The Turkic languages, which include Tatar and Turkish, have not been major lexical donors to English: Turkish ranks thirtieth in the best available list of donor languages, just below Hawaiian and Scottish Gaelic and just above Welsh and Norwegian (Durkin 2014: 27). However, a number of loanwords in the transmission of which they have played a part occur at high frequency, for instance turban, coffee, and yogurt. Material from the Turkic languages is therefore handled in all English dictionaries with an etymological component. Since etymologists of English have not usually had a Turcological background, and since histories of transmission which involve the Turkic languages are often very complex, different dictionaries have shown different degrees of expertise in their handling of this material, and have come to different conclusions about it in individual cases. Hence Mateusz Urban’s study, a lightly revised version of his Kraków PhD thesis, which brings Turcological expertise to bear on an examination of the etymologies in a series of English dictionaries from Wedgwood (1859-67) to OED3 (2000- ). At the heart of this book are 106 studies of lexical items (or closely-knit groups such as bulgur ∼ burgoo ∼ burghul) in the etymologies of which Turkic forms have been cited in English dictionaries. These include cases where the author argues against a Turkic etymology, for instance copeck ‘Russian coin, equivalent to one hundredth of a rouble’, which Yule and Burnell (1886) suggested might be from Turkic köpek ‘dog’, but which is now generally agreed to be from a Slavic form meaning ‘spear’, the coin having originally borne an image of a rider with a lance. All the lexical items in question belong to the realm of material culture, subdivided into the fields of buildings (e.g. kiosk), coins (lira), costume (caftan), cuisine (halva), entertainment (shisha), handicraft (kilim), musical instruments (bouzouki), and naval terminology (caïque). ‘Beyond the scope of the present work’, the author notes, ‘remain lexemes related to the areas of religion, politics, and natural environment’ (p. 15), the exclusion of which was a sensible pragmatic choice in the shaping of a PhD thesis, though it means that interesting words such as bosh, chious ∼ chouse, jackal, Mussulman, tulip, and vampire go unnoticed. Perhaps they will be treated in a sequel. There appear to be a few omissions, for instance borek ‘kind of filled pastry’, which has been registered in OED3 since November 2010. Urban has rightly not gone chasing after rare Turkish loanwords which are not registered in the dictionaries he surveys: an hour spent with the Wikipedia entry ‘Turkish cuisine’ would doubtless have given him enough leads to double the number of the items which he treats in that semantic field, but the only conclusion to be drawn would have been that dictionaries do not treat semi-naturalized words like gözleme ‘kind of filled pastry’ or sujuk ‘kind of sausage’ comprehensively, and we knew that already. He has also refrained from commenting on cases where lexicographers may have overlooked a Turkic etymology, such as sabre, in the transmission of which Kipchak appears to have had a role (Stachowski 2004: 135, 137): this is a book about the dictionary record, not about what is missing from it. Its approach is therefore slightly different from that of Mirosława Podhajecka’s recent study of Russian loanwords in English and their treatment in dictionaries, for which see Wild (2014). Each of Urban’s 106 studies excerpts the information on the etymology and pronunciation of a given lexical item or group from the dictionaries surveyed, together with a short definition and a list of the attested forms. A commentary follows, discussing the etymological treatment of the word in dictionaries and its actual transmission. The book as a whole therefore makes an original contribution to knowledge in four ways. First, it investigates a number of problems of Turkic etymology; in this area, I can only say that the original PhD thesis was supervised by a learned and rigorous scholar, encouraging confidence in its accuracy. Second, it clarifies a number of problems of English etymology: even when the story of a difficult word remains uncertain, we learn from Urban which etymological hypotheses are still in play, and which seem implausible. For instance, yarmulke ‘skull-cap’ is from Yiddish, which had the word from Polish jarmułka ‘cap’, first attested in 1443, for which two etymologies have been proposed; jarmułka may be from a post-classical Latin word almunicium ‘church canon’s cap’, attested in 1477, the form of which presents certain difficulties, but it seems unlikely to be from Ottoman yağmurluk ‘raincoat’, which should, if it was borrowed as early as the fifteenth century, have given a Polish form with -g- after the first vowel. (For a more complicated case, see the treatment of caviar, pp. 193-6). Third, it handles a number of cases of complex transmission of a sort with which etymological lexicography is learning to deal elegantly (for some earlier examples, see Durkin 2009: 165-167 and Durkin 2014, 245-51). The treatment of tanga ‘one of a range of coins used in south Asia, central Asia, and Tibet’ is particularly neat: here, a diagram (p. 106) showing the transmission of an original Indic form via Tibetan to English as tanka; via Pashto, Persian, and Uzbek to English as tenga; and via Persian-influenced Hindi/Urdu to English as tanga accounts for the range of English forms, the fact of multiple donor languages, and the perception of at least some Anglophones that forms such as tanga ‘south Indian coin’ and tenga ‘central Asian coin’ do represent a single word. It would have been interesting to see each of Urban’s studies end with a dictionary-style summary of what can be said with reasonable confidence about the etymology of the word in question. Fourth, it provides the evidence for a comparative assessment, admittedly a very limited one, of the dictionaries which it surveys. To summarize: Mahn (in Webster 1864), Müller (1865-7), and Wedgwood (1859-67) all handle Turkic material with similar competence (the fact that the words in question are evidently borrowed from another language kept Wedgwood’s delight in devising imitative etymologies in check); Skeat (1879-82) shows a real advance over them and is on a par with OED1 (which was of course able to use his work, while he was able to see OED1 etymologies for much of his fourth edition in 1910); there is some striking etymological material in the third and fourth editions of the American Heritage Dictionary (1992, 2000) — and, unsurprisingly, the revised OED3 etymologies published since 2000 are very considerably in advance of anything which has been done before. There are points at which Urban notes shortcomings in these etymologies, but his analysis does repeatedly show how innovative they are, both in plan and in detail, and how well-informed they are. Anatoly Liberman has said that with Ernest Weekley’s dictionary of 1921 (which does not appear to advantage in the work under review), ‘the era of innovative etymological English lexicography came to an end’ (1998, p. 93). Similar statements of Liberman’s are paraphrased here (p. 53). But just as Mateusz Urban’s valuable book shows how much light can be shed on one fairly small and often exotic group of etymologies by sustained, erudite, and judicious work, so the OED3 etymologies which he so often discusses with expert approval are coming to show the whole landscape of English etymology in a new light. References American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 1992. Third edition . Boston: Houghton Mifflin. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 2000. Fourth edition . Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Müller E. 1865-7. Etymologisches Woerterbuch der englischen Sprache . Köthen: Paul Schettler. Oxford English Dictionary. 1884-1933. Oxford: Clarendon Press. OED1 . Oxford English Dictionary. 2000-. Third edition . Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com. OED3. Skeat W. W. 1879-82. An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language . Oxford: Clarendon Press. Skeat W. W. 1910. An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. Fourth edition . Oxford: Clarendon Press. Webster N. 1864. An American Dictionary of the English Language, Royal Quarto Edition, Unabridged . Ed. Porter N. Springfield: G. & C. Merriam. Wedgwood H. 1859-67. A Dictionary of English Etymology . London: Trübner. Weekley E. 1921. An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English . London: John Murray. Yule H., Burnell A. C.. 1886. Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive . London: John Murray. Durkin P. 2009. The Oxford Guide to Etymology . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Durkin P. 2014. Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Liberman A. 1998. ‘ An Annotated Survey of English Etymological Dictionaries and Glossaries.’ Dictionaries , 19: 21– 96. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Stachowski M. 2004. ‘ The Origin of the European Word for Sabre.’ Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia , 9: 133– 141. Wild K. 2014. Review of M. Podhajecka, Russian Borrowings in English: A Dictionary and Corpus Study (2013). International Journal of Lexicography , 27. 3: 319– 324. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS © 2016 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
International Journal of Lexicography – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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