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Author(s): Robert L. Fisher

Source: Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, Vol. 51, No. 1/2 (1998), pp. 85-
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Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hung. Volume 51 (1-2), 85-130 (1998)



Robert L. Fisher


A compound noun can be defined as two free morphemes, at least one of which is a n
have been combined into an accentual and semantic unit, such that no morphological affix
attached to the first element. In the oldest attested Altaic languages, such compounds are
finding points to a relatively isolating, accusative proto-language with the relationship
words shown primarily by word order and particles. Altaic' s rich derivational morpholog
the need for compounds. The lack of possessive compounds, and other features, hint at
active/stative type for Proto-Altaic. The development of compounds is due mainly to c
Indo-European languages and Chinese.

A compound noun can be defined as two free morphemes, at least one of w

noun, that have been combined into an accentual and semantic unit, in su
that no morphological affixes can be attached to the first element. For
Classical Uighur el törö, which Kononov1 translates as "power", is disqualif
compound status because suffixes are attested after the first noun: el-ig tö
barïm tutar, which Hamilton2 renders more accurately as "The riches main
state and its institutions", that is, elig törög is a coordinate nominal phrase (Sa
dvandva ), a sequence of two nouns without an intervening conjunction. (Many
combinations listed in Kononov3 are for this reason not genuine compoun
line, however, separating a syntactic phrase from a genuine compound i
means sharp. One indication that the two elements are now welded into a singl
is that the unity has become lexicalized, that is, the two elements now fun
new word, whose meaning cannot always be obviously derived from the meanin
its components. In this sense, compounds resemble idioms. In fact compou
reduced clauses or phrases. When the meaning of the compound is not d
from the meanings of its components, the compound is termed "exocen

1 A. Kononov, Grammatika jazyka tjurkskikh runičeskikh pamjatnikov Vll-lX ve

ningrad 1980.
2 J. Hamilton, Le conte bouddhique du bon et du mauvais prince . Paris 1971 , 13.
3 Loc. cit., 99ff.

0001-6446 /98/ $ 5.00 © 1998 Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest

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"opaque". An oft-quoted ex
is blue", referring to a perso
In addition, Bluebeard is
a bahuvrīhi , literally, "muc
is obvious, as in bluebird ,
compound reflects a reduc
example is English pickpo
"[he] art makes" + nomina
pound derives from a com
sukrta "well-made, well-do
return to our English exam
a compound may be "additi
and ten. In Sanskrit these ar
Distinguishing compound n
of precise knowledge conc
inscriptions, as Tekin4 not
between colons":

ttümpamrb'umn'qYn'nsYmiqYn'mlVms: (KT E 1)
äcüm apãm bumïn qayan ištāmi qayan olurmiš

"My ancestors, Bumin Khan and Istämi Khan, became rulers."

The practice of using colons was not, however, consistent. The only other direct
source of knowledge about accent is whatever can be inferred from the syncope of
In Classical Uighur texts using the Brahmi script, word groups, von Gabain5
observes, are often written together:

buminqayan; tutabirmiš; qapiyqatägi.

On the other hand, in most manuscripts the plural suffix and case endings are written
In the Old Turkic texts that I examined, namely the Orkhon Inscriptions and
Hamilton's edition of Le conte bouddhique du mauvais et du bon prince (1971),
I found only one true noun + noun endocentric, descriptive compound: bäqgü taš
"memorial stone", literally "eternity (or: eternal) stone". The first element, bäqgü,
can be considered either a noun (eternity) or an adjective (eternal) since Altaic does
not distinguish these two grammatical classes (another example is Orkhon ädgü
"good" in general, but ädgü-q "your benefit" (KT E 24 = BK E 20).

4 T. Tekin, A Grammar of Orkhon Turkic. Bloomington 1968, 48-49 (Indiana University

Publications, Uralic and Altaic Series 69).
5 A. von Gabain, Alttürkische Grammatik. Wiesbaden 1974, 41.

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An additive ( dvandva ) compound is yer sub, signifying any territory, whe

it be a country or continent, or the earth itself,6 literally "land and waters". Kon
notes Barthold' s notion that yer sub in some contexts designated a single dei
either event, however, yer sub does not qualify as a genuine compound althou
forms a semantic unit whose meaning is different from that of its compon
because suffixes are attached to both elements: yer-i-n sub-i-n ïdïp tabyačy
bardi* "After having left their lands and waters, they went towards China"
35), türük ïdoq yer-i sub-i, etc. (There is also the case when the phrase is pr
by i'duq "sacred, holy".) It was only later in the history of Turkic that yer
became a real compound: Kazak žer-suw "country", žer-suw-í (possessive suf
Tatar jir-su, jir-su-ga (dative), Baškir yer-hïw, yer-hïw-ï (possessive suffix),
vash šěrsív, šěrsív-ran (ablative).8
A rare compound consists of Noun + Verb + Derivational Suffix. These
compounds found in the Orkhon inscriptions are essentially parallel to the IE
thetic compounds such as Latin artifex, Skt mantra-krt "one who makes p
and Greek XoyOTCOióç "one who makes words, a poet". The Old Turkic examples a

Uteris < *īltēriš "the one who gathers the tribes" < il, or el, "tribe" + ter- "to gath
+ -s/š deverbal suffix, literally, "(the) tribe-gathering (one)", and ultim
derives from a clause "he gathers the tribes",
eletmis < *ēlētmiš "one who has organized the tribes" < el "tribe" + et- "to fo
organize" + -mis, a suffix forming verbal nouns denoting agents and act
(cf. igidmiš "one who has fed", qalmiš "those who have survived"),
eltäbär "one who has put the tribes in order" < el- "tribe" + tab- "to put in or
-är participial suffix.

Other compounds found in the Orkhon inscriptions are:

Compound Gloss
yir/yer sub territory, land (literally, land + water)
bäd'iz yaraťíyma picture designer
barq itgtici house builder
kün batsïq sunset; west
kiin tuysïq sunrise; east
bitig tas inscription stone
bitig tas itgiiči stone inscriber

6 Hamilton, Le conte bouddhique , 78, note to XLIV.l.

7 Kononov, Grammatika. 161, fn. 43.
8 Prof. T. Tekin, personal communication.

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The compound yir/yer sub

languages, including Class
categorized as a semantic
information it is not possib
or noun phrase. Brugmann
example, he analyzed Lati
from nunc dies tertius "no
become an indivisible sema
a coordinate compound, a
pressed "land and waters"
single word for all intents
divinity, especially with
Spirit(s)" (BK E 35, T II W3
"the Turkish Holy Earth"
since the suffix -I can occu
phrases are seldom atteste
Mongolian has an analogou
land" + "water".11
Drawing upon another a
bouddhique du bon et du ma

Compound Gloss Location

qan ügüz river of blood (blood + river) III.4 , p. 10
taluy ügüz the oceanic river XIV.4, p. 1 5
lū qan dragon king XXI.. 2, p. 19
temir sua iron chain XXXIII.3, p.25
temir isiy iron cable XXXIII.4, p.25
altun tay golden mountain XXXVII. 8- VIII. 1 , p.27
kümüs yïp silver thread XLII.3, p.29
ordu qapay palace gate XLII.7, p.29
ordu qapay közätci palace gatekeeper XLIII.5-6, p.30
kemi sïyuq boat debris LIV.6, p.35
yer suß land, territory LIX. 1 , p.38

9 K. Brugmann, Vergleichende Laut-, Stammbildungs- und Flexion

nischen Sprachen. Strasburg 1897-1916, Vol. 2.2, 679.
10 For literature on the meaning, cf. Kononov, op.cit., 161, and J
ions. In: The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 15. Ed. by M. Eliade. New Y
11 Cf. N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian. Wiesbaden 1964, 1
12 Hamilton, Le conte bouddhique.

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Compound Gloss Location

balïq qapay city gate LXIV.7, p.40
siiriigud herd of cattle LXV.6, p.41
yemiš sögtit fruit tree LXXIX.4-5, p.48

In all cases, the order of elements clearly shows an

pattern, with the egregious exception of siiriig ud, litera
exact opposite word order from that which we would exp
"to drive, to herd", to which is added the deverbal suffix -ii
which is driven".13 A closer examination of the context
apparent exception to OV word order. The context is: si
"The herd of cattle having completely passed". Perhaps here
present participle, as seen in od-uy "awake, active, livel
-uy deberbative in sense of present participle, "being aw
limit" < qïd- "reach the limits"? + -iy "-ing", "that which rea
we could translate: "(After) the cattle, which were being her
case, siiriig would not be a noun, but a verbal form. In ot
literally means "herded cattle" (as opposed to wild cattle,
the similar Manchu compound adun morin.) In Kutadgu
siiriig "a herd of sheep" does occur.
The phrases lū qan and kemi siyuq are possessive con
ïn-ta [XXI.2] and kemi sïyuq-ï-n [LIV.6]), indicating that
forms of the phrases are lū qan-ï and kemi sïyuq-ï, bot
constructions for this text.16
A popular type of compound, found not only in Tu
languages, is composed of a noun followed by a rhyming
meaningless word, usually beginning with m-, a phonolo
many parts of the world.17 In most cases, however, case e
derivational suffixes appear between the two elements,
again we are dealing with nominal phrases rather than com
elements are treated as a single, indivisible word. In any even
do not occur in the early texts taken as a sample here.
To summarize the situation in Turkic, genuine compo
tric or endocentric, are rare in the oldest stages of the langu
which the components are more loosely associated both ac
cally, are much more common. A salient, though rare, charac
presence of compounds whose second element contains a

13 M. Erdal, Old Turkic Word Formation: A Functional Appro

baden 1991, 172, 205.
14 Hamilton, op.cit., 105.
K Ibid., 117.
16 Prof. T. Tekin, personal communication.
17 Cf. C. Brockelmann, Osttürkische Grammatik. Wiesbaden 1954, for literature.

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and kiin tuy-si'q contain

respectively. The compoun
create", and barq itgiiči f
compounds kiin bat-sïq/tuy
nouns such as ãcsíq "the n
hungry". The nominal natu
in which the third perso
N2; O F2) and kiin tuysí
yaratïyma contains the ag
in barq itgiiči the second e
another agentive suffix, -
yirtinčii ailaduyči "world-
(cf. vlra-hán, madhv-ád a
It may be suggestive to
in Indo-European. At the o
compounds, synthetic co
element is the bare verbal
who kills men, man-kille
fruit". Later, these are lar
is a nominal form of the
agent noun suffix ja[n]-),
suffix as in Gothic, "honey
compounds in IE. Although
at an earlier period Turki
was the bare verbal root,
In all cases, however, wi
compounds are transparent
head noun determines the
pound belongs.
An interesting sub-grou
decades. An SOV language
way it does compariti ves, t
cedes the lower numeral,
arban doloyan, Manchu ju

18 T. Tekin, Orkhon Turkic ,

19 Cf. Skt madhv-ád- "honey
Paris 1965, 358, 375.

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The oldest stratum of Mongolian is attested in The Secret History of the Mongols.
The following list of compounds is taken from Haenisch.20 The number in parenthe-
ses refers to the line number in de Rachewiltz.21

Compound Literal Meaning Gloss Line

bars jil tiger year 7706
beki mör the way of beki 8508
beye qat body + body body 8902
buluqan daqu sabel pelt 220 1 ; 2208 ;

burqaliq časun whirlwind + snow whirlwind of snow 827

burqasun ger willow twig tent 2337
bu'ura ke'ere The Camel Steppe 2607; 2718;

cerik haran army + man soldier 2302

cimaliqai üge word of hate; 1 2006
ebesün nembüle ger grass hut 740, 813
eki(n)teri'ü brain, skull + head head 1008
esige daqu ram' s pelt 46 1 4
et tabar products, goods + goods 1 00 1 2
treasure, valuables
ger tergen tent cart 3 1 25
gerisge isgei windbreak + felt felt that blocks the wind 33 14
jirqalang oron joy, delight + throne 9107-8

nembe'e isgei cover + felt the felt which covers a 33 14


nisun nilbusun tear + tear (in) tears 2 1 09

noyan mör way of the chief 8507

20 E. Haenisch, Wörterbuch zu Manghol un niuca

heime Geschichte der Mongolen. Wiesbaden 1962.
21 I. de Rachewiltz, Index to the Secret History of the
University Publications, Ural and Altaic Series 121).

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Compound Literal Meaning Gloss Line

nökör se'üder friend + shadow companion 8334-5
ordo ger palace-chamber house 32 1 6, 5922,
9103, 9204,
9207, 11610
ordo ger terge palace-chamber cart 9229
ordo ger tergen palace-chamber cart 1 1 622, 1 1 624
qatuqje (qatuqtu?) woman 23 1 8
qan oro throne of the qan 7607
qoronüge poison + word words of poison 11101
qutanqor birchbark quiver 9111
saqalbayan beard + rich hog-bristle grass 2611
sibiige kele awl-tongue, that is, hav- 7010
ing a tongue like an awl
sisgei to'urqatu having felt-walled tents 7706
si'iici qosi'u chisel-snout, that is, hav- 7010
ing a snout like a chisel
sönidüli night + half midnight 4104
so'or cölö battle + hole, gap, a respite in the battle 5615
temiir ore iron heart 7010-1 1

temiir telege iron wagon 7402;

7433-4; 9301
terme ger feltyurt 10928
üdür düli day +half noon 5406
iidür kesik day guard 6720
üldü mina'a sword (used instead of a) 701 1
uyilsun qor willow- wood quiver 9110

Some expressions may be eliminated immediately,

that intervenes between the first and second members: ji
the abstract suffix -lang;22 cimaliqai üge "words of

22 N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 47, § 160.

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suffix plus the colloquial genitive in -ai.23 In addition, et tabar "products" i

borrowing from Old Turkic äd tabar "movable property and livestock", whi
burqaliq časun "whirlwind of snow" the first element contains -liq (actually -
originally the Old Turkic adjectival suffix -liy/-lig; similarly qatuqje gii'tin mu
a mistake for qatuytai < qatun-ytai, with -ytai as an adjectival suffix.24
A striking feature of the above list is the large number of compounds in wh
the first member is the name of some material: birchbark (qutan), willow-w
(uyilsan), elm twig (burqasun), felt (terme, sisgei), iron (temiir), and grass (
sün). Another interesting group are those compounds made from synonyms or nea
synonyms: beye qat (body + body), ekin teri'ii (brain, skull + head), nisun n
sun (tear + tear). Such compounds have been common not only in the later Tu
languages,25 but also in the Orkhon inscriptions and in Classical Uighur: ayï b
"treasure, property", arqiš tirkiš "caravans", at kü "name and fame", äb
"tents, yurts" (Modern Turkish ev bark), äcü apa "ancestors", el törö "the stat
its institutions", ada tuda "dangers", asïy tusu "profit, advantage", el kiin "peo
qa qadas "relatives", qiz qoduz "girls and single women". Such compounds are
well attested from an early date in Chinese. For example, Chinese ^ ^ péngy
"friend" is composed of two synonyms, péng "friend" and yöu "comrade, com
ion", the second element losing its tone when combined in this compound. I w
tend not to attribute such Mongolian compounds to Chinese models, but rather to
weakening of a word to such an extent that it is felt necessary to reinforce its me
ing with a synonym. In any event, all the compounds in this and the other lists co
piled here are remarkable in their transparency, that is, their meanings are not di
ent from the sum of their parts. At first sight, a possible exception to this rule m
be saqal bayan "hog-bristle grass" < "beard" + "rich"; "an official", and compou
such as morin qaračayai "wagtail" < "horse" + "swallow" (cf. below Bur
morin-xaraasgai). Even here, though, the meaning is not difficult to guess: "be
official" as a description of the appearance of the plant, and morin is often us
plant and animal names in the sense of "great, large".26 If a series of two nou
opaque in meaning, this is a good test of whether the two nouns form a ge
compound. On the other hand, transparency of meaning in two juxtaposed nouns c
neither prove nor disprove whether we are dealing with a genuine compound.
A string of compounds occurs in a stunning invective directed at "The F
Dogs" (Jebe, Qubilai, Jelme and Siibe'etei): siremün manglaitan si'iici qosi
sibüge keleten temiir öreten üldü mina'atan "Having copper helmets, ha
chisel-snouts, having awl-tongues, having iron hearts, having sword-whips".
compounds at first sight seem to be possessive compounds ( bahuvrīhi ), a typ
compound from the most archaic strata of Indo-European but lacking in Altaic
upon closer examination it becomes evident that the possessive meaning is due to t

23 Ibid., 74 §284.
24 Prof. T. Tekin, personal communication.
25 Brockelmann, Osttürkische Grammatik, 144ff.
26 F. Lessing, Mongolian-English Dictionary. Berkeley and Los Angeles 1960, s.v. mor

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adjectival suffix -tai/-tei pl

characteristic of Mongoli
pounds, is in Mongolian ex
Below are some example
to Classical Mongolian :27

Compound Literal Meaning Gloss

ači tusa good deed + usefulness reward
bayar üiles joy, happiness + deed + plural gifts
gem jum fault + defect fault, mishap
matar jögei sea monster + insect, bee a kind of sea monster
qan oron prince, lesser ruler + place, land throne, capital

These five compounds come closer to the exocentric compounds of Modern

Mongolian. Poppe28 also lists ači tusa and a similar expression for "throne":29 qan
širegen (khan + seat). None of these expressions occur in The Secret History , except
for the single attestation of qan oro.
It is instructive to examine how Mongolian dealt with the challenge of creat-
ing a vast, complex terminology for Buddhism. Mongolian afforded three general
methods of translating Sanskrit terms:

1 . Caiques (loan translations), that is, mechanical word-for-word translations

without regard for their artificiality with respect to native Mongolian methods of
2. Creation of a new word composed of a root followed by a succession of
derivational suffixes.
3. Coinage of a Mongolian compound that is not a caique.

The following list of Mongolian nominal compounds is taken from the Penta-
glot (Sanskrit-Tibetan-Mongolian-Manchu-Chinese) Dictionary of Buddhist Termi-
nology :30

27 K. Gr0nbech and J. Krueger, An Introduction to Classical (Literary) Mongolian . Wies-

baden 1955.
28 N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 121.
29 Ibid., 132.
30 Mahãvyutpatti, Pentaglot Dictionary of Buddhist Terms in Sanskrit, Tibetan , Manchu-
rian, Mongolian and Chinese. Ed. by Raghu Vira. New Delhi 1961.

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Compound Literal Meaning Page Sanskrit

arban kücütii ten + power 1 1 dašabalah
tiigemel ejin universe + master 1 2 mahātmā
yurban čay three + time 20 trikālajnah
yarköl hand + foot 71
arslan dayun lion +voice 98 simhanādanādī
arban yajar ten + place 103 adhimukticaryäbhümih
arban baramid ten + perfection 109 dharmameghā
ölige baramid gift + pāramitā 110 dānapāramitā
diyan baramid meditation + pāramitā 1 12 dhyānapāramitā
bilig baramid wisdom + pāramitā 112 jnānapāramitā
arya baramid method + pāramitā 1 1 2 upāy apāramitā
irüger baramid blessing + pāramitā 1 12 praņidhānapāramitā
kiičiin baramid power + pāramitā 1 1 3 balapāramitā
dayun uqayan sound + science 1 97 sabdavidyä
učir siltayan uqayan reason + reason + science 197 hetuvidyä
belge činar sign + quality 206
usun maqabod water + element 257 abdhātuh
yal maqabod fire + element 258 tejodhātuh
kei maqabod air + element 258 väyudhätuh
qadumečige in-law + father 315 švašurah
qadum eke in-law + mother 3 1 5 švašrūh
er-eem-e husband + wife 317 jampatī
uruy sadan relatives by marriage + 318 mitram

ger-e qačar cheek + face 326 gaņdah

jiriiken tus heart + front 334 hrdayapradešah
sir-a iisiin yellow + hair 342 roma
doron-a emiin-e east + south 359 pūrvadaksiņā
emiin-e örön-e south + west 359 daksiņāpašcamā
örön-e umar-a west + north 360 pašcamottarā
umar-a dorona north + east 360 uttarapūrva
yaltengri fire + heaven 361 âgneyî

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Compound Literal Meaning Page Sanskrit

kei tengri wind+ heaven 361 vâyavî
usun tengri water + heaven 362 vāruņī

Not included in this list are combinations such as yirtinc

GEN + supreme) (8) and nom-un bogda (Buddhist text + GEN +
the genitive suffix violates our definition of compound: two n
that no morpheme may intervene between them. Likewise, the
ness, dotoyadu qoyosun (inside + empty) "perfection of the in
adhyãtmasúnyatâ and yadar dotor qoyosun (inside + outside +
adhyātmabahirdhāsūnyatā, are not compounds by our definitio
suffix -du separates the two nouns. Fourteen combinations are
plus noun, only three of which have a Sanskrit equivalent:

arban kücütü ten + power 1 1 dašabalah

yurban čay three + time 20 trikālajnah
arban yajar ten + place 106 (adhimukticaryâ-bhùmih)

The sense of yurban čag derives from Skt trikālajnah (three + time + knowing
"omniscent", that is, knowing the three times (past, present, future).31
In the last example, the Mongolian expression translates a Sanskrit compoun
which is not given in the Pentaglot Dictionary: adhimukticaryâbhûmih (confi-
dence, propensity + performing + world), "one of the ten Bhūmis". The Mongolia
agrees with the Chinese equivalent: -f ~ iļk ^ (ten + world + name) in that it tran
lates the concept by giving the rank of that world: "name of the tenth world".
The remaining twelves entries involving numerals are more in the nature o
mnemonics: "the five powers" (tabun kūčtin), "the five organs" (tabun erketen
"the three doctrines" (diirben iineker) and the like.
It should be noted that Mongolian follows the general Altaic pattern in regard
to additive compounds:

arban qoyar ten + two 144 twelve

Such compounds are typical of OV word order, in which,

the first element is the standard.32 In this regard, Orkhon Turki
with the rest of Altaic: the numbers from 11-19 and 21 - 29 d
tern of additive compounds, but rather employ the reverse

31 A. MacDonell, A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary. Oxford 1988, 11 3

32 W. P. Lehmann, Theoretical Bases of Indo-European Linguistics. A

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yegirmi and twenty-two is ekl otuz.33 Perhaps a linguistic substrate is th

Two entries are actually coordinate phrases without conjunction:

yarköl hand + foot 71 hand and foot

er-eem-e man + wife 317 couple

The latter translates the dvandva compound Skt jampat

dual of the singular noun dampati- "master (of the household
"master and mistress, husband and wife".
Caiques are one category of word that can immediately b
consideration, because they are recent and imitate the compo
Sanskrit. The six types of perfection, ülige/diyan/bilig/ary
mid, are exact word-for-word renderings of the Sanskrit compo
element usually a native Mongolian word while the secon
borrowing from Sanskrit pāramitā "perfection". In the case o
the first element is the Mongolian rendering of Skt dhyána
plies as well to the two caiques, dayun uqayan and učir s
their mechanical Mongolian translations of the underlying San
latter example, Mongolian has added an additional element w
less repeats that of the first element. Finally, the three elem
maqabod, water, fire and air, are exact translations of the origin
ter", tejo- "fire, heat", váyu- "wind" + -dhãtuh "element"). S
is based on Skt simha "lion" + nādanādi "roaring".
The three levels of heaven (tengri) corresponding each
"fire", kei- "wind, air", and usun- "water", are to some exten
skrit equivalents: agni- "fire" underlies âgneyl, as does väyu-
No such relationship, however, exists between usun and várun
mately from the Vedic god Varua, who by upanishadic times
In a few cases the Mongolian compounds translate singl
Thus, sir-a tisiin "fine body hair" corresponds to Sanskrit
qadum ečige "father-in-law" and qadum eke "mother-in-law"
words švasrurah and its feminine form švasrūh. Likewise,
literally "cheek-face", is the equivalent of the single word g
"close and distant relatives" is rendered by the Sanskrit word mi
Although at first sight the directions, "southeast", etc
caiques on the corresponding Sanskrit expressions, it is far more
for directions existed in Mongolian long before the introduct
culture. The similarity in structure is rather due to the fact tha
OV in order.
The compound expression for "chest", jirüken tus, literally "
responds to the Skt compound noun hrdaya-pradešah "
Therefore jirüken tus is not a caique, but an original Mongolia

33 T. Tekin, Orkhon Turkic, 145.

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more, pradešah is frequent

in Sanskrit.
Finally, tiigemel ejin is
natural powers. The Sanskri
be the source of the Mong
In this list of thirty-thre
partial caiques (yal / kei /
are coordinate compound
tiigemel ejin for Skt mah
pounds which have no relati

qadum ečige and qadum

uruy sadan "relatives"
ger-e qačar "cheek"
jiriiken tus "chest"
sir-a üsün "fine body ha
doron-a emtin-e "southeas

What is remarkable is that

tionary, only thirty-three
tion with the in-law term
compounds. This means th
quence of derivational suffi
ing nouns (in various cases
quitely lengthy. From Po
compounds were most often

dürsütü beye oyõto bütü

dürsü(n) - tü beye oyõt
form + ADJ body fully

The original Sanskrit com

accomplishment. Skt rùpa
(possessive) compound, wh
simple hypotaxis for its m
sive adjectival suffix -tu/-t
element is pari-, literally
the sense of "completely,
by a separate adverb, oyõt
uses a separate word. Fina

34 N. Poppe, The Twelve De

Mongolian Text, Notes , and En

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noun in -ti,35 while Mongolian has a verbal noun (VBN) in -ysan/-gsen, a n

perfecti, "that which is accomplished".36
Another example is masi narin tõsuni čuulyan "collection of atomic [= i
ducible] particles"37, word for word, "very fine particle + GEN collection", with -
colloquial variant of the -u genitive suffix38. The Sanskrit expression is para
samcaya < "the ultimate [constituent]" + "collection", a nominal compound.
loanword baramanu exists in Mongolian.) The Mongolian sequence of intensif
adjective + noun in the genitive + noun has been used to render the Sanskrit n
noun compound.
Finally, there is kiilicekiiyin cinadu kiiriiqsen39 "perfection of patien
"patience + GEN beyond reaching (VBN)", thus "the reaching beyond (= perf
of patience (GEN)", translating the noun-plus-noun compound in Skt ksānt
mitā ("patience" + "perfection"). The expression cinadu kürüqsen (ADV + VB
"perfection", is used alongside the loanword baramid < Skt pâramitá. (thus,
čenggiii baramid). A partial caique may be involved here, since Skt pāram m
"beyond". In this case, the Sanskrit nominal compound has been translated b
expression involving a noun in the genitive followed by an adverb modify
verbal noun.
Sometimes, it should be noted, Mongolian uses a single word to render a
Sanskrit compound: Mongolian toyosun "particle" for Skt prthivl-rajas40 (literally,
"earth" + "dust"). The fuller expression yajar-un toyosun is also attested,41 "earth +
GEN + "particle".
Mongolian preferred to exploit its wealth of derivational suffixes rather than
employ compounding, even when Sanskrit provided ready-made models that could
have easily been converted into caiques.
Moreover, the compounds that do exist in Classical Mongolian are almost
always transparent, in contrast to Modern Mongolian with its large number of com-
pounds, many of which are opaque. The examples below are taken from Poppe:42

oron toy-a (place-number) "office staff, personnel"

čay uliral (time-vicissitude) "climate"
öngge dūri (color-shape) "appearance"
tarbayan kümün (marmot-man) "dwarf'
üker buu (ox gun) "cannon".

This evolution toward increased compounding may in part be due to Russian influ-
ence, yet it is clearly evident that Turkic has followed the same path from limited,

35 W. D. Whitney, Sanskrit Grammar. Cambridge 1964, 432.

36 Cf. N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 95.
37 N. Poppe, The Twelve Deeds of Buddha, 221.
38 N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 74, §284.
39 N. Poppe, Twelve Deeds , 221.
40 Poppe, op. cit., 223.
4i ibid., 228.
42 N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 120-1, 132.

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100 R. L. FISHER

transparent compounding in
them opaque, in the middle an
From Poppe's The Twelve
tavistara , the following comp

Compound Gloss Sanskrit

amitan kernen barimtalayčin perception of a being sattva-samjnā
badir ayay-a alms-bowl pātra
bilig baramid perfection of wisdom prajnā-pāramitā
bíiküli barimtalaqu seizing on a material object piņda-grāha
külicenggüi ögülegci Preacher of Patience ksānti-pāramitā
mön činar own-being svabhāva
öngge beye form-body (color + body) rüpa-käya
tâlaxui xorõn pleasure garden, pleasure grove ārāma
ürgüljide oroysan Streamwinner Srota-āpanna

Both külicenggüi ögülegci and tâlaxui xorõn can immediate

as genuine compounds because their first element contains the adjec
Finally, in keeping with the definition of compound adopted h
lian combinations whose first element contains the paragogic -n
fied as genuine compounds, since, as Finch44 has amply demonst
is a suffix deriving from a number of sources: marker of inalienab
niteness, characterization or qualitative genitive, and possession.
may have been in a deictic particle.45 The question that naturally ar
the time these compounds were coined the paragogic -n was still
rather than a mere morphophonemic alternation without any seman
was felt to be a suffix then these combinations are not genuine com
paragogic ~n no longer had any force as a true suffix, then these co
be considered compounds.

Buryat also provides some examples of compounds:

tařaa-xuraalga "harvest" < tařaan "crop" + xuřaalga "collection,

(note that the first member is in the oblique stem, showing th
of the second member),
morin-xaraasgai "wagtail" < "horse" + "swallow".

Both of these cases, however, involve the paragogic -n.

43 N. Poppe, op.cit ., 359, §360.

44 R. Finch, On the Nature of Paragogic -N in Mongolian. ZS X (1987)
4* Ibid., 96

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The fact remains that in Classical Mongolian, although compounds occur, th

relatively rare. One obvious reason for this rarity is the wealth of general and h
specific derivational suffixes. The follow are a few examples culled from Poppe:4

qayayali "second cousin" < qay-a "distant relationship" -yali/-geli forms no

designating distant degrees of relationships (§118)
-yčin/-gčin forms nouns designating colors and names of female animals:
širayčin "yellow [cow, etc.]" < šir-a "yellow", jayayčin "brown with a dark st
the spine (of a female animal)" < jayal "brown with a dark spot on the
(of a male)", ölögcin "bitch" < ölö "gray" (§120)
-yui forms nouns designating female beings: quduyui (< qudayui) "the mot
the son-in-law" < quda- "father of the son-in-law" (§122)
iiyenčer "nephew twice removed" < üy-e "generation" (§132)
-yan/-gen forms deverbal nouns: qubilyan "reincarnation" < qubil- "to cha
-m forms deverbal nouns: qaram "avarice" < qara- "to look at" (§164)
-may/-meg forms nouns designating the result of actions: qayurmay "fra
qayur- "to deceive", jorimay "bravery" < jori- "to make a decision" (§1
-mji forms abstract nouns: seremji "vigilance" < sere- "to be awake" (§171)


From Nowak:47 The Tale of the Nišan Shamaness: A Manchu Folk Epic:

Compound Gloss Page

cooha janggin soldiers' comman
alin moo mountain tree 122, line 6
waliyara jaka funeral offering things 1 24: 1 3
gucuheri etuku brocade cloth 1 25 : 1 3
sargan jui female servants 1 25 : 1 4
duka tu wakiyaha gate guards 128:19
waliyaha alin funeral offering mountain 1 28: 1 9
hailan moo gisun elm wood drumstick 132:27
ulimoo cherry wood 136:35

46 Grammar of Written Mongolian.

47 M. Nowak, The Tale of the Nišan Shamanes
lications on Asia of the Institute for Comparative a

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102 R. L. FISHER


From a Sibe heroic epic48:

Compound Literal Meaning Gloss

ač%a fulmun burden, baggage, articles + travel bag
bundle, parcel
adun morin herd, horse herd, cattle herd + horse herd

yonin adun sheep + herd shepherd

agžan žilgan thunder + sound peal of thunder
bofyon aqgata family + family member family member
dobori duliri night + half midnight
%usin ži%a paper + money paper money
edun žilgan wind + sound soughing of the wind
eifu karan grave + palace cemetary
eifun mugan grave + grave mound grave mound
gašan nana village + person villager
gemurí %ečen residence, capital + wall, city city
utku adu clothing + garment piece of clothing, clothes

The Manchu compound adun morin "horse herd" presents the same un
pected word order, for an OV language, as the Classical Uighur sürüg ud "c
herd", discussed above. First of all, it is interesting to note that both the element
the Manchu compound are loanwords from Mongolian: adun < Mongolian adu
and morin has exactly the same form in both languages. In Mongolian, how
aduyun means "horses, herd of horses" and in neither The Secret History n
Lessing is the word used with morin. Instead, it is often collocated with ide'
ideyen) in a coordinate compound (dvandva) "horses (or herds) and food". It w
appear, then, that the borrowed Mongolian word for horses, adun, was sim
reinforced with another word for horse, itself ultimately a loanword from Mong
Note that yonin adun "sheep herd" follows the regular OV word order.
Considering the length of the texts {The Tale of the Nišan Shamanness , the
heroic epic), the number of compounds attested is quite small. If the same stories
been written in Homeric Greek or Sanskrit, the percentage of compounds
have been much higher. To illustrate this point, I counted the nominal compounds

48 S. Kaluzy ñski, Die Sprache des Mandschurischen Stammes Sibe aus der Gegend
Kuldscha. I. Band 1. F. Muromskis Sibenische Texte; 2. Wörterverzeichnis. Warsaw 1977
Orientalistyczne 25).

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the first fifty lines of the Odyssey and found, including proper names, seven c
pounds. In the first seventeen lines of the Classical Sanskrit epic Naia and
yantï (an episode in the great Hindu epic, The Mahãbhãrata ), there were no less t
From The Sino-Jurchen Vocabulary of the Bureau of Interpreters ,49 the fol-
lowing compound nouns have been gathered. Although it is not always easy to
decide, caiques on Chinese expressions have been excluded. This present glossary
was compiled in the Ming Dynasty and represents either late Jurčen or early Man-
chu, "a form of Manchu dating long before that language was first written in Mongol
script in 1599."50

Compound Chinese Gloss English Gloss Page/Entry

agua ječi horizon 139/24
biehelme ]f' shadow of the moon 151/76
nienieriedu ♦A spring wind 154/91
alibethie ili Jļēp foot of the mountain 168/162
ali ninggu ÜJ Tjf mountain peak 168/163
uhehufurun ^ ^ stone bridge 173/190
u[n]te hufurun plank bridge 173/191
uheju ^ %■ stone road 173/193
tipa/tibaju ¡fe mud road 175/205
tuyuheyafa jjfc SI fruit garden 176/209
sugiyafa ^ 81 vegetable garden 176/210
il[h]ayafa ÍÈ E8 flower garden 177/211
emu mo hufurun 7fc ^ single-plank bridge 179/226
alibujan lb mountain forest 181/232
alise li/ mountain spring 181/233
alibo ib mountain hut 181/234
hečeduka 1$, Pļ gate in city wall 181/236
ordoheče JL 1$, imperial city 182/238
bira moda ^ bend in a river 1 82/240
aliju li/ jfe mountain road 183/243

49 D. Kane, The Sino-Jurchen Vocabulary of the Bureau of

(Uralic and Altaic Series 153).
™ Ibid., 99.

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Compound Chinese Gloss English Gloss Page/Entry

ordo heče (= 238) Jí wall around imperial 1 83/244

imalayafa ^ ® mulberry-tree garden 184/250

gasa hudaša bo ^hf" village shop (village- 1 84/25 1
danču muke huti -y- 7X sweet-water well 1 85/254
behohufurun if- earth bridge 185/260
uhe huti stone well 1 86/264

imu'aeri ýfc ibex-time = 1 -3pm 200/331

nienieri dulu'u ^ spring-warmth 201/340
nienieri šimuke & 0 spring-cold 201/338
bolori serkun vjf. autumn-cool 202/343
juanrihaiu X summer-heat 202/344
tu'eri šimuu 4F- 0- winter-cold 202/345
suhe mo #p willow tree 207/364
haila mo W elm tree 208/372
hondo/holdo mo ^ pine tree 209/375
ordoda A 0- ginseng 210/380
goro mo W locust tree 211/384
husa mo M. chestnut tree 211/385
guiil[h]a & tfc apricot blossom 211/388
fa[l]hamo & # W poplar tree 211/389
mogarga tree branch 212/390
gindehemo 44 W sandalwood 212/391
namosugi ~$¡ it lettuce 212/392
šil[h]u il[h]a M tí pear blossom 214/400
huriil[h]a pine blossom 214/401
moda $L tree root 214/402
mede sugi fé seaweed 214/403
niunieha goose 218/422
mu[k]tu singgeri ^ mole 222/439
a[k]tamuri M M gelding 223/444

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Compound Chinese Gloss English Gloss Page/Entry

ajara muri % H stallion 224/446
tama u[l]gia boar 225/450
alin hutie #£ dove 227/462
guili sečehe -ft" ^ golden oriole 229/469
lahanimuha catfish 236/507

jolo bu'u ^ tailed deer 236/509

tušenimuha ¿gg. & carp 237/513
sufaweiha if ivory 238/518
bošíhimuha eaves 240/527

orho bo Jļf- thatched house 240/529

muri bo stable 241/530

u[l]gia hor[h]o ffl pigsty 241/531

ihahor[h]o ^ -tÄI cattle-shed 241/532
honi hor[h]o ^ flļļ| sheep pen 241/534
ordo ha'an bo JË. imperial palace 244/547
tiko šoro 0 H chicken cage 245/554
muriyarfu ® Mt bridle 255/599
nurehu[n]ta M âjt wine cup 257/613
iha seje -Í- oxcart 258/618
muri anggemu ,lf ^ horse saddle 259/622
muri huži ^ horse trough 259/624
anču sača -áb âfc golden helmet 260/628
nuremalu M 4? wine jug 260/631
honi fita aligu #'J M dish for cutting sheep 261/634

derhue bodo $5 chowry, fly whisk 261/636

nimuha asu & fishnet 262/637
sahadaile £r ffl $3 hunting net 262/639
sele sača áÉfc áfc iron helmet 263/644
sugu u[k]ši f hide armor 263/645
sele u[k]ši 4S<; f iron armor 263/646
ta niru A iron arrow 264/647

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Compound Chinese Gloss English Gloss Page/Entry

sele ya[k]šigu áft 1$ iron lock 264/648
širi ya[k]šigu M bronze lock 264/649
siri tungke áfô bronze drum 264/65 1
dahala nie[l]ma SI @ chief, leader 266/657
sar[g]anjui ic girl 268/669
hahajui JÜL son 269/671
hehesa[k]da 1él # aunt (father's elder 270/678
brother's wife)

nakaču emele H aunt (mother's 271/683

brother's wife)

fudasu nie[l]ma A opponent, rebel 274/696

hudaša nie[l]ma A merchant 274/698
huluha nie[l]ma A thief 274/699
menggu fa[k]si #13. Ē silversmith 275/700
baili nie[l]ma ,i§. A benefactor 275/701
ičefa[k]ši ^ Ē dyer 275/702
širifa[k]ši äfä Ē bronzesmith 275/703
mahila ara fa[k]ši tf Ē hatter 276/706
toholo fa[k]ši M Ē tinsmith 276/707
jatiahun -if second eldest brother 277//714
jatigege - jii. second eldest sister 277/716
mofa[k]ši A Ē carpenter 280/731
menggo nie[l]ma A barbarian 281/732
sugufa[k]si ¿fc Ē tanner 285/752
dili tuti & anger, angry 300/826
ječi ba border area 308/860
doroti[k]ta Si law 310/867
yasafaha 0R pupil of the eye 318/897
anggafumo D lips 319/906
gala jala -í* "Ip knuckles 320/911
galašinmuhun finger 320/912
sushaheuli M calf of the leg 321/913

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Compound Chinese Gloss English Gloss Page/Entry

betiesaihada M shin 321/915
betiegui JļflļJ J®. heel 321/918
sunggi tura bridge of the nose 328/953
sunggisangga # nostril 328/954
juresu adu ýi lined clothes 332/976
orho sau ^ H grass shoe 335/989
fatumahila #1 barbarian hat 338/1006
tafulenggi A fire ashes 349/1060
honiyali ^ mutton 349/1061
bu'uyali ^ #) venison 349/1062
ehe yali ft |i] donkey meat 349/1063
menggu tampin M zk silver pot 351/1069
mengguselehe Jjí ffl silver necklace 351/1071
se'un tutire[r]ge Jļt east 369/1142
se'un tuhere[r]ge W west 369/1143
jule[r]ge ^ south 369/1144
fuhi[r]ge jh north 369/1145
tulu[r]ge outside 371/1152

Sinor51 states that Manchu forms

more by combining syllables from tw
fulhu "sack" > sifulu "bladder", and
"ape" > fulsonio "name of a fabulous y
notes that sifulu has the same meaning
a component of derivation, are familiar
(< American Indian) and innumerable
and from Chinese, for example, Bèi D
the names of endless political campaig
paign To Suppress Counterrevolutiona
in which all such compounds are mar
are numerous, but for the most part
and esepcially fabulous creatures. Com

51 D. Sinor, La langue mandjoue. In: Ha

Band: Altaistik , 3. Abschnitt: Tungusologie.
52 E. Hauer, Handwörterbuch der Mandsc

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108 R. L. FISHER

of a being)"53 < emu "one" +

from the lists compiled above
composed of two independen
be found on nearly every pag
The unitary compounds s
Jurčen ordoda "ginseng"
"plant" + da "root"); and the
final element the noun ergi
rise" + -re (imperfective pa
archaic Manchu šun tuhere
Jurčen and Manchu is juke[r
in Jurčen is fuhi[r]ge (with
Jurčen example is tulu[r]ge
The Manchu terms for the four directions are informative from a number of
perspectives. First, it would appear that the fusion of ergi "side" with the first ele-
ments was so total that these words were no longer felt to be compounds, and thus
ergi had to be added a second time:

Compound Components Gloss

amargi ergi < amala "behind" north
dergi ergi < dele "above" east
julergi ergi < julesi "in front" south
wargi ergi < wala "below" west

Another observation is that even several centuries before Manchu,

period, erge "side" had already become firmly welded to the first elem
single word, making the directions among the earliest examples in
ine compound nouns. It was seen above in Old Turkic that the ex
"sunset, west" and "sunrise, east", kiin batsïq and kün tuysïq res
among the rare examples of compounds composed of a noun plus
These terms closely parallel Jurčen se'un tutire[r]ge and se'un
structure, except that Manchu has the addition of "side". Last, the
that the ancient Manchu were oriented toward the south (the direc
just as the Indo-Europeans were oriented toward the east (OE ēast <
the sunrise" < IE *aus- "shine"55, since south is designated by the w
(*deks-). The IE orientation agrees with that of the ancient Turks
sunrise, was called the direction "in front" (ilgärü), the most vene

53 S i nor, ibid.
54 Cf. Kane, Sino-Jurchen Vocabulary , 119.
55 Cf. C. Watkins, The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-Europe
1985, s.v. aus-1.

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from the shamanic point of view.56 In contrast to Manchu, the Turkic directions,
summed up in the Kül Tigin Inscription (South 2), are quite different: ilgärü
tuysiqa birigärü kün ortusiqaru, quriyaru kün batsïqîqa yirïyaru tün
ortusïqaru "eastwards to the sunrise, southwards to the midday, westwards as far as
the sunset, and northwards to the midnight".57


From this sister language of Manchu, spoken by some 2000 people in Heilongjiang
Province of China, come the following compounds:58

asan nau female + brother sister

ma ma siman mother + essence milk

maqga mo hard + tree oak

nikta gurun short + people Japanese
imqa xulxa needle + thief dragonfly
dau gaska salmon + bird wild goose
jaja mafa grandfather + old man tiger

The expression dau gaska apparently refers to the migratory habits of the wi
goose, a pattern of behavior it shares with the salmon.


From Oroqen are the following compounds:

seen owon ear + pan dumplings

dilča juurakkaaki sun + come east
dilča tiktarakkaaki sun + set west

kakara jecsa chicken + eye blindness

56Ching-lung Chen, Concepts Regarding Numbers, Colors, and the Car

Among the Turkic Peoples. In: Proceedings of the XXVIII Permanent Interna
Conference, Venice 8-14 July 1985. Ed. by G. Stary. Wiesbaden 1989, 53-54. The
for 'east' and 'west', ajila and suliala, refer respectively to the lower and upper re
(the Heilongjiang) (Zhang Xi, The Characteristics of Hezhen Culture Reflected by
unpublished paper, University of Toronto, 1992, 2-4).
57 T. Tekin, Grammar of Or khon Turkic , 261.
58 Y. Zhang, X. Zhang & S. Dai, The Hezhen Language. Jilin 1989, 20.
59 I am indebted to Zhang Xi, Department of Linguistics, University of Tor
lecting these and the latter two Hezhen examples from his fieldwork with Manc
guages in Manchuria.

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It is interesting to note
compounds of noun + ve
a rule are rare in Altaic.

From Evenki come the following compounds:

bukkan tuursran Buddha + shout thunder

xara jug black + house washroom


In his recent A Historical Study of Korean Noun Compounds, Baek Eung-Jin6

stated that "an articulatory pause accompanied by a glottal stop occurs betwee
members of noun compounds, and that sai-sios has provided a convenient mea
represent this articulatory pause". His article lists an impressive number of
pounds taken from three fifteenth-century works, the Yongbiöch'önga , the Sökp
sangjöl, and the Wörinch'öngangjigok. Alexander Vovin61 has made a detailed
carefully reasoned argument, showing that the Middle Korean symbol A repr
the phoneme /ñ/, which frequently is written between the two members of a com
pound. Vovin also demonstrates that /ñ/ in medial position appears in the Sou
and Hamkyeng dialects as [s], which is the other sound that frequently joins
members of a compound. He then goes on to affirm what many traditional K
grammarians have long maintained: that this sai-sios phenomenon reflects th
cient genitive marker, with its complex array of allomorphs: k, t, p, A, s, and glo
stop. Accordingly, /ñ/ is cognate with Old Japanese no, Proto-Manchu-Tungu
Proto-Mongol *n, and Proto-Turkic *ņ. Therefore, at the earliest stages of Ko
these compounds of the later language were originally nominal phrases in which t
first member was joined to the second by means of the genitive marker. This inf
tion of the first member of a combination of nouns disqualifies the sequence
being considered a genuine compound. Here again true compounding in the o
layers of Korean is relatively rare.


The list of compounds below has been compiled from the first two hundred pages of
Pierson' s Manyoshu Dictionary ,62 The Manyõshu is an anthology of songs dating
from the seventh to eighth centuries and is therefore the most ancient large corpus in

60 Korean Studies XVII (1993) 105-1 16.

61 About the Phonetic Value of the Middle Korean Grapheme A. BSOAS LVI:2 (1993)
62 J. Pierson, Character Dictionary of the Manyõshu. Leiden 1967.

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Old Japanese. The Manyöshü is rich in compounds, but in this list compounds show
ing nigori (voicing of the first consonant of the second element) have been autom
cally disqualified since the voicing is the residue of the earlier genitive (or adn
nal) suffix *-n-. This suffix violates the constraint in the definition of compound
no affix appear between the two members. (Sometimes a compound occurs wit
without nigori , for example, asa-duyu "morning dew"63 and asa-tuyu "Wem
Also excluded are Chinese loanwords (riku-shi "wrestler" < Chinese lìshì "str
man"). In general, compounds containing a color term or adjective are not listed, b
those with a verbal element have been included (sidari-yanagi "weeping willow
sidaru "to hang down").
The numbers in parentheses under "Location" refer to the page number
Pierson' s dictionary and his translation and commentary on the Manyöshü ;6
Roman numerals followed by a dash and a number indicate the book and the numb
of the poem within the book; the number after the slash (/) is the consecutive nu
of the poem. I have changed Pierson' s v' s to p's.

Compound Kanji Glos s Location

kami-yo # -tfr time of the gods VI- 161/1 067 (6);
VI-1 1/917 (24)
pi-siri 0 £o Sun-Knower (Zimmu 1-28/29 (7)
iso-tutuzi & ÉJ rock azalia 11-91/185(7)
asa-tuyu ^ morning dew 11-118/217(13)
tuki-kusa IJ( ^ spiderwort X-470/2281 (15)
pata-mono JS. -1- $0 weaving loom VII-23 1/1298 (17)
ugupisu JĻ tb nightingale V-32/824(18)
napa-siro ^ bed for young plants IV-293/776 (24)
Tukupa-ne & áfc 4Ä Tukupa peaks IX-91/1754 (34)
asa-tori morning bird II- 1 08/ 1 96 (34)
Kose-di Ē # at Kose road 1-49/50 (36)
nagu-ya # flf casting-arrow XIII- 125/3345 (37)
pigurasi 0 it fL cicada X- 17 1/1 982 (40)
pito-me A S men's eyes XI-256/2606 (41)

63 Pierson, loc. cit., 13.

<*Ibid.t 15.
65 J. Pierson, The Manyöshü: Translated and Annotated. Leiden 1929.

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Compound Kanji Gloss Location

sidu-pata X hempen cloth 111-193/431 (41)
sidu-tamaki X ^ Ž& mean armlet of beads IX- 146/ 1809
nuru-yo qg night in which I slept 1-53/66 (44)
sori-gupi #J ^ beard stubble XVI-61/3846 (46)

yoso-me ^ @ stranger's eyes XII-43/2883 (50)

aki-kaze JĶ autumn wind X-292/2103; XI-
374/2724 (61)
yupa-nagi £ % evening calm VI- 156/1 062 (64)
puna-de ft ļ£ļ ; $g- & boat outing 1-38 (65); X-21 1/2022
miya-de -g jļļ frequenting the palace 11-81/175(65)
mi-kumari-yama 7X X'J iL Water-Divider Mt VII-63/1 130 (67)
adusa-yumi # =7 catalpa bow XI-480/2830 (69); XI-
155/2505 (363)
tamadusa S # catalpa wood II-l 1 1/207 (363)
nari-pazu & ^!j Pf sounding-notch 1-3 (70; 1 60; 234)
a-ura Ä ¿ foot-divination IV-25 3/736 (87)
miti-yuki 3& ii passer-by XI- 157/2507 (88)
tuku-yo fi fe moonlight IV-253/730 (88)
yupu-ke ¿T evening-divination IV-253/730 (88)
ipa-ne # fâ. rock-top II-2/86 (89)
kuni-para [§3 !Ķ country field 1-2 (90)
kapa-yodo Jl| ^ 0 riverpool 111-88/325(91)
kaperu-mi ^ JL backglance 1-47/48 (93)
kaputi-me yST ~k women of Kaputi VII-249/1316 (94)
Kata-woka ft $ Kata Hill VII-32/1099 (105)
kita-yama -fsf ^ ÜJ northern hills II-69(b)/161 (105)
koromo-te ^ sleeve 1-12(108)
Kara-kuni # ® Kara-land XIX- 102/4240 (108)
potu-ye jķ. fá. upper branch XIII-87/3307 (108)
Asukakaze M M, Asukawind 1-50/51(111)
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Compound Kanji Gloss Location

awa-yuki ifc # sleet VIII-231/1648 (111-
adi mura efc # ± flock of teal III-2 1/257 (113)
waka-me % %L seaweed XVI-86/3871 (1 14)
umase íâ horse fence XII-256/3096 (115)
yobu-ko-tori "f- % bird calling its young 1-57/70 (115)
sato-wosa 3L "t ~ -R: village headman V-100/892 (115)
ne-yado & M bedroom V-100/892 (115)
kata-mopi A4? one-sided love IV-53/536 (115)
aki-yagi Řk autumn-yagi (plant) 11-34/120(117)
pane-kadura ÍŇ. M. flower garland XI-277/2627 (117)
aki-zikori ê 1Ř- M. silk I have bought VII- 197/1 264 (121)
kuso-puna MM fish in dirty place XVI-43/3828 (122)
me-yatuko -ļc jft. female laborer XVI-43/3828 (122)
maso-kagami JtiÍL very pure mirror XIII- 1 04/3324 ( 1 24)
ya-saka AX eight feet (long) XIII-56/3276 (125)
kusa-puka-yori ^ él %>} lilly in deep grass VII-190/1257 (125)
midu-pana jtfa fa beginning of a flood XIX-79/4217 (128)
ko-tumi fa $1 heaped up sticks XI-374/2724 (539)
sima-mi ft 0 island-curve 1-41 (129)
kuma-mi R" g] bend in the road 11-29/115(129)
ma-kadi ' ^ both oars XIII- 12/3232 (130)
sono-pu 0 flower garden X-467/2278 (130)
koto-age ^ & prayer XIII-33/3253 (135)
sidari-yanagi # #P weeping willow X-41/1852;X-
oru-pata M. woven on a loom X-2 17/2028 (138)
pani-pu JtjL clothes colored with 1-56/69 ( 1 39)
red-yellow earth
saki-mori # cape-guard . XVI-8 1/3866 (139)
kata-sipo g- jg_ hard salt V-100/892 (139)
katuwo g M hard dried fish IX-77/ 1740 (140)

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Compound Kaqji Gloss Location

Siragi-wono ļļ ft Siragi ax XVI-93/3878 (144)
sumi-napa ļ #ļ| inked line V- 102/894 (145)
miya-bi-wo ig i courtier 11-40/126 (147); VI-
natu-kage X ^ summer shade VII-21 1/1278 (149)
natu-yase %_ losing flesh in XVI-68/3853 (149)

yupu-miya & "g" evening palace 11-108/196(149)

pito-me A @ people's eyes XI-9/2359 (151)
yo-miti £ at night road XI-240/2590 (152)
ipa-ne ^ # hard rocks XI-240/2590 (152)
tuku-yo ft moon night 1-15(152)
yupe-ke ^ evening divination XI-336/2686 (153)
satu-ya ^ hunting arrow 1-66 ( 1 54)
nipa-tadumi 0 iL ^ water pools in a VII-303/ 1370 (154)
satu-wo iü ¿i huntsman X-336/2147 (154)
amori descended from 111-21/257(155)

sagu-me investigation- woman 111-55/292(161)

Patuse-me :j£i :M, -ķ: girls from Patuse VI-6/9 12 (161)
me-gaki ^1(1, female hungry devils XVI-55/3840 (161)
wo-gaki j? it male hungry devils XVI-55/3840 (806)
saka-ya 7Ē M sake brewery XVI-94/3879 (162)
toki-naki tìp unseasonableness 1-25 (164)
ma-naki fsļ $£ timelessness 1-25(164)
tabi-ne % fé journey-sleep XIII-52/3272 (164);
IV- 17/500 (182)
aki-yama $(. ill autumn hills 11-20/106(165)
tuma-ya JŘ spousal bedroom 111-241/481 (167)
tuki-kusa ft Ķ moonflower IV- 100/583 (177)
asa-simo 4f| morning frost VII-308/ 1375 (177)
nu-mori ff field- watcher 1-20(178)

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Compound Kanji Gloss Location

kamu-sabi # ÍĚ divine appearance 1-51(181)
ipa-ya ^ % rock-dwelling 111-118/355 (182)
tadu-mura flock of cranes IX-1 28/1 791 (182)
ive-di S& house-road IV- 148/631 (183)
umi-di fé 3& sea-road XIII- 1 1 9/3339 (705-6)
varu-vi 0 spring day IV- 157/640 (183)
miya-di t palace road VII-213/1280 (184)
miya-bi JĶ court elegance IV-238/721 (185)
aki-ta ft B autumn field X-289/2100 (186)
asa-i fé morning sleep X- 138/1 949 (186)
tono-wi fé night watch 11-80/174(187)
aka-toki £$£ morning hours VI-94/1000 (328); VI-
tera- wi # # temple well XIX-5/4 1 43 ( 1 9 1 )
i-me Jtf @ group of archers VI-20/926 (192)
mi- wo 7jc PL water course VII-4 1/1 108 (198)
kumo-wi ff clouds 1-51/52(200)

The possible combinations of elements f

stated, with examples by Sansom,66 and con
verbal roots in various orders. Thus, puna
michi "shortcut" (adj. + noun), mekura "bli
mono "textiles" (literally, "weaving-thing",
boarding, noun + verb), etc. In the above l
presented: for example, verb + noun in sid
"to hang down"), oru-pata "loom" (< orim
woman (sent to the earth to spy on rival go
noun + verb: pi-siri "sun-knower" (< "sun"
miya-de "frequenting the palace", a-ura "fo
Instances of vowel syncope are: katuwo "h
dusa "fine catalpa wood" (< tama + adusa). T
as kapara "riverland" < kapa + para67 and sy
Manchu above (sifulu < sike + fulhu): i-m

66 G. Sansom, An Historical Grammar of Japan

67 J. Pierson, Character Dictionary , VI-7/913,

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arrows" + mure "group"

Water-Divider" (both < m
Old Japanese shares wit
therefore the necessity to
form: me-yatuko "female
etc. (cf. for Old Japanese, S
wolf', matching Latin lup
To this may be added the
taic languages, does not dis
ing the suggestion of E.
adjectives were not suffix
metal", that is, "silver", no
Island", Kogawa "Small R
In the writing system
sometimes to represent an
render a syllable of a wor
advantage over the writin
very little evidence of wh
Manyöshü is in verse, the u
of one line and the begin
treated metrically as one
cation that genuine comp
when a word with vocal auslaut was combined with a word with vocalic anlaut. For
example, "blacksmith" is kanuti (literally, "metal beating" < kane "metal" + uti
"beating"),, payamadukapi ( Kojiki 306) "messenger" < paya "swift" + uma "horse"
+ tukapi "envoy".71 From the examples, it can be seen that either the first or the
second vowel may be syncopated. Other phonological changes indicating compound-
ing are ë > a (më "eye" + to "door" > mado "window"), -ï- > -ö-/-u- (kï- "tree" >
kökö "tree hair, that is, hanging moss", kamï "god" > kamunusi "god-master, that
is, abbot").72 For these reasons we are more confident than in other Altaic languages
about whether two words form a single unit without a pause between the compo-
nents. Martin73 assumes that peceding this early attested period, in Proto- Japanese,
"those compound nouns that were made up of two free elements were probably
pronounced with a juncture between the elements, i.e., said as two words." To sup-
port this claim, Martin observes that the Myõgi-shõ "often attests as two words, with
inferred juncture, what was later treated as a compound".74 This preservation of
juncture between the two elements in Proto- Japanese matches well with what is

68 N. Syromiatnikov, The Ancient Japanese Language . Moscow 1981, 70.

69 Loc. cit. ,7 3-4.
70 Loc. cit. 51.
71 Ibid.
72 Loc.cit., 50-51.
73 S. Martin, The Japanese Language Through Time. New Haven 1987, 367.
74 Ibid.

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attested in the earliest Altaic languages, in which two contiguous nouns rarely form
single accentual unit.
Syromiatnikov75 notes that in Old Japanese, simple nouns had no word-
forming suffixes. I would submit that this poverty in derivational suffixes is
reason why the language was rich in compounds. (See more below in the Conc
sion.) In any event, the vast majority of the compounds in the above sample a
endocentric (transparent), a fact that accords with the general Altaic pattern at
oldest layers. Some exocentric (opaque) compounds occur, and in greater numbe
than in the rest of Altaic: sori-gupi "beard stubble" (literally, "cut post"), koto-a
"prayer" (< koto "thing, matter, affair" + age "raising"), kumo-wi "clouds" (< ku
mo "cloud" + wi "seat"), and from Syromiatnikov:76 pi-ziri "ruler, sage" (literal
"the sun-knowing"), kanuti "blacksmith" (< "metal-beating"), utagë "drink
party" (literally, "hand-clapping"), mï-nasi-go "orphan" (< "without-body-child
abumi "stirrup" (< asi-pumi, literally, "foot-stamping").


At this juncture it may prove fruitful to take a closer look at the definition of com-
pound. Scholars working in the various Altaic languages have analyzed compound
mostly from the semantic point of view. They categorize compounds according
the meanings of their components: synonym + synonym, pairs of antonyms, pairs of
rhyming words.77 The approach taken here, however, leans more heavily on stru
turalism. In this vein, Street78 has pointed out that even from a structuralist point o
view, the concept of compound (which he terms "semi-compounds") is slippery: "
is difficult to give a real definition of semi-compounds: there is no sharp dividin
line between true compound stems, semi-compounds, idioms, and normal syntact
constructions... Formally, such semi-compounds fall somewhere between morph
ogy and syntax; semantically, somewhere between idioms and non-idiomatic coll
cations".79 In fact, compounds are best understood as a point along a spectrum o
nominal expressions, stretching from the single noun to compounds to syntagm
(word groups that are syntactically interchangeable with words [single or compound]
as elements in the clause or sentence).80 It should be noted that some authors use the

75 Ancient Japanese , 50, 69.

76 Loc. cit., 50-52.
77 Cf., for example, the treatments in C. Brockelmann, Osttürkische Grammatik, 144-149;
A. von Gabain, Alttürkische Grammatik, 159, 161; A. Kononov, Grammatika jazyka tjurkskikh ru
ničeskikh pamjatnikov , 99-103; N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian, 117-8, 120-1;
Xiru, Mēngu, 53-7; M. Erdal, Old Turkic Word Formation, 36; K. Röhrborn, Uigurisches Wört
buch, 5-6.
78 J. Street, Kalkha Structure. Bloomington 1962, 108 (Uralic and Altaic Series 24).
79 Cf. C. Brockelmann, Osttürkische Grammatik , 143-144.
80 W. Dobson, Late Archaic Chinese: A Grammatical Study. Toronto 1959, 18; cf. Dobro
volsky, Toward a Lexical Phonology of Chuvash Inflection as Derivation. In: The Non-Sla
Languages of the USSR: Linguistic Studies. Second Series. Chicago 1992, 102-111, for a
discussion of these issues in connection with Chuvash.

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term "binóme",81 a designa

a way that each word rema
with the other word. The o
pound and not a nominal
two nouns are treated as
languages, provides the cle
as a single word; vocalic s
shõ which mark accentua
guages are ambiguous in s
unified,82 even to the ex
lian,83 and sometimes lin
raphy is not a sure guide
whether spoken or written
mine that words written
House (as opposed to a w
expressions "phrasal Compo
syntactical, not morpholo
sentence level, not the w
help reconstruct an earlie
criterion of compounds: on

From the data collected a

1 . Genuine compounds
rare in the oldest attested
compounds, of which a m
tériš "the one who gathe
the tribes"; and eltäbär "o
Conte bouddhique du mau
Secret History of the Mong
while Twelve Deeds of th
the Nišan Shamanness ha
teen.The sole exception to
there are good reasons fo
not single units but rather

81 M. Erdal, Old Turkic Wor

82 Cf. C. Brockelmann, Osttü
83 N. Poppe, Grammar of Wr
84 E. Haenisch, Mandschu-g
(Lehrbücher für das Studium d
85 C. Hockett, A Course in
8^N. Poppe, Grammar of W
N. Syromiatnikov, Ancient J
Trans, by J. Krueger. Bloomi

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attest compounds as two words). Schmidt87 for Mongolian and Ramstedt88 for A
in general, had already noted this paucity of compounds. What Altaic does a
these ancient texts is syntagma composed of two, more rarely three or more, n
These nominal phrases (syntagma) can be endocentric, in other words, the
which is always the second, or last, noun, occurs within the compound. T
compounds are transparent, that is, their total meaning is clearly derivable from
constituents. In exocentric compounds the head is outside the compou
consequently the meaning cannot be derived from the constituents (presumably,
is what Street meant by "idioms"). In all compounds the typical OV word o
Altaic languages is shown in the pattern of the modifier preceding the h
examination of the lists collected above suggests that we are dealing with n
phrases and the occasional idiom.
2. Although the early Altaic languages are poor in compounds (or bet
nominal phrases), over time they have all developed huge inventories of com
as a perusal of the modern dictionaries will demonstrate.89 Two contiguous l
families, Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan, have followed a parallel track in
regard. Lehmann90 points out that compounds were relatively rarer in the oldes
(although certainly not a "virtual absence" in Hittite);91 a condition that he
back into Proto- and Pre-Indo-European. For Chinese, Dobson92 states that
sample of Late Archaic Chinese (fourth and third centuries BC), the "propor
compound words to single or free words... was never higher than three per
but rises perceptively in Han usage (second cent. B.C. - second cent. A.D.),
very much higher in Modern Chinese." In fact, the great Qing Dynasty dictiona
compound nouns (the Lián mián cídiàn )93 for Chinese of all periods runs to
volumes. Lessing94 thinks that the Buddhist terminology in Mongolian actually
closer semantic and structural affinity to Tibetan than to Sanskrit. In Ti
compounding is the principle means of word building and compound nouns form
largest group of substantives.95 There are at least three reasons for this rapid g
in compounds.
First of all, compounds have to be seen in the context of derivation, of which
they form a part, along with the other major means of creating new words: affixation,
loanwords, loan translations (caiques), and blends (like Manchu sifulu < sike +
fulhu, discussed above). The derivational affixes of the early Altaic languages

87 I. Schmidt, Grammatik der mongolischen Sprache. St Petersburg 1831, 21 §33.

88 G. Ramstedt, A Korean Grammar . Oosterhout 1968, 179 (Suomalais-ugrilaisen Seu-
ran 81).
89 For Mongolian, for example, cf. N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 120.
90 W. Lehmann, Theoretical Bases of Indo-European Linguistics , 256.
91 Cf. J. Tischler, Hetitische Nominalkomposition. Innsbruck 1982, 214-25 (Innsbrucker
Beiträge zur Kulturwissenschaft 50) for an extensive list.
92 W. Dobson, Late Archaic Chinese: A Grammatical Study , 6.
93 Fu Ting-i, Lien Mien Tzu (Lian Mian Zi Dian). Beijing 1943.
94 F. Lessing (ed.), Mongolian- English Dictionary , 1 158.
95 Y. Parfionovich, The Written Tibetan Language. Moscow 1982, 58, 69.

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formed a rich resource: Er

volumes; Sinor97 says th
Poppe's Grammar of Wri
derivational affixes (40-
way of derivation is mo
affixes precluded in many
sive compounds Ç bahuv
European, could be expre
Mongolian, mori-tai "hav
such as Sanskrit madhv-á
for example, Mongolian
Ksānti-vādin).100 Furthe
that the derivational sys
As a corollary to the assumption that in Altaic the need to use compounding as
a means of derivation was lessened by the fertile system of affixes, I would submit
that in Old Japanese, compounding is better established precisely because the noun
had no word-forming suffixes,101 aside from -sa (forming directions from a few
nouns: tatasa "straight up", yökösa "sideways", Manyöshü 4132).
The second reason compounding expanded in Altaic, despite the survival of a
complex, rich derivational system, was that three adjacent languages, all well en-
dowed with compounds, provided the models for compounding, along with the
loanwords and caiques that flooded in. Two ancient Iranian languages bordered
Turkic: Pahlavi (Middle Persian) and Sogdian, both rich in compounds.102 Sogdian
was for six hundred years a lingua franca (to use Pellioťs term) in Central Asia,
between the fourth and tenth centuries. Karl Krippes103 has summarized the long
contacts between Sogdians and Mongolians and especially Turks: the sixth-century
Turco-Sogdian military campaign against the Hephthalites; as early as the first half
of the seventh century a colony consisting of four Sogdian villages had been estab-
lished south of Lob Nor;104 "six Sogdian prefectures of the Ordos region served as a
buffer between China and the Turks in 679 AD" (the hu barbarians of Chinese
chronicles;105 by 874 AD Sogdians had been incorporated into the Three Tribes of

96 M. Erdal, Old Turkic Word Formation.

97 D. Sinor, La langue mandjoue, and cf. the list in E. Haenisch, Mandschou-grammatik ,
98 E. Nadzhip, Modern Uighur. Moscow 1971, 40.
99 N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 44.
loo n. Poppe, Twelve Deeds of Buddha, 221.
101 N. Syromiatnikov, Ancient Japanese, 50, 69-70.
102 For Pahlavi, cf. D. MacKenzie, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. London 1971, and
Sogdian, cf. I. Gershevitch, Sogdian Compounds, Transactions of the Philological Society ,
103 K. Krippes, Sociolinguistic Notes on the Turkification of the Sogdians. CAJ X
104 Ibid., 69.
10* Ibid., 70.

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Sha-ťo, with the Chinese noting intermarriage between Turks and Sogdians with
term za-hu "half-breeds" (also used of Sogdian merchants under Uighur prote
the eighth-century alliance of Sogdians and Uighurs who plundered Khotan
Kansu and the partial sedentarization of the Uighurs under Sogdian influence; also
the eighth century, the Kol Tegin inscription describing barčakar "emigré
Sogdian *prcykr)ì refugees from Bukhara, who would flee yet again to Penjikent
thence to the Türkíi;106 Sogdian artists were employed in Eastern Turkestan
ninth century. Of linguistic relevance is the fact that Sogdian was used as a
franca in Central Asia and Eastern Turkestan from the fourth century, possibly
the second, with bilingual Sogdian and Turkic (Orkhon and Uighur) inscrip
attesting to the equal political status of these languages in the eighth and
centuries;107 Manichaean, Christian and Buddhist Sogdian texts from the eig
the eleventh centuries, along with loanwords in Uighur and Mongolian, show
cultural importance of this Iranian language over a vast area of Centra
Furthermore, with the gradual demise of the Sogdian language and the turkificat
of its people, the West Iranian languages of Farsi and Dari became promine
Central Asia as the vehicles of Islam.108 Even with this sketchy summary of Iran
Turkic-Mongolian history it is evident that these peoples and their lang
experienced prolonged and intimate contact, leaving as their mark the use o
Sogdian alphabet, in modified form, as the writing system adopted by both Uigh
(who depended on Sogdian scribes and administrators) and Mongols (and even
by the Manchus).
Especially pertinent for our study are the "open compounds" of Sogd
term coined by W. B. Henning and defined as "a collocation of a group of words,
proaching the status of a compound, without having reached its stability", ex
of which are Spyry'h ptyrnyy "opposed to writing"; zßnd pc'w'kryy "causin
comrades to quarrel"; prôyztjmncyq w'r "watering at the time suitable for orchar
mrc ßnd'm yw'nkryh "a death-sentence sinner, a sinner punishable with deat
These Sogdian expressions recall the Mongolian phrases, cited above, which r
original Sanksrit compounds.
With the advance of Islam, Persian, in addition to Arabic, greatly influ
Turkic generally. In Modern Uighur more than half the vocabulary is compo
foreign words, and compound words are formed mainly from Arabic elemen
Gabain1 1 1 gives the example of the abstract compound burxan quťí "Buddhascha
which she compares to Tokharian A puttisparäm "dignitas Buddhae" < Skt Bu
and is plus Tokharian paräm "dignitas"112 and Sogdian pwt'n'k.
Another wave of influence on Turkic came from Russian. Not unlike Altaic
itself, Russian, and Slavic generally, was at its earliest stages poor in compounds,

106 Ibid., 72.

»07 ibid., 73.
K>8 Ibid., 76.
109 I. Gershevitch, Sogdian Compounds , 148-149.
110 E. Nadzhip, Modern Uighur , 31-32.
1 1 1 A. von Gabain, Alttürkische Grammatik , 397 fn 49.
1 12 P. Poucha, Thesaurus Linguae Tocharicae Dialecti A. Prague 1955, s.v. paräm.

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although all the major ty

centuries only 15% of the
obvious borrowings or ca
loss of final -ü in the tent
plus deverbative entered t
nineteenth century that co
loan translations from Ger
ogy ( Dampfschiff > paro
Dampfturbine > paroturb
long to one of two produ
věd "linguist", ledokól "ic
2) abbreviations of noun
< Beloe More ).116 Parent
has "a richly productiv
guages.117 This influence o
vocabularly. Russian can
through contact with Irani
communist revolution, Ru
siderable, especially in the
As shown above, Sanskrit
had much earlier had only
Needless to say, an extinc
the contributions made by

In the east, Chinese played an analogous role with Korean and Japanese, bot
of which langauges absorbed, in addition to the writing system, vast quantities
vocabulary (in the case of Korean, about 50% of its total vocabulary). Gabain118
wonders if an tony mie compounds forming abstracts are built on Chinese models (-R
chángduãn "length" < "long" + "short"). Modern Uighur, being split between
two empires, has developed a dual modern vocabularly, one Russian and one Ch
nese.119 Despite its late attestation and long intimacy with Chinese, Manchu stil
presents a picture not much different than Old Turkic and Classical Mongolian: some
nominal phrases, but mostly relying on derivational affixation, which has remain

1 13 A. Meillet, Le slave commun. Paris 1965, 374.

1 14 D. Kollar, K isorii slovarnogo sostava russkogo jazyka. Československá Rusistika XI:4
(1966) 193-194.
115 V. Kiparsky, Russische Historische Grammatik 111: Entwicklung des Wortschatzes
1975. Heidelberg 1975, 350.
n * Ibid., 348.
117 K. Heltberg, Studies on Slavic Derivation. Odense 1970, 1 1 (Odense University Slavic
Studies I).
118 A. von Gabain, Alttürkische Grammatik , 161.
119 Cf. E. Nadzhip, Modem Uighur , 37.

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The third reason compounding expanded in Altaic was the increasing

plexity of life, both material and abstract, which put an enormous burden o
derivational system. This was first commented on nearly a century ago by Jagič.
Compounding, loanwords and caiques were more and more called upon to coi
words for the products of technology, new fields of learning such as medici
the sciences, and for, on the one hand, Islamic culture, and on the other, Eur
ization. It has probably always been the pattern in human history to borro
relevant word along with the new cultural item rather inventing a new word
native stock, unless induced to do so for nationalistic reasons. In the simpler time
steppe life, the Altaic languages made most use of their derivational affixes for t
needs, as for example in the highly specific and complex vocabulary connecte
identifying horses in all their sizes and shapes and stages of development
Mongolian širayčin "yellow [cow, etc.]" < šir-a "yellow"; jayayčin "brown w
dark strip on the spine (of a female animal)" < jayal "brown with a dark spot
spine (of a male)", ölögcin "bitch" < ölö "gray").121
3. In all the ancient Altaic languages, the nominal compounds, except
Buddhist terminology, are almost exclusively concrete, many being compo
names of materials such as wood, iron, grass, stone, mud and the like. There
shortage of abstract words attested, but they tend to be overwhelmingly
words: Manchu/Jurcen huturi "happiness, good fortune", Jurčen nusi "harm
Uighur ada "danger, peril", ark "strength, force", al "means, ruse, strategem"
"beauty, appearance", tusu "profit, interest, utility", etc.
Early Altaic compounds are predominantly transparent. In this connection i
interesting to note that Hockett122 believes the stress in English phrasal compou
merely marks idiomaticity. In the Altaic compounds gathered here, idiomati
rare, and correspondingly, the constituent words, it seems to me, maintain an in
pendence of accent. Idiomaticity is shown by other means, such as the izafe
struction, for example in Chuvash.123
4. 1 imagine Proto-Altaic as language with not only a well-developed de
tional system, but also a system of sentence structure in which the relationsh
tween words is indicated primarily by syntactic position, essentially parat
(elements joined without conjunctions) and hypotaxis (modifier preceding the
fied), accompanied by particles. Bazin124 paints a similar picture for Turkic,
that these languages possess almost exclusively a syntax of position, and that syn
tic processes which complement those of position are secondary and less num
among them the third person singular "possessive" suffix -(s)i.125 In all the

120 V. Jagič, Die slavischen Composita in ihrem sprachgeschichtlichen Auftreten. A

für Slavische Philologie XX (1898) 519; cf. also K. Heltberg, Studies on Slavic Derivation ,
121 N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 41 §120.
122 C. Hockett, A Course in Modern Linguistics , 317.
123 M . Dobrovolsky, Toward a Lexical Phonology of Chuvash Inflection as Derivationy
124 L. Bazin, Structure et tendences communes des langues turques (Sprachbau
Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta /. Ed. by J. Denys, K. Gr0nbech, H. Scheel, Z. Togan
baden 1968, 18.
125 K. Gr0nbech, Structure of the Turkic Languages, 84-85.

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languages the noun has th

may be made more def
chu.128 This lack of distinction between the nominative and accusative has led
Finch129 to prefer Deny' s term "absolute case". Furthermore in Old Japanese, case
suffixes were often optional.130 When one examines some sentences in the Orkhon
inscriptions, it is indeed remarkable to see how little morphology is contained in
even long concatenations of nouns (including numerals as nouns):

tabyač atlïy süsi bir tümän artuql yeti big siig ilki kün ölürtüm (BK SI )
Chinese horseman army-its one myriad excess-its seven thousand troops-ACC
first day I-killed
"On the first day I killed 17,000 Chinese cavalrymen."

Two -i/-ï third person singular possessive suffixes are used to group nouns and a
final accusative suffix (-g) is added to the end of the string, with no inflection on the
adverbial phrase.
In fact, one is struck by the fact that in early texts such as the Orkhon inscrip-
tions and the Secret History of the Mongols , nouns have few modifiers and, further,
subjects are only explicit expressions for the subjective elements in verb forms, that
is, subjects are only included when a specific meaning was to be expressed, thus
leading to the conclusion that apposition was a basic charactetistic of Proto-Altaic
syntax.131 This appositional characteristic is supported by the looseness of Altaic
noun + noun combinations: in the majority of cases the two nouns do not form an
accentual unit and the constituent members retain their individual meaning, with the
first noun modifying in some general way the second noun. Furthermore, the
dvandva compounds in Altaic point to poorly developed coordination constructions
in the proto-language. In this regard, it is interesting that even in compounds denot-
ing the teens, there is no reconstructible system. Even for two such closely related
dialects as Žiirčen and Manchu the order is opposed: Žiirčen unit + ten (*omso
"eleven", *žir-xuan "twelve", *yuor-xuan "thirteen", etc.)132 vs. Manchu ten + unit
(juwan emu "eleven", juwan juwe "twelve", juwan ilan "thirteen", etc.),133 but
they agree for the number fifteen: *to-bu-xuan and tofohon, respectively. Old
Turkic and Modern Turkish contrast, too: Yeniseian (Old Kirghiz) yeti: yegirmi

»26 Ibid., 158.

127 N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 147, 149-150.
128 E. Haenisch, Mandschu-grammatik, 41.
129 R. Finch, Particles Used With the 'Absolute Case' in the Altaic Languages. Journal of
Turkish Linguistics (Tiirklük Bilgisi Arafirmalari) X (1985) 28.
130 N. Syromiatnikov, Ancient Japanese , 94-95.
131 Cf. W. P. Lehmann, Proto-Indo-European Syntax. Austin 1974, 85-86, for similar
conclusion about PIE.
132 R. Miller, Notes on the Žiirčen Numerals for the Teens. UAJb XLVII (1975) 146ff.
133 E. Haenisch, Mandschu-grammatik , 44-45.

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"seventeen",134 Orkhon ekl yegirmi "twelve", Turkish on yedi "seventeen"

Mongolian arban nigen "eleven" (10 + 1), decade + unit,135 with the older l
guages using compounds consisting of unit + the next decade. Leaving aside
question of influence from neighboring languages such as Ket (teens = unit + ten)
the experience of reconstructing numbers in IE is instructive: even with its wealt
ancient texts, only the numbers one to five can be confidently reconstructed for
early proto-language, and to ten for a later stage of PIE, with the former ba
deixis.137 It is, therefore, no wonder that efforts to reconcile the system of hig
numbers is so complicated.
What have traditionally been called "cases" in Altaic are suffixes which r
to words syntacically rather than grammatically. This can be seen from the fact
first of all, the suffix may be attached only to the last noun in a series, as the ac
tive in the Old Turkic example above. This is very similar to the English gen
's/s' in such phrases as The King of Spain's hat , or the so-called "nominative
of Tibetan in the phrase: dpung-sde'i 'thab-'dzin-pa-tsho dang las-mi-tsho-
soldiers of armed units and working people", where the -s case particle is attache
the entire phrase.138 Furthermore, a "nominative" or "accusative" case suffix can
be reconstructed for Altaic since the daughter languages agree in having a zer
ing when a noun is subject or object. What is called the "accusative" is real
suffix, or perhaps originally a particle, designating definiteness. This indicate
the meaning of the suffix was originally lexical, not grammatical; that it pe
originally meant something deictic like "that one" or perhaps "object, thing"
as the IE -s "an individual" later became a topicalizer and eventually nominativ
As Finch140 puts it: "In certain usages, the lack of overt case marker suggests tha
noun is indefinite , but this is the domain of determiners, not of case."
Since Altaic languages are now and it would seem, have always been O
postpositions follow their head, with or without a case ending. This fact mean
postpositions can become confused with case endings or that case endings h
evolved from postpositions.141 The same applies to particles, which in OV lan
follow their head. With both postpositions and postposed particles, the attachmen
the noun is loose, and, as Greenberg remarked, these combinations may be sem
systems rather than morphological.142 It is also true that the "absolute
(unmarked nominative or accusative) "can take a wide variety of particles... th
indicate additional functions, including definite and indefinite functions, indeter

134 G. Clauson, An Etymological Dictionary of P re-Thirteenth-Century Turkish. O

1972, 915, s.v. Tris. YGR.
135 N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian , 53 §194.
136 Cf. E. Krejnovich, Ketskij Jazyk. In: Jazyki Azii i Afriki III: Jazyki drevnej per
Azii. Moscow 1979, 336.
137 W. P. Lehmann, Theoretical Bases , 254.
138 Y. Parfionovich, Written Tibetan Language , 72-73.
139 Cf. W. P. Lehmann, Theoretical Bases , 151.
140 R. Finch, Particles Used With the 'Absolute Case' in Altaic, 28.
141 Ibid ., 28.
142 Ibid ., 27-28.

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126 R. L. FISHER

nate, anaphoric, emphatic (

emotive, and conjunctive stat
The great value of compo
stage of Altaic in which pos
ship between words. Accord
isolating language than the e
for Indo-European, also base
is a relic from a time when
unlike certain tendencies in
expressed the idea pure and
relations... the primitive co
language; when more synth
former type assumed the f
juxtaposed elements and n
observation dovetails with H
words are related syntactic
position. The same tendency f
has been noted by Syromia
N[ew]J[apanese] and Classica
the centuries the percentag
affixed has been steadily in
back to Proto-Altaic, it is n
implies that possession was
preceding the possessed (for
"rites of the family"). Th
postpositions and particle
meaning and adopted the char
the adjective was far commo
the smithy", literally, "in t
home", literally "in the Ody
ally, "Jovian priest"; ex maer
paternal grief'; and innume
structions originated from ea
such as Skt râja-pútra "ki
Werwolf ' with a yet older
structions like "man son-hi

143 Ibid., 29; cf. N. Poppe, Gra

these particles in Mongolian.
144 J. Puhvel, Indo-European
145 C. Hockett, A Course in Mo
146 N. Syrmiatnikov, Ancient J
147 J. Wackernagel, Genetiv
Ferdinand de Saussure. Paris 1908

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vant blood-their").148 The possessive construction in the most ancient stage o

("man son-his") is the same construction that appears in Turkic, but the ear
Altaic construction is simple juxtaposition, a stage reflected in IE by compound
both Altaic and IE, the genitive case is a later development.
Finally, Nichols149 in her study of the seventy language families in Eur
and North America, records an interesting correlation between two typologies: on
one hand, stative/active, accusative, and ergative, and on the other, isolating, h
marking, dependent-marking, and split-marking. Her Table IO150 shows that "isola
ing and near-isolating languages are accusative (to the extent one can judge su
alignment in the absence of morphology)",151 and "alignment limits morpholo
the isolating languages, which can only be accusative".152
Although a vast amount of careful research awaits the attention of Altaic
and many points remain highly speculative, one has cause to wonder about ano
question raised by compounds. Alluded to above were the paucity of possessi
(bahuvrīhi) compounds and the possibility that this results from the availabil
appurtenance suffixes such as Mongolian -tai and Turkic -lïy/-lig/-luy/-lûg a
atlïy "having a horse, horseman".153 Bahuvrīhi compounds reflect the clause
struction still preserved in Latin mihi est "I have [something]" (and Russian y MeH
All the Altaic languages share this construction, for example, Orkhon qutum
ücün "since I had good luck" (KT E29),154 Mongolian nadur morin bui "I hav
horse",155 with the locative in Evenki (Lamut),156 and similar expressions in K
(na-ege mal-i issda "I have a horse") and Japanese. The verb "have" is typical
accusative languages, while the mihi est construction (and by extension, bahu
compounds) is characteristic of active/stative languages.157 It is difficult to interp
these contradictory data, but one might tentatively conjecture that at the stag
Altaic most securely reconstructible, the proto-language was accusative, yet w
inklings that at some earlier stage it was active/stative. This would be in accor
with other active/stative features of Altaic, if they can be firmly reconstructed for
proto-language, such as inclusive/exclusive pronouns for the first person plural, lit
inflection but rich derivation, weakly developed plural, inflection for aspect r
than tense, and if it is a later developement in the proto-language, the lack

148 T. Gamkrelidze-V. Ivanov, Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans. Berlin-New Y

1995, 241-242. However, J. Puhvel (private communication), contrary to Gamkrelidze-Ivan
thinks such expressions are "not IE, nor am I sure that Sumerian would be a model. It is o
many 'areal' syntactic peculiarities that include 'solecism', partitive apposition (o/fļļia), an
type kuin-an imma kuin ERÍN.MEŠ 'whatever soldiery'."
149 J. Nichols, Some Preconditions and Typological Traits of the Stative-Active Lang
Type. In: W. P. Lehmann (ed.), Language Typology 1987. Amsterdam 1991.
» M Ibid., 109.
»51 /¿id, 98.
»52 Ibid., 99.
153 T. Tekin, Orkhon Turkic , 105-106.
»54 Loc. cit., 235.
155 N. Poppe, Grammar of Written Mongolian, 147.
156 J. Benzing, Lamutische Grammatik, 60 § 121b.
157 W. P. Lehmann, Theoretical Bases, 90.

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search, but in the meant
thoughts dally with false s


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