Indiana University Bloomington
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Old Turkic
Catalog Number CEUS-U 503
György Kara

Old Turkic texts (8th to 14th century) were written in various writing systems such as the runiform alphabet (1), the Sogdian script (2) of Aramaic origin and its offshoot, the Uygur script (3), the modified Indian Brâhmî (4; an "alphasyllabic" system), the Syriac (5) and the Manichean (6) scripts (both of Aramaic origin). From the 11th century the Arabic alphabet was adapted to record the Turkic language of the Karakhanid Empire (this language is sometimes defined as Middle Turkic). The Uygur script had been used among the Yellow Uygurs as late as the 17th century. In some Turkic Buddhist treatises in Uygur script some words are written in Chinese characters (7) read certainly in Turkic. There are a few Turkic monuments in the Mongol emperor Kubilai’s square script (8). The pre-11th-century library found in a Dunhuang grotto preserved an Old Turkic text in Tibetan script (9).

Reading (graphical and phonetic interpretation), grammatical analysis, translation with philological commentary of specimens of Old Turkic texts are offered during the course focused alternatively on one or more groups of monuments.

Recommended tools: G. Clauson, An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth-Century Turkish (Oxford 1972); M. Erdal, A grammar of Old Turkic (2004); Annemarie von Gabain, Alttürkische Grammatik (Wiesbaden 1974); L. Johanson, Éva Csató, The Turkic Languages (London 1998) S. E. Malov, Pamjatniki drevnetjurksoj pis’mennosti (Moskva, Leningrad 1951); V.M. Nadeljaev et al., Drevnetjurkskij slovar’ (Leningrad 1969).