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Turk-plurals

There's some serious stuff in this story, but let's focus on trivia:

Tensions have also risen in Al Tamim, where Kurds won nearly two-thirds of the seats on the council. Other ethnic groups are unhappy that the Kurds immediately began shaking things up, conducting their meetings in Kurdish and attempting to depose the previous council chief, a Turkmen.
Can "Turkmen" be singular? It seems to me that it should be one Turkman, several Turkmen, right? Or if "Turkmen" is singular, then the plural should be "Turkmens" or "Turkmeni" or something. Also -- things are going to shit in the provincial governments of Iraq. That's the important part.

April 7, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

"Turkmen" is not English! It's the name of an ethnic group from Turkmenistan.

Posted by: S.Anderson | Apr 7, 2005 2:13:13 PM

I'm pretty sure that "Turkmen" is the adjective, singular noun, and plural noun, not unlike "Afghan".

Posted by: cmdicely | Apr 7, 2005 2:15:32 PM

Turkmen is a purely Turkish word, not related to the English word "man". I know that for sure.

As I remember, the "men" part is a actually a collective or a kind of plural, and the word "Turkmen" means something like "Turk people". But apparently it can also mean "one of the Turk people". Probably you have someone who can clear this up.

Posted by: John Emerson | Apr 7, 2005 2:16:11 PM

S. Anderson: Come on, that's no reason not to Anglicize it.

It brings to mind what a compatriot of mine said, in high school, on our first trip to Rome:

"I don't care if they do live here. They're still foreigners. Speak English, dammit."

Posted by: Teaser | Apr 7, 2005 2:16:39 PM

No, Turkmen is a Turkic word, thus the "men" bit implies nothing about quantity, as it would in English. To pluralize Turkmen in Turkish, you'd say "Turkmenler". You're right, though, it's awfully confusing in English.

Posted by: Andrew | Apr 7, 2005 2:17:13 PM

Huh, John E. and I seem to disagree. He knows a hell of a lot more about language than I do, but I do know that when describing multiple Turkmen, the Turkish press says, "Turkmenler", thus implying that Turkmen is indeed singular.

Posted by: Andrew | Apr 7, 2005 2:19:52 PM

There a plurality of those Turk-men just a bit north from there and I fear they'll get upset about things being shaken-up, come down one of these days and kill a lot of Kurd-men.

Posted by: abb1 | Apr 7, 2005 2:23:39 PM

Maybe Turkdude and Turkedoodli?

Posted by: Paul Callahan | Apr 7, 2005 2:27:27 PM

On the substantive - not the linguistic point:

First, we always must discount any MSM account that says that things are going to sh*t. Such MSM accounts are almost always false or overblown.

That being said, I don't see what the big deal is. Kurds won 2/3 of the seats. So they control the counsel. Seems to me that it is perfectly legitimate for them to conduct meetings in Kurdish - which is, after all, an official language, and under the TAL, speech in official settings such as the counsel can be conducted in EITHER official language. Moreover, the winners of 2/3 of the seats should have every right to choose the counsel chief.

Accordingly, while there may indeed be "tensions", that is simply due to the Turkmen(s? i?) having to adjust themselves to a situation in which majority rules.

Again, like virtually every story in the MSM out of Iraq, reports that things are going to sh*t are extremely overblown.

Posted by: Al | Apr 7, 2005 2:34:35 PM

Reporting from Kirkuk, we have Al. Thank you Al for that in-depth update. Over to you, Jill.

Posted by: Teaser | Apr 7, 2005 2:39:04 PM

"I don't care if they do live here. They're still foreigners. Speak English, dammit."

Or as they use to say in Indiana when I was kid, "If the King's English was good enough for Jesus Christ, then it's good enough for me."

Posted by: S.Anderson | Apr 7, 2005 2:49:43 PM

It should be Turkman, so says Matthew Yglesia.

Posted by: jerry | Apr 7, 2005 3:03:27 PM

Matt doesn't know how to pronounce bruschetta, so I don't pay any attention to him.

Posted by: David in NY | Apr 7, 2005 3:08:18 PM

If only the MSM would stop replacing "roadside gift baskets" with "improvised explosive devices" and "flowers" to "mortars" or "rocket propelled grenades", we would all realize how wonderful Iraq is doing.

Posted by: Rambuncle | Apr 7, 2005 3:09:48 PM

why do people put up blog posts wondering what the right spelling, etc of a word is, instead of just looking in the dictionary?

Turk·men (tûrk'mĕn, -mən) pronunciation
n., pl. Turkmen or -mens.

1. A native or inhabitant of Turkmenistan.
2. also Tur·ko·man or Tur·co·man (tûr'kə-mən) pl. Turkoman or Turcoman or -ko·mans or -co·mans. A member of a traditionally nomadic Turkic people inhabiting Turkmenistan and neighboring areas in Iran and Afghanistan.
3. also Turkoman or Turcoman The Turkic language of the Turkmen.

[Medieval Latin Turcomannus, from Persian Turkmān, from turkmān, like a Turk, from Turk, Turk. See Turki.]

Posted by: Grady | Apr 7, 2005 3:13:50 PM

why do people put up blog posts wondering what the right spelling, etc of a word is, instead of just looking in the dictionary?

Dictionary doesn't seem to be aware that there are Turkmen(s) in Iraq.

Posted by: Al | Apr 7, 2005 3:27:13 PM

Shouldn't we liberals be trying to convert the name of the ethnic group to Turkpersons?

Sorry, someone had to say it ...

Posted by: Electoral Math | Apr 7, 2005 3:42:19 PM

reports that things are going to sh*t are extremely overblown.

Drum-roll, please. Because things have *already* gone to sh*t.

See, there is no "best-case scenario" for Iraq. Either the current sh*t stays in place or new sh*t moves in. We'd be lucky if we see something like Egypt or Jordan, but in an oil-rich multi-ethnic place like Iraq, that's not real likely.

Posted by: Adonais | Apr 7, 2005 3:46:14 PM

Matt -- If you really want to break your brain (or at least have a good laugh), ask somebody at work who speaks Russian about their words: "biznesmen" (one businessman, plural is biznesmeny); "sportsmen" (one athlete, plural is sportsmeny); and the "-ka" forms of the same (singulars for women, like "biznesmenka"). There are plenty of these -men forms in Russian. And I'm pretty sure they're all borrowings, but I'm not going to get up off my butt and go look anything up.

I guess you don't really have to ask anyone now. It's not that complicated.... though watch out with the feminine -ka forms. Russian women tend to consider a lot of them rude and demeaning, like how "journalistette" or "scientistess" would sound in English (to those other than the Wonkette).

Posted by: &y | Apr 7, 2005 4:03:39 PM

Andrew, you may be right. The "men" is some kind of suffix, I'm not sure what though. One thing says Turkmen means "Turklike".

Grady, the dictionary gave two different spellings and two plurals of each. Not helpful. Also, "Turkoman/ Turcoman" seems absolete, having been replaced by Turkmen.

Posted by: John Emerson | Apr 7, 2005 4:07:14 PM

Al, just out of curiosity, do you know which thread you're positing on?

Posted by: John Emerson | Apr 7, 2005 4:09:29 PM

Al, just out of curiosity, do you know which thread you're positing on?

When you say "you're posting", do you actually mean me, or do you mean the person *cough* who posts under my moniker?

Posted by: Al | Apr 7, 2005 4:24:40 PM

There are, obviously, various forms floating around in English; the OED has entries under Turcoman, Turkman, and Türkmen. The etymology for the first is:

a. Pers. turkumān ‘one like or resembling a Turk’, f. TURK n.1 + mān-dan to resemble: applied to the Turkish nomads. Hence med.L. Turcomannus, F. tourcouman. In English sometimes made into Turkman, and the second element treated as MAN, as in Chinaman, etc., with pl. Turkmen: cf. Mussulman.

At any rate, however you want to treat it in English, the -man part is from the Persian verb 'to resemble,' so it has nothing to do with the English word man.

The first OED citation is:
1600 J. PORY tr. Leo's Africa IX. 337 Camels are gentle and domesticall beasts, and.. are vsed in Asia by the Tartars, the Curdians, the Dalemians, and the Turcomans.

Posted by: language hat | Apr 7, 2005 5:36:11 PM

A single Turkmen is called a Turkmenbashi. Sometimes.

Posted by: Ezra | Apr 7, 2005 6:02:48 PM

Foreign languages are often confusing. Consider that, as with octopi and octopus, the "I" is plural and the "us" is singular. Exactly backwards from English.

Posted by: Barry | Apr 7, 2005 6:22:42 PM

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