Where Did a Sarancha Fly into the Slavonic Bible From?

2020. № 1, 21-37

Alexander I. Grishchenko, Moscow State Pedagogical University, Institute for Slavic Studies (Russian Academy of Sciences), St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Russian State Library (Russia, Moscow), a.i.grishchenko@mpgu.su


The essay is devoted to the history of the late-medieval Turkic loanword sarancha’s emergence in the Eastern Slavonic languages (later the word was adopted by Polish and Czech). Its source was the Turkic (Old Kipchak) Targum known in the Jewish manuscript from the 1470s–80s; this MS has a list of clean bush-crickets (Leviticus 11:22) with the marginal gloss sarynčqa, which appeared afterwards as sarancha (or sarantsa) in the margins and text of the Edited Slavonic-Russian Pentateuch of the 15th century. The word was borrowed from Turkic allegedly on the Eastern Slavonic lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This Turkic loanword has been fixed as the main name of the insect in the subsequent history of Eastern and West Slavonic, while the later editors and publishers kept the old Slavonic word prug in the Church Slavonic Bible. The word sarancha came into usage no earlier than in the Russian Synodal Translation of the Bible (19th century).