Magyars? (was: basque/Basque/bask)

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Fri Apr 19 18:57:21 UTC 2002

In a message dated Fri, 19 Apr 2002 12:54:19 PM Eastern Daylight Time, "A. Maberry" <maberry at> writes:

>Ural-Altaic isn't a concept used much any more. Cf. Ency Brit article on
The article cited reads "...[common] linguistic features present in most of the languages
- include vowel harmony (i.e., vowels in the same word must harmonize in method of articulation);
- grammatical traits typical of languages with a basic subject–object–verb sentence word order—e.g., the complete absence of prefixes;
- the use of suffixes and postpositions to express the grammatical modifications that are expressed in English by prepositions;
- lack of adjectival declension and of grammatical gender; and
- similarity in form of nouns and verbs.

These types of similarities frequently arise through language contact and are not considered a valid basis for establishing genetic relationship."

I have a serious question on the first half of the last sentence.  Do such similarities "frequently arise through language contact"?  If so, is the word "frequently" justified?  Can you give me some examples of such transers?

Yes, I was aware that current thought is to keep Finno-Ugrian and Altaic (e.g. Turkish) as separate families (if you ignore the people who propose family trees joining all known human languages.)

No, I wasn't suggesting that Magyar/Hungarian is a form of Turkish.  However, between your letter and the footnote I quoted, I could not help noticing odd (even if coincidental) similarities between the words "Magyar" and "Bashkir".

    - James A. Landau

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