On One Iranianism In Caucasian Languages


Covering the development of Iranisms that make up significant thematic groups (household items, spiritual and physical state of a person, designation of flora and fauna, etc.) of material and spiritual culture in the Caucasian languages, is important both for identifying a single borrowed fund, and features of their lexical mastery. The article attempts to consider the issues of language contacts, ways of lexical penetration, identification of convergence zones in vocabulary using the example of one lexical borrowing from the Persian language of the pre-Islamic period, foreign language vocabulary in the Caucasian languages. Comparative analysis of borrowed Iranianisms has showed that words of Iranian origin in Caucasian languages are the most ancient and they penetrated into the language mainly in an oral way. They are the result of both long-term contacts with the Alans and the linguistic contacts of the East Caucasian peoples with the Iranians. Etymons also penetrated through the Turkic and other languages as evidenced by their phonetics. It is known that for each of the linguistic families of the area there are many works of a genetic, typological and areal nature. Systematization of the identified Iranian-Caucasian similar elements starting from the 19th century will practically confirm the significance of the so-called contact zones, determine the direction of borrowing, time, place and real historical and ethnocultural background, clarify the comparison and collocation study of borrowings of a similar substrate in the languages of the range and justify a typology due to the interpenetration of starting systems.

Keywords: Ossetian language, Dagestan, Nakh and Adyghe languages, range, Iranism, Inter-Caucasian vocabulary


Areal aspects in a language imply ethnic contacts that explain spatial distributions as a result of territorial intercourse of linguistic facts and phenomena. According to the theory of V.I. Abaev’s areal linguistics, the lexical units formed as a result of the mutual influence of the languages are conditioned by the cultures forming them, and give grounds to talk about inter-Caucasian convergence in material and spiritual culture, folklore and religious beliefs.

Problem Statement

The factors of similar isogloss phenomena are called long-term proximity and contact development, and such richness and diversity of the Caucasian material, which arose as a result of these circumstances, are numerous and ancient.

Research Questions

The Inter-Caucasian lexical fund formed in the process of interaction and mutual influence of peoples is a reliable evidence of languages contacts and peoples history at different times. This lexical fund includes a generous linguistic material based on ethnographic, folklore, historical, archaeological and other information about the existence of a single Caucasian ethnic culture (Abaev, 1949).

Purpose of the Study

Caucasianisms of Iranian origin with their inherent lexical-semantic and phonetic features and semantic shifts in their meanings that have occurred in a particular language have aroused and continue to appeal to researchers.

The article makes an attempt to use the example of one lexeme of religious and cult content to convey its migration and inclusion in the Caucasian world in order to identify the features of the early medieval history of ethno-linguistic contacts of the following linguistic area: Iran – Caucasus – Anatolia.

Research Methods

The subject of the research is the lexeme pakhuympar “prophet” found in the dictionaries of the Caucasian languages. The research was carried out in a synchronic aspect regarding the functional-semantic approach, which makes it possible to determine both the history of the development of its semantics and the migration of the Persism in question in the Caucasian languages before its entry into the Inter-Caucasian lexical fund.


Reliable evidence of the ancient inclusion of the Iranian world into the Caucasus can be, for example, the religious term pahuympar (pehuympar, pahmpar)/pakhampar (pakhompar) <Persian paiγāmbar “prophet”. The primary source is pehl. patγāmbar <other pers. *patigāma-bara (Abaev, 1949). Compare to the following Kosta Khetagurov’s interpretation: Kuyvynmæ pahuympar, nuӕztӕn nӕrton uӕyig. – In prayer (he was skillful) as a prophet, in drinking like a Nart giant. Rukhs ӕmӕ rӕstdzinady pehuympar. – Prophet of light and truth.

The initial sound before the vowel in the word pakhuympar appeared as a result of the transition of the Iranian into the Ossetian. Modern Ossetian is a sound that does not belong to purely Ossetian consonantism. It occurs rarely and mainly in borrowed words or in those whose origin is unclear to us. Gemination of or is more often observed (Miller, 1992).

The pre-Islamic origin of the word payγāmbar from *pati-gāman is confirmed by semantics in a number of languages. Compare to the middle pers. paygām “message”; Persian. payγām “order”, “notification”, “message”; modern pers. peyγγâm, Tajik. payγom “message, news”; modern Kurd. peihamber in the meanings: “messenger”, “magician”, and the latter in Farsi has the meaning “foreshadowing something” → “herald”, “diviner”, which is confirmed in historical sources. Compare the following: A. Marcellina about the Alans: “Their way of predicting the future is strange: having tied straight willow twigs into a bundle, they disassemble them at a certain time with some mysterious spells and receive very specific instructions about what is foreshadowed" (Alans-Ossetians, 2019). Here is the Ossetian pehuympariuӕg kynyn “to prophesy”.

Development of semantics: “message, news” → “bringing news; carrying a message”→” messenger, (obsolete)”→ “messenger (of the gods)”→“prophet”.

The term pahuympar “prophet” has the following meanings: 1. herald and exponent of the will of God; 2. fortune-teller. Compare the following: the prophet of antiquity from among the Scythian-Saks Zarathushtra (Zoroaster), the creator of the “Avesta” being a collection of ancient Iranian sacred books setting out his doctrine called Zoroastrianism, which arose more than 3,500 years ago, in the Bronze Age (M. Boyes).

Note that the term “carrying a message from God” is a secondary formation and an addition, in which the semantics of the root payγām “message, message (from God)”, and is the lexicalized participle “carrying“ < “to wear“.

The considered lexeme pehuympar in the meaning “prophet” was fixed in the names of Muslim holidays (Day of Ashura is the day of remembrance of the prophets and messengers of Allah; Mawlid an-Nabi is the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad; Ragaib is the day of marriage of the parents of the Prophet Muhammad; Miraj is the Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad):

Fæzægynts: “Nuazæn næy, ærlæuuydi Saban.” Kænæ ta: “U Redjeb, hæuy uævyn uæzdan.” Huytsau, pehuympar, æz uæ zærdæhudt næ isyn, – Yssardton nuazæn my, uydzæn uy Ramazan. – Then I hear: “Don’t drink alcohol, now we have Shaban.” Otherwise: “Rejeb is coming, don’t get drunk.” Let it be so: those are the months of Allah and the Prophet. Well, I will choose Ramadan (O. Khayyam) for drunkenness, as well as in folklore and epic.

For example, in Ossetian legends about sledges, is found in the meanings:


Uastyrdzhi resurrects Dzerassa lying in the crypt with a blow of a felt whip. In the plot about Uryzmag, a one-eyed waig revives the slain rams with a lash blow. With the help of a whip, the dead and heroes in Ossetian folk tales and legends are resurrected.

Note that among the Tats this archaic shamanic motive is associated with the padishah of the city, where Rustam falls, Peigamber: “Rustam showed the graves of the padishah’s son and daughter. The wise men stood along the graves, read their wise books and ordered Peygamber to hit the graves with his whip. Peygambert struck for the first time and the earth parted, everyone saw the bones of the dead. He hit a second time and the bones have found a body. He struck for the third time and life returned to the dead” (Kukullu, 1974).

* prophet:

“Adon sta Marguytsy bӕkhtӕ, – zӕgigӕ, zagtoy. “Uӕy, yӕ khӕdzary ahsdzhiag amula! –Dis kodta Uastyrdzhi.– Tsavӕr lӕg u, pehuympartimӕ dӕr ӕy kuy nikuy fedton ”(Khamitsaeva, 2010). – These are the horses of Marguz, they said. “Oh, yes, so that the best of his house should die!” Uastyrdzhi was surprised. “What kind of man he is and I have never seen him with the prophets” (Trans. Our. -Aut.).

God sent the pachompars to release the soul from the body of Batraz and bring him into the heavenly Sopia crypt. The pakhompars brought Batraz into the Sopi crypt and laid there. Now Batraz is called Waskirgie (Miller, 1992).

In the following excerpt from the legend “Narti Huatsiamongӕ ӕmӕ Khӕmitsi furt Batrazi molӕt” the influence of Islam is observed: the fact that Batraz after death became a heavenly senior prophet contradicts the traditional mythological motive:

“Madzal in nӕ erun”. “Tsotk, rainsomi kunet: uрlarv dӕ Sophiai zӕppadzi bayvӕrdzinan!” Ærimӕtsudӕntsӕ ӕma in rasomi kodtontsӕ, ӕma sin gӕmpin hali khuzӕn isssӕy, ӕma ’y fӕkhkhastontsӕ ӕma’ y baivardtonsӕ Sofiai zӕppadzi, ӕma nur e hestӕr pahampar тыy., (Khamitsaeva, 2005), III.


Zӕrinonygy kuvӕndon, h. Khilak, ӕrtӕ pehuympary kuvӕndon, kyakhtoy dzy symazӕrin Belgiyӕ. Khurzӕrin fystsag kӕdzӕkhtyl ӕmbӕly, ӕmӕyӕ uy tykhhӕy aftӕ huydtoy. Hohun yӕnom huydtoy “nonyg” + “symyzurin”. Samadtoy dzy kuvondon. Rӕgaugӕs Bes fedta: ӕrtakhti ӕrtӕ pehuympary, ӕmӕ uy yӕ zӕnguytyl ӕrkhaudi ӕmӕ kuvyn raidta. – Sanctuary of the Zarinon family, s. Khilak, the sanctuary of three angels. The Belgians dug gold there. A ray of light first hits the rocks, and that’s why it was called this way. The rocks were called “nonyg” and gold. They built a sanctuary there. Herder Bes saw three angels fly in. He fell to his knees and started praying (Sokaeva, 2010).

In small folklore genres:

* abundance:

– Abundance for your home and our feast!


The topic of the 23rd republican intellectual game “Zondabit” was “Agnaev Gastan – the star of Ossetian prose” (“Agnaty Gustun – iron prozayy pehuympar”).

It is of considerable interest in connection with the history and composition of the religious terminology of the Caucasian languages, time, place, determination of the accompanying historical and ethnocultural factors.

Islam penetrated into Dagestan starting from the 7th century, and in the 10th–15th centuries it was finally approves by the Dagestan peoples, after which a large number of Farcisms as well as Arabisms and Turkisms associated with religious and cult concepts, entered the Dagestan and other North Caucasian languages.

In all the range of religious and cult concepts, the semantics of the lexeme “prophet”, “messenger of God” in the Dagestan languages appealed to us majorly.

In the Avar language, for example, the concept of awarag is used. Ummatalul gurilan Avaragas abeyev. – I wish you to be excluded by the Prophet from his followers! (Magomedsalikhov, 2007);

Dargin (obstetric and urah. d.) – idbag; Dargin (kubach. d.) – ibadag; Kybulla gitte, sallalagyu pulled gIyalaygyi vassalam, sibta MukhIyummyad ibadagla ryukhIli gIapa hyalal buhab! – Then, Oh, Allah, may its grace, first of all, “reach” the soul of the Prophet Muhammad! (Magomedov, 2012);

Dargin (tsudakh. and haidak. d.) – iwarak, Lak – idaws (idows), Archin –idbag-ttu, Tsakhur –idāg (Abdullaev, 2015).

The original etymon for them is the pre-Christian common name for “heavenly forces”, Old Ossetian (Alanic) * idawag> Osset. dawæg “deity” (Abaev, 1973), penetrated into the Dagestan languages in the pre-Islamic era from the Scythian-Sarmatian-Alanian language world. The Old Ossetian Alanian form *idawæg is still in use in the archaic Digor dialect of the Ossetian language. The lexeme has no correspondence in other Iranian languages and, according to E. Benveniste, was preserved from the ancient collection of the dictionary (Benveniste, 1965). I.Kh. Abdullaev concludes that the term under consideration is not associated with the spread of Islam, as well as with the languages from which the religious terminology of the Dagestani languages comes (Arabic, Persian, Turkic); it existed even in the pre-Islamic period and only later, with the advent of Islam, it was transferred to the prophets of the Muslim religion.

It is believed that this term is absent, and even “there are no traces of it in the Nakh languages occupying an intermediate area between Ossetia and Dagestan” (Abdullaev, 2015).

In order to identify the ways Iranian elements penetrate into the languages of the peoples inhabiting the area, to determine their role there, the significance of areal contacts in the history of the language for the reconstruction of the true and anthropocentric history of the languages of the area, to show the commonality and peculiarity of the ways of the historical development of the peoples of the Caucasus, we decided to turn to archaeological materials and written sources. They localized the first Scythian kingdom (Sakasena, Kazakh-Ganja region) on the territory of Transcaucasia in the 7th century BC. From the 5th century BC the Savromats settled at the area where the Scythians lived, and from the 4th century BC the Sarmatians lived. The Aors, Siraks, Roksolans, Alans gradually began to separate from these Iranian-speaking Scythian-Sarmatian tribes. It was the Alanian tribal union on the territory of the Central Caucasus from the 1st century AD which took an active part in the life of other tribes including Iranian-speaking ones who lived in the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia (Tekhov, 1980).

Over time, the Indo-Iranians, a significant part of whom already lived in the area of the Central Caucasus, got surrounded by Caucasian ethnic groups. Many features of the culture and language of the Indo-Iranians especially the vocabulary were adopted by the Caucasian neighbors, who themselves learned a lot from their Iranian-speaking neighbors. Such ethnocultural mutual influence is recognized by scientists as a completely natural phenomenon in the so-called contact zones. The ancient Iranians, in the process of thousands of years of contacts with the Caucasian environment in the sphere of material and spiritual culture gradually adopted a lot of Caucasus features and entrenched in the Central part of the Caucasus forever (Kuznetsov, 1984).

Other languages, for example, Khinalug, use borrowings from Persian: peygiebair (peygiamair, peygianbair) “prophet”; phrases: peigianbair kiurshagyy “rainbow” (literally “the prophet’s sash”), peygianbair chichayi “cornflower” (lit. “the prophet’s flower”) (Ganieva, 2002).

In the South Dagestani languages (Lezgin, Tabasaran, Agul), the word peigambar is also observed but already in the meanings of “messenger”, “ambassador”. The same word, Persian in origin, is widespread in Budukh, Kryz; it is occasionally used in other Dagestan languages, sometimes with the semantics “naïve”, “simple-minded”, “honest” in relation to a person (Abdullaev, 2015). As it turned out, the spread and differentiation of its subsequent and secondary meanings occurred locally and independently.

It is worth noting that this term is not alien to the Nakh languages. Chech. pajxamar> paykhmar “prophet”, “prophetess”; Payhamarshka dinna hittarsh mollega a do. – And the mullahs are asked the same questions as the prophets were asked; ing. pejxӕmӕr> peihamar “prophet” (Vagapov, 2011). It is also present in all dialects: Akki payhamar; Kistin peihamar; Cheberloy peikhmar; Itumkala peikhmar (Aliroev, 1975).

The term under consideration in the Nakh languages reflects “an older picture of the settlement of tribes, not attested by history” (Abaev, 1949). This assumption of V.I. Abaeva is confirmed by Z.K. Chokaev, considering that “the outlined area was in the past in the sphere of influence of the Alanian state” (Chokaev, 1987). In addition, the Ossetian professor B.A. Alborov, having analyzed the Iranian toponyms of Chechnya and Ingushetia, confirmed the fact that the ancestors of the Ossetians lived east of their present location (Alborov, 1929). Medieval sources also testified that in the 7th-10th centuries the eastern border of the region reached the Tersko-Sulak lowland, completely covered the foothill territories of modern Chechnya, Ingushetia and was subordinate to the Alanian king (Gagloty, 1989; Bagaev, 2012). We think this explains the found commonality between Ossetians and Nakhs not only in languages but also in rituals, customs, culture, everyday life, the presence of convergence not only in the ethno-linguistic but also in the ethnocultural code.

We found the discussed farcism in the “Etymological Dictionary of the Adyghe (Circassian) Languages” (Shagirov, 1977): begymbar / pegymbar “prophet” <pers. pеjġаm-bӓr “prophet“; as well as to the Abkha. a-paayymbar, abaz. pigImbar, ubykh. pagambar – in the same meaning.


The above facts show how intense and long-term cultural ties and cultural communication of the Caucasian population were in ancient times; what place the Iranian-speaking tribes, in particular the Scythian-Alans, occupied in their common life and close interaction as was deposited in the Caucasian languages.

In addition, the direct ties of the East Caucasian peoples with the Iranians were also a source of borrowing. Borrowings from the Persian language penetrated mainly through the Avar language orally, which was facilitated by the Turkic languages. Over time, the Arabisms that appeared as a result of Islam in the Caucasus began to gradually replace the old Persians, facts of the historical past in the vocabulary of the Dagestani languages.

The researchers noted that the political, economic, ideological ties, culture and language of the Scythian-Sarmatian-Alan tribes from the period of their appearance and for many centuries contributed to the formation of the Inter-Caucasian lexical fund, “immense in its diversity and richness of linguistic material”. It testifies that “all the peoples of the Caucasus, not only directly adjacent to each other, but also more distant, are interconnected by complex and whimsical threads of linguistic and cultural ties” confirming the existence of a “single Caucasian ethnic culture” (Abaev, 1949) The words of the inter-Caucasian lexical fund, which generated on the basis of Iranian lexical elements, are present in almost all languages of the ethnocultural area of Iran-Caucasus-Anatolia. Aspects of consideration denoting historical-comparative, comparative, and convergent development reveal facts in favor of the common Caucasian socio-cultural and cultural-historical space, which justifies the Caucasian language union including the designated ethnocultural area.


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Bessolova, E. B., & Sokaeva, D. V. (2021). On One Iranianism In Caucasian Languages. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization - ISCKMC 2020, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2690-2696). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.05.359