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Lars Johanson
Discoveries on the Turkic Linguistic Map
Svenska Forskningsinstitutet i Istanbul
Stockholm 2001
Published with fónancial support
from Magn. Bergvalls Stiftelse.
¨ Lars Johanson
Cover: Carte de lÔAsie ... par I. M. Hasius, dessine par Aug. Gottl. Boehmius.
Nrnberg: Hritiers de Homann 1744 (photo: Royal Library, Stockholm).
Universitetstryckeriet, Uppsala 2001
ISBN 91-86884-10-7
Prefatory Note
The present publication contains a considerably expanded version of a
lecture delivered in Stockholm by Professor Lars Johanson, Johannes
Gutenberg University, Mainz, on the occasion of the ninetieth birth-
day of Professor Gunnar Jarring on October 20, 1997. This inaugu-
rated the ÑJarring LecturesÒ series arranged by the Swedish Research
Institute of Istanbul ( SFII ), and it is planned that, after a second lec-
ture by Professor Staffan Rosn in 1999 and a third one by Dr. Bernt
Brendemoen in 2000, the series will continue on a regular, annual,
The Editors
Discoveries on the Turkic Linguistic Map
Linguistic documentation in the field
The topic of the present contribution, dedicated to my dear and
admired colleague Gunnar Jarring, is linguistic fóeld research, journeys
of discovery aiming to draw the map of the Turkic linguistic world in a
more detailed and adequate way than done before. The survey will
start with the period of the classical pioneering achievements, particu-
larly from the perspective of Scandinavian Turcology. It will then pro-
ceed to current aspects of language documentation, commenting brief-
ly on a number of ongoing projects that the author is particularly fami-
liar with. The focus will be on projects carried out by Turcologists ac-
tive at my own university, Johannes Gutenberg-Universitt Mainz, and
by associated or cooperating researchers (cf. Johanson 1998 b).
Turkic languages and the Turkic linguistic map
The Turkic languages are commonly considered interesting because of
their vast geographical distribution, their contacts with many different
types of languages, their relative stability over time, and their regularity
in morphology and syntax. Due to their development at the end of the
twentieth century, many Turkic languages have recently acquired in-
creased political importance. See, e.g., the surveys in Johanson 1992 a
and Johanson & Csat– (eds.) 1998.
The Turkic linguistic map, on which our journeys of discovery will
take place, is comprehensive. It extends from the Southwest, Turkey
and her neighbors, to the Southeast, to Eastern Turkistan and farther
into China. From here it stretches to the Northeast, via South and
North Siberia up to the Arctic Ocean, and fónally to the Northwest,
across West Siberia and East Europe.
The Turkic Linguistic Map 5
The area comprises a great number of different peoples and lang-
uagesÐafter the breakdown of the Soviet Union also a set of new
autonomous states with Turkic national languages. The regions in
which Turkic languages are spoken include Anatolia, Azerbaijan, the
Caucasus region, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the immense areas of West
and East Turkistan, South, North and West Siberia and the Volga
region. In the past, the Turkic-speaking world also included compact
areas in the PontoÏCaspian steppes, the Crimea, the Balkans, etc.
A total of at least 125 million speakers of Turkic languages live
today predominantly in Turkey, the CIS republics, Iran, Afghanistan,
China, several countries in Northwestern Europe and other parts of
the world. There are currently twenty Turkic standard languages, the
most important ones being Turkish, Azerbaijanian, Turkmen, Kazak,
Karakalpak, Kirghiz, Uzbek, Uyghur, Tuvan, Yakut, Tatar, Bashkir
and Chuvash. However, on our round-trip in the Turkic world we
shall essentially be concerned with its peripheral parts, with languages
and dialects that have so far been insuffóciently investigated.
The beginnings of the Swedish research tradition
Let me start this survey with the Swedish tradition, which has, to a
considerable degree, formed my own interest in the fóeld of Turcologi-
cal research. Swedes rather early came to play an active role in the ex-
ploration of the Turkic linguistic world. For Swedish linguistic re-
search on Central Asia, see Johanson 1994. The earliest, pre-scientifóc
Swedish research on Central Asia belongs to what Gunnar Jarring has
referred to as the ÑapocryphalÒ period (1994: 18Ï19). It may be ex-
emplifóed with Johan Gabriel SparwenfeldÔs curious idea launched in
the seventeenth century, suggesting that Odin (Woden), one of the
principal gods in Norse mythology, originally came from Kashgar,
which he identifóed with Asgard, the dwellingplace of the gods.
Another weird example is an eighteenth century treatise on alleged
similarities between Swedish and Turkic.
The Swedish tradition of fóeld research in the Turkic world begins
with the research carried out by so-called CaroleansÐSwedish offócers
of Charles XII Ôs armyÐwho had fallen into captivity in Siberia after
the battle of Poltava (1709). With his zealous scientifóc activity in Sibe-
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