Synonyms In Bilingual Tatar Dictionaries


The bilingual dictionaries are one of the valuable sources for historical and linguistic researches. They allow to document the role and place of different language elements in the history of nation culture, they record lexical units in certain historical periods, indicate the relations of different languages, show the mutual influence of multi-structural language systems. At the same time, the dictionaries are the indicators of linguistic modification, i.e. innovations that arise in the language due to the influence of religious and social factors occurring as linguistic variability on different linguistic levels including lexicographical one. There have been recorded a lot of synonymic lexical units in bilingual Tatar dictionaries, showing harmonious development of standard and common language since the XIX century. Dictionaries are considered as objects of two cultures, Russian and Tatar, and reflect the modification of language content. This study is focused on lexical synonyms, recorded in Russian-Tatar and Tatar-Russian translation dictionaries and considered as components of Tatar vocabulary from the linguistic aspect. Studying the bilingual dictionaries, the authors have decided to determine the role of synonyms in the dictionaries of the XIX century compiled by the Missionary Societies, to identify changes in the structure of bilingual dictionaries regarding the transfer of synonyms in the XX and XXI centuries, which will show the ways of development of the Tatar modern standard language and characteristic of the vocabulary in dictionaries.

Keywords: Bilingual dictionarylexicographymodificationsynonymTatar languagevocabulary


Vocabulary of each language consists of words that allow people to name what they have seen, to express their attitude towards it, to characterize it and compare with other things. For this purpose the lexical and grammatical means of their own language and borrowed ones from other related and unrelated languages, which are the components of culture of people, are used. For Russia, the culture is a sense-making basis, and its spiritual experience is a peculiar alternative for Western practical reason in creation of basics for the all-European future civilization. However, the Russian culture is heterogeneous and it has several layers of different elements. Linguistic dictionaries are the culture elements, and they record the state of language at the certain moment of historical development of different people, speaking that language. Each nation due to its cognitive processes enriches the vocabulary and brings more and more new linguistic units into everyday language, and after a certain period they find a place in the standard language system, they are recorded in written sources. Bilingual dictionaries represent one of such sources. They perform important social and cultural functions. The dictionaries help to develop communication for reaching communicative tasks between people speaking different languages in multilingual society: bilingual dictionaries become a multifunctional tool providing not just a translation service, but also information. The philologists of the XIX century suggest that …a good dictionary should satisfy everyone who comes to consult it... The more educated the nation is, the more enlightened the people are among it, the better, richer, more fully and more satisfactory the dictionary of its language is. For this purpose, each dictionary should comply with the requirements to it.

Problem Statement

Nowadays there are a lot of types of dictionaries where the lexical units are distributed according to the functional principle, i.e. there are not only the topical dictionaries, but also etymological, explanatory, translation, encyclopaedical, etc. (Troyanskiy, 1833-1835). People can use both paper sources and electronic dictionaries, find necessary information in different corpuses of one or the other language quickly. However, the compiling of lexicographical sources has origins from the translation dictionaries and thesauruses in order to make them available for practical use. There is no exception for the Tatar language (Bogatova, 2000). Due to this, we can get the etymological information on the lexical unit, as well as to see its graphic, phonetic, grammatical connotation, stylistic implementation in the linguistic stream, etc. Those translation dictionaries have recorded synonymic and antonymous pairs, phraseological units, variability of lexical units, dialect variants and homonymous cases that are currently distributed in separate lexicographical sources and rarely found in one compilation. Nowadays the world's nations are so intertwined, that sometimes it is difficult to define and set boundaries between the original language means and the borrowed ones. It might be not so important to know the etymology and genetic characteristics of the lexical unit to use it in speech, but the phonetic composition, grammatical categories and stylistic abilities of the original language means and the borrowed ones do not always coincide and have limits in speech use. This is particularly clearly expressed in the stylistic and lexical-semantic aspect, which eventually leads to more frequent usage of foreign words in speech. A lot of languages, including Tatar, show all these tendencies.

Despite existing factual material and availability of scientific publications considering certain aspects of studying the Tatar lexicographical sources, the linguistic researches, dedicated to the issues of synonymy in bilingual dictionaries of certain Turkic peoples (including Tatar), are relevant in modern linguistics. The problem of the research is arises from the fact that the linguistic research of dictionaries concerning synonymy allows to reconsider the communicative culture of people in the current context and to determine typical and specific characteristics of the development of Tatar speech culture.

Research Questions

Lexical synonyms, which have been recorded in bilingual Tatar dictionaries, are the subject of this research. Despite availability of numerous different Tatar dictionaries of synonyms, they do not represent all the comprehensiveness of the language. There were more than 25 thousand of words in the recent dictionary of synonyms, published in 2014 (Gilyazetdinova, Edikhanov, & Aminova, 2014). However, there is a possibility to add new words to this vocabulary. Bilingual dictionaries have been chosen as the source of research due to the fact that they have recorded variants of lexical units, which represent different elements of nation culture in its semantics, convey the national mindset, historical and cultural colouring (Kasemu, Yusupova, Denmukhametova, & Mugtasimova, 2018; Khusnullina, Bolgarova, & Islamova, 2017). The lexical units that have the possibility to be added to the Tatar Dictionary of Synonymsare the object of the research (Tatar-Russian dictionary, 2007). The Tatar explanatory dictionary, dictionaries of synonyms and such bilingual dictionary of the XIX century as the Dictionary of Tpoyanskiy (1833, 1835) represents the source of the research. Moreover, other dictionaries have been chosen as an informational base of the research (Sibgaeva, Zamaletdinova, & Nurmukhametova, 2016). The lexical units, representing synonymic relations, have been analysed in the work from different linguistic perspectives. During the research the card catalogue of 2,000 units was compiled.

Purpose of the Study

Study of synonyms that can enrich the vocabulary of the modern Tatar language is the purpose of this study. The following objectives have been proposed:

1) study of bilingual dictionaries in order to find synonymic pairs, representing Tatar oral and written speeches;

2) etymological analysis of synonymic pairs, characterizing the Tatar ethnic culture;

3) to determine possible models of narrowing, extension and changing of semantics of a word, within a synonymic row in the modern Tatar language.

Research Methods

The theoretical provisions and approaches to the studying of lexicographical sources, represented in the works of leading foreign and Russian scientists, form the methodological basis for this research. The following methods were used within the framework of studies: method of statistical data analysis, method of component analysis, method of complete componential analysis, method of etymological analysis. The methodological base of this research consists of the following: activity approach determining the unity of activity and consciousness, and axiological, culturological, hermeneutic approaches allowing to interpret lexical-semantic features of borrowed stems in Tatar linguistic environment. The cognitive approach allows to define the national in communication and to determine its cultural and linguistic specifics. Methods and approaches used in this work are defined by the comprehensive nature of the research.


A lot of Tatar bilingual dictionaries have been created over the centuries. They use different systems of material development and interpretation. There were both successful and failed ones among them. The identifying the peculiarities of these lexicographical artefacts, scientific description of their compiling, interpretation of the content of items that they include, etc. – those are the questions which, while seeking answers to them, make it possible to reconstruct the most important processes in development of the Tatar vocabulary of the XIX century. The scientists consider the Tatar-Russian and Russian-Tatar dictionaries of the XIX century as a unified historical and cultural phenomenon (Kononov, 1976). In order to make the scientific analysis convenient, the language facts, that are recorded in them, can be conditionally considered taking into account their chronological, historical and cultural, ethnosocial, semantic belonging and relevance to one or other language sphere of concepts.

It is well known that the dictionaries, which were compiled for certain languages in the XIX century, reflected the demographic situation in the countries concerned, the level of their economic, political and cultural development, international priorities and peculiarities. Since all these factors were subject to constant changes during the historical processes, the situation with compiling of foreign languages dictionaries in different countries changed, too. Until the second half of the XIX century, very few (isolated instances) dictionaries with translation of languages of the Russian Empire nations were published in Russia. Only certain dictionaries can be found with translation of the Tatar and Ukrainian (“Little Russian”) languages. The situation with publishing of foreign languages dictionaries in Russia has started to change significantly since the middle of the XIX century. There were more and more dictionaries with translation from the languages of nations which had been the part of the Russian Empire or have just become it. At that time, the Russian-Tatar and Tatar-Russian dictionaries had appeared, further republished a lot of times due to demand among users. Such dictionaries represented the vocabulary for practical application, and each author-compiler had included those lexical units in the glossary that he had considered to be necessary in language learning. Due to the fact that the authors were the representatives of different dialects, social groups, nationalities, etc., their works included words, which were widespread in that area and used for specific speech purposes defined by people. It gives us the opportunity to compile the synonymic rows. For example, there is a synonymic row in the modern Tatar language, which is recorded in dictionary of synonyms, “ baylik– (prosperity , wealth ) – barlik, jeteshlek, deulet, mal-molket, mal, molket, milek, mullik ” (Khanbikova & Safiullina 2014, p.20). This lexical unit also has a synonymic variant " ganilik " in the “Slovar` TatarskogoYazika I Nekotorikh Upotrebitel`nikh v Nem Rechenij Arabskikh i Persidskikh, sobranniy trudami itcheniem uchitelya tatarskogo yazika v Kazanskoy seminari isveschennika Aleksandra Troyanskogo i napechatanniy s dozvoleniya komissii dukhovnikh uchilishch” Dictionary, and there is a lexical unit " riskal ” which was recorded in the “Kratkiy Tatarsko-Russkiy Slovar` s pribavleniyem nekotorikh slavanskikh slov s tatarskim perevodom” Dictionary.

The research has shown that different variations for enriching synonymic rows occurred over development of the standard Tatar language. While a lot of Arabic and Persian borrowings were used in speech in the XVIII–early XX centuries, then, since the middle of the ХХ century the Russian words and words from European languages started to get into the Tatar language via Russian words, displacing the Arabisms. Since the end of the XX century, the Arabisms have returned to the standard language through oral and written speeches: media materials, socio-political and religious texts. However, the European borrowings also get into the Tatar language with cultural and technical achievements due to the intercultural and international cooperation. Therefore, it is possible to find such synonyms as “ inspiration – ilham, suly, gayretlenderu, jaylandirmak, gayretlendermek ”; ”type of face - shekel, siyfat, chiray, surat, joz, bit»; “wife – jefet, zeuja, kushim, khalal» , etc. in bilingual dictionaries of the XIX - beginning of the ХХ centuries.

Observations on the Arabic and Persian borrowings as part of the synonymy of the Turkic languages have shown that different sides of a language are subject to change in various degrees. There are more intensive changes in phonetics of foreign words, although the semantic structure of borrowings has also changed. For example, there are Arabic words and their Tatar phonetic variants, which are included in the same synonymic row: gazap (Ar.) – jefa, jeza, аzap; galamat (Ar.) – ekemet, chiksiz, zur . The initial semantics has remained only in the certain category of lexical units, the semantics in other words has completely changed. The lexical units from the Arabic language or words of Persian origin have been included into other synonymic row with semantics, different from semantics in the original language. For instance, the Arabic word “ ayd ” – holiday – has a meaning only of religious, Islamic holiday in the Tatar language. Or urazagaete : this word is used with a lexical unit beyrem , although they duplicate each other: gaetbeyreme . Moreover, the narrowing and extension of meaning are observed in the borrowings from these languages.

All criteria of synonymity, suggested in scientific linguistic literature, are divided into two: those related to examining the properties of a word as a linguistic unit and those considering it a speech unit. In the first case, such criteria as similarity or identity of lexical meanings and signified notions, presence of the greatest number of common components in semantic structures of the compared words are specified. In the second case, the criterion of interchangeability, the identity of distribution and co-occurrence, the relation to the same subject of speech are particularly important. According to scientists, the resorting to differences in word meanings, concerning not only the semantic features but also differentiation on the stylistic nuance, context usage, type of lexical meaning, etc. has the utmost importance while clarifying the nature of semantic similarity of synonymic lexical units. Researching the Tatar bilingual dictionaries, there can be found original Turkic words as well as words of Russian or European origin, words from the Arabic and Persian languages within a synonymic row.

The research has shown that Arabic and Persian borrowings in dictionaries represent one of the leading elements in the Turkic languages, which are used in communication process along with original Turkic words. Due to this, are often lexical units, frequently used in everyday life, and they have synonymic relations with original Turkic words. For example, such category of words includes lexical units, pointing at cognate relationships: ata (Tat.) ~ bаbа (Turk.) ~ walid ( Arab.) 'father'; аnа (Tat.) ~ sheshe < ana < apa > ene (Kazakh) ~ walida (Arab.) 'mother'; uluyаpа (Turk.) ~ zaddat (Arab.) 'grandmother'; uluyata (Turk.) ~ zadda (Arab.) 'grandfather'; qyz (Turk.) ~ yajal (Arab.) ~ bint (Arab.) ~ doxtar (Pers.) 'girl'; хаtun (Turk.) ~ yavrat (Arab.) ~ tisi (Turk.) ~ zagifa (Arab. ) ~ zuft (Pers.) ~ bibi, bikesh, xanim (Kazakh) 'woman', ir (Tat.) ~ adam (Arab.) ~ keshe (Turk.) ~ insane ( Pers.) ~ adamizat (Arab.) 'human being', where the words of Turkic origin are the dominants (Gabdrakhmanova, Mukhametzyanova, & Shayakhmetova, 2016, p. 213).

It should be noted that loan words also can be dominants in synonymic rows in other cases: sah (Pers.) ~ malik (Arab.) ~ soltan (Arab.) ~ padysah (Pers.) ~ xan (Pers.) ~ patsa (Pers.) ~ bak (Turk.) 'king'; tabib (Arab.) ~ atibba ~ otасу (Turk.) ~ bajtar ~ doctor~ brac ( Rus. ) 'doctor'; xuza (Arab.) ~ idi (Turk.) ~ said (Arab.) ~ maxmud (Arab.) 'master' ; xalaiq (Arab.) ~ xalq (Arab.) ~ umma (Arab.) ~ taifa (Arab.) ~ axel (Arab.) ~ ish (Turk.) 'nation'; dost (Pers.) ~ еs (Turk.) ~ saxib (Arab.) ~ munis (Arab.) ~ xatam (Arab.) ~ jar (Pers.) ~ moxib (Arab.) ~ rafiq (Arab.) ~ xarif (Arab.) ~ sarik (Arab.) ~ hamdam (Pers.) ~ ipdas (Turk.) ~ dus-ish (Tat.).

Considering the semantics of synonyms of Arabic and Persian languages, the following can be stated: only certain category of words (mostly monosemantic words) preserved its initial semantics. For instance, Persian words eger, gerche “if” are used as conjunctions in the Turkic languages; Persian lexical units beya, beha and the Arabic word khak “price, value” have changed their “appearance”, i.e. have changed in phonetics, and they are used in speech with the original meaning.

The meaning narrowing of a Persian lexical unit which as part of the Turkic languages synonymy can be seen, for example, in the word zaman , which has the meaning of “time, epoch, century; period” in the Tatar and Bashkir languages, - zamat ~ zamatta (Kipchak, Uzbek, Uighur), while in its original language it has meanings”1) time, epoch; 2) moment, hour; 3) space and basic forms of entity in philosophy; destiny”. This word is among such lexical units as chor, dever, zaman, waqit, epoxa in the synonymic row of the Tatar language (Khusnullina, Bolgarova, & Islamova, 2017, p. 113).

The word tamasha , which has a meaning of “performance, play” in the Persian language, is an example of meaning extension. This word has three meanings in the Baskir and Tatar languages: 1) performance; 2) crowd of people; 3) contemplation, examination. This word has a meaning of “very, too, beyond measure” in the synonymy of the Tatar language, due to the fact that it is a synonym of such lexical units as: bik, gajep, gajeyep, ifrit, artik, galamat, galam, cjhamasiz, chiktentich, kheyran, etc.

It is determined that many Arabic and Persian words as part of the synonymy of Turkic words are changing, when they get Turkic affix or a form word. For example, zarurijat ~ zarurliq, kireklik, mezburibulu, zaruret, xazet «necessity»; aqilli ~ aqilijase, zihenle, anli, bashli, isle, onle, hushli“ smart”; naxakka– xaqsiz, xaqsizga, binaxaq, urinsiz, juqqa, nigezsez “for nothing, unfairly, unreasonably”. As these examples show, the Arabic borrowings have undergone the significant structural changes. In general, these changes in the Tatar and Bashkir languages are equal to their changes in other Turkic languages.

While examining the lexical synonymy in the Tatar language, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that many all-European terms or terms of Russian origin have been recently translated by Arabic or Persian lexical units. That is not to deny the fact that such translation of terms existed in many Turkic languages also during the Soviet period, although the Latin words were recorded in the dictionaries as dominants (Yusupova, Nabiullina, Mugtasimova, & Denmukhametova, 2016, p. 124). For instance, economics – икътисад, economist – икътисадчы, law – хокук, university – дарелфөнүн, politics – сәясәт, society – җәмгыять , etc. However, other terms were added to the existing words at the beginning of the XXI century, which nowadays are not considered as “neologisms” : autonomy – mokhtaruyat, motto– shigar`, party – firka, stident– talib, secretary - serkatib , etc.

It is not a secret that generally mass media spread such words and due to it people start to use them. And sometimes, trying to “translate” different terms, they do not notice how they use words with incorrect meaning. For example, the word мәркәз is often used in Tatar radio and television broadcast in the meaning of “capital city”, although there is a Tatar word башкала , which is rarely used by journalists now. This lexical unit is used in its original meaning of “centre” - shehermerkezi, seudamerkezi , etc. in other Turkic languages, including the Turkish language.

“Tatarization” of stems is considered to be the most typical for European and Russian borrowings as part of the synonymy. In other words, Tatar suffixes are added to the borrowings and create the new words. There are not many stems forming the verbs – the lexical units from Russian or international words, recorded in dictionaries, although they can be found in modern colloquial speech and in texts of journalistic style. For instance , khususiylashtiru (to privatize) – privatizatsiyaley; fotogatoshu (to take a picture) – suretketoshu, resemgetoshu .

It has been found that the following suffixes are the most productive in verb forming: - - la/-le; -lash/-lesh, -lan/-len . Complex verbs from borrowed stems are formed with such auxiliary verbs as it, bul, kil, kil, yasa, al. They can be found in following synonymic groups: gaepley (to blame, accuse, charge) – gaeptagu, gaeptashlau, gaepitu, gaeplesanau, gaeplegechigaru;devalanu (to get treatment) – darulanuу; duslashu (to forge friendship, make friends) – duslanu, eshnelenu, eshneleshu, beleshleshu, tanishipkitu, tatulashu,kileshu, yorshu (Sibgaeva, Zamaletdinova, & Nurmukhametova, 2016, p. 118).

It is noteworthy that there are synonymic rows consisting of verbs, where the stems forming the verbs consist of just loan words, although the majority of synonymic groups consist of mixed lexical units.

Thus, different classes of Arabic and Persian words have different points of convergence and different connections with the Turkic languages. Formal and semantic features of synonymic, including monosemantic and polysemantic words of Oriental languages are revealed as parts of different semantic fields of Turkic languages. Synonymic relations in Turkic languages are considered as a result of connection of words between underived and derived vocabulary units of original language, as well as Arabic, Persian and other languages.

Study of the synonymy and defining its place in the area of mental lexicon of Tatar people suggests the most typical cases of perception of words as synonymic (with close meaning) in the consciousness of an individual (as a rule, dictionaries of synonyms include such units), but the analysis of material shows that this criterion is unstable, and due to this it is not absolute and cannot be considered as the only right one. The synonymy should be considered as one of the tools for forming and functioning of units in the area of mental lexicon. Each lexical unit contains an energetic ability to be synonymized, each unit creates an atmosphere of possible synonymity, capable to be realized in some situations. Due to this, bilingual dictionaries of the ХХI century can include different groups, and each of them can have the synonymic and other types of relations in the context.


Study of synonyms in bilingual dictionaries has shown the chronological differences in semantic development of this branch of science. If in the first sources there had been recorded lexical units mainly used for practical purposes, then later the clear criteria appeared. Nowadays, due to the fact that the dictionaries of synonyms are being compiled, the amount of synonyms is decreasing in the translation dictionaries. However, some words are recorded only there.

Speech situations in life of Tatars have added a lot of foreign lexical units to the original vocabulary, which soon became a part of synonymic groups. They have been used in different situations to this day. Sometimes the whole row of synonyms, where can be all-Turkic words as well as borrowed entirely or just stems, can be used in speech for accurate expression of thought.

Synonymic rows in the Tatar language are often changed due to word meaning extension, narrowing or complete changing, resulting from the socio-political events. Tatar speech has evolved over centuries, and models of communication, peculiar for bearers of Tatar culture, are characterised by many synonymic forms. They have cultural and linguistic specifics, cultural values of nation. It is characterised by simplicity and emotionality, melodiousness and expressiveness of strong intellect, for which the synonymic variants of lexical units are used.

The theoretical conclusions and analysis of material show that the synonymy is a mental and language phenomenon, developed as a result of the main cognitive processes: associating, categorisation and lexicalisation. Having blurred boundaries, the natural categories actively interact with each other, the synonymic relations are occurred in their crossing zones. Such understanding of the synonymy reveals the nature of this phenomenon, its place in verbal and cogitative activity of human being. Moreover, it gives the opportunity to solve the problems raised in structural linguistics.

To sum up, speech and written communication has centuries-old traditions, habits and rich experience of the linguistic culture, where the synonyms play a significant role. Due to this, the synonyms are also fully reflected in bilingual dictionaries, which helps to study and describe the ethnolinguistic traditions of the Tatars in a systematic way.


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Denmukhametova, E., Yusupova, A., Mugtasimova, G., & Nasipov, I. (2020). Synonyms In Bilingual Tatar Dictionaries. In I. Murzina (Ed.), Humanistic Practice in Education in a Postmodern Age, vol 93. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 284-392). European Publisher.