26 Temmuz 2020 Pazar

Turkic Languages: Who is Mahmud al-Kashgari? What is he famous for?

He was the father of linguistics among Turkic peoples:
Kashgari came by his healthy self-image naturally. His family was from the town of Barskhan, on the barren southern shore of Lake IssykKul in what is now Kyrgyzstan.
He was deeply concerned. Why? Because nobody bothered to learn Turkic at the time. True, fruit sellers in the bazaar may have picked up a few words, but certainly not members of the elite. And why should they? Both Persian and Arabic speakers assumed that the Turkic languages were for rough-hewn foot soldiers and the urban poor but offered nothing for the scientist, poet, or seeker after wisdom. They grudgingly accepted the Turks as political heavies but denied them the slightest civilizational role. Kashgari recognized in all this the worst kind of cultural prejudice and took it as his personal mission to change it. To this end he mobilized an astonishingly innovative and bold set of skills for which he is still remembered today in all turkic countries.
Back in 1055, only seventeen years before Kashgari arrived in Baghdad, a new mass Turkic army had swept to power in all Central Asia and then gone on to conquer the caliphate itself, reducing the caliph, God’s Captain on Earth, to the status of a dependent vassal. The Seljuks and their confederation presented themselves as good Muslims, which they had been for several generations, and the caliph could only applaud their declared intention to purge the caliphate of Shiite sympathizers. But like it or not, the caliphs now had to pay homage to their new Seljuk Turkish overlords. The caliph meekly presented his daughter in marriage to the Turkish sultan and sealed the deal by grandly declaring the Turk “king of the East and West.”
Seljuk army in the battle of Manzikert
This marked a critical stage in the ongoing decline of the caliphate but opened splendid opportunities for a talented and widely traveled middle-aged Turk like Kashgari, one who was fluent in both Arabic and Persian as well as the main Turkic languages. Kashgari’s plan was to force the caliph, and beyond him all Arabs and Persians, to acknowledge that the time had come for them to study the Turkic languages and come to grips with Turkic culture. Even though doubtless prompted by the sting of prejudice directed against Turks over the years, Kashgari’s plan was nonetheless unapologetically triumphalist. But he did not merely hector his readers. Instead, he offered them a practical plan for learning Turkic languages and acquainting themselves with Turkic culture. He included extended poems and proverbs in the original Turkic, but, in consideration for his intended audience, the body of the text was in Arabic Once, he said, and I quote:
I have travelled through the Turks’ cities and steppes and have learned their dialects and their rhymes. . . . Also, I am one of the most elegant among them in language and the most eloquent in speech; one of the best educated, most deep-rooted in lineage, and the most penetrating in throwing the lance. Thus, I have acquired perfectly the dialect of each one of their groups and I have set it down in the accompanying book in a well ordered system
His method was to write a kind of Turkish-Arabic dictionary, one that included not only words and phrases but also proverbs, sayings, poetry, and pithy nuggets of folk wisdom from across the Turkic world. All were to be offered in the original Turkic languages in Arabic script and then translated into accessible Arabic. In addition, Kashgari proposed to present thumbnail sketches of the various Turkic tribes and their customs, and even a map so that readers could look up where each group lived. His reports on such ethnographic and folkloric elements as cuisine, kinship, and folk medicine were relentlessly enthusiastic and resolutely nonjudgmental
Andreas Kaplony, a specialist on the Compendium of the Turkic Dialects from Zurich, points out that Kashgari’s purpose went far beyond the mere showcasing of Turkic dialects: in his manual he wanted to provide the key to learning them all. It was as if a single author today would purport to provide in a single textbook everything needed to master not just French or Spanish but all Romance languages. He began with his own native tongue, Khaqani. As Kaplony explains, “To switch to one of the other languages, he gives his reader phonetic and morphological rules to apply and quotes the exceptions to these rules, namely, the words used in this or that tribe. He emphasizes that the reader who memorizes all his examples and applies all his rules can understand any Turkic language.”
Yes, he was himself a proud Turk and never let his reader forget it. But his picture of the Turks exuded the globalist perspective of his day. He did not hesitate to employ techniques he had learned from the Arab lexicographers and Persian folklorists and antiquarians, including Ferdowsi himself
About his motivation. What was behind all of these hard word? To my view, He was very motivated and overwhelmed by his own nation’s cultural and linguistical diversity. He was nationalist and he could not watch disappearing of all of these things:
whenever a Turk gets too close to an alien (in this case Persian) world, he begins to lose touch with his own linguistic and cultural identity.
Kashgari had not the slightest doubt that the culture and values of Turkic nomads were destined to redefine the “civilized” world. As he wrote in his introduction,
“Turks are the ‘Kings of the Age,’ appointed to rule over mankind. . . . Allah strengthens those who are affiliated with them and those who work in their behalf.”
By Turks, of course, Kashgari meant the entire population, including the ordinary men and women who create and transmit proverbs, folk poetry, and, above all, the Turkic languages. This was the natural populism of the horizontally organized nomadic peoples. To nail his argument in behalf of the Turkish language and the Turks, Kashgari invoked divine will. Even though he was writing two centuries after Imam Bukhari released his authoritative collection of Hadiths, Kashgari solemnly declared that imams in both Bukhara and Nishapur had confided to him authentic Sayings of the Prophet (Hz. Muhammad) of God (Allah) that exhorted humankind to “learn the language of the Turks, for their reign will be long.” In other words, learning Turkish and studying Turkic culture was a religious duty. He then cited another purported Hadith of Muhammad affirming that “Turks are superior to all other beings.” Karakhanids and Seljuks alike must have reveled in this public relations masterstroke. In this context the “wheel map” of peoples that Kashgari appended to his volume carried a message of its own: “You may not know who these Turks are or where they came from, but rest assured that they have long been masters of a huge part of the lands defined by the World Encircling Ocean.”
Some proverbs, sayings he have gathered (In English):
  • “Throwing a harness over an ass’s head does not make it a horse.”
  • “He who does evil to others does it to himself.”
  • “He who would gather honey must bear the sting of bees”
  • “Two camels fight and the fly between them dies.”
  • “Every sheep is hung [in the butcher’s shop] by his own feet.
  • “The hare was angry with the mountain, but the mountain was unaware of it.”
  • “He who knows and he who does not know are not the same.”
  • “One crow does not make winter.”
  • “He who marries early enlarges his family; he who gets up early goes a long way.”

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