A new approach in linguistics

This article describes a new approach in modern Kazakh linguistics. The new approach is called ‘the mytholinguistic interpretation of the symbol point inside the circle (the point in the center of the circle)’. Using this approach, the authors try to answer the religious and philosophical question “where does the word begin?”. To find an answer to this difficult question, the article widely uses the results of research on speech ontogenesis, metaphysics, psychoanalysis, and materials from the Automated Similarity Judgment Program (ASJP) database, Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database, S. Starostin’s etymological database (LWED) “Babel Tower” and dictionaries of Turkic languages (“An Etymological Dictionaries of Turkic Languages”, M. Kashgari’s Dictionary, “An Ancient Turkic Dictionary”). The information and conclusions presented in the study are of great interest not only to domestic scientists, but also to foreign researchers.


In the Kazakh humanities in the early 2000s, S. Qondybay developed an approach to the systematic description of myths, linguistic, folklore, ethnographic and many other data [1, 2]. The mythologist, having read the metaphysical meaning of the a point inside the circle and its types (for example, four directions), proposed a new interpretation of mythical plots, linguistic, folklore materials. Using this approach, we have published several articles in recent years [3–5]. For example, in an article published in 2021, we interpreted the extra five days in the calendar myths as the thirteenth month [5] since in some myths the extra five days are not included in the count. According to metaphysical knowledge, the additional five days symbolize the beginning of time, and the remaining 360 days symbolize 12 months. This can be explained using this symbol (the point inside the circle) as follows: the point is an additional day (5–6 days), and the 12 lines coming from the point represent 12 months [5; 95]. We believe that this approach can reveal many interesting facts concerning the language, consciousness, and traditions of humanity as a whole, and that the data of the review article will arouse interest among cultural scientists, linguists, mythologists, and the general public.

Methods and Discussion

Analytical psychology of C.G. Jung

In the analytical psychology of C.G. Jung, the symbol the point inside the circle symbolizes the mandala. Mandala is translated from Sanskrit as ‘circle’. Its elements are a geometric system located at the same distance from the center point. The mandala is mainly characterized by the symbol the point inside the circle (in addition, a square, a triangle, etc.). It is in the psychology of C.G. Jung that the most important archetype of the Self is symbolized. He notes that in the dreams, hallucinations of his patients, often there were symbols similar to the mandala [6]. They are common natural symbols for the entire human race (Jung divided the symbols into natural and cultural ones) [7]. Mandalas include all inventions that emphasize the special meaning of a circle with a center, which are usually accompanied by figures of a square, a cross, or another image of a quaternary or a quatrain [8].

Drawings that resemble a mandala are often drawn by children. According to Kellogg, initially the child draws doodles with a pencil; soon his attention switches to the intersection of lines and begins to draw circles, crosses [9]. When a child tries to draw an image of a person, he draws a picture that looks like a circle with arms and legs.

*Автор корреспондент. E-mail: boka_001kz@mail.ru

It is important to note that the child draws various lines and circle without training. That is, “mandala drawings are spontaneous, no one teaches them, and they are very similar in children from different cultures. They rarely emerge with the same intensity after the age of five. From this we can conclude that the drawing of the mandala is part of the natural order of psychological maturation. These actions accompany the process of the child’s self-awareness” [10; 26]. The drawings drawn by children are similar to images carved in stone thousands of years ago.

Why is there a similarity between the drawings of a child and an ancient person? On this occasion, S.F. Fincher writes: “Perhaps because children go through the same steps to consciousness as ancient people. What was given with such difficulty to adults thousands of years ago is repeated by modern children, who quickly run through the historical development of human consiousness on their way to maturity” [10; 26]. That is, the images that the child draws from the moment he takes the pen in his hands reflect the natural path of human development. The picture that the child draws is the human essence. In our practice, all these symbols were encountered. At first, when a child draws people, his drawings look like a circle. Below we provide a drawing of a 2-year-old girl (Asylai), who drew people in the image of a spiral or circle with a dot (Figure 1). Drawings, most often, are called cartoon characters (for example, Anna, Elsa).

Figure 1. Drawing of a 2-year-old girl

Here we immediately recall the legend of Platon that “the primordial man was rounded, and the outlines of his sides and back resembled a circle”. E. Edinger argues that all this, figuratively speaking, indicates that the human psyche originally had the shape of a circle [8].

The essence of a person can be depicted using simple symbols (circle, dot, line). A person first appears in the womb (circle); then appears in this world. This symbolic world can be depicted in a circle, and in the very center of this world is the person himself. Every nation forms a picture of the world based on such simple, natural symbols. Simple symbols become more complex depending on the habitat and lifestyle of the population. What a person does later becomes a habit, a tradition. S. Qondybay wrote about rituals (marriage, election of the khan (king), initiation, funeral, etc.), performed by rotating the central point or making a circle in his study [11]. For example, Scythians, when a person was dying, made circular movements. Such rituals can be found in all the peoples of the world.

Metaphysical interpretation

The center is, first of all, the beginning, starting point of all things, point of the first cause, without form and size, hence, indivisible, and therefore, the only possible image of the original One. From it, through his manifestation, all the rest has come, just as the One produces all the numbers, which, however, does not in any way affect or change its essence [12; 47]. The circle is a symbol of Peace, manifestation. Now, as for the question of what this first character is called, it can be associated with a child’s cry.

In the Turkic languages, the first cry of a child is called — iŋga, inga, etc. S. Qondybay connects the first word with a child’s cry [1, 2]. As the main sound, it denotes the phoneme of the ng. If we assume that the beginning of life is a child, then its first sound (cry) at birth is the first word. Symbolically, a person’s life begins with the cry of iŋga. As Kyzlasov points out, the proto-rune of the sound [ŋ] in the ancient Turkic script is a circle sign with a dot inside [13; 131]. The most interesting thing in some alphabets (for

example, Burma, Khmer), the sound of the child is called nga, as the names of the children’s cry in the Turkic languages.

In the languages included in the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database [14], the names of the child are given as follows: ngaʔnga (Inibaloi), ʔungʔungnga (ʔunga) (Ifugao, Bayninan), ŋɔʔ (Koronadal Blaan), ngɔʔ (Bilaan, Koronadal), ŋaʔ (Tboli (Tagabili), ngaʔ (Tagabili), ongá' (Romblon), ungâ (Iraya), 'ʔonga (Balangaw), ŋa55 (Caijia), *ŋaŋa (Proto-Trans-New Guinea), natu-ŋɡu (Sio), ŋgari (Lengo), etc. (https://abvd.shh.mpg.de/austronesian/word.php? v=56). They correspond to the form of words associated with children’s crying in the Turkic languages, e.g., in Kazakh iŋga; in Kyrgyz ıŋaala; in Turkmen iŋŋa- iŋŋa, iŋŋabebek; in Yakut nıaah, etc. In our opinion, all this is not a coincidence. Also, the names of people are originally associated with sound imitation — it is likely that it was ŋa/nga. This relic is preserved in the language of some peoples:

Nga — the god who created man from clay (Samoyedic mythology);

ŋaŋasan / nganasan — Samoyedic people (meaning people);

*әŋ, *eŋ, ŋgare, etc. — person;

ng ~ e, ngar, Nga7, noNgogo, Nangan, Ng ~ a, Ng ~ o, etc. — person [15].

In general, cognition, the human psyche, can be represented symbolically, through the symbol the point inside a circle. If in psychoanalysis the main archetype of collective unconscious (the Self) is represented by a symbol with a dot inside the circle, then the creation of the world, of man, can be explained by metaphysical cognition. The first denotation of this symbol is associated with a child's cry and these words are reflected in many languages. Now let us move on to the mytholinguistic analysis.

Many peoples have a myth about the creation of the universe, e.g.: “in the beginning there was no light, no life, no sound”, “in the beginning there was nothing in the universe but water”, “in the beginning it flooded the surface of the Earth” [2; 81]. English Astrophysicist Hawking divides the history of the Universe into four epochs [16].

Epoch 1. The beginning of time. At that time, there was nothing at all, that is, the universe existed out of nothing. The mass of the entire Universe was concentrated at one point (one point without measurement), and then the Big Bang occurred.

Epoch 2. As a result of the explosion, billions of tons of energy are thrown into space, and the elements begin to dissipate.

Epoch 3. Galaxies begin to form, moving away from the point of the first flame.

Epoch 4. The universe is expanding to this day. Accordingly, the theory, originally called the “Big Bang”, is called the theory of expansion of the universe. In the Turkic legend about the creation of the universe, there is such a motif: “In ancient times, a stone floated in a muddy sea. The Originator looked at this stone with delight. With his skillful hands, he cut this beautiful stone into two parts. One part of the stone turned into fire, and the other-water” [3; 16]. Here we see that legend and science complement each other. From the explosion of mass or stone, that is, from the “Big Bang” the Universe was created. It can be characterized by the symbol the point inside the circle (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The symbol the point inside the circle

The center point is a pressed mass or stone. It is a symbol of ‘nothing’, ‘no’. If we explain it in a metaphysical sense, then the original, first word is *ŋə. The root of the word jok (no) in the Turkic language, in our view, is associated with a child’s cry. The first sound also means no, i.e. not a word. Since this is not the true word. In Russian, this is called krik (a cry). From the perspective of Gvozdev “...screams... they are still devoid of the function of speech, but they solve a very important task of preparing the speech apparatus for mastering the different sides of pronunciation in the future” [17]. That is, the beginning of human speech is the iŋga (cry). The word joq (no) in the Proto-Turkic language was in the form of nga. The meanings of the word joq are as follows:

  1. No, does not exist, is absent/absent, non-existence, nothing, etc.
  2. No (negation)
  3. Poverty
  4. Lost thing, object of search, loss [18; 212]. The form of the word joq in some Turkic languages is as follows: in Kazakh zhok, in Balkar zoh, in Altay doc, in Tuvan chok, in Yakut suoh, etc. The word tuk (nothing, neither) is also associated with this word in the Turkic language and according to the sound correspondence, the basis of these words is the same. The pronoun  (what) in the Turkic languages is associated with the joq base. In some Turkic languages, this word has distinctive features in the form: Tuvan сhu:, Shor сhu: k. From this basis (nә), such derived words appeared, as in Bashkir nəmə ‘what', ‘thing’, ‘object’, Tuvan chuve‘thing’, ‘object’, etc. [18; 213]. The ancient Turkic form of the word  is neŋ. Meaning: ‘thing’, ‘object’, ‘thing’; ‘something’ [19; 358]. In the Turkic languages, the sound changes n and j/ʒ are found at the beginning of the word. For example, Kazakh ʒan, Tuvan nan (side); Kazakh ʒun, Tuvan nun (wool). It should be noted that, in children’s speech, one can also find such sound changes or substitutes. According to Ramstedt, in the Turkic proto-language there was no sound [n] in anlaut, and the pronouns  were used as ja-n [20]. On the contrary, according to Starostin, it is necessary to use a completely different interrogative basis, namely Tungus-Manchurian *ŋü ‘who’. This form corresponds exactly to the Korean nu-, nú- ‘who’. “Thus, we are dealing here with the reflexes of the general Altai *ŋ -, preserved in Tungus-Manchu, passed into n-in Korean and (in the form of archaism) in Turkic, and gave j-before the subsequent ascending diphthong in Mongolian. As for vocalism, we must assume that the Tungus-Manchu and Korean forms go back to the Proto-Altaic suffixed form *ŋia-u (Mongolian jaʔu)” [21; 31]. Starostin believed that the hypothetical basis of the words who and what is *ŋia-u. In some languages, this word is used in the same sense (who, what). For example, the Kazakh ne in form and semantics correspond to the languages Bangba 2, Bangeri Me, Biksi Bias, Fang 3, Fang 3, etc. In some languages, it occurs in the form of nene, neke, etc. [15]. The form ne is also used in the sense of ‘who’: Highland Tequistlatec, Kurukh 2. In the ASJP, in addition to the word (nu) specified by S. Starostin, the following words are found in the Korean language: nuga, nugu. The word nu, meaning ‘who’, exists in the following languages: for example, nu — Zaar, Meru 2, etc. [21].

In the “An Etymological Dictionary of the Turkic Languages” there is one meaning of the pronoun not. This is ‘not’. “When repeated — or... or, not... not (usually in negation)” [22; 104]. For example, ne ol barady, ne men baramyn (either he goes, or I go). In the dictionary of Kashgari, the word ab is given, with a similar meaning. For example, abbul, abol (either this, or it; neither this, nor it). In the Old Turkic language, the word  is found, meaning ‘no’, ‘not’; in the “An Ancient Turkic Dictionary”, the negative particle ‘not’ [23; 75]. B. Sagyndykuly, who studied the phenomenon of internal inflection in the Turkic languages, writes “vowel sounds in the Proto-Turkic language were inclined to change their positional places” and gives such examples: *at/*ta ‘speak’, ‘say’; es, us/sa ‘mind’, ‘reason’, ‘to count’, ‘to speak’; etc. [24; 89]. In the same way, the words ŋəne can be changed to əŋеŋ. In connection with the above facts, we assume that the original form of joq was *ŋə. It should also be noted that in many languages of the world that give the meaning ‘not’, there are similar forms of ne, ni, no, na, me, ma, etc. (https://asjp.clld.org/parameters/8).

This word (nә/ne) means the first name of any object, phenomenon, or action. For example, when we do not know the name of an item, we ask mynaw ne (what it is), i.e. the original name of the item is . Through this word, we give a name to an object, something whose name we do not know. For example, ne nərse (what is), ne sebepti (why), ne istedi (what did), nege (why), etc. In general, their essence can be explained by reading the symbol. The point of the symbol in metaphysical cognition is “the beginning of the beginning”. Its original name is ŋə. That is, the word begins with a child's cry ŋə and the world was created out of nothing. The original name of ‘nothing’, ‘no’, ‘not’ is ŋə.

The point of the symbol the point inside a circle means the concepts of ‘beginning’, ‘base’. For example, these values remained in the Turkic language of the words negiz (base), nukte (dot), and Tungus-Manchu languages such words as Evenk ŋīŋte, Even ŋēŋtǝ, Oroch ŋiŋte, Ulchi ŋuikte ~ muikte, etc., which have the value ‘root’ [21; 91]. Here it can be noted that the original form of these words is ŋə. The central point of the symbol is the beginning, the base, the root, the first ancestor. The rays coming from the point are the offspring, the direction, etc.

The word  in the modern Kazakh language, which means ‘the most’, is also connected with these basics. For example, eŋ biik is the highest. In the ancient Turkic written heritage there is a phrase eŋ ilk (very first). The name of the point in the center of the symbol is  (most), the value is ‘the beginning of the beginning’ (not just the beginning, but the beginning of the beginning, the very first) [2, 4].

In general, there are hundreds of such examples. Most importantly, such an explanation makes it possible to better understand the essence of the Turkic root and the meaning of words. Scientists who have studied Turkic words note that the most ancient primordial morphemes were far from concrete in their semantics [5, 25, 26]. On the contrary, the sound complexes that formed the basis of the original Turkic roots due to the same primitive practical activity and worldview of our distant ancestors, conveyed not a specific, but the most generalized, abstracted meaning. For example, the word house in modern Turkic languages has about 20 variants: au/ev/av/ug/uy/öi, etc. The meanings of this root are as follows: nest, hearth, shack, burrow, cave, etc. These meanings are based on the general concept of ‘housing’. In our opinion, with the help of the mytholinguistic model of reading of the symbol the point inside a circle, it is possible to figuratively depict and explain sacred, symbolic concepts related to man, the universe, and nature. The word au/ab, for example, meaning ‘dwelling’, ‘housing’, refers to the mother’s uterus, the mother’s womb, if it is interpreted in relation to a person. The place of creation of man, the first sacred place — the mother’s womb. Here it must be said that the knowledge of a person goes from the general to the particular. If we observe the development of the baby, we will notice that he knows the world holistically. This can be seen in the drawings of the child. When the child begins to draw, he first draws all sorts of circles, squares, etc. Then, over time, the drawings are detailed. Children’s speech is also developing [27, 28]. We believe that our approach will be effective in explaining this phenomenon since it can combine the results of many studies to understand human language and consciousness.

Model of a mytho-linguistic reading of the symbol the point inside the circle

Since ancient times, the four cardinal directions (east, south, west, and north) have played an important role in creating a coordinate system that allowed a person to determine and describe their position in space, i.e., to orient themselves relative to other objects. The center of the world as the ‘navel of the earth’ appears in many peoples.

The concept of the four sides of the world is also reflected in the culture, traditions, myths, and language of all nations. Podosinov, who studied the classification of the four sides of the world by the peoples living on the Eurasian continent, writes: “The division of the world into four parts, quarters, quadrants, and segments is widely documented in many cultures of Eurasia. The number ‘four’ spatially meant the totality of space, the whole world, the universe” [29; 484]. Lévy-Bruhl believed that for the native inhabitants of North America, the number four was considered a sacred concept: “In almost all the Red Indians, the four and its multiples had a sacred meaning, since they refer specifically to the four cardinal directions and to the winds blowing from these sides, and the sign or symbol used for the number four was the Greek cross” [30; 105–106]. Also, in any religious-mythological or philosophical-idealistic (and this was the worldview of most archaic societies), a ‘fifth essence’ (quintessence — from Lat. quintaessentia), which would either connect the other four (Indian ‘space’), or give them a divine extraterrestrial impulse, push, energy (ether). The ‘fifth entity’ is the symbol of the point, and the four rays or directions emanate from this ‘point’. For example, in the Turkic worldview, color values play a special role. Each color has its own ‘angle’. Black (qara) represents the north side, white (aq) represents the west, red (qyzyl) represents the south, and blue (kӧk) represents the east. The symbol of the center, according to our assumption, is qoŋur (brown). It is the meaning of this word that is associated with the center, middle.

In the Kyrgyz, Karakalpak, and Kazakh languages, qoŋur-brown in combination with the word salkyn (coolness) expresses the following meanings: ‘light and pleasant coolness’ (Kyrgyz, Karakalpak), ‘not hot and not cold’ (Kazakh).

In the Kazakh language, the meaning of ‘orta’ (middle) of this word has been preserved: qoŋur (brown) in the phrase qoŋur dauys ‘pleasant voice’ expresses not a bass, rough, low and not high, thin, but an average voice between them. The meaning of ‘middle’ of the word qoŋur is also preserved in the phrases qoŋur kuz (about autumn), qoŋur tirshilik (steady life), and qoŋur uy (about yurt). Previously, the color of the yurts was used to determine who was rich and who was poor. Rich people lived in white, light yurts (ak uy, boz uy), poor people lived in darker (black) yurts (karasha (kara) uy), and ordinary, middle — class people lived in brown yurts (qoŋur uy). In the Kazakh language, in relation to time, the word qoŋur is also used in the meaning of ‘orta’ (middle). In the worldview of the Kazakh people, the expression qoŋur kuz was called the middle of autumn. In the names of mountains, hills in the central part of the Kazakh steppes, the word qoŋur is also used (Fig. 3). These hills and mountains are not high, mostly low, and the most interesting thing is that they are located in the central part of the Republic of Kazakhstan, i.e. in the middle of a huge territory of the country.

The word qoŋur has many meanings and a deep etymological analysis is necessary to explain it. From our perspective, the basis of the word qoŋur in the Turkic languages is qoŋ. The development of the color values of this word was influenced by the concept of ‘kindik-center’, ‘orta-middle’. In the figurative meaning of the word qoŋur, the meaning of ‘orta-middle’ has been preserved. It is also possible to explain the development of the colorative meaning of the word qoŋur. From the field of physics, a pattern is known: in a light beam (a white light beam), the entire spectrum of colors is accumulated. However, it should be borne in mind that the sum of all the colors (pigments) gives a brown color. The color resulting from the mixing of color paints and the color in the process of metabolism is brown. According to the laws of the Turkic languages, consonants (q) and (k), vowels (o/a) and (ö/e) can alternate with each other [24]. Then the basis of qoŋ can be changed to köŋ. The word kon means ‘tezek’ (dung), ‘ki’ (dung). The color of the dung is brown. The food of animals that consume colored substances turns into brown in the process of metabolism. If one mixes the colors that represent the four cardinal directions, one gets a color similar to brown. That is, the name of the neutral color (qoŋur) and the name of the manure (qoŋ~köŋ) have the same root basis, and their meaning complements each other.

The point is a symbol of the middle, center, navel, result. It is these meanings that are collected in the word qoŋur. The number of directions (lines) propagated from the center point can be several. In myths, fairy tales, the number of these directions is four, six, and eight. The concept of the ‘middle’, ‘center’ is associated with the spiritual center, the khan’s headquarters, paradise, and the holy place. This center has four corners or four small rivers originate from a spring/river in the center. Such similar plots can be found in any myth, fairy tale. In the Bible it is written: A river comes out of Eden to water Paradise, and then it was divided into four rivers. The name of one Fison (Pichon): it flows around all the land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; there is bholach and onyx stone. The name of the second river is Gihon (Geon): it flows around the entire land of Kush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel (Tigris): it flows before Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates (Prat) (Genesis 2, 10–14). In some sources of the Turkic peoples, such concepts are also found [2].

In the worldview of each nation, there is a concept of the center of the earth (zher kindigi). Among the Turkic peoples, the center (kindik) of the land is considered to be Ötüken (Ötükän) (a wooded area or mountain). Potapov writes that the ancient Turkic word Ötüken was the name of the mountain range where the ancient Turks lived, and it means ‘deity of the earth’ [31]. The ken component of the word Ötüken is preserved in the Kazakh language as qonys ‘camp’ (nomads), ataqonys ‘native land’, ‘land of ancestors’. The ancient Turks believed that from Ötüken comes qut ‘prosperity’, qut ‘grace’, ‘strength’, ‘wealth’, ‘prosperity’. According to the sign, a circle with a dot inside the Ötükän symbolizes the center of the world, from which comes qut-grace. The Kultegin monument says that in the middle of the world (i.e., in Ötüken) the

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Turks lived, and from the four corners they were surrounded by enemies [32]. In the Turkic languages, the alternation of sounds a~e, a~o is a natural phenomenon (for example, ken~qan). The words ken or kon can correspond to the form and meaning of the word qan. The word qan has the meaning of ‘most’. For example, in the Kazakh language there are phrases qan maidan ‘the height of any action’, qan bazar ‘a large and noisy crowd of people’. The word qan in these combinations expresses ‘the very center’, ‘the inferno of the events taking place’.

In the ancient Turkic language, there is the word ken (ore), and its figurative meaning is ‘source’ [19]. According to the mythical reading of the symbol the point inside a circle, the point denotes the ‘source (beginning) of life’ (embryo), ‘fruit’, and the concept of the circle is associated with the ‘mother’. In the Kazakh language, the word qoŋur has a meaning associated with a child, it is also used in relation to offspring, young animals. For example, in folk songs ‘qoy suyedi balasyn qoŋurym dep’ (A sheep loves its child, affectionately calls qoŋur). In this case, the word qoŋur is used as a synonym for lamb and has the meaning of ‘offspring’ (child). The child/offspring/child is also associated with the origins of life, with the concept of ‘foundation’, ‘first foundation’ (i.e. the beginning of life). One of the most common from the word qoŋ is the word kindik ‘umbilical cord’, ‘center’. The two different meanings of this word (center and umbilical cord) are also related to the dot in the sign. We believe that in the Turkic languages, the names of baby animals are formed from the basis of qoŋ. For example, konzhyk ‘bear cub’, kozhek/*koŋzhek ‘hare’, qodyk/*qoŋdyk ‘foal’, ‘donkey’. In the Altaic and Dravidian languages, the proto-form *kuŋi is used in relation to a child [33]. We assume that this primordial form is associated with the words kind in Indo-European languages, and kindik (umbilical cord; navel), kench (child), kin (womb; female genital organ, reproductive organ) in the Turkic languages.


This review article provided a model of mytholinguistic reading of the symbol the point inside the circle. This new approach is paramount not only for Kazakh linguistics but also for world linguistics. Because with this approach, one can systematize extensive material, understand the origin of the language of the human race. In the future, the articles and data published in Kazakh will be translated into English and presented to the general public.



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Year: 2022
City: Karaganda
Category: Philology