Switching from Arabic Lexicographical Tradition to Russian: Case Study – Tatar Dictionaries

Mınsafına A.

ASIALEX 2019, İstanbul, Turkey, 19 - 21 June 2019, pp.35-42

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: İstanbul
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.35-42
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


The aim of this paper is to point out the differences in Tatar dictionary structure which occur after Tatars gave up Arabic linguistic tradition and started following a Russian one. For this purpose, the following monolingual dictionaries were chosen: Lehzhe-i Tatari by Kayyum Nasyri as an example of Arabic tradition and two issues of Explanatory Dictionary of Tatar Language (1977-1981 and 2015-2017) as an example of Russian tradition.

After adopting Islam in 922, Tatars were closely connected to Arab culture and science, while the theory of inimitability of Koran raised the need to learn Arabic. It is well known that dictionaries were the greatest achievement of Arab linguistics. The history of Tatar monolingual lexicography starts with the work of Kayyum Nasyri titled Lehzhe-i Tatari. The structure of the dictionary, explanation strategy of entry words and their organization according to the Arab alphabet shows the adherence to the principles of Arabic lexicography. While being a part of Soviet Union, Tatars were under the influence of Russian language planning, so Russian became more preferable than Arabic. The revolutionary moment in Russian dictionaries came with the publication of Dmitry Ushakov’s Explanatory Dictionary of Russian Language, where a new approach to dictionary compiling was given, especially evident in microstructure of the dictionary. This influenced monolingual lexicography of Tatar language. The principles developed in Russian lexicography were applied to Explanatory Dictionary of Tatar Language first published in 1977-1981 and modern Explanatory Dictionary of Tatar Language with first issue in 2015.