Farming-related terms in Proto-Turkic and Proto-Altaic
Historical sources from different times describe Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic traditional economies as based on pastoralism, with agriculture playing only a minor role among their subsistence strategies. Cultural reconstruction as used by historical linguists may provide additional inferences about the relative importance of farming and pastoralism in these lineages. This paper focuses on the origin of agricultural and pastoralist terms in Proto-Turkic and their parallels in the other branches of Altaic, i.e., Mongolic and Tungusic. I show that the majority of the Turkic pastoralist lexicon has a secondary nature, being formed due to contact, derivation or lexical recycling. At the same time, farming-related terms in Turkic are mostly unborrowed and underived and a few of them have reliable Altaic connections. The very limited number of agricultural terms reconstructible to Proto-Altaic as compared to the preceding Proto-Transeurasian period can be attributed to a loss of farming-related lexicon over time after the break-up of Altaic.
Keywords: Proto-Turkic, Proto-Altaic, agriculture, pastoralism, cultural reconstruction
For any use beyond this license, please contact the publisher at