim, Kumyk, and several other languages, is related to the Kipchak-Polovtsian subgroup of the Kipchak group of Turkic languages. The phonetic structure of Kipchak is characterized by instability of the correspondences [s/s] in words of the type tas/tash “stone” and the preferred use of [j ] at the beginning of a word instead of [ž/dž] as in the other Turkic languages. The grammatical structure is characterized by the parallel use of participial forms in -ur/-ür and -ar/-er, and by the activization of action nouns in -maq/-mek instead of forms in -uŭ/-űŭ . Kipchak vocabulary contains a significant number of borrowings from the Oghuz language.

Data on the language of the Cumans, or Polovtsy, of the pre-Mongol period (11th to first half of the 13th century) are given in Mahmud of Kashgari’s Dictionary of Turkic Dialects. More significant records of the Kipchak language date from the post-Mongol period (second half of the 13th century to the 16th century). The most important Kipchak record is the Codex Cumanicus (published by T. Klaproth in 1828), a late 13th century Latin-Persian-Cuman dictionary.

REFERENCES

Radlov, V. V. O iazyke kumanov: Po povodu izdaniia kumanskogo slovaria. St. Petersburg, 1884.
Codex Cumanicus. Edited by K. Grønbech. Copenhagen, 1936.
Grønbech, K. Komanisches Wörterhuch. Copenhagen, 1942.
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