is not Turkish
Dr. Kaveh Farrokh
Republished: January 12, 2007
From Kaveh Farrokh
To Professor Diker
Friday, January 10, 2003 1:34 PM
It has been
bought to my attention that you describe Parthian as a Turkish language
in your website (or a related website):
This is linguistically
incorrect. Parthian is not a Turkic language. It is an old western
Iranian language that is also called "Parthian Pahlavi".
It is a very close relative of "Middle Persian" or "Sassanian
Pahlavi". The syntax and vocabulary of Parthian are recorded
(e.g. Dinkard) and are of Iranian stock. The language of "Parthian"
is actually called "Pahlavi" - deriving from "Partha"
into "Pahla". It is evident that the individual who hosts
this website does not speak Pahlavi. Allow me to demonstrate this
language and its Iranian character by way of example:
istaft polawad im pad dast grift" which means "the seven
daggers of hard steel that I have grasped with my hand". Many
of the words are common in modern Farsi (e.g dast - hand; Polawad
(polad in Farsi) - steel; - grift (gerefet in Farsi) - grasped).
"Haft" is the number seven; clearly Indo-European - the
Turkish counting system is entirely different.
For an introduction
to Pahlavi, you may wish to refer to the following works by Professor
(1967). Notes on the transcription of Pahlavi BSOAS, 30, 17-29
(1971). A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. London: Routledge.
the language of "Pahalvi" are still spoken among Iranians.
The Kurds of Iran as well as many Kurds of Turkey and Iraq speak
variations of Pahlavi. Turks cannot understand Kurdish and require
interpreters to communicate with Kurds who speak Sorani and/or Kurmanjii
(variations of Pahalvi amongst Kurds). The people of northern Iran
speak variations of Pahalvi as well - Mazandarani and Gilani for
example. Baluchi in southeast Iran also has Pahlavi elements (e.g.
Ahsen "Iron" or "Eisen" in English and Ahsan
in Pahlavi - "Ahsen" is not "Iron" in Turkish).
You may wish
to visit Iran and visit numerous Parthian sites or the victory inscriptions
of Shapur I over the Romans and examine this language. The main
academic reference used by Pan-Turanian nationalists to claim a
Turkish identity for the Parthians is Rawlinson who wrote in the
late 19th Century. Linguistic studies and primary historical and
archeological sources have long since discredited Rawlinson's claim
- especially since he (a) did not speak Parthian/Pahlavi and (b)
mistakenly described Iranian names as Turkic. For example he argued
that "dat" or "dad" (given or provided by in
Iranian languages) is Turkish - there is not such root in Turkish
linguistics with that meaning.
You also claim
Soghdian as Turkish and reject Richard Nelson Frye's studies. Professor
Frye is a well respected scholar with over 4 decades of international
class research. He is well known for his studies of linguistics
and is a world authority in the ancient languages of Iran and Central
Asia. I suspect that you do not speak Soghdian or read Soghdian.
If not, you may first wish to have an introduction to the linguistics
of Soghdian and its east Iranian characteristics - kindly refer
to A.J. Arberry's "Legacy of Persia" starting on page
(1953). The Legacy of Persia. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Read Chapter
7 (pages 174-198). The linguistics of Parthian/Pahlavi are also
described and how these are related to the modern Persian of today.
other older East Iranian languages predate Turkic languages by at
least a 1000 years in Central Asia. Professor Frye has recently
published a book on the history of Central Asia and how Turkish
expansion eventually displaced and/or absorbed Iranian peoples such
as the Scyhtians (Saka), Alans, Sarmatians and Soghdians. Technically,
I am not totally correct regarding the Soghdians being displaced
since some of their descendants may still survive live in Tajikestan
where the main spoken language is Tajiki (very close to Farsi) as
well as a language named "Yaghnoubi" - which I have not
studied, but which is (if I am not mistaken) Iranian. The book by
Professor Frye is:
Frye, R.N. (1996).
The Heritage of Central Asia: From Antiquity to the Turkish Expansion.
Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers.
languages of Central Asia are commonly known to us as Saka (Scythian
in western sources - especially Ukraine area) and later Sarmatian/Alan
languages. Turks came in waves over the centuries into Central Asia
as invaders, pushed out of the east Mongolian region by Chinese
military activity. Turks may derive from a people known to us "Shaing-Nou";
although some Chinese sources mention the word "Tueh-Chi"
(helmet) - which may have been one of the possible sources of the
presence was fully felt by the Sassanian Empire in the 5th Century
AD - the Iranian peoples of Central Asia were simply driven out,
eliminated or absorbed. As noted by Newark (p.65) "The Huns
destroyed the realms of both the Alans and the Sarmatians".
The Soghdians and some of the Saka survived by retreating in Nagoro-Bedakhshan,
Western Afghanistan and Seistan (ancient Eastern Persia). The Ossetians
of the Caucasus are direct descendants of the Alans and their language
has no connection to Turkish. They retreated into the Caucasus mountains
to safeguard their language and culture from being absorbed into
later waves of Hunnic, Turkic and Mongolian invaders. In fact, despite
over 1000 years of separation from Iran proper, many Ossetian words
(as well as syntax) have cognates in both Farsi and Kurdish.
Not to be outdone,
your website claims that the word "Saka" is Turkish. The
term "Issyk" has no linguistic or historical link (that
I know of) to the word "Saka" - which has existed since
recorded history. Your reference has not scholastically demonstrated
any Turkish link. One of the old meanings of "Saka" that
I have found is "our friend" in old Achaemenid Persian,
although other Iranian meanings have been found as well. The term
"Issyk" has never been consistently used to refer to the
Saka (or Scythians) by either Persians or non-Persians Greeks (see
Allow me to
demonstrate the Iranian linguistic character of the names of
the Saka confederations during Achaemenid times:
- The Saka bearing the Hauma - Hauma is the sacred drink of the
Zoroastrians and ancient Areyan Hindus of India.
- The Saka with the pointed hats. "Khauda" for example
is middle Persian (Pahlavi) "Khaud" and present day "Khood"
or "Kolah-Khood" in modern Farsi (Helmet).
- The Saka from beyond the sea. Para is Indo-European (and it's
subset Iranian) for "beyond" (there in no such root in
Turkish or indeed any Altaic languages that I know of). Certain
dialects in Khorasan still seem to use the word "para"
in that context. "Draya" is sea (Persian "Darya"
- which is also a word loaned into modern Turkish as "Derya").
information I humbly suggest that you refer to:
& Ivanov (1984). Iindo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction
and Historical Typological Analysis of a Proto-Language and Proto-Culture
(Parts I and II). Tbilisi State University.
(1989). In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language Archeology and
Myth. Thames and Hudson. Read Chapter 2 and see 51-53 for a quick
Newark, T. (1985).
The Barbarians: Warriors and wars of the Dark Ages. Blandford: New
York. See pages 65, 85, 87, 119-139.
(1988). Aecheology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European origins.
Cambridge University Press.
I also seriously
doubt the claim that Sumerian is a Turkish language since no Turkic
speakers were remotely close to the later-Persian realm or let alone
the Middle East at the time of the Sumerians. In addition, the time
element is in error - Sumerians pre-date ancient Babylon - Turks
appear in historical records thousands of years later. I am of course
no expert in that area and will leave this in the hands of other
scholars. In addition, I (along with many specialists and scholars)
would seriously question your claims of Hittite and Cimmerian being
You are citing
your book TRK Dili'nin Bes Bin Yili ("Five Thousand Years of
theTurkish Language") as your reference source. I fully respect
your expertise in Geophysical Engineering (in which you have a Doctorate
and are very well informed and experienced), however I am also humbly
aware that you do not have any formal and/or academic training or
expertise in ancient languages and/or archeology - nor (and correct
me if I am wrong) have you visited and/or engaged in excavation/study
of sites in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikestan or Nagorno-Bedakhshan.
Diker, I may have read that portion of your website incorrectly,
however it does seem that your book claims that it has "proven"
that all languages have their roots in Turkish. I am certain that
no serrious scholar will entertain the suggestion that the world's
mother language is Turkish. Excellent research is already underway
in this area and you may be interested in referring to the texts
below as an introduction:
Ruhlen, M. (1994).
The Origin of Language. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Provides
the linguistic and genetic bases of languages and how attempts are
being made at "reconstruction". This book clearly distinguishes
between Turkic and other Indo-European languages such as those of
the Iranian family (e.g. Parthian/Pahalvi) - also read p.25 (Kurdish).
L. L. (2000). Genes, Peoples and Languages. New York:
North Point Press. This text provides a good summary to the series
of Italian studies (spanning, I believe, close to 2 decades) in
which the relationships between genetics and languages have researched.
Note that Cavalli-Sforza's works indicate an African (not Turkish)
origin for modern humans as quite possibly languages as well.
If you have
any questions regarding modern or classical Iranian languages, feel
free to contact me. Note that many individuals on the forwarded
list are themselves scholars who are well informed on Iranian studies
and are aware of the Iranian basis of the Parthian language.
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