Oghur

The Oghur or Oğuric languages (also known as Bulgar, Pre-Proto Bulgaric, or Lir-Turkic and r-Turkic) are a branch of the Turkic language family. The only extant member of the group is the Chuvash language. Languages from this family were spoken in some nomadic tribal confederations, such as those of the Onogurs, Bulgars, and Khazars. Some scholars consider Hunnic a similar language and refer to this extended grouping as Hunno-Bulgarian.

The Oghuric languages are a distinct group of the Turkic languages, standing in contrast to Common Turkic. Today they are represented only by Chuvash. Extinct Oghuric languages include Bulgar and Khazar. There is no consensus among linguists on the relation between Oghuric and Common Turkic, and several questions remain unsolved:

  • Are they parallel branches of Proto-Turkic (3000-500 BC) and, if so, which branch is more archaic?
  • Does Oghuric represent Archaic Turkic before phonetic changes in 100-400 AD and was it a separate language?

The Oghuric languages are also known as “-r Turkic” because the final consonant in certain words is r, not z as in Common Turkic. Chuvash: вăкăр – Turkish: öküz – Tatar: үгез – English: ox. Hence the name Oghur corresponds Oghuz in Common Turkic. Other correspondences are Com. š : Oghur l (tâš : tâl, ‘stone’); s > š > śk/q > ğy > j, śd, δ > δ > z (10th cent.) > r (13th cent.)”; ğd > z > r (14th cent.); a > ı (after 9th cent.).

Denis Sinor believes that the difference means that those tribes could not have come from lands like Mongolia, which uses a -z language. However, there many loanwords in Mongolic from Oghuric, like Mong. ikere, Oghur. *ikir, Hung. iker, Comm. ikiz (twins). It is believed that they lived in the Mongolian borderlands before the 5th century.

The Oghuric tribes are often connected with the Hungarians whose ethnonym is usually derived from Onoghurs (> (H)ungars). The Hungarians were mixed Finno-Ugric and Turkic, with strong Oghuric-Bulgar and Khazar influences. Hungarian has many borrowings from Turkic and Oghuric languages: Hung. tenger, Oghur. *tengir, Comm. tengiz(sea), Hung. gyűrű, Oghur. jürük, Comm. yüzük (ring), and terms of equestrian culture  (horse), nyereg (saddle), fék (bridle), ostor (whip). A number of Hungarian loanwords were borrowed before the 9th century, shown by sz- (< Oğ. ś-) rather than Comm. gy- (< Oğ. ǰ-): example Hung. szél, Oghur. *śäl, Chuv. śil, Comm. yel (wind), Hung. szűcs (tailor), Hung. szőlő (grapes).

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