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  • Монгольские
  • Тюркские
  • Тунгусо-маньчжурские
  • Корейские
  • Японские


  • Монгольские
  • Тюркские
  • Тунгусо-маньчжурские
  • Корейские
  • Японские


  • Монгольские
  • Тюркские
  • Тунгусо-маньчжурские
  • Корейские
  • Японские

  • Монгольские
  • Тюркские
  • Тунгусо-маньчжурские
  • Корейские
  • Японские

  • U. Schamiloglu


    The New World and its Impact on Turkic Lexicon and Culture

    (U. Wisconsin-Madison)


    In summer 1991 Kenesbay Musaev offered a course in Kazak language at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was one of the few Turkologists to travel to the United States in the Soviet period and probably the only Kazak scholar to travel from the USSR to the United States to teach Kazak language. With fond memories of his visit to our university, it is only appropriate that I offer a few thoughts on the New World and its impact upon Turkic languages and cultures to honor our ağa.

    The Columbian Exchange

    The history of contacts between the Eurasian continent and the Americas is the center of numerous scholarly debates. One continuing debate is the question of how and when human populations arrived in the Americas from various regions in Asia tens of thousands of years ago. The second debate centers on the brief history of Viking colonies in the New World a millenium ago. The third – which I will examine here – relates to the global impact of the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492. There can be no doubt that it is only beginning in 1492 that there was a sustained impact of European culture on the New World. What is often overlooked, however, is that the impact of the New World on the Old World was also significant in its own right. Alfred W. Crosby, Jr. has termed this bidirectional flow of flora and fauna the “Columbian Exchange”.[1]

    One of the of the issues that I would like to examine here is how the spread of new flora and fauna from the New World to the Old World has been expressed in the lexicon of the various Turkic languages. This is important because many agricultural products that we take for granted today as staple foods in European, Asian, and African cuisines are, in fact, originally from the Americas.  Potatoes are synonymous with the cuisine of Ireland and more recently Russia (kartofel’). Tomatoes are synonymous with Italian cuisine (pomodoro). Red bell peppers, synonymous with Hungarian cuisine (paprika), are ubiquitous from the Mediterranean to South and Southeast Asia. Even though they do not form the basis of traditional Turkic foodways, many of these ingredients have been readily integrated into most modern Turkic cuisines. Today, one cannot imagine eating in Istanbul, Kazan, Baku, Tashkent, Almaty, Ürümqi, or elsewhere in the Turkic world without enjoying tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and other agricultural products originally introduced from the New World.

    In 1935 the noted Soviet botanist Vavilov wrote that out of the 640 important cultivated plants … more than 500, i.e. 5/6th of the cultivated plants of the world belong to some part of the Old World. The New World has given rise to approximately 100 such plants (counting all the newly established species of potato as a single species).[2]


    This is not the place to review the methodologies by which scholars decide whether plants or animals are indigenous to one region or another. Suffice it to say that Vavilov has discussed in his many works concentrations of biological diversity as suggesting a center of origination for plant and animal life. Central Asia, for example, is not particularly rich in terms of field crops that are indigenous to that region. A very important indigenous plant is apples. Thus in Kazakstan there is a tremendous variety of different kinds of wild apples in the ravines of the T’ien-Shan Mountains around Almaty, Lepsinsk (Taldykorgan), and Semirech’e (as well as in the Caucasus). Semirech’e is also a center of biological diversity for wild apricots. Other agricultural products that are indigenous to Central Asia as suggested by the biological diversity in their wild varieties include hemp, chicory, and wild carrots. Much of what else has been cultivated consists of plants originally introduced from eastern and southwestern Asia.[3] 

    With regard to distinguishing the pre-Columbian era from the post-Columbian era, historians rely on written evidence concerning the export of Old World plants and animals to the New World, as well as the import of New World plants and animals into the Old World. For example, written sources do not document potatoes, tomatoes, and corn (maize) in the New World before 1492. The archeological record for both the Old and New Worlds is particularly valuable in this regard as well. There is less certainty concerning the exchange of diseases: while it is clear that the unintentional European export of smallpox was devastating for the indigenous Native American population, documentation of the spread of syphilis from the Old World to the New World is more controversial, and rests in part (but not conclusively) on the lack of pre-Columbian skeletons in the Old World exhibiting signs of this disease’s ravages to bone tissue.[4]

    The various centers of diversity in the New World (Southern Mexico-Central America, Peru-Ecuador-Bolivia) have contributed countless agricultural products to the Old Word, but it would be impossible in this limited space to review all the cultivated New World flora.[5] From Mexico and Central America the world has gained maize (corn), New World varieties of cotton that form the basis of modern cotton production around the world, various species of squash and pumpkins, various kinds of beans (common or kidney beans, runner beans, lima beans, tepary beans, jack beans), quinoa/Mexican tea, purple amaranth, chayote, agave, papaya, annual pimento peppers, perennial pepper, jicama, various cacti, tomatillo, cherry tomato, cacao, papaya, avocado, guava, black cherry, vanilla, pecan nuts, cashew nuts, castilloa rubber, sunflowers, Jerusalem artichokes, and many ornamental plants such as dahlias, cosmos, zinnias, and morning glories.[6] From South America we have gained the potato, tobacco, a variety of wild strawberry, manioc, sweet potato, giant squash, peanuts, tomato, pineapple, passion fruit or purple granadilla, the rubber tree, the quinine tree, and the coca bush. Many of these items made their way to the Old World shortly after 1492, but many were introduced in the USSR and other countries only in the 20th century.[7] In addition to New World agricultural products, there were also significant New World food animals such as the turkey and Muscovy duck.

                A detailed analysis of all New World flora and fauna introduced anywhere in the Turkic world beginning with the potato and tomato and ending with the Ottoman Turkish firänk inciri ‘prickly pear’ (Radloff, iv, 1942),[8] a cactus variety popular as a natural fence for cattle and for its delicious fruit, and the infamous coca bush would certainly require a book-length treatment. If one were to include innovations from the New World from Uzbek amirkon mahsi ‘patent leather’ to the latest in computer hardware, the list would grow impossibly long. For the purposes of exploring this topic in greater detail, I will limit this preliminary examination to a selected list. The first 15-18 items are the crops that Crosby considers to be the most important New World contributions to Old World agriculture,[9] the remainder are additional flora and fauna that I have added for illustrative purposes. I will present the English[10] and Russian[11] data followed by the evidence of Radloff, since for such lexical items this work is of historical importance revealing the extent to which flora and fauna had spread by the late 19th century. Finally I will offer a survey of the modern data for selected modern Turkic languages[12] followed by some preliminary conclusions.

    The Columbian Exchange and the Turkic Lexicon

    1. Maize

    Maize is considered the single most important food crop exported from the New World. It grows under a wide range of conditions as long as it has several months of hot weather and does not require that fields rest fallow. It is cultivated as an important crop form humans and livestock across southern Europe from Portugal through northern Italy, the former Yugoslavia, the Danube valley, and into the Caucasus.[13]  It is also extremely important in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere. In the 1950s Nikita Khrushchev directed the expansion of maize production in the USSR. Today it is raised in the North Caucasus and parts of Ukraine, and more recently new varieties have been introduced in Tatarstan.

    In the 1670s maize was known in southern France as bled d’Espagne ‘Spanish wheat’. According to Crosby, early European names for maize (some of which are still in use) include granturco, blé de Turquie, Türkischer Korn, Turkie wheat, and trigo de Turquia. Various names used in the Indian subcontinent such as Mecca, Makka, etc. suggest that it first arrived there from the Middle East. African names indicate a New World and Middle Eastern origin. During the time of the Napoleonic invasions Egyptians were calling it “wheat of Turkey” or “wheat of Syria”.[14]  While Old English and Middle English corn refers to any cereal grain (AHD, 296), in American English this refers more commonly to maize ‘Indian corn’, which derives from Spanish maíz, a borrowing from Taino mahiz (AHD, 787). The Russian terms for maize are mais, which clearly goes back to the Taino form, and  kukuruza, whose origin is uncertain and may originally be a Romanian word (Fasmer, ii, 407; A magyar nyelv történeti-etimológiai szótára, ii, 660).

    Radloff: Osm. qoqoroz (ii, 509), Bosn. ququruz (ii, 897), Kas. _äbä boday (iv, 1714) ‘Mais’; Osm. qalämbäk ‘Mais, in Farbe und Form von Rosenkranzkugeln’ (ii, 238); Sart. badräk ‘im Kessel geröstete Maiskörner’ ( iv, 1520); Sart. zağara ‘das Mais und Hirsenmehl und das aus ihm gebackene Brot’ ( iv, 860).

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay kukuruza, mais; Azeri garğıdalı; Bashkir kukuruz, mais; Chuvash kukkurus, kukuruza, mais; Karachay-Balkar nartüx, cügeri; Karakalpak mäkke; Kazak cügeri, mais; Kazan Tatar kukuruz, mais, käğbä bodayı; Kumık ğabicay, ğabicday; Kyrgyz meke cügörü, cügörü; Noğay nartük, aci biyday; Turkish mısır, mısır buğdayı; Türkmen megkecöven; Tuvan kukuruza, mais; Uyğur kömmä qonaq; Uzbek makkaco’xori; Xakas kukuruza, mais; Yakut kukuruza, mais.

    An additional cultural note: maize porridge, known in northern Italy beginning soon after the time of Columbus, is well known internationally from northern Italian cuisine by the name polenta, though this food is also well known among the Moldovans as mamaliga.[15] Among the Karachays this food is known as qaq (which in Kazan Tatar means ‘dried pressed fruit’).


    2. Beans of many varieties (Phaseolus vulgaris and others)

    From the over one thousand species of beans, some (such as the soybean) are of Old World origin, but the New World species spread rapidly in Europe and throughout the world because they are especially rich in protein, oils, and carbohydrates. Important New World beans include the lima, sieva, Rangoon, Madagascar, butter, Burma, pole, curry, kidney, French, navy, haricot, snap, string, common, and frijole beans. Because the tremendous variety of Old and New World species are often lumped together in descriptions and because they are usually a garden crop rather than a field crop, it is difficult to treat New World species separately.[16]

    The English word bean has an Indo-European etymology, as does Russian bob ‘kidney bean’, fasol’  ‘haricot, Fench bean’, konskie bobï ‘horse bean’.

    Radloff: Misch. ügi: ( i, 1808), Tar. noqut (iii, 693), Tob. lubïya (iii, 761), Kas. cazu:lı borçaq (iv, 53), Bar. qara burtsak (iv, 1370), Osm.Krm. baqla (iv, 1443), Kas. borçaq ( iv, 1711), Dsch. bükrülçük (iv, 1880), Osm. fasulya (iv, 1917), Tar. maş (iv, 2058) ‘Bohne’; Osm.Krm. cahudi baqlası ‘ägyptische Bohne’ (iv, 1444); Osm.Krm. acı baqla ‘bittere Bohne’ (iv, 1443); Osm. tazä fasulya ‘grüne Bohne’ (iv, 1917); Osm. at kästänäsi (i, 445), Kas. török borçaq (iv, 1711), Osm bünrülcä (iv, 1886) ‘türkische Bohne’; Osm. quru fasulya ‘weisse Bohne’ (iv, 1917); Osm.Krm. Hind baqlası ‘Bohne, mit der man Tabak parfümiert’ ( iv, 1444); Osm. yär fasulyası Strauchbohne’ (iv, 1917); Osm. aişa qadın fasulyası ‘eine Art grosser Bohnen’ (iv, 1917).

    Modern Turkic languages: Altay mırçaq, fasol’; Azeri paxla; Bashkir borsaq, qara borsaq, fasol’, noqot borsağı; Chuvash nimĕś părśi; Karachay-Balkar qudoru; Kazak iri burşaq, ürme burşaq ‘haricot’; Kazan Tatar bakça borçagı, nogıt, nogıt borçagı, fasol’; Kumık burçaq; Kyrgyz bob, buurçak, fasol’; Noğay nogıt; Turkish fasulye; bakla ‘broad bean’, börülce ‘black eyed bean’, acı bakla, ufak bakla ‘horse bean’, çalı fasulyesi ‘kidney bean’, adi fasulye ‘haricot bean’; Türkmen kösük, noyba kösügi, noyba; Tuvan bob, çoçak-taraa; Uyğur dadur poçaq, dadur, caŋdu, lobi; Uzbek loviya, no’xat; Xakas bob; Yakut bob (no data for Karakalpak).

    3. Peanuts

    Peanuts are widely used in African, South Asian, and Southeast Asian cuisines.[17] They are also popular internationally as a snack food. The English is word is from pea + nut. The Russian forms are araxis, zemlyanoy orex. The word araxis is from Greek (Slovar’ russkovo yazïka, i, 38).

    Radloff: no data.

    Modern Turkic languages: Azeri araxis, erfındığı; Bashkir araxis, er sätläüege, qıtay sätläüege; Chuvash araxis, śĕr măyărĕ; Karakalpak caŋğaq ‘gretskiy orex’; Kazak araxis, cer caŋğaq, qıtay caŋğağı; Kazan Tatar araxis, ciklävege, Kıtay çiklävege; babıy (dialect?, my mother, who was Mişär Tatar, would use this word); Kyrgyz araxis, cer caŋgak; Turkish Amerikan fıstığı, yer fıstığı; Türkmen araxis; Uzbek yer yonğoq; Yakut araxis (no data for Altay, Karachay-Balkar, Kumık, Noğay, Tuvan, Uyğur, Xakas).

    4. Potato

    From the perspective of northern Europe and Asia, one of the most important crops to emerge from the New World is the potato. Europeans at first viewed this tuber with skepticism and considered it variously as an aphrodisiac, a cause of leprosy, or simply insipid.  The first mass cultivation of potatoes in Europe began in Ireland in the late 16th century. The increase in the Irish population as a result of the introduction of the potato is instructive for understanding the impact of New World agricultural products in the Old World (at least until the catastrophe of the potato blight). A family could live well off 1.5 acres (0.6 hectares), with each individual consuming about 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of potatoes per day with some milk products.

    The cultivation of potatoes later spread across England, France, German, and Hungary over the course of the late 18th-early 19th centuries. As a result of the famine and epidemic of 1765, Catherine the Great launched a campaign to encourage potato cultivation, but potatoes did not become a major crop until after the crop failures of 1838 and 1839. German colonists in the steppe were influential in the spread of the potato. Over the last four decades of the 19th century potato production increased over 400 percent, and Russia became one of the world’s top producers of potatoes by 1900.[18] It is difficult to imagine that potatoes were not a staple in the Imperial Russian diet until the second half of the 19th century–beginning of the 20th century.

    The English word derives from Spanish patata, which is a borrowing from Taino batata (AHD, 1025). Russian kartofel’ is a borrowing from German Kartoffel. It is believed that the German derives from Italian tartufo, tartufolo ‘truffle’ (Wahrig, 2045; Fasmer, ii, 204).

    Radloff: Krm. yär alması (i, 436), Bar. qartopqa, Krm. qartof (ii, 201), Sag. ya:bılaq (iii, 281), Sag. çablaq (iii, 1934), Osm. patata (iv, 1174), Bar. pü:lbö (iv, 1402), Kas. bärängi (iv, 1596), Kar.T. bul’ba (iv, 1855) ‘Kartoffel’; Kas. bärängä alması ‘Samenkapseln der Kartoffeln’ (i, 436); Kas. bärängi ürindisi (i, 1832) ‘Kartoffelkeime’.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay kartoşko; Azeri kartof; Bashkir kartuf; Chuvash śĕrulmi; Karachay-Balkar K. gardoş, B. kartof; Karakalpak kartoşka; Kazak kartop; Kazan Tatar bäräŋge, cir alması (dialect); Kumık kartop, kartoşka; Kyrgyz kartofel’, kartöşkö; Noğay kartofel’, yeralma; Turkish patates; Türkmen kartoşka; Tuvan kartofel’, kartoşka; Uyğur yaŋiyu; Uzbek kartoşka; Xakas yablax; Yakut xortuoppuy.

    5. Sweet potato

    “Potato” in the early modern sources often referred to both regular and sweet potatoes, so it is difficult to distinguish the early history of potatoes from that of sweet potatoes.[19] Their high productivity (four times that of rice) and its resistance to drought and tolerance of poor soils has made it an important crop in warmer climates such as those of Africa, China, India, and Indonesia. The Russian forms are dioskoreya (?), batat. Compare the German forms Süsskartoffel, batate.

    Radloff: no data.

                Modern Turkic languages: Bashkir batat, tatlı kartuf; Turkish Hatay patatesi; Uzbek batat (no data for Altay, Azeri, Chuvash, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak, Kazak, Kazan Tatar, Kumık, Kyrgyz, Noğay, Türkmen, Tuvan, Uyğur, Xakas, Yakut).

    6. Manioc (also called cassava and tapioca)

    The root of this shrub is an extremely important food in tropical regions of Africa, southern India, and Southeast Asia.[20] The English word manioc derives from the French word, which is of Tupian origin, akin to Tupi manioca (AHD, 794). The English word cassava derives from Spanish cazabe ‘cassava bread’, which is a borrowing from Taino caçábi (AHD, 209). The English word tapioca is derived from the Spanish and Portuguese words, which are borrowings from Tupi tipioca ‘residue’ (AHD, 1316). The Russian forms are manioka, tapioka.

    Radloff: no data.

                Modern Turkic languages: Azeri maniok, manioka; Kazak manioka; Turkish manyok, tapyoka; Türkmen manioka (no data for Altay, Bashkir, Chuvash, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak,  Kazan Tatar, Kumık, Kyrgyz, Noğay, Tuvan, Uyğur, Uzbek, Xakas, Yakut).

    7. Squashes & pumpkin

    I hesitate to make sweeping generalizations about the role of squashes and pumpkins, because certain authors present all squash and pumpkins as being from the New World, while other authorities indicate that many varieties were present in the Old World as well. The English words squash and pumpkin both have an Indo-European etymology. Russian kabak, kabaçok ‘squash’ is from Turkic qabaq (Fasmer, ii, 148),while tïkva ‘squash, pumpkin’ has an Indo-European etymology (Fasmer, iv, 130-131).

    Radloff: Kas.Osm.Dsch.OT.Krm. qabaq (ii, 437), Dsch.Z. qaman (?) (ii, 480) ‘Kürbis’; Osm. su qabaq (ii, 437), ‘ausgehölter Kürbis als Wassergefäss’; Osm. armud *qabağı (ii, 437), ‘birnenförmiger Kürbis’; Osm. it xiyarı (i, 1499), Osm. qarğa düläyi (ii, 191), abu cähl qarpuzu (ii, 212) ‘bitterer Kürbis, Koloquinte’; Ad. aq qabaq (ii, 437), ‘bucharischer Kürbis’; Osm. saqız qabağı (ii, 437), ‘eiförmiger Kürbis’; Osm. bal qabağı (ii, 437), ‘gelber Kürbis’; Osm. qantar qabağı (ii, 437), ‘grosser, runder Kürbis’; Osm. asma qabağı (ii, 437), ‘hängende Kürbis’; Krm. (Osm.Ad.) asma qabağı (i, 555) ‘persischer Kürbis’; Osm. qara qabaq (ii, 437), ‘schwarzer Kürbis’; Osm. tac qabağı (ii, 437), ‘turbanförmiger Kürbis’; Osm. qış qabağı (ii, 437), ‘Winterkürbis’.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay kabaçok, tıkva; Azeri yunan gabağı; Bashkir qabaq; Chuvash kabaçok, tărăxla kavăn; Karachay-Balkar kabaçok, K. qab, B. xıyar; Karakalpak as qabaq; Kazak kädi, asqabaq; Kazan Tatar keçkenä kabak, taşkabak, kabak; Kumık taşqabaq, qabaq; Kyrgyz kabakça, aşkabak; Noğay kabaçok, kabak; Turkish kabak, helvacıkabağı; Türkmen kabaçok, kädi, palav kädi ‘muskatnaya tïkva’; Tuvan kabaçok, tıkva; Uyğur taşkava, kava; Uzbek kabaçki, qovoqça, qovo, oşqovoq, oddiy qovoq, xaşaki qovoq ‘kormovaya tïkva’; Xakas kabaçok, tıkva; Yakut kabaçok, tıkva.

    8. Papaya

    The English word derives from the Spanish, which is a borrowing from the Cariban (AHD, 949).

    One English-Russian dictionary defines papaya as ‘dïnnoe derevo, plod dïnnogo dereva’, but surprisingly the only source in which I have seen papayya listed as a Russian word is the Bol’şoy Russko-Turkmenskiy Slovar’, i-ii(Moscow, 1986-1987), ii, 13.

    Radloff: no data.

                Modern Turkic languages: Turkish papaya ağacı; Türkmen gavun agacı (no data for Altay, Azeri, Bashkir, Chuvash, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak, Kazak, Kazan Tatar, Kumık, Kyrgyz, Noğay, Tuvan, Uyğur, Uzbek, Xakas, Yakut).

    9. Guava

    The English word derives from the Spanish guava, guayaba, which is of South American Indian origin (AHD, 584). I have found no Russian form.

    Radloff: no data.

    Modern Turkic languages: (no data for Altay, Azeri, Bashkir, Chuvash, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak, Kazak, Kazan Tatar, Kumık, Kyrgyz, Noğay, Turkish, Türkmen, Tuvan, Uyğur, Uzbek, Xakas, Yakut).

    10. Avocado

    The English word derives from the Spanish aguacate, which is a borrowing from Nahuatl ahuacatl ‘testicle’ because of the shape of the fruit (AHD, 91). I have found no Russian form.

    Radloff: no data.

    Modern Turkic languages: (no data for Altay, Azeri, Bashkir, Chuvash, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak, Kazak, Kazan Tatar, Kumık, Kyrgyz, Noğay, Turkish, Türkmen, Tuvan, Uyğur, Uzbek, Xakas, Yakut).

    11. Pineapple

    The English word is from pine + apple from the resemblance of its shape to a pine cone (AHD, 995). The well-known international form ananas is derived from Portuguese ananas, which is a borrowing from the Tupi (Wahrig, 368). This is the same form used in Russian.

    Radloff: no data.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay ananas; Azeri ananas; Bashkir ananas; Chuvash ananas; Karachay-Balkar ananas; Kazan Tatar ananas; Kumık ananas; Kyrgyz ananas; Noğay ananas; Turkish ananas; Türkmen ananas; Tuvan ananas; Uyğur ananas; Uzbek ananas; Xakas ananas (no data for Karakalpak, Kazak, Yakut).

    12. Tomato

    The English word is a variant of earlier tomate, which is derived from the Spanish, which is a borrowing from Nahuatl tomatl (AHD, 1352). The Russian forms are pomidor, tomat. The latter is obviously ultimately derived from the Nahuatl, but pomidor is clearly linked with Italian pomo d’oro ‘golden apple’ (Fasmer, iii, 323).

    Radloff: Osm. firänk patlıcanı (iv, 1179), Osm. firänk badincanı 1942 ‘Tomat’.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay pomidor, tomat; Azeri pomidor, tomat; Bashkir pomidor, tomat; Chuvash-pomidor, tomat; Karachay-Balkar padracan, pomidor, tomat; Karakalpak pomidor; Kazak pomidor, tomat; Kazan Tatar pomidor, tomat; Kumık pomidor, qızıl badircan, tomat; Kyrgyz pomidor, tomat; Noğay pomidor, badırcan,tomat; Turkish domates; Türkmen pomidor, tomat; Tuvan pomidor, tomat; Uyğur pämidur, tamat; Uzbek pomidor, tomat; Xakas pomidor, tomat; Yakut pomidor, tomat.

    13. Chile pepper

    The English word pepper is of Indo-European origin, as are the well-known Hungarian paprika and Russian perets, struçkovïy perets.

    Radloff: Osm. ısı ot (i, 1388), Kmd. pırç, Tel. pırçın (iv, 1313), Tel. puruç, Bar. puruts (iv, 1367), Tel.Kmd.Alt. purç (iv, 1370), Kas. boroç (iv, 1710), Krm.Osm. bibär (iv, 1789), Tob. buruts,Kir. burush (iv, 1825), Dsch. burç (iv, 1832), Osm. bübär (iv, 1903), Leb. mırç (iv, 2143), Tar. mu:ç (iv, 2200) ‘Pfeffer’; Osm. tazä bübär, yäşil bübär (iv, 1903), ‘grüner Pfeffer’; Tob. qızıl buruts (iv, 1825), Osm. qırmızı bübär (iv, 1903), ‘roter Pfeffer’; Krm.Osm. qırmızı bibär (iv, 1789), ‘spanischer Pfeffer’; Osm. Arna’ut bibäri (i, 303), Bar. qızıl puruts (iv, 1367), Kas. qızıl boroç (iv, 1710) ‘türkischer Pfeffer’.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay mırç; Azeri bibär; Bashkir boros; Chuvash părăś, xutaślă părăś ‘pepper with seeds’, xĕrlĕ părăś ‘red pepper’, pılak părăś ‘sweet pepper’; Karachay-Balkar K. şibici, B. çibici, qızıl şibici ‘red pepper’; Karakalpak burış; Kazak burış, qızıl burış ‘red pepper’; Kazan Tatar borıç; Kumık burç, issot, cibicey, qızıl burç ‘red pepper’; Kyrgyz kızıl murç, kalempir ‘red pepper’ or ‘pepper with seeds’; Noğay burış, şibciy; Turkish biber, kırmızı biber ‘red pepper’, yeşil biber ‘green pepper’; Türkmen burç, gızıl burç ‘red pepper’, bolgar burçı ‘Bulgarian pepper’; Tuvan perets, kızıl perets ‘red pepper’; Uyğur qälämpur, laza ‘red pepper’; Uzbek qalampir, garmdori, aççiq qalampir, qizil qalampir ‘red pepper’ or ‘pepper with seeds’, suvqalampir ‘perets vodyanoy’, bulğor qalampiri, bulğor garmdorisi ‘Bulgarian pepper’; Xakas perets; Yakut bieres.

    14. Cocoa

    The English word cococa is a variant of cacao (owing to confusion with the coconut), which derives from the Spanish, which is a borrowing from Nahuatl cacahuatl ‘cacao beans’ (AHD, 185, 257) The Russian form is kakao.

    Radloff: no data.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay kakao; Azeri kakao; Bashkir kakao; Chuvash kakao; Karachay-Balkar kakao, qaxaua; Karakalpak kakao; Kazak kakao; Kazan Tatar kakao, şokolad agaçı; Kumık kakao; Kyrgyz kakao; Noğay kakao; Turkish kakao; Türkmen kakao; Tuvan kakao; Uyğur kakao; Uzbek kakao; Xakas kakao; Yakut kakao.

    15. Tobacco

    The English word is a variant of earlier tabac(c)o, which derives from Spanish tabaco, which is probably from Arabic t.abâq ‘euphoria-causing herb’ (AHD, 1350). The Russian form is tabak.

    Radloff: Schor.Leb. taqpı (iii, 793), Alt. taŋqu: (iii, 809), Schor. tapqı (iii, 952), Tar. tamaqu (iii, 994), Sag.Koib.Ktsch. tamqı (iii, 1003), Kas. tämäki (iii, 1130), Sag. tä:mki (iii, 1136), Osm.Krm. tütün (iv, 468, 1137) ‘Tabak’; tümbäki (iii, 1604) ‘persischer Tabak’.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay taŋkı, tazmay; Azeri tütün; Bashkir tämäke; Chuvash tabak; Karachay-Balkar tütün; Karakalpak temeki; Kazak temeki; Kazan Tatar tämäke; Kumık tamakü; Kyrgyz tameki; Noğay tütin, tameke; Turkish tütün, tömbeki; Türkmen temmäki; Tuvan taakpı; Uyğur tamaka; Uzbek tamaki; Xakas tamkı; Yakut tabax.

    16. Rubber

    The English word derives from the verb rub, which has an Indo-European etymology. English caoutchouc is derived from the French, which is from obsolete Spanish cauchuc, which is a borrowing from the Quechua (AHD, 199). The Russian forms are kauçuk, rezina. Vasmer considers kauçuk a borrowing from German Kautschuk or French caoutchouc (Fasmer, ii, 211), and rezina to be a borrowing from French résine (Fasmer, iii, 462).

    Radloff: Osm.Krm.Kom. saqız (iv, 250) ‘Gummi’. (It is not likely that these or other entries under ‘Gummi’ are related to New World rubber trees.)

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay kauçuk, rezina; Azeri kauçuk, rezin; Bashkir kauçuk, rezina; Chuvash kauçuk, rezina; Karachay-Balkar kauçuk, rezin, rezina; Karakalpak kauçuk, rezina; Kazak kauçuk, rezeŋke; Kazan Tatar kauçuk, rezin; Kumık kauçuk, rezin, rezina; Kyrgyz kauçuk, rezina, rezinke; Noğay kauçuk, rezina; Turkish lastik, kauçuk; Türkmen kauçuk, rezin; Tuvan kauçuk, rezina; Uyğur kauçuk, rezina; Uzbek kauçuk, rezina; Xakas kauçuk, rezina; Yakut kauçuk, erehiine.

    17. Cotton (certain varieties)

    The English word goes back to Middle English cotoun, which derives from Old French, which is a borrowing from Arabic (Spanish dialectal) qot.on, variant of Arabic qut.n (AHD, 302). (I have always assumed that all these forms must go back to the name Khotan.)The Russian form is xlopok, which is of uncertain origin (Fasmer, iv, 245).

    Radloff: Bar. paqta (iv, 1131), OT.Tar.Dsch. paxta (iv, 1138), Osm.Krm. pamuq (iv, 1211), Ad. pambıx, Osm. pambuq (iv, 1212), Kkir. baqta (iv, 1444), Dsch. baxta (iv, 1464), Kir. maqta (iv, 1997), Bar.Kas.Kir. mamıq, OT.Dsch.Kom. mamuq (iv, 2065) ‘Baumwolle’.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay köböŋ, xlopok; Azeri pambıg; Bashkir mamık; oz¡on süsle mamıq ‘long-fiber cotton’; Chuvash śĕrmamăk; Karachay-Balkar mamuq; Karakalpak paxta; Kazak maqta; Kazan Tatar mamık; ozın süsle mamık ‘long-fiber cotton’; Kumık mamuq; Kyrgyz paxta, kebez; Noğay  mamık; Turkish pamuk; Türkmen pagta, pamık; Tuvan xöveŋ; Uyğur paxta; Uzbek paxta; Xakas xlopok; Yakut xlopok.

    The following forms in Radloff do not offer the possibility to distinguish New World varieties from Old World varieties. I have not come across any suggestion that this could have an older origin to the east connected with Khotan, which to me seems a good hypothesis.

    18. Vanilla

    The English word is derived from the Spanish vainilla ‘little sheath’ because of its elongated fruit, which goes back to vaina ‘sheath’, from Latin vāgīna (AHD, 1416). The Russian form is vanil’.

    Radloff: no data.

                Modern Turkic languages: Azeri vanil; Bashkir vanil’; Chuvash vanil’; Kazak vanil’; Kazan Tatar vanil’; Kyrgyz vanil’; Turkish vanilya; Türkmen vanil’; Uzbek vanil’; Xakas vanil’; Yakut vanil’ (no data for Altay, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak, Kumık, Noğay, Tuvan, Uyğur).

    19. Passion fruit (purple granadilla)

    The English word passion fruit (the fruit of the passion flower) is so named because of the imagined resemblance of its parts to the instruments of the play representing the Passion of Christ (AHD, 958). The word granadilla is derived from the Spanish diminutive of granada ‘pomegranate’, which has an Indo-European etymology (AHD, 572). The form maracuja, the name by which this fruit is now popular in Europe, is apparently the native South American form. The Russian form is strastotsvet (based on strast’ ‘suffering’), passiflora ‘passion flower’.

    Radloff: no data.

    Modern Turkic languages: Azeri häväsçiçäk ‘passion flower’; Turkish çarkıfelek çiçeği ‘passion flower’ (no data for Altay, Bashkir, Chuvash, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak, Kazak, Kazan Tatar, Kumık, Kyrgyz, Noğay, Türkmen, Tuvan, Uyğur, Uzbek, Xakas, Yakut).

    20. Cashew

    The English word is derived from Portuguese cajú, acajú, which is a borrowing from Tupi acajú (AHD, 209). One English-Russian dictionary defines it as ‘vid dereva, rastushchego v Yujnoy Amerike’. I have no other Russian data.

    Radloff: no data.

                Modern Turkic languages: Turkish Amerikan baladur ağacı cevizi (no data for Altay, Azeri, Bashkir, Chuvash, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak, Kazak, Kazan Tatar, Kumık, Kyrgyz, Noğay, Türkmen, Tuvan, Uyğur, Uzbek, Xakas, Yakut).

    21. Turkey

    The English word turkey (the North American bird Meleagris gallopavo or the related Agriocharis ocellata  of Mexicoand Central America) is short for turkey cock ‘male turkey’, which was originally applied to the guinea fowl (with which the American bird was later mistakenly identified), first imported by the Portuguese from Africa by way of Turkey (AHD, 1383). The Russian forms are: indyuk, indeyskiy petux ‘turkey cock’; indyuşka, indeyka ‘turkey hen’, continuing the belief that it is an “Indian” bird as in the French dindon (Fasmer, ii, 132).

                Radloff: Kir. tüö tauq (iii, 1528) ‘Pute’; Osm. hind tavuğu, mısır tavuğu (iii, 986), Osm. baba kindi (iv, 1564), Osm.Bosn. bäba (iv, 1637) ‘Truthahn’.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay erkek yamankuş, indyuk; tiji yamakuş, indyuşka; Azeri loş, hindxoruzu; hinduşka, hindtoyuğu; Bashkir ata kürkä; inä kürkä; Chuvash kărkka aś²i; kărkka ami; Karachay-Balkar qırım tauuq, goguş; Karakalpak tüye tawıq; Kazak kürke tauıq (qorazı); kürke tauıq (mekieni); also tüye tauıq; Kazan Tatar kürkä; äni kürkä; Kumık erkek gürgür, tişi gürgür; Kyrgyz kürp (erkek kürp); urgaaçı kürp; Noğay ataman, ata kökis; ana kökis; Turkish erkek hindi; dişi hindi; Türkmen xind tovugınıŋ xorazı; xind tovugı; Tuvan indyuk, azıral ular; Uyğur kürkä ğoraz, kul-kul toxu xoraz; kürkä toxu; Uzbek kurka (xo’rozi); kurka (tovuği) ; Xakas irgek indeyka; tizi indeyka; Yakut indyuk, öŋöy bötüük.


    22.  Muscovy

    A waterfowl (Cairina moschata) found wild from Mexico to Brazil, but domesticated around the world for its succulent flesh. It is greenish-black with heavy red wattles. Also called Muscovy duck, musk duck. Muscovy duck is a folk etymology from musk duck by mistaken association with Muscovy (AHD, 864). The Russian form is muskusnaya utka ‘musk duck’

    Radloff: no data.

                Modern Turkic languages: Turkish misk ördeği (no data for Altay, Azeri, Bashkir, Chuvash, Karachay-Balkar, Karakalpak, Kazak, Kazan Tatar, Kumık, Kyrgyz, Noğay, Türkmen, Tuvan, Uyğur, Uzbek, Xakas, Yakut).


    23. Sunflower

    The English word is derived from sun + flower. The Russian form is podsolneçnik.

    Radloff: Osm.Krm. çarq-uş-şäms (iii, 1865), Osm. g’ün çiçäyi (iii, 2145), Kas. aybağar (iv, 702), Trkm. günü-baqar (iv, 1436), Kas. ai bawır (iv, 1566) ‘Sonnenblume’.

                Altay kün-kuzuk; Azeri günäbaxan; Bashkir könbağış; Chuvash xĕvelśavrănăş; Karachay-Balkar çöbleu; Karakalpak ayğabağar; Kazak künbağıs, künbağar, ayqabaq, şemişke; Kazan Tatar könbagış, aybagar; Kumık gülaylan, semiçka; Kyrgyz kün karama, kün bagış; Noğay künaylan; Turkish gün çiçeği, ay çiçeği; Türkmen günebakar; Tuvan tarımal tooruk; Uyğur aptappeläz,  çikildäk; Uzbek kungaboqar; Xakas sal xuzux ‘podsolnux’; Yakut podsolneçnik.

    24. Quinine

    The English word quinine is from  quin + -ine, with quin ‘cinchona , cinchona bark’, which derives from Spanish quina ‘cinchona bark’, short for quinaquina, a borrowing perhaps from Quechua (AHD, 1071, 1072). The Russian form is xinin.

    Radloff: no data.

                Modern Turkic languages: Altay xinin; Azeri kinä; Bashkir xinin; Chuvash xinin; Karachay-Balkar xinin, bezgek darman; Kazak xinin; Kazan Tatar xinin; Kumık xinin, xini; Kyrgyz xinin; Noğay xinin; Turkish kinin; Türkmen xinin; Tuvan xinin; Uzbek xinin, xin; Xakas xinin (no data for Karakalpak, Uyğur, Yakut).

    25. Syphilis

    This disease is named after Syphilis, the title character of a Latin poem (1530) by Girolamo Fracastoro, Veronese physician and poet and the supposed first victim of the disease (AHD, 1306). The Russian form is sifilis.

    Radloff: Osm. çäŋgäni axtapodu (i, 138), Ad.A. atäşäk (i, 458), Osm.Bosn. firäŋk uyuzu (i, 1637), Tel.W. qarbunçuq (ii, 215), Alt.Tel.Sag.Koib. qırğıs-pa:lu: (ii, 751), Bar. yızu yara (iii, 104), Schor. sö:k palı: (iv, 571), Osm. firänk zaxmäti (iv, 862), Schor.Leb.Sag.Koib.Ktsch.Küär. çabal palıg, sö:k palıg, Tel.Alt. qırğıs palu: (iv, 1168),  Osm. firängi iläti (iv, 1942) ‘Syphilis’; Küär. muŋnan- (iv, 2180) ‘to suffer from syphilis’.

    Modern Turkic languages: Altay sifilis; Azeri sifilis (cf. Radloff: atäşäk); Bashkir silsä; Chuvash sifilis; Karachay-Balkar sifilis, orus auruu; Kazak merez; Kazan Tatar sifilis, cözam; Kyrgyz sifilis, koton cara, kulguna; Turkish firengi illeti, sifilis; Türkmen merezel; Tuvan paş; Uyğur sifilis, yäl yara; Uzbek sifilis, zaxm; Yakut sippiliis (no data for Karakalpak, Kumık, Noğay, Xakas).


    The adaptation of existing terms for Old World flora and fauna to New World imports (often with a modifier) can be seen for example with Turkic words for maize (wheat, millet), bean (pea), peanut (nut), potato (apple), tomato (eggplant), pepper (black pepper), turkey (rooster, chicken), and muscovy (duck). In some cases continuity in names simply does not allow us to distinguish between New World and Old World varieties, as in the case of squash and pumpkin. Indeed, continuity in the use of traditional names for cotton masks the fact that the cultivation of New World varieties of cotton has almost completely supplanted the cultivation of earlier Old World varieties. In contrast, the sunflower is given an original descriptive name in most Turkic languages.

    Maize is an excellent example of New World agricultural products being called by different names based upon the region from which they are first introduced (or at least in the belief in such an origin). The Turkish form mısır ‘Egypt’ as well as the Kazan Tatar, Kyrgyz, Türkmen, and Uzbek forms all reflect a belief that this grain was introduced from somewhere in the Middle East. Other examples of this practice include some of the names for tomato, pepper, and turkey. This can also be seen in the well-known practice of blaming neighboring peoples for the origin of syphilis: just as the Italians blamed the French, the French blamed Naples, the British blamed the French, Bordeaux, and the Spaniards, the Poles blamed the Germans, and the Russians blamed the Poles,[21] various Turkic peoples blamed their neighbors as well.

    The names for potato, such an important New World food, reflect its rapid introduction throughout Russia. It is therefore surprising thatRussian kartofel’ is one of the many words cited here that does not even appear in the Slovar’ inostrannïx slov. The Chuvash, Kazan Tatar (dialect), and Noğay forms are semantically identical with French pomme de terre, whether as a result of French influence via Russian speakers or by coincidence. Note also the Siberian forms based on the Russian word for apple. The origin of Kazan Tatar bäräŋge requires further study. It could be connected with the common modifier färängi, etc. meaning ‘Western European’, although this term is more common in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. On the other hand, the Kazan Tatar dialect known as Bäräŋge söyläşe is connected with the town of Paran’ga and the Paranginskiy rayon in Mari El. It is not clear what connection there might be between this name, Mari pareŋge ‘potato’ (Mariysko-russkiy slovar’, Moscow, 1956, 409), and the Kazan Tatar word for potato.

                Finally, Western European languages (directly or through Russian) and even Chinese have given the Turkic languages many new names for Old World agricultural products. Many of these names derive ultimately from Native American languages, as has been seen above. Others, like the word tobacco, apparently do not. In the 20th century there was a wholesale borrowing of the Russian names for tomato, cocoa, pineapple, vanilla, quinine, rubber, and many other products into the Turkic languages of the Russian Empire and later the USSR. With increasing globalization in the 21st century, there can be little doubt that New World agricultural products such as the cashew, avocado, papaya, guava, and maracuja (passion fruit) – and their names of Native American origin – will one day become more familiar in the lexicon of the various Turkic languages.


    [1] Alfred W. Crosby, Jr., The Columbian Exchange. Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1972). My debt to this work for general information about the “Columbian Exchange” will be evident from the pages below. While the information cited in extenso from this work may be well known to botanists and social historians in North America and Europe, it is relatively unknown to Turkologists residing in the territories of the former USSR, who would have great difficulty gaining access to this work. See also William H. McNeill, “American Food Crops in the Old World”, Seeds of Change. Five Hundred Years Since Columbus,ed.  Herman J. Viola and Carolyn Margolis (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), pp. 43-59.

    [2] N.I. Vavilov, “The Phyto-Geographical Basis for Plant Breeding. Studies of the Original Material Used for Plant Breeding”, Origin and Geography of Cultivated Plants, ed. V.F. Dorofeyev, trans. Doris Löve (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 316-366, especially p. 354. For an earlier translation of this essay see: Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov, trans. K. Starr Chester, The Origin, Variation, Immunity and Breeding of Cultivated Plants, Chronica Botanica 13:1-6 (Waltham, MA, 1951).

    [3] Vavilov, “The Role of Central Asia in the Origin of Cultivated Plants. Preliminary Review of the Results of an Expedition to Central Asia in 1929”, Origin and Geography of Cultivated Plants, pp. 184-206. For additional plants see also Vavilov, “The Phyto-Geographical Basis”, pp. 337-338.

    [4] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, pp. 35-63, 122-164.

    [5] Vavilov, “The Phyto-Geographical Basis”, pp. 347-353.

    [6] Vavilov, “Mexico and Central America as a Basic Center of Origin of Cultivated Plants in the New World. Preliminary Report of an Expedition to Central America in 1930”, Origin and Geography of Cultivated Plants, pp.  207-238, especially pp. 210-216, 228.

    [7] Vavilov, “Mexico and Central America”, pp. 224-227; and Vavilov, “Introduction of Plants During the Soviet Era and its Results. A Review of the Work with Introduction of Plants at the All-Union Institute of Plant Breeding, 1921-1940”, Origin and Geography of Cultivated Plants, pp. 443-460.

    [8] Wilhelm Radloff, Versuch eines Wörterbuches der Türk-Dialecte/Opït slovarya tyurkskix nareçiy, i-iv (St. Petersburg, 1893/’s-Gravenhage, 1960). I have done searched from the German definitions on the basis of: A. von Gabain and W. Veenker, “Radloff”. Index der deutschen Bedeutungen, i-iv, Veröffentlichungen der Societas Uralo-Altaica (Wiesbaden, 1969-1972).

    [9] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, p. 170 identifies the first 15 major food crops and identifies numbers 16-18 as important food crops.

    [10] I have cited the data in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, ed. William Morris (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975). In the case of certain words such as pineapple where the English form is not derived from a Native American language, I have also consulted Gerhard Wahrig, Deutsches Wörterbuch (Berlin: Bertelsman Lexikon-Verlag, 1977); and A magyar nyelv történeti-etimológiai szótára, i-iii (Budapest, 1967-1976).

    [11] In addition to bilingual dictionaries of Russian such as the Russian-English Dictionary, ed. A.I. Smirnitsky (New York, 1973) and the English-Russian Dictionary, ed. V.K. Müller (New York, 1973), I have also consulted the Slovar’ russkogo yazïka, i-iv (Moscow, 1957-1961); M. Fasmer, trans. O.N. Trubaçev, Åtimologiçeskiy slovar’ russkogo yazïka, i-iv (Moscow, 1986-1987); and Slovar’ inostrannïx slov (Moscow, 1988).

    [12] I have relied upon standard Russian/English-Turkic dictionaries, though I have consulted the main reference dictionaries for individual languages where necessary. It would have been impossible for our purposes here to conduct an even more thorough study of Turkic lexical materials.

    [13] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, pp. 171, 176, 178-181, 185-187, 188-192, 195, 200. See also Betty Fussell, “Translating Maize into Corn: The Transformation of America’s Native Grain”, Social Research 66:1 (1999), pp. 41-66.

    [14] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, pp. 179, 188-189.

    [15] The etymology of this word is also unclear when viewed from the perspective of the other Slavic forms (Vasmer, ii, 407), but one could imagine a Turkic etymology based upon mama ‘food’ (infant’s language) + -lýk. On the other hand, Redhouse considers this word as well as kokoroz (below)to be borrowings from Romanian into Turkish.

    [16] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, pp. 172-173, 177-178, 195

    [17] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, pp. 193, 195, 200

    [18] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, pp. 171, 181-185, 195, 197; Jerome Blum, Landlord and Peasant in Russia.From the Ninth to the Nineteenth Centuries (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), pp. 334-336; and William H. McNeill, “How the Potato Changed the World’s History”, Social Research 66:1 (1999), pp. 67-83.

    [19] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, pp. 171-172, 181, 193, 195-198, 200

    [20] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, pp. 173-174, 187-188, 193, 195-196

    [21] Crosby, Columbian Exchange, pp. 124-125, 150.

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