The World of the Huns. Chapter IX. Language
O. Maenchen-Helfen
 

11. Conclusions

To judge by the tribal names, a great part of the Huns must have spoken a Turkish language. Ultinčur and Alpilčur are as Turkish as Bug-čor, the Pecheneg tribal names ending in , and the Kirghiz tribal and clan names ending in čoro. Another common ending in Turkish tribal names, -gur, occurs in Kutrigur, Utigur, Onogur, Bittugur, *Tongur, and *Ugur. On the analogy with Ultinčur, Ultingir, ending in -gir like other definitely Turkish ethnic names, must likewise be Turkish. The same is true for Bardor = Var-dor and Ultindur.

The personal names give a different picture.

The names of the Attilanic Huns are as follows:
   Turkish or probably Turkish: Basich, Berichos, Dengizich, Ellac, Emnetzur, Erekan, Eskam, Mundzucus, Oebarsios, Uldin, Ultzindur;
   Germanic or Germanized: Attila, Bleda, Edekon, Laudaricus, Onegesius, Ruga;
   Persian: Hormidac;
   Hybrid: Kursich, Tuldila;
   Unknown origin: Adamis, Charaton, Ernach, Esla, Mama, Octar, Skotta.


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Akatir
   Possibly Turkish: Kuridachos.

Bittugures
   Germanic: Ragnaris

Uligur and Kutrigur
   Turkish: Sandil, Sandilchos;
   Iranian: Zabergan;
   Of unknown origin: Anagaios, Chinialon.

Bosporan Huns
   Of unknown origin: Gordas, Muageris.

Caucasian Huns
   Iranian: Amazukes, Glones, Styrax;
   Of unknown origin: Zilgibis.

Sabir
   Probably Turkish: Balach, Iliger, Kutilzis;
   Of unknown origin: Boarex.

Huns in the East Roman army
   Turkish: Althias, Elminčur, Elmingeir, Zolbon;
   Iranian: Aischmanos, Balas, Chorsomanos, Chorsomantis, Zartir;
   Hybrid: Apsich, Apsikal;
   Of unknown origin: Aigan, Akum, Argek, Askan, Bochas, Chalazar, Chelchal, Gubulgudu, Odolgan, Sigizan, Simmas, Sinnion, Sunikas, Tarrach, Turgun, Uldach.
 

The distribution of the Iranian and German or Germanized names is very instructive. No Germanic names occur among the non-Attilanic Huns. If any Germans in the East, outside the Crimea, survived the Hun storm, they either were too few or in a social position too low to allow their names to appear among those of the ruling groups or even in the ranks of those free warriors who took service in the Byzantine army. In contrast, no less than six of the Attilanic names are Germanic or pseudo-Germanic. The forms in Priscus and Jordanes are as Germanic as Alaric and Theoderic, not only because the real Hunnish names were transformed in Gothic pronunciation; they corroborate what Jordanes says about Attila's friendship with the Germanic leaders. The stress is on leaders. Thompson rightly emphasized the one-sidedness of the so-called Hunno-Gothic symbiosis. The generous and magnanimous Attila of German epic poetry shared with the Gothic and Gepidic chieftains the loot he brought back


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from his campaigns. If those wretched Goths who in the 460's were forced to march with the Huns had composed songs, they would have been very different from the poetry at the sites of the Germanic "kings."

Taken by themselves, Charaton and Ernac could be either Turkish or Iranian. In view of the absence of definitely Iranian and the preponderance of definitely Turkish names among the Attilanic Huns, they must be transferred from the column "of unknown origin" to the Turkish names. In a previous chapter I conjectured that the greater part of the Alans broke their alliance with the Huns about 400 A.D. and migrated west. This is now borne out by the analysis of the Attilanic names. In the fifth century the Alans played no political role in the life of the Huns. None of their nobles was accepted as equal, none rose to any prominence.

The absence of Iranian names before the sixth century speaks against strong relations between pre-Attilanic Huns and Parthians, Sasanian Persians, and Middle Asiatic Iranians. The Iranian names of the Caucasian Huns were no doubt borrowed either from Persians or from Armenians and Georgians under strong Persian influence. Of greater interest are the Iranian names in the Byzantine army, but they concern first of all the students of the proto-Bulgarians. Asparuch-Isperikh, Bezmer in the Princes' List, and Rasata in the list from Cividale are also of Iranian origin. To analyze the Iranian Hunnish names must be left to Iranian scholars. Some of these names, as, for instance, B(V)alas, are almost certainly Persian; others may be Sarmatian. Whereas there is very little archaeological evidence of Persian influence on the nomads between the Volga and the Crimea, the presence of Sarmatian elements in the culture of the proto-Bulgarians is well attested. The artificially deformed skulls in proto-Bulgarian graves cannot be separated from those in the graves of the Sarmatized Turks or Turkicized Sarmatians of the post-Attilanic graves in the South Russian steppes.
 

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