Turkic languages

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Today's area of ​​distribution of the Turkic languages

The Turkic languages - also called Turkish languages or Turkic languages - form a language family of around 40 relatively closely related languages ​​with around 180 to 200 million speakers that is widespread in Eurasia . They are divided into a southwest (Oghusian), southeastern (Karluk or Uighur), western (Kipchak) and northeastern (Siberian) group, as well as the Arghu and Bolgar-Turkish branches .

Some recent theories assume that the original home of the Turkic languages ​​is in southwestern Manchuria .

With the Mongolian , Tungusian and sometimes also with the Korean and Japanese languages , the Turkic languages ​​are combined to form the group of Altaic languages . Whether "Altai" a genetic or just a areal unit forms, is still unclear. The majority of the researchers assume an areal linguistic union.

The Turkic languages ​​have borrowed many loan words from the Iranian languages , especially Sogdian and Persian . Sogdian was the widespread dominant language in Central Asia and along the Silk Road to China before it was replaced by later invading Turkic languages. Conversely, the Iranian languages, including New Persian, were also influenced by the Turkic languages. Some loan words were also taken from the Chinese languages . The Turkic languages ​​show early language contact with Sinitic (Chinese) languages ​​before the migration to the west began.

About the terminology: Turkic languages ​​- Turkish languages

The Turkic languages ​​are also called Turkic languages and Turkish languages , the individual languages, e.g. B. Uzbek or Azerbaijani also appear with names such as Uzbek or Azerbaijani Turkish . Such terms are particularly common in Turkish Turkology, in which the individual languages ​​are called dialects. This should not be misunderstood to mean that the Turkic languages ​​are identical to the single language Turkish , which is only one - albeit the most speaker-rich - of around 40 languages ​​of this language group, or that the Turkic languages ​​are dialects of Turkish. In fact, with such a naming practice, Turkish is also regularly given a special attribute such as Turkey-Turkish or Ottoman-Turkish . The designation of the individual languages ​​as dialects has historical reasons, because up to the end of the 19th century the Turkic languages ​​(with the exception of distant idioms such as Chuvash or spatially isolated idioms such as Yakut) formed a dialect continuum that, as a rule, formed a dialect continuum , which at some boundary lines more distinct breaks but had smooth transitions. The language of Istanbul (which defines the style of the Turkish language) is clearly different from the language of Baku (which is decisive for the Azerbaijani language), but there is no distinctive language border between them and these languages ​​are just barely understandable among each other. In Central Asia and the Volga region there was a unified literary language called Chagatai , whose own name was turki , above these spoken languages . The development of local standard languages ​​from the local dialects was also a politically influenced development of the 20th century. There were also decisions that were contrary to the system. In 1924 Central Asia was to be structured according to linguistic-ethnic criteria. When the population was asked about their self-identification, the answers were then sometimes given according to other criteria, such as economic geographic criteria, and the line drawn accordingly.

Turkic family

Distribution diagram of the Turkic languages ​​in individual languages

With a total of around 40 languages ​​spoken by 180 million people as their mother tongue (up to 200 million with second speakers), the Turkic language family is by far the largest and most important of the three subgroups of Altaic. It is - according to the number of its speakers - the seventh largest language family in the world (after Indo-European , Sino-Tibetan , Niger-Congo , Afro-Asian , Austronesian and Dravidian ).

Most Turkic languages ​​are very similar in phonology, morphology and syntax, however, Chuvash, Chalaj and the northern Siberian Turkic languages Yakut and Dolgan differ significantly from the others. A partial mutual understanding is possible between the speakers of most of the Turkic languages, especially if they belong to the same subgroup (for classification see the next section). This relatively great similarity of the languages ​​makes it difficult to clearly define language boundaries , especially since there are usually transitional dialects between neighboring languages . (These boundaries are often artificially drawn through political decisions and affiliations.) The internal genetic structure of the Turkic languages ​​is also problematic due to their similarity and intensive mutual influence, which has led to different classification approaches.

Geographical distribution

Areas with at least one Turkic language as an official language

The Turkic languages ​​are spread over a huge area in Eastern and Southeastern Europe as well as Western, Central and Northern Asia ( see distribution map). This area extends from the Balkans to China, from Central Persia to the North Sea. One or more Turkic languages ​​are spoken to a noteworthy extent in around thirty Eurasian countries, the high proportion of Turkish speakers in Germany and the rest of Europe due to the migrations of the past decades is remarkable .

Most important Turkic languages

The three largest Turkic languages ​​by far are:

  • Turkish : 70 million speakers, with second speakers 80 million: Turkey, Balkan states; also Western and Central Europe (due to recent migration)
  • Azerbaijani (Azerbaijan-Turkish): 30 million speakers: Azerbaijan and north-west Iran, also in eastern Turkey and northern Iraq
  • Uzbek : 24 million speakers: Uzbekistan, northern Afghanistan, Tajikistan and western China ( Xinjiang )

Other Turkic languages ​​with more than a million speakers:

  • Kazakh : 11 million speakers: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Russia
  • Uyghur : 8 million speakers: mainly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China
  • Turkmen : 6.8 million speakers: Turkmenistan, Northern Iran
  • Tatar : 5.5 million (2010) speakers: (ethnically 6.6 million) from central Russia to western Siberia
  • Kyrgyz : 4.5 million speakers: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Western China
  • Chuvash : 1.8 million speakers: in the European part of Russia
  • Bashkir : 1.8 million speakers: in the Russian Autonomous Republic of Bashkiria
  • Kashgaish : 1.5 million speakers: in the Iranian provinces of Fars and Khuzestan

The speaker numbers are from March 2006 from various verified sources. 5% to 10% higher values ​​are possible due to the time lag between determination and publication.

Close relationship between the Turkic languages

How closely the Turkic languages ​​are related to each other - apart from Chuvash, Chaladj and the northern Siberian Turkic languages ​​- already shows a look at the following table, which shows some word equations of the basic vocabulary for the languages ​​Old Turkish (the first written Turkic language, which, however, is not a direct ancestor of Turkey-Turkish is), which includes Turkish, Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Tatar, Kazakh, Uzbek, and Uighur.

Comparison of some basic words in important Turkic languages

German Old Turkish Turkish Azerbaid. Turkmen Tatar Kazakh Uzbek Uighur Kumyk
mother ana anne / ana ana ene ana ana ona ana
father ata ata ata kaka ata ake ota ata ata
flesh et et et et it et goʻsht / eʻt et / gosh et
grass ot ot ot үlən / ot ot ot / şöp oʻt ot / chöp or
horse at at at at at at / zhylqy ot ỷạt, at at
Fire ot ateş / od atəş / ot ot ut ot oʻt / otash ot ot
ice buz buz buz buz boz muz muz muz muz
nose burun burun burun burun boryn murın burun burun murun
poor qol col qol qol qul qol qoʻl col qol
Street yol yol yol ýol jul jol yoʻl yol yol
fat semiz semiz semiz simyz semiz semiz semiz semiz semiz
earth aşu toprak torpaq topraq tufrak topıraq tuproq tupraq
blood qan can qan gan can qan qon qan qan
ash cool cool cool Cologne cool kul kul cool cool
water see below see below see below suw syw suw suv see below suw
bright yürüŋ ak ak ak aq oq aq aq
dark qara kara qara garä kara qara qora qara qara
red kızıl kızıl qızıl qyzyl kyzyl qızıl qizil qizil qizil
blue / sky kök gok göy gok kük kök ko'k kök gok

Turkic languages ​​as national and official languages

The Turkic languages ​​Turkish, Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek are national languages in their respective states. The following Turkic languages ​​also have a special status as official regional languages ​​of autonomous republics or provinces: in Russia Chuvash, Kumyk, Karachay-Balkar, Tatar, Bashkir, Yakut, Khakass, Tuva, Altaic; in China Uyghur and in Uzbekistan Karakalpak.

Turkic languages ​​by state

Turkic languages ​​are spoken in around 30 countries in Europe and Asia. The table shows their distribution in the individual states. The languages ​​are arranged according to subfamilies ( see: Classification).

language Number of speakers mainly widespread in the following countries (with number of speakers)
Chuvash 1.8 million Russia ( Chuvashia and others) 1.8 million, Kazakhstan 22,000
Karaim nearly † Lithuania approx. 300, Ukraine <10, Poland <10
Kumyk 280,000 Russia ( Dagestan )
Karachay-Balkar 250,000 Russia ( Karachay-Cherkessia , Kabardino-Balkaria )
Crimean Tatar 500,000 Ukraine 200,000, Uzbekistan 190,000, Kyrgyzstan 40,000
Tatar 1.6 million Russia 480,000, Uzbekistan 470,000, Kazakhstan 330,000, Kyrgyzstan 70,000,
Tajikistan 80,000, Turkmenistan 50,000, Ukraine 90,000, Azerbaijan 30,000
Ethnic Tatars : 6.6 million
Bashkir 1.8 million Russia 1.7 million, Uzbekistan 35,000, Kazakhstan 20,000
Nogaisch 70,000 Russia ( North Caucasus )
Karakalpak 400,000 Uzbekistan
Kazakh 11 million Kazakhstan 8 million, China 1 million, Uzbekistan 800,000, Russia 650,000, Mongolia 100,000
Kyrgyz 4.5 million Kyrgyzstan 3.8 million, Uzbekistan 400,000, China 200,000
Turkish 60 million Turkey 55 million (S2 70 million), Balkans 2.5 million, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 300,000, CIS 300,000,
Germany 2 million, other Western and Central Europe 700,000
Gagauz 500,000 Moldova 170,000, Balkans 300,000 (including European Turkey), Ukraine 20,000, Bulgaria 10,000
Azerbaijani 30 million Iran 20 million, Azerbaijan 8 million, Turkey 500,000, Iraq 500,000, Russia 350,000,
Georgia 300,000, Armenia 200,000
Turkmen 6.8 million Turkmenistan 3.8 million, Iran 2 million, Afghanistan 500,000, Iraq 250,000, Uzbekistan 250,000
Khorasan Turkish 400,000 Iran ( Khorasan Province )
Kashgai 1.5 million Iran ( Fars Provinces , Chuzestan )
Aynallu 7,000 Iran ( Markazi , Ardabil , Zanjan provinces )
Afsharish 300,000 Afghanistan ( Kabul , Herat ), northeast Iran
Salarian 55,000 China ( Qinghai Provinces , Gansu )
Uzbek 24 million Uzbekistan 20 million, Afghanistan 1.5 million, Tajikistan 1 million, Kyrgyzstan 750,000,
Kazakhstan 400,000, Turkmenistan 300,000
Uighur 8 million China ( Xinjiang Autonomous Region ) 7.2 million, Kyrgyzstan 500,000, Kazakhstan 300,000
Yugur 5,000 China ( Gansu Province )
Äynu 7,000 China ( Xinjiang Autonomous Region )
Ili Turki 120 China ( Ili Autonomous District )
Yakut 450,000 Russia ( AR Yakutia )
Dolganic 5,000 Russia ( Taimyr Autonomous County )
Tuvinian 265,000 Russia ( Irkutsk Oblast , AR Tuwa ) 235,000, Mongolia 30,000
Tofalarian nearly † Russia (Southern Irkutsk Oblast )
Khakasian 65,000 Russia (AR Khakassia )
Altaic 50,000 Russia ( AR Altai , Altai Region )
Schorisch 10,000 Russia ( AR Altai )
Chulymian 2,500 Russia ( AR Altai , Northern Altai Region)
Chalaj 42,000 Iran (Central Province, between Qom and Arak)

Endangered Turkic languages

The existence of some Turkic languages ​​is seriously endangered because only a few, mostly elderly, people speak them. The South Siberian Tofa or Karagasy, the Karaim in Lithuania, the Judaeo-Crimean Tatar ( Crimean-Tatar ) and the Ili Turki in northwest China (Ili Valley) are directly threatened with extinction in the next few years . The Aynallu in Iran, the Yugur (Gansu Province) and Ainu (near Kashgar), both China, the North Siberian Dolgan and the South Siberian Chulymisch on the Chulym River north of the Altai have only a few thousand speakers . All other Turkic languages ​​are relatively stable, the number of speakers in the major languages ​​is increasing.

Classification of the Turkic languages

The relatively great similarity and intensive mutual influence of the Turkic languages ​​as well as the high mobility of the Turkic peoples makes it difficult to clearly define language boundaries and the internal genetic classification, which has led to different classification approaches. Nevertheless, relatively stable and similar classifications have emerged today, all of which ultimately go back to the Russian linguist Alexander Samoilowitsch (1922). Although classifications should always be genetic, geographical distribution plays a major role in the structure of the Turkic languages. On the question of the relationship between the Turkic languages ​​and the Mongolian and Tungus languages, see Altaic languages .

Special case of Chuvash

The Chuvash forms (together with the extinct Bolgarischen ) has its own "bolgarischen" branch of Turksprachen that faces the rest of the family (Turksprachen i. E. P) with a relatively wide spacing. Some researchers did not even consider Chuvash to be a “real” Turkic language because it differs so greatly from all others. It has not yet been clarified whether this large difference is due to an early separation of the Bolgarian branch from the other Turkic languages ​​or to a longer phase of linguistic and cultural isolation. A feature of this separation is the opposition of the final Chuvash / -r / to the mean Turkish / -z /, for example the final consonants in

Tschuw. taχar, but Nogaisch toγiz - "nine"
Tschuw. kör, but Turkish göz - "eye"

Chuvash is mainly spoken by 1 million speakers in the European part of Russia east of Moscow in the autonomous republic of Chuvash in the great Volga arc. There are other Chuvashes in Tatarstan and Bashkiria (1.8 million speakers in total). The Chuvash people are predominantly of the Russian Orthodox faith, use not only the Cyrillic alphabet but also an adapted Latin alphabet in their own print and radio media, and mostly speak Russian as a second language. They consider themselves culturally and historically the successors of the Volga Bolgars, but that is questionable.

Special case of Chalaj

Of the remaining Turksprachen the soaked Chaladsch from most. According to Gerhard Doerfer's view, which is widely accepted today, it is the only remaining representative of the Arghu branch of the Turkic languages, which was also isolated early and then appeared in the central Iranian province in the course of the 13th century - surrounded by speakers of Persian. Today, Khalaj is spoken by around 40,000 people in the Iranian central province between Qom and Akar and is one of the most interesting Turkic languages ​​in Iran from a linguistic point of view. The early isolation from other Turkic languages ​​and the strong influence of Persian have on the one hand received archaic features (e.g. a vowel system with three quantities short-medium-long, retention of the initial / h- / and the Old Turkish dative suffix / -ka /: Chaladsch häv.kä - Turkish ev.e - "for the house" - actually: "the house"), on the other hand led to widespread Iranisms in phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon (even with some numerals).

Other Turkic languages

The other four groups of the Turkic languages ​​are mainly divided geographically, whereby the current settlement areas do not apply to the classification, but the early phase of the Turkish languages ​​after their first migration and settlement processes. Thus, a distinction Kiptschakisch or West Turkish, Oghusisch or southwest Turkish (the largest according to the number of its speakers group with the Turkish, Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Kaschkai) Karlukisch or Osttürkisch, Northern Turkish, Turkish and North East Bolgar-Turkish. Kipchak / West Turkish is divided into three subgroups: Kipchak-Bulgarian or Ural, Kipchak-Oghuz or Pontic-Caspian and Kipchak-Nogaish or Aralic-Caspian.

The basic vocabulary of Yakut and Dolgan differ greatly from the rest of the languages ​​due to their long isolation. Word order and sentence structure are also different. In this respect, Yakut is more like the Mongolian and Tungus languages. In addition, all foreign words of Persian-Arabic origin that occur in other Turkic languages ​​are missing.

The long Arabic-Persian character of vocabulary and idioms , which most Turkic languages ​​learned through Islam , also contributes to the similarity of the languages . For the Turkic languages ​​on the territory of the former Soviet Union, there are also many common Russian foreign and loan words.

Classification scheme

Overall, according to the current literature, the following classification scheme results for the Turkic languages ​​(with the number of speakers as of 2006):

  • Southwestern branch (Oghus-Turkic languages)
    • Western Egyptian group: Turkish (60 million, S2 70 million), Azerbaijani (30 million, S2 35 million), Gagauz (500,000)
    • Ostoghous group: Turkmen (6.8 million), Khorasan Turkish (400,000?)
    • South Egyptian group: Kashgai (1.5 million), Afshar (300,000), Aynallu (7,000), Sonqori (?)
  • Northwestern branch (Kipchak Turkic languages)
    • West Kipchak group: Crimean Tatar (500,000), Kumyk (280,000), Karachay-Balkar (250,000), Karaim (almost †)
    • North Kipchak or Volga-Ural group: Tatar (Kazan-Tatar etc .; 1.6 million), Bashkir (2.2 million). Tatar in Western Siberia belongs to the South Kipchak group.
    • South Kipchak or Aralo-Caspian group: Kazakh (11 million), Kyrgyz (4.5 million), Karakalpak (400,000), Nogai (70,000)
  • Southeastern branch (Uyghur-Turkic languages)
    • Western group: Uzbek (24 million)
    • Eastern group: Uyghur (8 million), Äynu (»Abdal«; 7,000), Ili Turki (100); Salarian (60,000)
  • Northeastern branch (Siberian Turkic languages)
    • North Siberian group: Yakut (360,000), Dolgan (5000)
    • South Siberian Group (heterogeneous)
      • Sayan Turkic languages: Tuvinian (200,000), Tofa (Karagascan; almost †)
      • Yenisei Turkic languages: Khakassian (65,000), Shorian (10,000)
      • Chulym Turkic languages: Chulym (500)
      • Altai Turkic languages: Altaic (50,000; dialects: Oirot; Tuba, Qumanda, Qu; Teleutic, Telengi)
  • Chuvash (1.8 million) as well as Bolgarian † and Khazar †
  • Khalaj (42,000)

Linguistic criteria of classification

In addition to the geographical, there are some traditional linguistic criteria for the above classification:

  • The Chuvash-mean-Turkish opposition / -r / against / -z / separates Oghur from all other Turkic languages.
  • The intervowel consonant in the word for “foot” separates the Siberian Turkic languages ​​from the other groups: tuwa adaq, Yakut ataχ versus ayaq in the other groups, but chalaj hadaq .
  • The Oghusian languages ​​are separated from the others by the loss of the suffix-introducing G-sound: qalan versus qalγan - "left behind".
  • The silence of the suffix-final G-sound separates the south-east from the north-west group: Uighur taγliq versus Tatar tawlı - "mountainous".

Word equations of the Turkic languages

The following table gives an overview of the basic vocabulary in around 60 word equations , as it is realized in several important Turkic languages. The first column shows the developed proto-forms according to Starostin's etymological database. (In many cases you can see how the proto-lingual final and intervocal / r / - here marked / r̩ / - became the mean Turkish / z /, but not in Chuvash. Instead of the IPA code / ɨ /, the Turkish / ı / is used .)

The table clearly shows the different behavior of Chuvash and Yakut and the great similarity of the other Turkic languages. Proto- Turkish refers to the developed proto-form of all Turkic languages, Old Turkish is an early form of the Turkic languages, not specifically Turkey-Turkish. Gaps in the table do not, of course, mean that the corresponding language does not have a word for the term, but only that this term is formed from another root and therefore fails for the etymological comparison in the sense of a word equation.

people Proto-Turk. Old Turkish. Turkish Azerbaid. Turkmen. Tartare. Kazakh. Uzbek. Uighur. Yakut. Tschuw. Kumyk.
father * ata ata ata ata ata ata ata ota ata átä atte ata
mother * ana ana anne ana ene ana ana ona ana   anne ana
son * ogul oġul oğul oğul oğul (o'g) ul ul o'g'il oghul uol yva'l ul
man *he he he ər ǟr ir yerkek Erkak ar he arşyn erkek
girl * kır̩ qız kız qız gyz kız qız qiz qiz ky: s χe'r qiz
person * kil̩i kişi kişi kişi kişi keşe kisi kishi kişi kihi   kişi
bride * kalım kelin gelin gəlin geli: n kilen kelin kelin kelin kylyn kin gelin
parts of the body Proto-Turk. Old Turkish. Turkish Azerbaid. Turkmen. Tartare. Kazakh. Uzbek. Uighur. Yakut. Tschuw. Kumyk.
heart * jürek jürek yürek ürək ýürek yorak jürek yurak yüräk sureq che're yürek
blood * k (i) on qan can qan ga: n can qan qon qan qa: n jun qan
head * ba (l) š baş baş baş baş baş bas bosh baş bas puş baş
hair * kıl (k) qıl kıl qıl qyl kyl kyl kyl kyl kyl χe'le'r  
eye *brat köz göz göz göz short köz ko'z köz kos kuş göz
eyelash * kirpik kirpik kirpik kirpik kirpik kerfek kirpik kiprik kirpik kirbi: χurbuk kirpik
ear * kulkak qulqaq kulak qulaq gulak kolak qulaq quloq qulaq gulka: k χa'lχa qulaq
nose * burun burun burun burun burun boryn murın burun burun murun   burun
poor * col qol col qol gol kul qol qo'l col qol χol qol
hand * el (ig) el (ig) el əl el il el   äl ili: ala ' el
finger * biarŋak barmak parmak barmaq barmak barmak barmak barmoq barmaq   puree barmaq
Fingernail * dırŋak tırnaq tırnak dırnaq dyrnaq tyrnak tırnaq tirnoq tirnaq tynyraq che'rne tirnaq
knee *to you tiz diz diz dy: z tez tize nice tiz tüsäχ  
calf * baltır baltır baldır baldır baldyr baltyr baldyr boldyr baldir ballyr  
foot * adak adaq ayak ayaq aýaq ajak ayaq oyoq ayak ataʊ ura ayaq
belly * karın qarın karın qarın garyn qaryn qarın qorin qor (saq) qaryn χyra'm qarin
Animals Proto-Turk. Old Turkish. Turkish Azerbaid. Turkmen. Tartare. Kazakh. Uzbek. Uighur. Yakut. Tschuw. Kumyk.
horse *at at at at at at at ot at at ut at
Beef * sıgır siyir sığır sığır sygyr sıyer siyır sigir siyir     siyir
dog * ıt / * it ıt it it it et iyt it it yt jyta ' it
fish * balık balıq balık balıq balyk balyq balıq baliq beliq balyk pula ' baliq
louse *bit bit bit bit bit bet biyt bit pit byt pyjta ' bit
Others Proto-Turk. Old Turkish. Turkish Azerbaid. Turkmen. Tartare. Kazakh. Uzbek. Uighur. Yakut. Tschuw. Kumyk.
House * eb possibly possibly possibly öý öy üy uy öy   uy
tent * otag otag otağ   otaq   otaq otoq   otu:  
Street * jol yol yol yol yo: l yul jol yo'l yol suol şul yol
bridge * body (g) köprüq köprü body köpri küpar köpir ko'prik kövrük hat ke'per
arrow *OK oq OK ox OK uk OK o'q oq ugu
Fire * o: t ot or or ot ut ot o't ot uot vuta ' ot
ash * kü: l cool cool cool cool Cologne cool kul cool cool ke'l
water * sıb suv see below see below suw syw suw suv see below ui shyv suw
ship * according to kemi according to gəmi gämi kimä keme kema kemä   kim
lake * Cologne Cologne göl göl Cologne cool Cologne ko'l Cologne küöl küle '  
Sun / day * gün (el̩) küneş güneş günəş / gün green kojaş kün quyosh kün kün kun green
cloud * bulut bulut bulut bulud bulut bolyt bult bulut bulut bylyt pe'le't bulut
star * juldur̩ yulduz yıldız ulduz ýyldyz yoldyz juldız yulduz yultuz sulus şa'lta'r yulduz
earth * toprak topraq toprak torpaq toprak tufrak topıraq tuproq tupraq toburaχ ta'pra  
hill * tepö töpü tepe təpə depe tübä go down tepa töpä töbö tüp
tree * ıngač yaġac ağaç ağaç agaç agaç ağaş   yağaç   jyva'ş ağaç
God * teŋri tri tanrı tanrı taňry tänri taňri tangre tängri tanara tura '  
Adjectives Proto-Turk. Old Turkish. Turkish Azerbaid. Turkmen. Tartare. Kazakh. Uzbek. Uighur. Yakut. Tschuw. Kumyk.
long *urine uzun uzun uzun uzyn ozyn uzın uzun uzun uhun va'ra'm uzun
New * yesŋı yaŋı yeni yeni yany yana janga yangi yengi sana şe'ne ' yangi
fat * semir̩ semiz semiz   semiz simyz semiz semiz semiz emis samar semiz
full * do: lu tolu dolu dolu do: ly tuly tolı to'la toluq toloru tulli ta'li
White * a: k aq ak ak ak aq oq aq     aq
black * kara qara kara qara gara kara qara qora qara χara χura qara
red * kır̩ıl qızıl kızıl qızıl gyzyl kyzyl qızıl qizil qizil kyhyl χe'rle ' qizil
sky blue / sky * gok kök gok göy gok kük kök ko'k kök küöq ka'vak gok
numbers Proto-Turk. Old Turkish. Turkish Azerbaid. Turkmen. Tartare. Kazakh. Uzbek. Uighur. Yakut. Tschuw. Kumuk.
1 * bir bir bir bir bir ber bir bir bir bi: r pe'r (re) bir
2 * ek (k) i eki iki iki iki ike yeki ikki ikki ikki ik (k) e ' eki
4th * dö: rt kills dör dörd dör may kills to'rt kill fools ta'vat (t) a ' dör
7th * jeti yeti yedi yedi yedi yide jeti yetti yattä sette şi (ch) e ' jeti
10 * o: n on on on on U.N on o'n on uon vun (n) a ' on
100 * jü: r̩ yüz yüz yüz yüz yüz jüz yuz yüz sü: s şe'r yüz

Linguistic characterization of the Turkic languages

Typological features

Typologically , the Turkic languages ​​are very similar to the other two groups of Altaic languages ​​(Mongolian and Tungusian), so these features are largely common Altaic and can also be found in part in Uralic and Paleo-Siberian languages.

The main typological characteristics of the Turkic languages ​​are:

  • There are medium-sized phoneme inventories (20 to 30 consonants, 8 vowels) and simple syllable structures, hardly any consonant clusters. (Example see phoneme inventory of Turkish )
  • Some Turkic languages ​​(Turkmen, Yakut, Chalaj) have a quantity differentiation in the vowels that is probably old, but otherwise has been lost. Traces or effects of the old quantity can also be observed in other Turkic languages.
  • There is a sound harmony, especially vowel harmony , which is based on different sound oppositions: front-back, rounded-unrounded, high-low.
    • An example from Turkish should show this: baba-lar “fathers”, but ders-ler “lessons”. The plural marker is called / lar / or / ler /, depending on the type of vowel that precedes it. (Further details and further examples in the section "Sound harmony".)
    • The sound harmony is preserved to varying degrees in almost all Turkic languages, sometimes only in the spoken variants, while it is no longer clear in the typeface (e.g. in Uzbek).
  • A consistently agglutinative word formation and inflection, almost exclusively through suffixes (prefixes only appear in word formation). This can lead to very long and complex formations (however, normally more than three to four suffixes are rarely used). Each morpheme has a specific meaning and grammatical function and is - apart from the requirements of the vowel harmony - immutable.
  • Adjectives are not inflected, they show no concordance with the defining word they precede.
  • When using quantifiers (numerals, quantities) there is no plural marking.
  • There is no grammatical gender , not even in the pronouns. (Even the oldest forms of the Turkic languages ​​do not show any traces of a grammatical gender, so that one can assume that Proto-Turkish did not have this category either.)
  • Relative clauses are replaced by participle constructions . In general, nominalized and adverbialized complex verbal forms are used instead of subordinate clauses. The nominalized forms correspond roughly to infinitive constructions, the adverbial forms are called gerunds or converbs .
  • The verb is at the end of a sentence, the normal sentence structure is SOV (subject-object-verb).

Phoneme inventory using the example of Turkish

Turkish shows a phoneme inventory of eight vowels and 20 consonants, which is typical for the Turkic languages.


The vowels can be classified according to their point of articulation (front - back), rounding (rounded - unrounded) and height (high - low). This classification is crucial for vowel harmony.

Articulation place front back
Rounding unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
high i ü ı u
deep e ö a O


articulation labial apical palatal velar glottal
Plosive voiceless p t ç [⁠ ⁠] k  
Plosive voiced b d c [⁠ ⁠] G  
Fricative voiceless f s ş [⁠ ʃ ⁠]    
Fricative voiced v z j [⁠ ʒ ⁠]    
nasal m n      
Lateral   l      
Vibrant   r      
glide     y   H

The letters of the Turkish alphabet are used here, the sound values ​​are in square brackets [].

Sound harmony using the example of Turkish

The sound harmony widespread among the Turkic languages ​​affects both vowels and some consonants. In Turkish these are k, g, ğ and l.

The vowel harmony, i.e. the alignment of the suffix vowels with the vowels of the stem or the preceding syllable, should be shown using the example of Turkish. There the vowel harmony is based on both an alignment of the articulation point (front-back) and an assimilation in the rounding type (rounded-unrounded) of the vowels in question. Some suffixes are formed according to the so-called small vowel harmony , others according to the large vowel harmony . While the small vowel harmony in the suffix prescribes a / e / after the front vowels (e, i, ö, ü) in the previous syllable and an / a / after the back vowels (a, ı, o, u), the Suffixes that are formed according to the great vowel harmony, a / i / after the front unrounded vowels (e, i), a / ü / after the front rounded vowels (ö, ü), a / ı / after the back unrounded vowels ( a, ı) and a / u / used after the back rounded vowels (o, u).


  • (1) elma-lar "apples" but ders-ler "lessons"
  • (2) ev-de "in the house", but orman-da "in the forest"
In (1) and (2) the plural suffix / -ler / or / -lar / and the locative suffix / -de / or / -da / of the stem vowel in the articulation point (front-back) are similar.
  • (3a) isçi-lik "craftsmanship"
  • (3b) pazar-lık "haggling"
  • (3c) çoğun-luk "majority"
  • (3d) Ölümsüz-Lük "immortality"
The suffix / -lik / "-keit" has four variants that adapt to both the articulation of the stem vowel (back-front) and its rounding.
  • (4) püskül - ümüz - ün
Tassel - POSS.1pl - GEN
"Our tassel (or tassel)"
  • (5) püsküler - imiz - in
Tassel - PL - POSS.1pl - GEN
"Our tassels"
In (4) the last vowel of püskül (/ ü /: in front, rounded ) causes corresponding vocalization in the possessive suffix / imiz / (here / ümüz /) and case marker / in / (here / ün /). (For the possessive suffix and case markers see: Morphology )
In (5) the / ü / of püskül causes the anterior variant of the plural marker / ler /, whose unrounded anterior / e / in turn triggers the unrounded anterior variant / imiz / and / in / of the following markers. The following examples can be explained in the same way.
  • (6) torun - umuz - un
Grandchildren - POSS.1pl - GEN
"Our grandson"
  • (7) torun - lar - ımız - ın
Grandchildren - PL - POSS.1pl - GEN
"Our grandchildren"

The distinction between rounded and unrounded vowels is generally valid in Turkish, but not in all Turkic languages. There are also exceptions in Turkish. An example is the word “söylemek” meaning “say, speak”. The present tense stem is mostly "söyl- ü -yor" according to the large vowel harmony presented above . In the future and the present participle, on the other hand, the unrounded forms are more common: “söyl- i -yecek” and “söyl- i -yen”.

Turkish has no different spelling for the light and dark forms of the consonants k, g, ğ and l, although some Turkic languages ​​use the letter q for the dark k. Incidentally, the dark ğ - the letter only comes after and between vowels - is no longer spoken, the light variant is a fleeting j-sound, the dark l is as in the English word “well”. If the vowels a or uk, g or l are to be spoken lightly, the vowel is given a circumflex, e.g. B. "kâr" "profit", but "kar" "snow" or "klâvye" "keyboard".

Morphology of the Turkic languages

Case marking

Turkic languages ​​usually have six cases : nominative (unmarked), genitive , dative - terminative , accusative , ablative (where from?) And locative (where?). These cases are identified by appended case markers, which can be very different within the individual languages. However, there is a recognizable general structure that goes back to the common proto-language and that is indicated in the marker formula . (V denotes a vowel that follows the vowel harmony, K denotes any consonant). However, this structure leaves a relatively large scope for the concrete implementation of the cases in the individual languages. The following table shows the case marker formulas and their implementation in three example languages ​​Kyrgyzstan, Bashkir and Turkish, which implement some - but not all - variants of the formula.

The case marker formulas and their implementation in some Turkic languages

case Marker formula Kyrgyz Bashkir Turkish
Nominative -O köz "eye" bala "child" ev "house"
Genitive - (d / t / n) V n köz-thin bala-nın ev-in
dative - (k / g) V köz-gö bala-ga ev-e
accusative - (d / n) V köz-dü bala-nı ev-i
ablative -d / t / n V n köz-dön bala-nan ev-den
locative -d / t / l V köz-dö bala-la ev-de

Personal pronouns

The personal pronouns are very similar in all Turkic languages. In Turkish they are:

person Singular Plural
1 ben biz
2 sen siz
3 O onlar

Possessive suffixes

The possessive suffixes, which replace the possessive pronoun in the Turkic languages, but are also used in similar forms in verbal morphology, are particularly important:

person Singular Plural
1 -(in the - (i) miz
2 -(in - (i) niz
3 - (s) i -leri / ları

Noun phrases

Using the example of Turkish, the construction of noun phrases is shown. The order of the constituents is fixed. The main items are as follows:

1 attribute - 2 nouns - 3 derivative suffix - 4 plural markers - 5 nominalization - 6 possessive suffixes - 7 case markers


  • araba-lar-ımız-a >> 2 Auto - 4 PL - 6 POSS.1pl - 7 DAT
"To our cars"
  • çocuk-lar-ınız-ı >> 2 child - 4 PL - 6 POSS.2pl - 7 AKK
"Their (pl.) Children" (acc.)
  • gül-üş-ler-iniz-i >> 2 laughs - 3 NOMINAL - 4 PL - 6 POSS.2pl - 7 AKK
"Their laughter" (acc. Pl.)
  • yaşlı adam-lar-a >> 1 old - 2 men - 4 PL - 7 DAT
"The old men" (attribute before the final word, without concordance in number and case)
  • birçok çocuk >> 1 much 2 child
"Many children" (because of the quantifier "many" there is no plural marker)

The verbal system of the Turkic languages

A typical verbal form has the following positions:

1 stem - 2 tense / mode markers - 3 personal extensions

The following table shows the tenses and modes of the verb in the Turkic languages ​​with a general formula and realization in Azerbaijani and Turkish (1. Sg. The root al- "take, get, buy")

Tense / mode formula Azerbaijani Turkish meaning
infinitive m + V + k / g al-maq al-mak to take
imperative O; -in al; al-ın al; al-ın take! take!
Present V + r al-ır-am al-ıyor-um I take
Future tense acak al-acağ-am al-acağ-im i will take
preterite d / t + V al-dı-m al-dı-m I took
Conditional sa al-sa-m al-sa-m (if) I take
Optional (j) V al-maq is-tə-yi-rəm al-mak is-ti-yo-rum i want to take
Necessitive malı al-malı-y-am al-malı-y-im I should take
Part. Present tense Vn al-an al-an taking
Part. Perfect d V k / g al-dığ-im al-dı-ğım taken (having)
gerund ip al-ıb al-ıp taking
passive il / n al-in-maq al-in-mak be taken
Causative d / t + i + r (t) al - dırt - mag al-dırt-mak caused to take

Examples of more complex Turkish verbal forms that can also replace entire subordinate clauses:

  • ben milyoner ol-mak isti-yor-um >> I [millionaire - become-INF] want-PRÄS-1sg
"I want to be a millionaire"
  • ben biz-im haps-e at-ıl-acağ-ımız-ı duy-du-m
>> I [we-GEN prison-DAT throw-PASS-FUT-1pl-] - AKK hear-PRÄT-1sg
"I heard that we should be thrown in jail"
(more literally: I heard our-to-be-thrown-in-prison )
  • öp-üş-door-ül-dü-ler >> kiss-REZIP-KAUS-PASS-PRÄT-3pl
"They were made to kiss each other"
  • yıka-n-ma-malı-yım >> wash-REFL-NEG-NECESS-1sg
"It is necessary that I do not wash" ie "I am not allowed to wash"
  • yıka-n-acağ-ım >> wash-REFL-FUT-1sg
"I will wash myself"

(Some examples from IEL, Article Turkish, and GLCampbell, Concise Compendium of the World's Languages. )

Early Turkic languages ​​and their tradition

Migratory movements

Some scholars take the view that tribes who spoke early forms of a Turkic language were already in the associations of the Huns, who migrated westward since the 1st century. Massive migrations by Turkic peoples can be proven beyond doubt since the 8th century. The peak of the westward migration of Turkish populations was the conquest of Anatolia in the 11th century. The last migration of Turkish population groups was that of the Yakuts , which began in the 12th century. The language of the Turks of South Siberia (the language in which the oldest Turkic texts - the Orkhon inscriptions - were recorded, i.e. Old Turkish ) is the only language form that gained its own profile before the great migrations of the Turkish peoples.


  • The oldest Turkish written documents are the runic inscriptions of the Orkhon-Yenisei region and the Turan inscriptions. Most of these date from the 8th century. The script in which the Orkhon texts are handed down shows external similarities with the Germanic runes (but without being related to them), so that it is also called runic script .
  • The actual writing tradition of the southeastern Turkic languages ​​begins in the 11th century under the Qarakhanids . There, in 1069 or 1070, the work Kutadgu Bilig ("Blissful Wisdom") by the poet Yusuf, consisting of 6645 individual verses, and in 1074 the monumental Turkish-Arabic dictionary Diwan Lughat at-Turk by Mahmud al-Kāschgharī .
  • The Khorezm Turkish of the 13th and 14th centuries also belonged to the southeastern Turkic languages, but shows some southwestern influences. It formed the basis of Chagataic, an important literary language of many Muslim Turkic peoples until the end of the 19th century.
  • The earliest evidence of the northwestern Turkic languages ​​comes from the 14th century, when the Codex Cumanicus was written in the Cuman language . The follow-up talks are Tatar and Bashkir .
  • Inscriptions in Volga Bulgarian are only from the 13th / 14th centuries. Passed down in the 17th century, from it - or from a related dialect - the strongly deviating Chuvash later developed .
  • Since the 15th century, belonging to the Southeast group Tschagataisch occupied, the basis for today's languages Uzbek and Uighur represents.

Writing of the Turkic languages

  • In the period from 1924 to 1930 , other Turkic languages ​​were written, initially on the basis of a Latin alphabet, which had been used for Azerbaijani since 1922 .
  • From 1936 to 1940 the transition to a Cyrillic written form adapted to the needs of the Turkic languages ​​began in the Soviet sphere of influence . While the Arabic and Latin scripts were designed to make different Turkic languages ​​mutually understandable, the opposite was true for the languages ​​written in Cyrillic - there, different dialects were artificially created into separate languages. Loyal linguists were commissioned by Stalin to convert regional or tribal dialects into teachable high-level languages ​​and thus to break up old contexts. The Turkic languages ​​in the USSR in particular had to be separated as far as possible in order to destroy the old pan-Turkish aspirations.
  • In October 1990, shortly before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the states of Azerbaijan , Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan , Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan decided at a Turkic summit in Ankara to introduce Latin alphabets for their national territory within 15 years. This should be based closely on the alphabet used in Turkey. The aim of this step should be to preserve the common cultural heritage of the Turkic peoples.
  1. Azerbaijan
  2. Gagauzia
  3. Kazakhstan (unofficially for the website of the state news agency; Cyrillic is still used officially)
  4. Crimea (along with the Cyrillic)
  5. Tatarstan (along with the Cyrillic)
  6. Turkmenistan
  7. Turkey (since 1928)
  8. Uzbekistan
  • Turk-speaking Jews have used the Hebrew script since ancient times .

See also


Web links

Commons : Turkic languages  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Turkic language  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Brigitte Moser, Michael Wilhelm Weithmann: Regional studies of Turkey: history, society and culture. Buske Verlag, 2008, p. 173.
  2. ^ Johanson, Lars. 2010. "The high and low spirits of Transeurasian language studies" in Johanson and Robbeets (2010), 7-20.
  3. ^ Altaic etymology: Query result. Retrieved August 22, 2018 .
  4. Martine Robbeets: Austronesian influence and Transeurasian ancestry in Japanese: A case of farming / language dispersal . In: Language Dynamics and Change . tape 7 , January 1, 2017, p. 210-251 , doi : 10.1163 / 22105832-00702005 ( researchgate.net [accessed September 7, 2018]).
  5. Rachel Lung: Interpreters in Early Imperial China . John Benjamin Publishing, 2011, ISBN 978-90-272-8418-1 ( google.com [accessed September 24, 2019]).
  6. ^ Hanson, Valerie (2012). The Silk Road: A New History . Oxford University Press
  7. ^ Roux, Jean-Paul (2000). Histoire des Turcs (in French).
  8. cf. the materials in Gerhard Doerfer, Turkish and Mongolian elements in New Persian: with special consideration of older New Persian historical sources, especially the Mongol and Timurid periods , 4 volumes, Steiner, Wiesbaden, 1963–1975, with volumes 2: Turkish elements in New Persian: alif bis tā , 1965, 3: Turkish elements in New Persian: ǧūm bis Kāf , 1967 and 4: Turkish elements in New Persian (conclusion) and index to the complete work , 1975
  9. ^ Lirong MA: Sino-Turkish Cultural Ties under the Framework of Silk Road Strategy . In: Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (in Asia) . tape 8 , no. 2 , June 2014, ISSN  1937-0679 , p. 44–65 , doi : 10.1080 / 19370679.2014.12023242 ( tandfonline.com [PDF; accessed September 5, 2018]).
  10. Gerhard Doerfer: The position of the Ottoman in the Oghusian circle and its prehistory in: György Hazai (Ed.): Handbuch der Türkischen Sprachwissenschaft, Vol. 1 Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1990, ISBN 3-447-02921-8 , pp. 13– 34, 18
  11. Gerhard Doerfer: The position of the Ottoman in the Oghusian circle and its prehistory in: György Hazai (Ed.): Handbuch der Türkischen Sprachwissenschaft, Vol. 1 Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1990, ISBN 3-447-02921-8 , pp. 13– 34, 19
  12. Klaus Röhrborn: Pan-Turkishism and linguistic unity of the Turkic peoples in: Klaus Heller and Herbert Jelitte (eds.): The middle Volga region in past and present , Lang, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-631-46921-7 , 153– 175, 155-156
  13. ^ Ingeborg Baldauf: Some Thoughts on the Making of the Uzbek Nation. In: Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique. 32, No. 1 1991, pp. 79-95, p. 90 ( online ).
  14. Language families, thesis from 2006 in the Department of Linguistics / Linguistics, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, p. 24.
  15. AZƏRBAYCAN TÜRKCƏSİ, YOXSA AZƏRBAYCAN DİLİ? Retrieved August 20, 2020 (az-AZ).
  16. Dil inqilabı. In: Azlogos. December 17, 2018, accessed August 20, 2020 (Azerbaijani).
  17. Ethnologue report
  18. See Street 1962, Poppe 1965, Miller 1971, Voegelin & Voegelin 1977 and a.
  19. So it is not closely related to Azerbaijani as it is classified in ETHNOLOGUE 2005.
  20. z. B. Johanson in Johanson / Csató: The Turkic Languages, 1998, pp. 82-83.
  21. Sergej Starostin: Turkish etymological database
  22. * Wolfgang-Ekkehard Scharlipp: The early Turks in Central Asia. Darmstadt 1992, p. 2. ISBN 3-534-11689-5 .
    • Claudia Römer: From the Huns to the Turks - dark history. in: Central Asia. Edited by Andreas Kappeler. Promedia, Vienna 2006, p. 62. ISBN 3-85371-255-X .
    • M. Weiers: Turks, Proto-Mongols, and Proto-Tibetans in the East. (PDF; 21 kB) Online publication. 1998.
    • Pavel Lurje: The Languages ​​of Central Asia, Past and Present. in: Central Asia. Edited by Andreas Kappeler. Promedia, Vienna 2006, p. 48. ISBN 3-85371-255-X .
    • David Bivar: The nomadic empires and the spread of Buddhism. in: Fischer World History. Vol. 16. Central Asia. Edited by Gavin Hambly. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1966, p. 49.
    • René Grousset: The steppe peoples. Kindler, Munich 1970, p. 19.
    • Harald Haarmann: Huns. in: Lexicon of the fallen peoples. Beck, Munich 2005, p. 129. ISBN 3-406-52817-1 .
  23. Harald Haarmann: World history of languages. Beck, Munich 2006, p. 274. ISBN 3-406-55120-3
  24. Harald Haarmann: World history of languages. Beck, Munich 2006, p. 271. ISBN 3-406-55120-3 .
  25. Erhard Stölting: A world power is breaking up. Nationalities and Religions in the USSR. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 1991, p. 23. ISBN 3-8218-1136-6
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on April 10, 2006 .