From a thread at Avva I learned that the Russian family name Chaadaev (well known because of the nineteenth-century Westernizer) comes from the Mongolian name Chaghatai (well known because of Genghis Khan’s son, who inherited Central Asia and founded a dynasty). This was interesting enough, but in the course of the discussion someone asked if the name was Turkic or Mongolian, apologizing for his bukvoedstvo. This was a new word to me; it means ‘pedantry’ but is literally ‘letter-eating’ (bukva ‘letter (of the alphabet)’ + ed- ‘eat’). I love it, and will henceforth proudly identify myself as a bukvoed.

(Bukva, incidentally, is ultimately borrowed from Germanic boko ‘beech tree,’ which is also the source of English book. And while I’m at it, the plural of book should historically be beech, which is the result of applying the regular sound changes to the Old English plural bec, with long e. Isn’t linguistics fun?)


  1. Perhaps “turkic” is better than “Turkish” for the Russian “tyurkskij”; “Turkish” is generally “turetskij”.

    (from one bukvoed to another 😉 )

  2. You’re absolutely right!

  3. Ilya Vinarsky says

    Should the plural of ‘noodle’ be ‘needle’?

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