Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Turanian

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TURANIAN, the title formerly conferred on a vast family of combinatory or agglutinative languages, which is made to comprise every tongue of Asia and Europe that is not either Aryan or Semitic, with the exception of Chinese and its cognate dialects. This family falls, according to Max Müller, into two great divisions, the northern and the southern; the northern being subdivided into five classes, Tungusic, Mongolic, Turkic, Finnic, and Samoyedic; the southern into four, Tamulic or the Dravidian languages of the Dekkan, Bhotiya or the dialects of Bhotan and Tibet, Taïc of Siam, and Malaic of the Malay and Polynesian islands. Under these nine classes he groups 116 dialects, and even then he does not stretch the term Turanian to its widest limits, which with many philologists include Accadian, the language of the Chaldaean inventors of cuneiform, and Basque, and by some are extended to North America. Naturally there is a dispute as to the correctness of the term at all; and while Max Müller asserts that the Turanian languages “share elements in common which they must have borrowed from the same source, and after formal elements are such that it would be impossible to ascribe them to mere accident,” Peile in “Philology” (1877) maintains that the title Turanian “had better be avoided, as the agglutinative languages are much too different to give any ground at all for believing that they all belong to the same family. They agree only in the general principle of forming their speech; but no common bond has yet been found to bring together the main groups of the so-called Turanian peoples; and it is not likely there is any.” This principle, the combinatory, might certainly have been independently arrived at by different nations, and it is equally rash to regard Japanese as necessarily cognate to Finnish because both are agglutinative languages, as it would be to connect the Semitic and Aryan tongues on the score of their common possession of inflection.