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A short description of the Volga Bolgharic r-Turkic.
(provided by Mr. Cluster User)

well, of course the element *volga* is a scholarly term, to distinguish them from the danube bulghars.

also I would like emphasize the independent nature of the script from literary eastern turkic. eastern turkic was written in the uighur script just before islam and this continued somewhat (and enjoyed a revival under
the mongols) under islam. the vowels were written out explicitly whether long or short (proto-turkic had long vowels that started to disappear in most languages around the beginning of the first millenium CE). the arabic
based orthography they adopted was essentially a transliteration of this script even though in arabic only long vowels are written out using certain letters, short vowels are indicated by diacritics (frequently ommitted altogether). eastern turkic at first rarely used any distinction not used uyghur script (the only one was distinguishing q, gh and kh - and some vacillation is reported on this score) though the situation was
soewhat remedied by the addition of some consonants added by the persians to arabic script.

volga-bulghar on the other hand used arab type vowel indication - it preserved the proto-turkic vowel length sysytem, chuvash diphthongs reflect them. also it took advantage of the slight difference in pronounciation in turkic of s and t with back vowels by rendering them with arabic emphatics - arabic in turn has a slight differnece in pronounciation of the vowels, making i and a soemwhat like the turkic back vowels. so this weak overlap with arabic is taken advantage of in volga bulghar (this feature is also present in anatolian turkish in perso-arabic script - however anat. may have lost its long vowels early, but vowel indication in early manuscripts was infrequent), but not in eastern turkic.islam wwas beginning to take a hold when the volga-bulghars accepted islam.

BTW the turkic runic alphabet (actually with syllabic features) also relied on consonant quality to differentiate front and back vowels.

On Thu, 25 Feb 1999, Vassil Karloukovski wrote:

> Hello,
> could you tell me more about this volga-bolgharic.  What I understood/(misunderstood?)
> from you was that there were no inscriptions or a corpus of texts in

there are inscriptions, legible ones.

> this Chuvashian-like r-Turkic, but its existance was inferred from some peculiarities
> in texts  (inscriptions?) written in Arabic. Is it correct and from what century
> are the

no. they are funery inscriptions written in -r turkic in arabic script.

there are arabic funery inscriptions there as well, mostly prayers, and it
is natural to write the pious formulae in arabic. there are also some in
chaghatay turkish.

> earliest examples? Also, was this language called volga bolgharic by
> the writers

a turkish book says 11th century, but I think that most of them are later.
they end in the 14th century.

> themselves or it is a scholarly term?  I was quite surprised about that
> r-turkic

well, the state was called "bulghar" and the r turkic inscriptions
are not formal, indictating the speech of the populace (i.e information
on the deceased). furthermore there are the scanty comments by
medieval authors that indicate a turkic speech divergent from the
main body of turkic, unlike qypchaq or chaghatay.

there does seem to be some variation i the inscriptions, in terms of
diergence of forms from common turkic, but still clearly distinct, in the
r branch.