Having finished The Reconstruction of Nations (see this post; the whole book is superb and will certainly feature strongly in my year-end wrap-up for The Millions), I’ve started another book that covers wide areas and a long span of time, Russia’s Steppe Frontier: The Making of a Colonial Empire, 1500-1800, by Michael Khodarkovsky (to be carefully distinguished from Khodorkovsky). Again, I’ve barely started and I’m already hooked; besides good maps and photos, it’s got a new and valuable approach to the history of Muscovy/Russia’s interactions with the steppe peoples to the south and east, taking those peoples and their histories as seriously as it does the Russians. (Can you believe that “William McNeill’s celebrated book Europe’s Steppe Frontier … does not contain a single reference to any of the numerous steppe peoples”? That was as recently as 1964!) I want to quote a section from page 10, on the history of the Nogays, that demonstrates one of the things that gives me pleasure in such accounts, the proliferation of unusual words (mainly titles). The author has just pointed out that “the Nogay rulers, unlike their more noble brethren in the Crimea, Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, were ineligible to claim the heritage of the Golden Horde”:
This difference was clearly reflected in political nomenclature. A careful observer of early-sixteenth-century Muscovy, Baron Sigismund Herberstein, noted that the Nogays had no tsar (i.e., a khan), but only a princely chief (i.e., a beg). The beg (referred to in Russian as a grand prince, bol’shoi kniaz’) was the ruler of the Nogays. The next in line of succession was the nureddin (a personal name of Edige‘s eldest son which evolved into a title), an heir apparent and the second highest title, followed by the keikuvat (a title derived from the name of Edige’s younger son) and the toibuga. [...]
The candidates for the four princely titles had to be confirmed in the Nogay Grand Council, known as the körünüsh (korniush in Russian transliteration), which consisted of the members of the ruling house (mirzas), tribal aristocracy (karachis), distinguished warriors (bahadurs), the beg’s retinue (imeldeshes), and Muslim clergy (mullahs). The beg had his own administration (a treasurer, a secretary, scribes, tax collectors) and a council comprising the best and most trusted people. Yet his authority as projected through this rudimentary official apparatus was greatly circumscribed by the powerful and independent mirzas and karachis.
I might note that as a result of the long and at times heated discussion in this thread, I was forced to acknowledge that even I would have a hard time calling keikuvat and toibuga English words, even though Khodarkovsky drops the itals after first mention and talks about “the keikuvat” just as though he were talking about “the vice president.” I still think such use is a good rough-and-ready criterion, but each case has to be examined on its own; if a lot of people started writing about nureddins and keikuvats in English, these sentences would be early attestations for OED citations, but by themselves they do not create new English words.