Zsuzsanna Olach (MTA-SZTE Turkological Research Group and the University of Szeged, Hungary) “A Semantic Study on the Use of ešit- and tïŋla- in Old Turkic”


The semantics of perception verbs in different language families, e.g. Indo-European languages and Australian languages, have already been rather well described (Sweetser 1990; Viberg 2015; Evans – Wilkins 2000). In my presentation I am going to demonstrate some results of a study carried out within the frame of the project no 1503E122 supported by the Anadolu University Scientific Research Foundation (Eskişehir, Turkey). The project aims to investigate the semantics of perception verbs in Turkic languages. Studies have been started firstly on Old Turkic sources, i.e. on texts written in the period from the second Türk Kaghanate and the Mongol invasion.

The earliest Old Turkic sources are the so-called Orkhon inscriptions from the 7th century, i.e. the runic inscriptions on memorial stones found in the Orkhon valley.  Further inscriptions written in the runiform script have been discovered in the Yenisey Basin, in the Altai Mountains, etc. The Old Uyghur – mostly religious – texts from the 9th century onwards constitute the largest part of the Old Turkic corpus. From the 11th century a famous poem (Qutadgu Bilig) and an important dictionary (Dīvānu luġāti ’t-Turk), composed by Maḥmūd of Kāšġar, must be mentioned. Several aspects of Old Turkic have already been studied (e.g. Erdal 1991; Tekin 1968), but one, namely the semantics of the texts, has been neglected so far.

In the presentation peculiarities of the use of tïñla– ʻto listen to sgʼ (Clauson 1972, 522) and äšiδ– ʻto hearʼ (Clauson 1972, 257) in different Old Turkic texts will be demonstrated. In addition to the semantic change of these verbs in terms of their meaning extensions both in physical (to listen to a song etc.) and mental domains (‘to give importance to someone or an idea’ etc.), the argument structure and the complementation patterns of the two verbs will also be discussed.


Berta, Á. (2004) Szavaimat jól halljátok… A türk és ujgur rovásírásos emlékek kritikai kiadása. Szeged, JATE Press.

Clauson, G. (1972) An etymological dictionary of pre-thirteenth century Turkish. Oxford, Clarendon Press.

Erdal, M. (1991) Old Turkic word formation. A functional approach to the lexicon. Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowitz.

Evans, N. – Wilkins, D. (2000) The semantic extensions of perception verbs in Australian languages. Language Vol. 76, No. 3, 546–592.

Sweetser, E. (1990) From etymology to pragmatics. Metaphorical and cultural aspects of semantic structure. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Tekin, T. (1968) A grammar of Orkhon Turkic. (Uralic and Altaic Series 69). Bloomington, Indiana University Publication.

Viberg, Å. (2015) Sensation, perception and cognition. Swedish in a typological-contrastive perspective. Functions of language Vol. 22, No. 1, 96–131.