Altaic Languages


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to Altaic Languages: Uralic languages

Altaic Languages

 

a family of languages uniting three language groups: the Turkic, Mongolian, and Tungus-Manchurian. The Altaic languages also include the Korean language. The Turkic and the Tungus-Manchurian languages are farthest removed from each other.

The existence of kinship between the Altaic languages cannot be taken as definitively proved. Despite protracted scientific work on the Altaic problem, even today there are linguists who uphold the theory of the common origin of the Altaic languages (G. J. Ramstedt, N. Poppe, E. D. Polivanov, and others) and those who attempt to account for the material similarity of the Altaic languages in terms of linguistic interaction (V. Kotwicz and others). The Uralo-Altaic hypothesis put forward by N. Räsänen and others combines the Altaic languages with the “Uralic” languages (Finno-Ugric and Samoyed).

The stem in the Altaic languages is characterized by stable phonology and independence (it constitutes a full word). Word formation and word changes take place through the agglutination of affixes to the root (stem). Affixes, as a rule, have a single meaning. Prefixes are not typical of Altaic languages. Formal joining of the root and affixes into a single unit is achieved by the assimilation of the phonology of these affixes to the phonology of the stem—that is, synharmonism, which is common in almost all the Altaic languages. The category of gender is absent in the Altaic languages. The grammatical category of possessiveness, expressing the person of the possessor (first, second, and third persons of the singular and plural) by special possessive affixes, is highly developed in most of the Altaic languages. The degree of comparison is usually expressed in the Altaic languages by using the ablative case of the noun designating the object to be compared. One characteristic feature of Altaic languages is the widespread use of nonper-sonal forms of the verb—participles and verbal adverbs—in those cases where the Indo-European languages frequently use the personal forms of the verb. In Altaic languages, the subject is placed at the beginning of the sentence and the predicate at the end. The word order in the sentence is governed by a general rule: the dependent term precedes the term on which it depends, while the attribute stands before the constituent modified, and the object stands before the constituent to which it refers. Added to this is the fact that Altaic languages lack prepositions and instead use postpositions. (Since the noun is dependent on the postposition which governs various cases of the noun, the noun must precede the postposition.) Sometimes the term “Altaic languages” is used to designate the languages of those peoples living in the Altai area (the Altai, Khakass, Tuva, and other peoples).

REFERENCES

Ramstedt, G. J. “Vvedenie v altaiskoe iazykoznanie.” Morfologiia. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from German.)
Ramstedt, G. J. Kalmückisches Wörterbuch. Helsinki, 1935.
Shcherbak, A. M. “O kharaktere leksicheskikh vzaimosviazei tiurkskikh, molgol’skikh i tungusko-man’chzhurskikh iazykov.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1966, no. 3.
Illich-Svitych, V. M. “Altaiskie dental’nye t, d, s.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1963, no. 6.
Illich-Svitych, V. M. “Altaiskie gutturnal’nye *kc, *k, *g.” Etimologiia, 1964. Moscow, 1965.
Illich-Svitych, V. M. “Sootvetstviia smychnykh v nostricheskikh iazykakh.” Etimologiia, 1966. Moscow, 1968.
Dolgopol’skii, A. B. “Gipoteza drevneishego rodstva iazykovykh semei Severnoi Evrazii s veroiatnostnoi tochki zreniia.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1964, no.2.
Sinor, D. Introduction à l’étude de I’Eurasie Céntrale. Wiesbaden, 1963.
Poppe, N. Vergleichende Grammatik der altaischen Sprachen, vol. 1. Wiesbaden, 1960.
Poppe, N. Introduction to Altaic Linguistics. Wiesbaden, 1965.

E. A. POTSELUEVSKII

References in periodicals archive ?
Although this negative criticism has been very influential, leading almost to a consensus that no Altaic language family exists, supporters of the Ramstedt-Poppe theory have by no means disappeared.
Undoubtedly Manchu will play an important role in the ultimate solution to the much debated question of the genealogical status of the Altaic languages, and without a doubt Manchu plays a central role in comparative Tungusic linguistics.
Unfortunately, this sort of reduplication is thoroughly described for a select few Altaic languages, particularly in the Turkic family where the process is fairly productive (e.g.
Based on the facts from Oroqen and other observations about the operation of reduplication in Altaic languages, we argue that emphatic reduplication is borrowed into Tungusic, most likely from Turkic via Mongolic.
183) and that: "However, several scholars, including Janhunen (1999 : 31) claim that the Altaic languages are very young, mainly because the individual branches show very little diversity." (p.
237-238), nor by invoking the overall typological similarity between Uralic and Altaic languages (p.
fa subsequent to its several different borrowings into the Altaic languages. Probably it is still too soon categorically to rule out this or that etymology in this connection purely on grounds of forms that "seem to be too far" from one another, particularly when one of the forms is spurious.
When he found this same etymology in the course of reading through the proofs of Japanese and the Other Altaic Languages (Chicago, 1971), 145-46, Poppe urged me to delete it; perhaps I should have taken his advice.
There are a number of features of the northern Chinese dialects that suggest that they were influenced by Altaic languages that bordered them on the north.
Budenz' correspondences, the number of correspondences Hungarian shares with the Altaic languages (and Yukaghir) in fact nearly match the number of correspondences Hungarian shares with the (Finno-) Ugric/Uralic languages, according to modern knowledge.
* 11 words are recognised as being of Uralic origin, but they also have a parallel in the Altaic languages and/or Yukaghir according to UEW (items number 1, 2, 8, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30);
The choice of features might be adequate, given that 37 features occur in at least one Altaic language and 21 occur in all of them.