You might know — or at least you might have heard — that most of the languages of modern Europe are related, through that wondrous tree called the Indo-European language family (a little foreshadowing: you can expect to hear more about this tree). But you might not have thought about how those relations are manifested.
So as an illustration, let's follow a simple grateful thought from west to east, retracing a nice little revelation that occurred to me one day. For my purpose here, “west” is the English language space and “east” is Ukraine.* Because this is my blog, I get to skip areas that don't fit my pattern (hello, France and readers among the mer-people of the northern Atlantic).
|Gratitude West and East|
- Belgium (Flemish speakers) / Netherlands: dank je
- German space: danke
- Czech: dêkuji
- Poland: dziekuje, pronounced “jenkooyeh”
- Slovak: dakujem
- Belarus: dziákuj or dziakuju
- Ukraine: dyakuyu
So it’s one thing to know on some level that Germanic English and Slavic Ukrainian are related, but it’s another to see the proof in a simple, everyday word like thank.
I’ll wrap up on a side note that nonetheless keeps with the gratitude theme. More a speculative question: I wonder whether the Turkic word teshekür is related to Arabic word shukran. The key sounds making me wonder this are “sh - vowel - kr”. Though Turkic languages are generally considered to be part of the Altaic language group and Arabic is a Semitic language, it wouldn’t be too suprising to find words derived from borrowings. In this case, it might be that with the spread of Islam, the Arabic shukran formed the basis of a word derivation in Turkish. (It’s not uncommon to find Arabic words in the lexicons of non-Arabic-speaking Islamic peoples.)
Are there any specialists in one or the other of these languages out there who can help?
* By the way, it's no longer "the Ukraine", unless you're a past-minded Russian.
** (These are not the only languages sharing this root for this word. Also, these examples are conjugated for the subject "I", so the "je", "yu", etc. endings don't refer to the equivalent of English "you".)