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Latin and Albanian are Indo-European languages so it makes sense that those two languages share many words with each-other.

But why is it that Turkish — a non-Indo-European language — shares words with both Latin and Albanian?

For example, the word clay/dirt is:

Turkish balçık meaning "slime", "clay"

Albanian baltë meaning "mud"

Romanian baltă meaning "shallow, muddy lake", "swamp"

Latin bolus meaning "clod of earth".

Are these related?

What's the most probable/simple explanation?

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  • 4
    Languages that have been next to each other for thousands of years will naturally borrow many words.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 19 '20 at 23:49
  • 2
    Could Linguistics SE have some sort of FAQ with explanations for this and a few other perennial questions (is language X more expressive, is language X older, is language X simpler...). Jan 20 '20 at 7:16
  • 1
    Most "common" words in Latin and Albanian are of Latin origin. Present Albanian is, compared to Latin, a relatively recent language comparable more to Romanian than to Latin, no matter the "archaic" features it might have (and share with others, including Romanian).
    – cipricus
    Jul 20 at 11:12
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    Common Latin terms: Turkish language was and still is in contact with the Balkan Sprachbund which includes Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Macedinian and shares many features, including vocabulary, part of which is of Latin origin. Many Turkish and Greek words entered this linguistic area, but some went in the other direction too. For example, from the Latin mensa (table) resulted in Romanian masa, which passed in Balkan Slavic, then Turkish, then even in Persian and Urdu/Hindi.
    – cipricus
    Jul 20 at 11:43
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    Common Greek terms: Latin, Turkish and Balkan Sprachbund languages, just like many modern languages, have been importing Greek words. (By the way, Albanian didn't took the Latin word for "table", but the Greek word: trapeza — which resulted in tryezë.) Common Iranian terms: Turkish is not an Indo-European language but was heavily influenced by Persian/Farsi. Dacians/Thracians spoke maybe languages not far from the Iranian dialects of their northern neighbors the Scythians. Some terms may be still present in the Balkan Sprachbund.
    – cipricus
    Jul 20 at 11:46
4

There are three possible explanations:

  1. Turkish has borrowed many words from other languages, just as has Albanian. I have been told courant d'air is actually a Turkish word (probably spelled the Turkish way). It is possible that your word, or a morpheme in it, was borrowed from an Indo-European language long ago. It may have happened in early praehistoric times, since the two families have been in contact since time immemorial in Central Asia and elsewhere.

  2. It is speculated that the Turkic family of languages might be related to the Indo-European family, together being part of a Eurasiatic super-family. Some linguists have tried to explain similarities across linguistic families thus. But it is generally not accepted that any substantial evidence exists for this theory.

  3. Coincidence. Arguably, most of what happens in language is coincidence, and there are only so many sounds of consonant-vowel-consonant that exist in Turkish, and only so many in Albanian; many are bound to exist in both, and a few of those will coincidentally have a similar meaning.

Consider also that the root from which balçık is derived probably had 20 different forms in the various historic and regional variants of Turkish, and even more different shades of meaning: it may be coincidental that one Turkish combination of form–meaning should match another in Albanian. But, in this case, it may very well be explanation 1, (praehistoric or later) borrowing.

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  • Initially I was certain this was easily explained by the argument no 1. Looking more closely at the cited terms though, the "prehistoric" seems more probable. Because such old roots are so extraordinary I wouldn't dismiss this question as superficial, given it has hit such a rare target.
    – cipricus
    Jul 22 at 15:46
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Your question contains erroneous claims.
Latin bolus < Greek bolos has nothing to do with "mud" or "slime".
Albanian baltë means "mud"
Turkish balçık means "slime"

4
  • 1. The OP cited a source for his translations (albeit Google Translate); what's yours? 2. Even if you're glossing correctly, it doesn't take much imagination to see a semantic link between these three words, so this doesn't impact one way or another the question of whether the words are etymologically connected
    – b a
    Jan 20 '20 at 15:11
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    Turkish balçık has cognates in other Turkish languages, and comes from Proto-Turkic *bạl- "clay, mud". (Turkic etymology compiled by Anna Dybo, link: is.gd/JtWkIk )
    – Locoluis
    Jan 20 '20 at 16:11
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    Albanian baltë comes from Proto-Albanian *baltā which is hypothesized to come from PIE *bʰoləto- "white > marsh", and cognate with Proto-Slavic *bolto (“swamp”), Lithuanian báltas (“white, shining”). Greek cognate is βάλτος (váltos, “swamp”).
    – Locoluis
    Jan 20 '20 at 16:15
  • All the cited terms are obscure at close inspection. A very-very old common root is not to be excluded, given the fact that a similar form is present in Romanian, Albanian, Greek and Italian, but which cannot be reduced to a Latin or Greek root. The Indo-European specificity of that root is not certain, a pre-indo-european stratum is at least imaginable.
    – cipricus
    Jul 20 at 12:57

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