Hunnic language

Hunnic language

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Hunnic language'
Start a new discussion about 'Hunnic language'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 were a heterogenous, multi-ethnic tribal confederation during the 4th and 5th centuries. A contemporary reports that the Hunnic Empire
Hunnic Empire
The Hunnic Empire was an empire established by the Huns. The Huns were a confederation of Eurasian tribes from the steppes of Central Asia. Appearing from beyond the Volga River some years after the middle of the 4th century, they first overran the Alani, who occupied the plains between the Volga...

 had a "Hunnic language", or "Hunnish", which was spoken alongside Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 and the languages of other tribes subjugated by the Huns

The literary records for this language are sparse, consisting of a few names and words, and there is no firm scholarly consensus on its affinities.

Turkic


The suggestion that Hunnic was a Turkic language arises from the identification of some of the Hunnic names, attested in the surviving literary records, as Turkic. The inscription on the Khan Diggiz plate has been interpreted as giving the name of a known Western Hunnic king, Dengizich
Dengizich
Dengizich , ruler of the Akatziroi, was a son of Attila. The other forms of his name are Denzic and Dintzic...

, son of Attila, in a form of Turkic. Hunnic has been theoretically considered by most of the historians, with the languages Bulgar, Khazar
Khazar language
Khazar was the language spoken by the Khazars, a semi-nomadic Turkic people from Central Asia. It is also referred to as Khazarian, Khazaric, or Khazari. The language is extinct and written records are almost non-existent....

, Turkic Avar and Chuvash
Chuvash language
Chuvash is a Turkic language spoken in central Russia, primarily in the Chuvash Republic and adjacent areas. It is the only surviving member of the Oghur branch of Turkic languages....

, to be a member of the Oghuric branch of the Turkic language family. All except for Chuvash are extinct and known only from very scant records.

Indo-European


Other names were classified as Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 and Iranian
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

, which implicates that the Hunnic language could have also been Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 instead of Turkic. To strengthen that argument, the recorded words (medos, kamos, strava (and possibly cucurun)) do not seem to be Turkic. Thus in reality, it is not fundamentally clear which 'primary' language was spoken, although the Gothic language
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 was the lingua franca of that time.

Uralic


Attempts have been made to identify the Hunnic language as related to Hungarian. Hungarian legends and histories from medieval times onwards assume close ties with the Huns. The name Hunor is preserved in legends and (with a few Hunnic names, such as Attila) is used as a given name in modern Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 and in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 as Atilla and Onur respectively. Some Hungarian people share the belief that the Székely
Székely
The Székelys or Székely , sometimes also referred to as Szeklers , are a subgroup of the Hungarian people living mostly in the Székely Land, an ethno-cultural region in eastern Transylvania, Romania...

s, a Hungarian ethnic group living in modern-day Transylvania, are descended from a group of Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 who remained in the Carpathian Basin after 454; this myth was recorded in the medieval Gesta Hungarorum
Gesta Hungarorum
Gesta Hungarorum is a record of early Hungarian history by an unknown author who describes himself as Anonymi Bele Regis Notarii , but is generally cited as Anonymus...

.

Xiongnu


It has been suggested that the Hunnic language was related to that of the Xiongnu
Xiongnu
The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation north of the agriculture-based empire of the Han Dynasty. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources...

, itself of unknown affiliation.

External links

  • The World of the Huns by Otto Maenchen-Helfen, University of California Press, 1973. Chapter: IX. Language