This chart demonstrates how vowels shift left or right in order to abide by Kyrgyz grammar rules.
Azim, a speaker of the Kyrgyz language, recorded in Taiwan
Kyrgyz was originally written in Turkic runes
gradually replaced by the Perso-Arabic alphabet
(in use until 1928 in the USSR, still in use in China). Between 1928 and 1940 a Latin-script alphabet
, the Uniform Turkic Alphabet
, was used. In 1940, Soviet authorities replaced the Latin script with the Cyrillic alphabet
for all Turkic countries. When Kyrgyzstan became independent following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, a plan to adopt the Latin alphabet became popular. Although the plan has not been implemented, it remains in occasional discussion.
Kirghiz is a Common Turkic
language belonging to the Kipchak branch
of the family. It is considered to be an East Kipchak language, forming a subfamily with the Southern Altai language
within the greater Kipchak branch. Internally, Kirghiz has three distinct varieties; Northern and Southern Kirghiz.
Kyrgyz shares similarities with various sub branches of Common Turkic such as Kipchak, Karluk (due to Chaghatai Turkic
and language convergence
) and the Siberian sub branch (due to the Yenisei Kyrgyz ancestry). Kazakh
and Kyrgyz are mutually intelligible
and differ mainly phonetically, while the grammar is much the same. Until the 20th century, both languages used a common written form of Chaghatai Turkic.
It is highly likely that the Yenisei Kyrgyz spoke a language close to modern Khakas
, which belongs to the Siberian sub-branch of Common Turkic.
In 925 when the Khitans
defeated the Yenisei Kyrgyz
and expelled them from the Mongolian steppes, some Ancient Kyrgyz elites settled in Altai and East Turkestan where they mixed with local Kipchaks
, resulting in a language shift.
After the Mongol conquest
in 1207 and a series of revolts against Yuan
oppressive policy, Kyrgyz-speaking tribes started to migrate to Tian Shan
, which was already populated by various Turco-Mongol tribes. As Chaghatai Ulus
subjects, the Kyrgyz converted to Islam
vocabulary loaned to the Kyrgyz language, but to a much lesser extent than Kazakh
. Many Mongolian loanwords are found in the Kyrgyz lexicon.
/a/ appears only in borrowings from Persian or when followed by a front vowel later in the word (regressive assimilation), e.g. /ajdøʃ/ 'sloping' instead of */ɑjdøʃ/.
Note that in most dialects, its status as a vowel distinct from /ɑ/ is questionable.
Vowel Harmony (Peace Corps Method)
The United States Peace Corps
trains its volunteers using a "Left-Right Shift" method when carrying out language training in the Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyz consonant phonemes
/f, v, t͡s, x/ occur only in foreign borrowings from Russian, Arabic and English.
Although the Latin script is not in official use, some Kyrgyz texts are written in the Turkish variant
of the Latin alphabet which was designed by Pamukkale University, and uses Turkish spelling norms e.g. for diphthongization (ey
etc.) and with the addition of J
corresponding to Russian Ж (/zh/). Native Kyrgyz sound values are almost identical to Turkish, the exceptions being the velar nasal
/ŋ/ and the voiceless uvular stop
/q/ which do not exist in Turkish. In these cases, they are written as "ñ" and "q" respectively.
Like most Turkic languages Kyrgyz has loanwords from Persian
, the Kyrgyz lexicon, however, includes a much wider range of Mongolian
loanwords. The following Kyrgyz words borrowed from Mongolian are absent from the Kazakh vocabulary:
Morphology and syntax
Normally the decision between the velar
([ɡ ~ ɣ], [k]) and uvular
([ɢ ~ ʁ] and [χ ~ q]) pronunciation of ⟨г⟩ and ⟨к⟩ is based on the backness of the following vowel—i.e. back vowels
imply a uvular rendering and front vowels
imply a velar rendering—and the vowel in suffixes is decided based on the preceding vowel in the word. However, with the dative suffix in Kyrgyz, the vowel is decided normally, but the decision between velars and uvulars can be decided based on a contacting consonant, for example банк /bank/ 'bank' + GA yields банкка /bankka/, not /bankqa/ as predicted by the following vowel.
Kyrgyz has eight personal pronouns:
The declension of the pronouns is outlined in the following chart. Singular pronouns (with the exception of сиз, which used to be plural) exhibit irregularities, while plural pronouns don't. Irregular forms are highlighted in bold.
Declension of pronouns
In addition to the pronouns, there are several more sets of morphemes dealing with person.
Morphemes indicating person
Verbs are conjugated by analyzing the root verb: 1) determine whether the end letter is a vowel or consonant 2) add appropriate suffix while following vowel-harmony/shift rules.
Simple-Present Tense Conjugations (Peace Corps)
To form complement clauses
, Kyrgyz nominalises verb phrases. For example, "I don't know what I saw" would be rendered as "Мен эмнени көргөнүмдү билбейм" (Men emneni körgönümdü bilbeym): I what-ACC.DEF see-ing-1st.SG-ACC.DEF know-NEG-1st.SG, or roughly "I don't know my having seen what," where the verb phrase "I saw what" is treated as a nominal object of the verb "to know." The sentence above is also an excellent example of Kyrgyz vowel harmony; notice that all the vowel sounds are front vowels.
Several nominalisation strategies are used depending on the temporal properties of the relativised verb phrase: -GAn(dIK) for general past tense, -AAr for future/potential unrealised events, and -A turgan(dɯq) for non-perfective events are the most common. The copula has an irregular relativised form экен(дик) which may be used equivalently to forms of the verb бол- be (болгон(дук), болоор). Relativised verb forms may, and often do, take nominal possessive endings as well as case endings.
Notes and references
- ^ Kyrgyz at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- ^ https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Kyrgyz
- ^ Кызласов И. Л., Рунические письменности евразийских степей (Kyzlasov I.L. Runic scripts of Eurasian steppes), Восточная литература (Eastern Literature), Moscow, 1994, pp. 80 on, ISBN 978-5-02-017741-3, with further bibliography.
- ^ Latin alphabet. "Kyrgyzstan has to switch to Latin alphabet since 2040, MP". Информационное Агентство Кабар.
- ^ "Glottolog 4.3 - Kirghiz". glottolog.org. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
- ^ Robert Lindsay. "Mutual Intelligibility Among the Turkic Languages".
- ^ Kara (2003:10)
- ^ Washington (2007:11)
- ^ Washington (2006b:2)
- ^ a b Kara (2003:11)
- Kara, Dávid Somfai (2003), Kyrgyz, Lincom Europa, ISBN 978-3-89586-843-6
- Krippes, Karl A. (1998). Kyrgyz: Kyrgyz-English/English-Kyrgyz: Glossary of Terms. Hippocrene Books, New York. ISBN 978-0-7818-0641-1.
- Library of Congress, Country Studies, Kyrgyzstan.
- Comrie, Bernard. 1983. The languages of the Soviet Union. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Beckwith, Christopher I. 1987/1993. "The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia." Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Tchoroev, Tyntchtykbek. 2003. The Kyrgyz.; in: The History of Civilisations of Central Asia, Vol. 5, Development in contrast: from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century /Editors: Ch. Adle and Irfan Habib. Co-editor: Karl M. Baipakov. – UNESCO Publishing. Multiple History Series. Paris. – Chapter 4, p. 109–125. (ISBN 978-92-3-103876-1).
- Washington, Jonathan North (2006b), Root Vowels and Affix Vowels: Height Effects in Kyrgyz Vowel Harmony (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-01-13, retrieved 2007-04-12
- Washington, Jonathan North (2007), Phonetic and Phonological Problems in Kyrgyz: A Fulbrighter's plans for gathering data in the field (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-13, retrieved 2015-06-29
Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Kyrgyz
Last edited on 10 May 2021, at 15:50
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