The Fall of Škaljić

I may have to take back my previous praise for Abdulah Škaljić and his “Turcizmi u Srbskohrvatskom Jeziku”. Firstly, he ascribes Arab origins to the word “Turk”, when the word predates Turkic contact with Arabs.

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Perhaps his confusion stemmed from the fact that the Arabic plural of “ترك” (turk) is “أتراك” (atraak), which is a plural which utilises a form based on a “root” of “t-r-k”, compared to, for example, “Sarajevans” (سراييفويون/sarayyafuuyuun), which marks the plural with a simple suffix. Of course, by this logic, not only do we have to assume an Arabic origin for “Turk” “Kurd” (due to “أكراد/akraad”), but also for “film” (due to “أفلام/aflaam”).

But at least that was just a case of getting his etymology backward. Elsewhere in the same dictionary, Škaljić ascribes an “Oriental” origin to “višnja”:

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In fact, this is one of the most Slavic words to be found in “Russisches etymologisches Wörterbuch von Max Vasmer” (which as I point out here, is not shy about ascribing “Oriental” origins to European words):

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And in doing so, not only gets backward the reality that the Slavs loaned the Turks this word (it is also used in most Turkic varieties as a loan from Russian), but also claims that the Turks borrowed it from Persian. The word he describes ought to be spelt “وشنی”, but I can find no word resembling this meaning “(sour) cherry”. To be fair to him, he claimed the word in question meant “ruddy”, but a quick check of that word in Persian dictionaries also seems to end in failure for our Sarajevan friend. Of course, it is always possible that a word has fallen out of use in its own language even as it survives in a loan elsewhere, such as the case of the Greek “βουτσί” becoming “fıçı”. Except in this case, the word appears so plainly Slavic that one feels that the only possible explanation is that Škaljić is woefully misinformed.

Oh, and Nişanyan agrees with me. End of discussion.

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