Most Turkic languages use the Arabic words for greeting, namely salam/selam/merhaba etc. The exceptions are Tatar isänmesez and Uighur yakhshimusiz, the origin of which I do not know. Are they Turkic? What did Turkic people say to greet each other before those Arabic words entered their vocabulary?

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    I downvoted and close-voted because language-specific questions are ruled out as off-topic by the definitions in the help center. That there is no Turkish site unfortunately doesn't make it on-topic here; there simply can't be an SE for everything. It might get on-topic if you can reword your question so as to be more about linguistics rather than usage, but "What did Turkic people say" isn't. Jan 7, 2017 at 1:40
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    @lemontree obviously it is not about specific language but about Turkic family and its historical development. It is as if one asked what was greeting in PIE.
    – Anixx
    Jan 7, 2017 at 3:57
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    @lemontree Thank you for stepping out and being honest. Anixx covered me well here. It is about Turkic languages, not Turkish spoken in the republic of Turkey. It is withing the field of historical linguistics as another language affected their vocabulary in the past. I did not ask for a translation, nor help learning (Anatolian) Turkish. Meanwhile the help center has the note "and more". People ask questions about Chinese, Greek, Latin and PIE. What is the difference?
    – Midas
    Jan 7, 2017 at 8:24
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    Sorry, I'm stupid - I actually confused Turkic with Turkish. Under this account you are right; I retracted my votes. Jan 7, 2017 at 13:54
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    BTW, I doubt that the final question (What did Turkic people say to greet each other before those Arabic words entered their vocabulary?) is answerable at all: Greetings tend to follow some trends and fashions and are easily replaced over time. The ancient Roman greeting Ave cannot be reconstructed from modern Romance (but is preserved in the Latin literature, therefore we know it now). Jan 9, 2017 at 15:07

4 Answers 4


The examples you gave are indeed Turkish, but they are not greeting words. Instead they are questions basically "How are you". You can say that in Turkish "Nasılsınız?".

The root Esen is used for greetings in old texts (Kutadgu Bilig, Divan-ı Lügati-t Türk), as more or less as it is used in modern Turkish Esenlikler olsun.

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    This is definitely the kind of answer I was expecting. I'll give some more time to the question before I select it as an accepted answer.
    – Midas
    Jan 22, 2017 at 11:09

I think the (modern) Uyghur word is cognate with Old Turkish yakış, Turkey-Turkish yahşı “good, pretty”.

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    thank you! However, I think you meant Azeri-Turkish, not Turkey-Turkish.
    – Midas
    Jan 7, 2017 at 14:27
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    Ottoman Turkish according to Clauson. Also this: nisanyansozluk.com/?k=yah%C5%9Fi&x=0&y=0
    – fdb
    Jan 7, 2017 at 15:11
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    Yahşi is still being used especially in Kayseri accent and Kars-Iğdır accents in Turkey. For the origin: kubbealtilugati.com/…
    – kabraxis
    Jan 21, 2017 at 23:12

Ar(y)ma - meaning "don't get tired".

  • Don't remove drive-by guest answers. Convert to a comment if possible.
    – vectory
    Jul 17, 2019 at 1:28
  • The translation you gave is wrong. You can read my answer where I gave the correct phrase and translation.
    – Tuňuquq
    Mar 13, 2022 at 0:30

Kazakh language has similar constructs: Esenbısız? and Armısız?

Modern kazakh bloggers often use Armısız as greeting in place of arabic Assalamu-alaikum.

Armısız can be decomposed to Ar(honor) mı(question postposition) sız(you). The whole phrase literally means "Do you have honor?".

And "mı" in the middle of the construct signifies that this phrase came from ancient times because according to modern kazakh grammatics this phrase should be "Arsıŋız be?" where the question postposition comes last.

Example: https://youtu.be/JruUkasQHSg?t=48

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