Encyclopedic Dictionary of Black Sea (Karadeniz Ansiklopedik Sözlük) by Özhan Öztürk


A new work has been just added to the list of the works on Turkey that have been made in recent years including the genres of folklore, travel, monography and encyclopedia. “Encyclopedic Dictionary of Black Sea” by Özhan Öztürk is also a first of its field. Etymological explanations are also given for the articles in the encyclopedic dictionary that is a product of work with both original resources and rather rich bibliographies. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Blacksea, a direct source for many answers on Black Sea region of Anatolia, looks like a work of a great labor.

The dictionary is being published by Heyamola Publications and printed only in limited numbers. A scientific resource for those who are interested in the history, culture and folklore of Black Sea. The author of the encyclopedia Özhan Öztürk evaluates his work of 1260 pages such as:

“I don’t know the reason but no archeological excavations have been made in the Pontic coast of Anatolia. Querying why there are no excavations have been made in such a region that have a dense settlement as mentioned in Anabasis of Xenophon (B.C 401) is not the subject of this book. However, undoubtedly it will not be an optimistic guess to hope to find no less than at the excavations in Crimea and Colchis. Another interesting and discuss-worthy issue is that why a realist analysis of the original names of the villages and quarters that are used by the people even after the changes of the names in Republic era have not been made in these works on region’s culture and history including a great degree of content in Turkish. Having been limited with cities Ordu, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize and Artvin, I worked on all the original words, idioms and toponyms used in the spoken Turkish dialects by the people, independent from their native language, by comparing with surrounding cities such as Samsun, Erzurum and Gümüşhane, Anatolia, even surrounding countries and the their languages. I hope that the comparison of the original toponyms with Anatolia, Greece/Hellas, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and other Turkic States would be useful for those who are interested in regional history and influential for researchers.
While some village names in region do match with the villages in Crete and Epirus, no equivalents are found in Anatolia and North Hellas, encounter of some village names similar with those in the North Abkhazia, the motherland of Laz, existence of the traces of Pelasgi and Thracians, the prior people of the Anatolia and Hellas before the Indo-Europeans requires the re-thinking not only of the Anatolian and region history but also the history of a wide area from Caucasus to Balkans.”

For more information and sample pages from the book, please visit the web site.

Title: ENCYCLOPEDIC DICTIONARY OF BLACKSEA ISBN 9756121009 (Turkish: Karadeniz Ansiklopedik Sözlük)

Author: Özhan Öztürk

Publisher: Heyamola Publishing House, Istanbul

For Order: www.attistanbul.com , heyamola@attistanbul.com

Crete in Trabzon Thrace in Artvin

(An interview about the book with Özhan Öztürk)

The Review Express, June 2005 Issue
Interview: Uğur Biryol

1- How did you mind to write the “Encyclopedic Dictionary of Black Sea” which is seen as a comprehensive work?

In 1998, I noticed that the terminology works on the field of Black Sea culture and the folkloric elements’ those constitute this culture were in a neglect both in academic writing and literature. They were about to be forgotten, those names of the original plants and animals, outdated kitchen and agriculture artifacts, the food that is cooked no more today, the wild plants of the local flora that were destroyed by the tea and hazelnuts production, extinct migrating birds, fishing, transhumance, animal husbandry which lost his authenticity by the time, and various handicrafts such as copper-working and spoon-making and all the folkloric knowledge related to these counted values. As it is known, since many original village names those had been renamed not for a mere coincidence and lasted since the ancient ages were changed after the Republic era with makeup Turkish names, naturally a realist record and analysis for these names had not been performed and thus a deep knowledge which is related not only with the history of region but also a wide area from Balkan peninsula to Caucasus was out of the use of the science of history. It is interesting that the ancient site Zile/Zela where Julius Caeasar quoted his famous phrase “veni, vidi, vici”, is called with the same name today and it stands for “wine” in the language of Thracian people which was resident in Anatolia and the origin of Thrace region before the Greeks and it is a name of the district in Artvin-Yusufeli which will be covered by the water because of the dam in a year. This information is so meaningful for the ancient Anatolian history and has a priceless value for it reflects the urgency and importance of this work. There are thousands of new details such as the word Trabzon which stands for “Slave Market” in Greek and Erzurum that had been deciphered as Arz-ı Rum and entered into Encyclopedia AnaBritannica which is in fact for Erzin-i Rum, and the matches of the central village names of Trabzon-Rize in Crete and Mora peninsula, that I give with the coordinates in my book.

2- It must be painful to find the words in this dictionary. Because there are thousands of words of various regions in this dictionary. And the etymological origin of these words are essential for this work. So, you ever had an assistance of a linguist while working on such a dictionary?

Local terms those are spoken in Turkish dialects between Ordu and Artvin were in the Word Collection Reviews of the Turkish Language Association as well as city almanacs and many books that had been written on the culture and folklore of the region before. I found the web site www.karalahana.com and collected more than those with the help of thousands of site members, and I, through the members, had the possibility to reach the regions that I could not and the knowledge of their grandmothers and grandfathers. Sure it was not enough to only collect words and scan for resources, but it was also vital to find the etymological origins of the names of the villages, quarters, mountains, plateaus and rivers. In this period, I learned Ancient Greek and I developed my Laz that I scarcely spoke because of my mother, I brought many books on Linguistics and especially etymology from various universities abroad, I researched the works those on Anatolian Turkish, Greek, Armenian, Old Turkish, Georgian and Mingerilian and I met their authors and discussed face-to-face. The reader can, maybe for first time, find the hidden treasures of the language and folklore of such, as Turkmen accent that created their own cultural synthesis at the southeast of Trabzon, Laz spoken along the east shore of Rize, Middle Ages Greek spoken at the inner parts of Trabzon and a local variation of Armenian which is called Georgian and Hemşin Language and spoken at the inner highlands of Artvin. Therefore, a work which I even could not imagine at the beginning is formed with interesting knowledge such as over forty folk songs in Hemşin language which has hardly a written record, from flower and animal names to the nasty swears in Greek spoken in Trabzon, the living traces of the worshipping to the trees, sun and moon ,those inherited from paganism before the monotheist religions, in the language and folklore, and search of these traces in ancient Greek texts and historical resources and the reasons why a majority of Christians of the region lived in a Muslim character until 19th century.
4- What kind of difficulties you had while working on this work? Did you ever say “It is enough, I gave up!”?

The most important things as a difficulty are economical issues. I gave my seven years , the most productive years of my life, for a work which will not make a good income. I did not discontinue working though I decided to give up there three or four times in each year. However, I did not gave up because I had no inner peace. My grandfather was a mariner from Rize and his brothers, uncles, father and all known ancestors were so. Maybe folkloric knowledge of thousands of years was remained away because of our generation which did not choose the ancestors’ profession even it was unknowingly. Besides recording the stories of the people who is not “here” “now” and the life to be extinct, this is a work which provides Anatolian and Turkish historians with new discussion points for I explained those in an anticipated way. Therefore, I believe that Black Sea life style and folklore, and even ethnic structure in some areas did not changed at all since the ancient ages.

4- Unfortunately such works does not get attention in Turkey. How do you think to promote your book?

As Nietzche says in Ecce Homo “The ears to hear me have not been born yet”. I think that my work shall be valued by time for our next generations, so people of today is not my initial target of this work.

5- Works on Black Sea may cause reactions by some people. For instance, calling people from Trabzon with a Greek origin and calling people of Hemşin as Armenians can raise Cain among some people. What do you think then?

All generalizations and exceptions as well as hypothesises in science come with its antithesis. I did not prepare my book to prove anything or to support any political or ideological thesis except the reasons that I mentioned above.

6- Tens of nations that have different styles of life are living in Black Sea Region. However, everyone calls people of Black Sea as Laz. This work is so important for it points out the existence of the people who speaks different languages. Is that one of the aim of this book to point out this?

I have already explained with details why the word Laz was adopted by the people of whole region in the article Laz with 13 pages with the help of historical texts. The basic source of this problem is that all local people from the tribes that lived in Black Sea region and West Georgia shore and were mentioned as the Colchis, Tzan, Dzan in the Greek sources as Anabasis (BC 401) described themselves under the Laz common name since the Roman Empire period. That is the reason why Procopius had to need to explain this confusion about defitions in AD 6. century. Today, the people who lives at the east of district Pazar of the city Rize is one of these tribes preserved its existence and language… In addition to this, the people of Hemşin living at the same area and Turkmens never describe themselves as Laz but they are known as Laz.

7- How many years you gave for this work? As you know a Japanese linguist who made researches on Laz language had been deported before with a charge of “Seperatism” even a person from this region as İsmail Avcı Bucaklişi used to accompany him. Why do such researches are being obstructed? What is your opinion?

I have been working since 1998 but the phase of converting it to a dictionary format and determination of the articles were in 2001. I know the Turkey adventure of the mentioned Japanese linguist. I have read his associate grammar book on Laz language with Bucaklişi but the subject of my book is not directly Laz language, Greek language, Hemşin language or Georgian. I took into consideration only the local words that are used in Turkish in the determination of the articles. To compile other languages to be spoken in the region is more painful and that has to be the subject of a different work. However, I, of course, did not neglect to make these languages as articles in my dictionary, to analyze the village names in these languages and to add the local elements in these languages without a Turkish equivalent into the dictionary.

8-Is there further book projects of you?

I am working on a similar encyclopedic work under the name “Folklore, Religion and Mythology”. I suppose that it will be ready to be published in 2006.

May, 2005 İstanbul, Turkey

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