I wonder whether the following suffixes in fact the Latin borrowings?

-арь- as in вратарь, писарь, мытарь

-аль- as in брутальный, паяльный, читальный

2 Answers 2


ru.wikipedia agrees w.r.t. -арь, referencing Antoine Meillet Le slave commun:

*-arjь (суффикс профессии, отсюда рус. -арь) < прагерм. *-arjoz < лат. -arius

"Аль" is not a single suffix.

  • There's '-л-' in words like пада-л-ь, бы-л-ь, порос-л-ь (it's a suffix signifying a phenomenon; some words with -аль are here)
  • then there's '-л-' in words like чита-л-ьня, вмести-л-ище (it's an interfix, i.e. has no semantic value of its own; some words with -аль- in them are in this category)
  • and then there are words like брутальный, лояльный, стерильный which are borrowed wholesale (many words with -аль-, this one is derived from Latin -alis)

There are other meanings of the -л- suffix, but these don't seem to produce any -аль- combinations.

  • Do you mean паяльный, читальный, меняльный were wholesale borrowed?
    – Anixx
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 6:25
  • No, of course not. They belong to the second category.
    – user248
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 9:08

Despite that Vasmer in fact ignores the words with “-арь” suffix, the comparison of terms having that suffix drops hints about it‘s latin roots:

-ārius m (f. -āria, n. -ārium)

See: псарь, свинарь, виноградарь, ключарь, чеботарь, ложкарь, штукарь, плугарь, пушкарь, косарь, кобзарь, библиотекарь, аптекарь, почтарь, корчмарь, волгарь (and it‘s derivative «болгар[ин]»), главарь, бунтарь, пескарь, словарь, букварь.

The etymology of “-аль” is more vague. In “дуальный” and “натуральный” it’s definitely derived from Latin “duālis”/“nātūrālis”:

-ālis m, f (n. -āle)

But there is as well “москаль”, which looks like awry “москарь”. And there are “планетарный”, “легендарный” etc which have no affiliation with humans (as proper “-arius“ do.)

Since “р” and “л” sound quite similar, I would suggest that both those suffices are originated to their latin analogues, but nowadays some of they migrate from one to another according to common rules of russian language.

  • What does it mean "to drop hint"? Can you clarify, please?
    – Anixx
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 5:56
  • English also has "planetary", "legendary", so I suspect the suffix has Latin origin (-aris)
    – Anixx
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 5:59
  • “to drop hint” ≡ “to suggest,” I guess. AFAIK, there are no direct borrowings in russian from latin. Russian language mostly adopted Romano-Germanic terms (as well as Romanic from French.) And “r” and “l” are still quite similar (ask Nipponeses :-). The collision preventing me of claiming “-ar” suffix to be direct ancestor of “-ārius” is that “ārius” clearly indicates a person. Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 6:15
  • Note that the English for “планетарный” is "planetary" and for “легендарный” it's "legendary", also with R, which means it wasn't in Russian that those suffixes were added to those words.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 9:53

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