Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.
I thought they were Turkic speakers who swapped their horses for reindeer at some point.
Pretty much, but still... my Turkish is nothing to write home about, yet I can still easily spot many obvious cognates. The distance between Turkey and the Sakha Republic is over 1.5 continental United States. Those Turkic speakers got around. I'm trying to think of other language clades that achieved this level of geographic spread with this level of mutual intelligibility* prior to colonial times (and in the case of Sakha, prior to literacy). There aren't many. Arabic and Chinese are up there, but they were spread by literate evangelists and traders, not honest nomads.*Modern Turkish is a problematic example due to the 20th C. language reforms, but you could readily substitute Azeri and be faced with the same questions.
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