Kyrgyz language
Not to be confused with Fuyu Kyrgyz language.
Kyrgyz (English: /
/;[2]autonym: Кыргызча/Qırğızça, [qɯɾʁɯzˈtʃɑ]), also spelled as Kirghiz, Kirgiz and Qirghiz, is a Turkic language of the Kipchak branch spoken in Central Asia. Kyrgyz is the official language of Kyrgyzstan and a significant minority language in the Kizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang, China and in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province of Tajikistan. There is a very high level of mutual intelligibility between Kazakh and Kyrgyz.
Кыргызча, قىرعىزچا‎, Qırğızça
Native toKyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang
Native speakers
4.3 million (2009 census)[1]
Kyrgyz alphabets (Cyrillic script, Perso-Arabic script, formerly Latin script, Kyrgyz Braille)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1ky
ISO 639-2kir
ISO 639-3kir
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
This chart demonstrates how vowels shift left or right in order to abide by Kyrgyz grammar rules.
Play media
Azim, a speaker of the Kyrgyz language, recorded in Taiwan
Kyrgyz is also spoken by many ethnic Kyrgyz through the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Turkey, parts of northern Pakistan, and Russia.
Kyrgyz was originally written in Turkic runes,[3] 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.[4]
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.[5]
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.[6]
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.[citation needed] 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. Persian and Arabic vocabulary loaned to the Kyrgyz language, but to a much lesser extent than Kazakh, Uzbek and Uighur. Many Mongolian loanwords are found in the Kyrgyz lexicon.
Main article: Kyrgyz phonology
Kyrgyz vowel phonemes[7]
/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/.[8] Note that in most dialects, its status as a vowel distinct from /ɑ/ is questionable.[9]
Vowel Harmony (Peace Corps Method)
Left Shift (<)Right Shift (>)Shift Direction
аыStraight Across Left-Right Shift
оу("y" Left-shifts up-diagonally to "a")
еиStraight Across Left-Right Shift
ө (э)үStraight Across Left-Right Shift
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[10]
Plosivevoicelessptk q
voicedbdɡ ɢ
/f, v, t͡s, x/ occur only in foreign borrowings from Russian, Arabic and English.[10]
Writing system
Main article: Kyrgyz alphabets
The Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan use a Cyrillic alphabet, which uses all the Russian letters plus ң, ө and ү.
In Xinjiang of China, an Arabic alphabet is used.
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, ay 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.
Бардык адамдар өз беделинде жана укуктарында эркин жана тең укуктуу болуп жаралат. Алардын аң-сезими менен абийири бар жана бири-бирине бир туугандык мамиле кылууга тийиш.Bardıq adamdar öz bedelinde jana uquqtarında erkin jana teŋ uquqtuu bolup jaralat. Alardın aŋ-sezimi menen abiyiri bar jana biri-birine bir tuuğandıq mamile qıluuğa tiyiş.bɑrdɯq ɑdɑmdɑr øz bedelinde d͡ʒɑnɑ uquqtɑrɯndɑ erkin d͡ʒɑnɑ teŋ uquqtuː boɫup d͡ʒɑrɑɫɑt ‖ ɑɫɑrdɯn ɑɴsezimi menen ɑbijiri bɑr d͡ʒɑnɑ biribirine bir tuːʁɑndɯq mɑmile qɯɫuːʁɑ tijiʃAll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Like most Turkic languages Kyrgyz has loanwords from Persian and Arabic, 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:
унааунааpack animal; car
Morphology and syntax
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Nouns in Kyrgyz take a number of case endings that change based on vowel harmony and the sort of consonant they follow (see the section on phonology).
CaseUnderlying formPossible forms"boat""air""bucket""hand""head""salt""eye"
Genitive-NIn-нын, -нин, -дын, -дин, -тын, -тин, -нун, -нүн, -дун, -дүн, -тун, -түнкеменинабанынчелектинколдунбаштынтуздункөздүн
Dative-GA-га, -ка, -ге, -ке, -го, -ко, -гө, -көкемегеабагачелеккеколгобашкатузгакөзгө
Accusative-NI-ны, -ни, -ды, -ди, -ты, -ти, -ну, -нү, -ду, -дү, -ту, -түкемениабанычелектиколдубаштытуздукөздү
Locative-DA-да, -де, -та, -те, -до, -дө, -то, -төкемедеабадачелектеколдобаштатуздакөздө
Ablative-DAn-дан, -ден, -тан, -тен, -дон, -дөн, -тон, -төнкемеденабаданчелектенколдонбаштантузданкөздөн
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:
Personal pronouns
Kyrgyz (transliteration)EnglishKyrgyz (transliteration)English
Мен (Men)IБиз (Biz)We
Сен (Sen)You (singular informal)Силер (Siler)You (plural informal)
Сиз (Siz)You (singular formal)Сиздер (Sizder)You (plural formal)
Ал (Al)He/She/ItАлар (Alar)They
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
1st2nd inf2nd frm3rd1st2nd inf2nd frm3rd
In addition to the pronouns, there are several more sets of morphemes dealing with person.
Morphemes indicating person
pronounscopulaspresent tensepossessive endingspast/conditionalimperative
1st sgмен-mIn-mIn-(I)m-(I)m-AyIN
2nd sgсен-sIŋ-sIŋ-(I)ŋ-(I)ŋ—, -GIn
2nd formal sgсиз-sIz-sIz-(I)ŋIz-(I)ŋIz-GIlA
3rd sgал-t-(s)I(n)-sIn
1st plбиз-BIz-BIz-(I)bIz-(I)K-AyIK
2nd plсилер-sIŋAr-sIŋAr-(I)ŋAr-(I)ŋAr
2nd formal plсиздер-sIzdAr-sIzdAr-(I)ŋIzdAr-(I)nIzdAr
3rd plалар-(I)şAt-(s)I(n)-sIn, -IşsIn
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)
Per. PronounVowelConsonant
1st sgМен
2nd sgСен-йс<ң-йс<ң
2nd formal sgСиз-йс<з-йс<з
3rd sgАл-йт-йт
1st plБиз-йб>з-<б>з
2nd plСилер
2nd formal plСизлер
3rd plАлар
Subordinate clauses
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.
See also
Notes and references
  1. ^ Kyrgyz at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Kyrgyz
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Latin alphabet. "Kyrgyzstan has to switch to Latin alphabet since 2040, MP". Информационное Агентство Кабар.
  5. ^ "Glottolog 4.3 - Kirghiz". glottolog.org. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  6. ^ Robert Lindsay. "Mutual Intelligibility Among the Turkic Languages".
  7. ^ Kara (2003:10)
  8. ^ Washington (2007:11)
  9. ^ Washington (2006b:2)
  10. ^ a b Kara (2003:11)
External links
Kyrgyz edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Kyrgyz.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kyrgyz language.
Last edited on 10 May 2021, at 15:50
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