First of all, i have to say that i only write this post in english because i’m in america now, and simply feel like that. I just want to write about some things that i realised, that most probably doesn’t really stand on any scientific foundation, maybe only unconsciously, since i’m not at all, or very basicly into the fields of linguistics, though this science really interests me—i think everyone who knows me knows that i’m a maniac language learner—and i’m seriously thinking about placing linguistics in front of programming informatics in my university application queue.
Well, the main point is that i realised how similar are some words in some languages. And here i don’t mean similarities between languages of the same language family, like german and english, because those are well known and evident, thus not surprising at all, and not even similarities between languages, the cultures of which had been in contact for a shorter or longer period, as in the case of hungarian and turkish. I mean similarities in languages that are theoretically and geographically very far from each other, and i can’t see how could these words (because i usually realise these similarities on the level of words), which are in many cases very basic, and i would suppose that these were among the first few ones which are first invented in the process of language evolution, could hold such closely related meanings. So, i don’t suppose that the mere soundalikes are relatives—that can just occur by accident, or if you like it more this way, evolve randomly, but when even the meanings are similar, my brain starts to work.
When i started learning japanese, now almost two years ago, i naturally started with the basic grammar and the usual basic vocabulary, like green and blue, big and small, tall and short, and eventually bad and good. Here comes the interesting thing: how do you say “good” in japanese? The answer is よい yoi. When one conjugates this adjective, the ending -i changes into something else, according to the wanted effect, so the stem of the adjective is yo. As far as i know, this should be pronounced almost exactly like the hungarian adjective jó, which also means “good”. I’ve been wondering if our ancestors could’ve met each other somewhere in Middle-Asia, but i haven’t really dug deep into this—maybe i will sometime in the future, and write another blogpost about it.
And if we’re near japanese, why not come up with another example i faced today, and which inspired the writing of this post? I was sitting on my first class, spanish, paying attention as much as i can, and even doing the excercises given to the class, when i stumbled upon a sentence i can’t recall now, but surely had a conjugated form of mirar (to look at) in it—and i was struck by the recognition that i’d seen that before. Where? Japanese. One other of the basic vocabulary, just as you learn in an english class “speak”, “hear”, “go” and “see”, so do you in japanese. And actually, the japanese word for “see” is 見る (みる miru). See? I couldn’t help realising the similarity between the two: mirar – miru. And it means almost the same thing. Strange, isn’t it? And, knowing that the spanish verb’s origin is the latin verb mīror (of the same meaning), and that some recognise significant matches between the etruscan and the hungarian language (to be exact, they say that etruscan originates from hungarian), it may not be so strange to suppose another Middle-Asian connection.
Here i’ve to make a side note. There are a nice couple of linguists who claim seemingly silly things, like their language was the language of the Tower of Babel, but i don’t want to be like that. This last sentence of the previous paragraph was just a wild and a bit crazy station near the rails of my train of thought.
Now to go on, if i can continue like i finished, i wonder if it’d be strange if i drew a connection between hungarian and another world language—i think you can guess—english. This time it’s an even more basic word, not in the means of learning a language, but in the means of its evolution. I will spare you a long introduction this time: the similarity is between the english word “say”, and the hungarian word “száj” (since i’m not good at using the IPA chart, i’ve to say that it’s pronounced like s-eye (eye, like the organ of seeing), hope it’s clear). The latter means “mouth”, by the way, so you could guess why it bothers me. Speaking, and thus “say” is, in my opinion, very closely related the mouth. I think in some early pictographic writings, these two even had the very same symbol.
When seeing such similarities in such unrelated languages, i start believing in the theory, its english name unknown to me, that says that every language has the same roots, they evolved from a common ancestor, if i can use this word in the case of languages. After writing this much, i definitely have this feeling, but does this writing has similar effects on you too?