Ethymological Origins Of Baby Vocabulary In Dagestan Languages


The article describes the results of an analysis of etymological sources of baby vocabulary in the Dagestan languages. Through the comparison of the Avar, Karatin and Rutul languages ​​of the Nakh-Dagestan language family, an attempt to reconstruct the etymology of lexemes in baby talk has been made. The Dagestan languages ​​have a rich children's vocabulary, whose words are easier to master due to the absence of inflections and phonetic simplicity. "Parental language" is an autonomous subsystem that includes a limited number of lexemes polished by previous generations and historically fixed in linguistic units. Characterized by emotional saturation and being a means of diminutiveness, it differs from general language, which is not addressed to children. Involvement of languages ​​with different degrees of kinship and unequal forms of language (literary language - new written language - unwritten language - dialect) made it possible to apply the methods of external and internal reconstruction, which are relevant due to the weak etymological elaboration of the vocabulary of the Dagestan languages. A comparative study of baby words in three Dagestan languages ​​ made it possible to distinguish between several groups of lexemes characterized by homogeneous etymological origins. The use of methods of comparative linguistics to analyze the phenomenon in interlanguage and interdialectal interaction contributed to the establishment of the general and specific in the "baby vocabulary development".

Keywords: Baby vocabulary, etymology of baby vocabulary, Dagestan languages


In the Dagestan languages, one of the means of reflecting addressee's assessment of qualities of a referent, connotative meanings of expressiveness, emotiveness is "parental language". Richness of its units is due to the poor representation of morphological means of expressing diminutiveness.

The active use of a specific language for communication with children ​​is due to the desire of adults to speak at a linguistic level accessible to children. To describe baby talk, which is used at the intermediate stage of language acquisition as a complex tool for thinking and understanding the world, linguists use the terms “baby-talk”, “parental language”, “language of nannies”; in ontolinguistics, the term “input” characterized as a “special register” (Menn, 1986) is used.

Problem Statement

"Baby talk" is used in all natural languages​​, which testifies to the universality of this phenomenon. It constitutes an autonomous subsystem with a limited number of lexemes polished by previous generations of ethnic groups that have historically been fixed in linguistic units. The fact that the form of language under study is characterized by a number of features that differ it from ordinary speech, determines the relevance of determining vocabulary sources and process development.

Research Questions

The subject of a comparative analysis is the identification of etymological sources of baby talk of the literary Avar language, the unwritten Karatin language, the Rutul language and its Mukhrek dialect. The lexical fund of the languages ​​contains units of "baby talk", the connection of forms with meanings is not traced by native speakers at the synchronous level due to the impossibility of explaining the structure of such units in terms of models of word formation. For lexemes with a darkened internal form, there are general lines of semantic development of interlanguage and interdialect cognates.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of a comparative study of the etymology of lexemes of "baby talk" in the Dagestan languages ​​is an attempt to determine the mechanism of their development according to a certain word-formation model based on linguistic materials. It is important to restore the chronology of word origin, determine the relationship between its primary form and semantics, and obscure these parameters of historical changes that are subject to restoration by reconstruction methods. It is difficult to restore the primary motivation of baby lexemes and connections with productive words.

Research Methods

The descriptive and comparative methods, internal and external reconstruction were used to characterize linguistic phenomena in interlanguage and interdialectal interaction.


Children's vocabulary called "baby talk" (Magin, 2006; Murray et al., 2010; Solodova & Yampolskaya, 2018), "children's vocabulary" (Chirikba, 2019), "language of nannies" (Murashova & Yashchenko, 2017), “parental language” (Mesenyashina, 2009), “input” (Menn, 1986) is a single subsystem that represents the semantics of diminutiveness.

Linguistically, children's talk is characterized by a number of features: specific forms (Magin, 2006). The special characteristics make it relevant to identify sources and restore the process of vocabulary development.

Despite the basic correspondence of phonetic, lexical, grammatical and semantic components of the linguistic ability of baby talk to the analogous levels of “adult language”, they are not identical due to differences in the reflection and generalization of the corresponding units.

To establish the etymology of a word, a vocabulary analysis is required after differentiating stems and affixes that can be spliced with these stems. The task of determining the etymology of linguistic units is facilitated for languages in which regular alternations of phonemes resulting from phonetic processes have been investigated and established. In the Dagestani languages, restoration of a producing word for units of children's vocabulary is complicated by the weak etymological development of the vocabulary.

As a rule, during the etymological analysis of certain layers of vocabulary, researchers distinguish between two groups of lexemes: original and borrowed ones. In children's vocabulary, such a gradation is not relevant, since the vocabulary consists (with rare exceptions) of primordial words.

Children's vocabulary is devoid of inflections which contributes to language acquisition. Lexemes are classified into imitations of animate and inanimate sounds (onomatopoeia) and phonetically simple babbling words, usually consisting of one or two open syllables.

A comparative analysis of the units of children's vocabulary in three Dagestan languages ​​made it possible to identify several groups of words characterized by homogeneous etymological origins.

The simplest words are formed from common nouns by adding diminutive affixes:

the Karatian language: "well-fed baby" (from "core"), "daredevil" (from"brave"), "baby" (from "small");

the Rutul language:"mama" (from); daddiy "papa" (from);

the Myukhrek dialect: "son " (from), "calf" (from).

In the Rutul language, the presence of parallel children's forms ofand “mother” opposed to the commonly used; "papa" and the appeal, opposed to the common Did, can be explained by their identical origin, but different ways or chronology of borrowing from the Azerbaijani language.

In colloquial children's speech and adult speech addressed to children, diminutives are often used. In their structure, there are affixes of possessiveness (in the Avar language) and diminutiveness (in the Rutul language):

The Avar language: "mother's"; "papa";"uncle"; "aunt";

The Karatian language: "mother","mother"; "papa’s", "uncle’s";

The Rutul language: "daddy, papa", "son", "daughter" (from "daughter"). The use of these forms allows us to assume the presence of a vocative formed from animated nouns (Ibragimova, 2018).

The diminutives-appeals of the Avar and Karaty languages formed by adding affixes of possessiveness are used when adults address children, and appeals of the Rutul language with diminutive affixes are used both in the speech of children addressed to adults and in the speech of adults addressed to children:

Among the children's lexemes of the Rutul language, there are words formed from ordinary nouns by means of the suffixes -, but with additional extensions (often reduplicated); in the Avar language, children's words with the structure "noun + extension + suffix" have not been identified; in the Karatin languages, ​​such examples are rare:

the Karatian language:"crybaby" (from the verb "to cry"), "snotty, brat" (from the verb "to drip"); "slow man" (from the verb "to crawl");

the Rutul language: "cradle" (from "cradle"); "lamb" (from "lamb"); "bear, bear cub" (from "bear");

the Myukhrek dialect: "sister" (from), "chanterelle" (from "fox"), "jug" (from "jug, vessel in which cream is beaten").

A large group is made up of children's words that have an onomatopoeic nature and are used at the early stages of communication with children:

The Avar language: "dog, puppy", "cat", "calf", "lamb", "small cattle";

The Karatian language: “rooster”,“chicken”, “sheep, ram”;

The Rutul language: "dog", "cat", "lamb, lamb", "calf".

This group also includes syncretistic lexemes that reflect either the semantics of a noun or a verb:

The Avar language: "fire!"; " do not touch!";

The Karatian language:“bathing, swimming”, “danger!”, “fire, you will burn yourself!”;

The Rutul language: “danger, you will fall!”,“bathing, swimming”, “food, eat”;

The Myukhrek dialect: "danger, you will fall!", " do not touch!"

A separate niche is occupied by children's words formed from invocative words and words that drive animals away:

The Avar language: the word "cat" ( in common language) is derived from the invocative; "lamb" ( in common language) is derived from;

The Karatian language: the word "donkey" is derived from, with which the animal is driven away ( in common language);

The Rutul language: "cat" ( in common language) is derived from;

The Myukhrek dialect: "dog" is derived from "cow".

An analysis has revealed that children's words are formed from invocative words and words that drive animals away by adding affixesin the Avar and Karatin languages, and affixes(sometimes with extensions) in the Rutul language and its dialects.

A separate group of children's words is made up of sound complexes with a darkened etymology, restored by the methods of internal and external reconstruction

The Avar language: "hand" () goes back to "paw" (in the Eastern dialect -, in the dialects of the Salavian dialect -; in the Zakatala dialect -). The researchers explain the transfer of semantics "paw - hand" by the desire to show a small size of a child's hand (Saidova, 2008; Khaidakov, 1973). The word "sweets " is opposed to the commonly used "sweets"; this is a babbling version of the adjective "good, beautiful": in the Gergebil dialect of the northern dialect of the Avar language, is used in children's speech;

The Karatian language: in "egg" (), was replaced by the easily pronounced to give a babbling phonetic appearance; "food" is connected with the common word, meaning a chewed piece of food; “baby” consists of, which goes back to the adjective “small”, and the suffix -;

The Rutul language: the etymologically of "hand" can be restored from the Lezghin stem "hand" and the Rutul lexeme "hoof". The genetic relationship of the words "hand" and "paw" is verified by linguists on the material of the Dagestan languages ​​(Khaidakov, 1973);

The Mukhrek dialect: the etymology of the lexeme "chicken" can be restored through the lexeme of the Muhad dialect "chicken"; the lexeme "shawl" is a babbling variant of the commonly used "shawl".

Children's words whose etymology cannot be restored by modern linguistic methods are the most difficult and promising ones. In this group, babbling words, consisting of one or two reduplicated syllables are frequent.

The Avar language: "mother's breast": this lexeme was classified as a child language unit by Khaidakov (1973); "food"; "papa"; "mama"; "uncle"; "aunt";

The Karatian language: "sore, it hurts"; “first steps, walk”; "smile, smile!"; "walk";

The Rutul language: "bread", "porridge"; "to walk";

The Myukhrek dialect: "porridge" (common emag), "sweets"; "dance", etc.

In Avar, the babbling diminutives-appeals “papa”, “mother” are affectionate, while “father” and “mother” are used as addresses without emotive content. In the Karatian language, the common words "mother" and "father" correspond to the children's words "dad" and "mama". In the Rutul language, the diminutive appeals "dad", нений "mother" are also babbling, but the correspondence of their bases with the bases of common words "mother" and "father" allowed us to include these children's words in the group of lexemes formed by affixation.


The etymological analysis of children's vocabulary based on four forms of language existence (literary Avar language, newly written Rutul language and its Mukhrek dialect, unwritten Karatian language) confirmed the relevance of the research results for the large-scale study of origins of this vocabulary on the material of all Nakh-Dagestan languages. Taking into account that in children's vocabulary there are few borrowed words from genetically related and unrelated languages, an etymological analysis allowed us to trace the chronological scenarios of penetration of borrowings into the languages.

The presence ​​of rich "baby language" whose units contribute to the rapid development of language is a small number of diminutive words. A comparative study of units addressed to children made it possible to single out several groups that can be mutually permeable: for example, the Avar lexeme "lamb" can be included in the group of onomatopoeia formed from invocative words that have a babbling phonetic appearance; the Rutul lexeme “bathing, bathing” can be included in the group of onomatopoeic words formed by the method of reduplication; The karatin lexeme “baby” has a root + suffix structure, but the babbling root is transformed from the common adjective “small”.

An analysis of children's words with obscured etymology allowed us to conclude that the reasons for the loss of motivating features are historical phonetic changes leading to external discrepancies with related words and the loss of obvious connections with productive words.

The methods of comparative linguistics have characterized the phenomenon in interlanguage and interdialectal interactions, contributed to the identification ​​of groups of lexemes characterized by homogeneous etymological origins, and established the general and the specific in the children's vocabulary.


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Ibragimova, M. O., Ataev, B. M., Mallaeva, S. D., Omarova, Z. S., & Otsomieva-Tagirova, Z. M. (2021). Ethymological Origins Of Baby Vocabulary In Dagestan 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. 638-643). European Publisher.