Turkic languages are spoken as a native language
by some 170 million people, and the total number of Turkic speakers, including second language
speakers, is over 200 million.
The Turkic language with the greatest number of speakers is Turkish
, spoken mainly in Anatolia
and the Balkans
; its native speakers account for about 40% of all Turkic speakers.
Characteristic features such as vowel harmony
, and lack of grammatical gender
, are almost universal within the Turkic family.
There is a high degree of mutual intelligibility
among the various Oghuz languages
, which include Turkish
, Balkan Gagauz Turkish
and Oghuz-influenced Crimean Tatar
Although methods of classification vary, the Turkic languages are usually considered to be divided equally into two branches: Oghur
, the only surviving member of which is Chuvash
, and Common Turkic
, which includes all other Turkic languages including the Oghuz sub-branch.
Languages belonging to the Kipchak
subbranch also share a high degree of mutual intelligibility among themselves. Kazakh
may be better seen as mutually intelligible dialects of a single tongue that are regarded as separate languages for sociopolitical reasons.
They differ mainly phonetically while the lexicon and grammar are much the same, although both have standardized written forms that may differ in some ways. Until the 20th century, both languages used a common written form of Chaghatay Turki
Turkic languages show many similarities with the Mongolic
, and Japonic
languages. These similarities led some linguists to propose an Altaic language family
, though this proposal is widely rejected by Western historical linguists.
Similarities with the Uralic languages
even caused these families to be regarded as one for a long time under the Ural-Altaic
However, there has not been sufficient evidence to conclude the existence of either of these macrofamilies, the shared characteristics between the languages being attributed presently to extensive prehistoric language contact
Extensive contact took place between Proto-Turks
approximately during the first millennium BC; the shared cultural tradition between the two Eurasian nomadic
groups is called the "Turco-Mongol
" tradition. The two groups shared a similar religion system, Tengrism
, and there exists a multitude of evident loanwords between Turkic languages and Mongolic languages
. Although the loans were bidirectional, today Turkic loanwords constitute the largest foreign component in Mongolian vocabulary.
Some lexical and extensive typological similarities between Turkic and the nearby Tungusic
families, as well as the Korean
families (all formerly widely considered to be part of the so-called Altaic language family
) has in more recent years been instead attributed to prehistoric contact amongst the group, sometimes referred to as the Northeast Asian sprachbund
. A more recent (circa first millennium BC) contact between "core Altaic" (Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic) is distinguished from this, due to the existence of definitive common words that appear to have been mostly borrowed from Turkic into Mongolic, and later from Mongolic into Tungusic, as Turkic borrowings into Mongolic significantly outnumber Mongolic borrowings into Turkic, and Turkic and Tungusic do not share any words that do not also exist in Mongolic.
Robbeets (et al. 2015 and et al. 2017) suggest that the homeland of the Turkic languages was somewhere in Manchuria
, close to the Mongolic
homeland (including the ancestor of Japonic
), and that these languages share a common "Transeurasian
More evidence for the proposed ancestral "Transeurasian" origin was presented by Nelson et al. 2020 and Li et al. 2020.
Early written records
Geographical expansion and development
The geographical distribution of Turkic-speaking peoples across Eurasia
since the Ottoman era ranges from the North-East of Siberia
to Turkey in the West.
(See picture in the box on the right above.)
For centuries, the Turkic-speaking peoples have migrated extensively and intermingled continuously, and their languages have been influenced mutually and through contact
with the surrounding languages, especially the Iranian
, and Mongolic languages
This has obscured the historical developments within each language and/or language group, and as a result, there exist several systems to classify the Turkic languages. The modern genetic classification schemes for Turkic are still largely indebted to Samoilovich (1922).
The Turkic languages may be divided into six branches:
With less certainty, the Southwestern, Northwestern, Southeastern and Oghur groups may further be summarized as West Turkic
, the Northeastern, Kyrgyz-Kipchak, and Arghu (Khalaj) groups as East Turkic
Geographically and linguistically, the languages of the Northwestern and Southeastern subgroups belong to the central Turkic languages, while the Northeastern and Khalaj languages are the so-called peripheral languages.
The following isoglosses
are traditionally used in the classification of the Turkic languages:
- Rhotacism (or in some views, zetacism), e.g. in the last consonant of the word for "nine" *tokkuz. This separates the Oghur branch, which exhibits /r/, from the rest of Turkic, which exhibits /z/. In this case, rhotacism refers to the development of *-/r/, *-/z/, and *-/d/ to /r/,*-/k/,*-/kh/ in this branch. See Antonov and Jacques (2012) on the debate concerning rhotacism and lambdacism in Turkic.
- Intervocalic *d, e.g. the second consonant in the word for "foot" *hadaq
- Suffix-final -G, e.g. in the suffix *lIG, in e.g. *tāglïg
Additional isoglosses include:
- Preservation of word initial *h, e.g. in the word for "foot" *hadaq. This separates Khalaj as a peripheral language.
- Denasalisation of palatal *ń, e.g. in the word for "moon", *āń
*In the standard Istanbul dialect of Turkish, the ğ
is not realized as a consonant, but as a slight lengthening of the preceding vowel.
The following table is based upon the classification scheme presented by Lars Johanson (1998)
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The following is a brief comparison of cognates
among the basic vocabulary across the Turkic language family (about 60 words).
Empty cells do not necessarily imply that a particular language is lacking a word to describe the concept, but rather that the word for the concept in that language may be formed from another stem and is not cognate with the other words in the row or that a loanword
is used in its place.
Also, there may be shifts in the meaning from one language to another, and so the "Common meaning" given is only approximate. In some cases, the form given is found only in some dialects of the language, or a loanword is much more common (e.g. in Turkish, the preferred word for "fire" is the Persian-derived ateş, whereas the native od is dead). Forms are given in native Latin orthographies unless otherwise noted.
Azerbaijani "ǝ" and "ä": IPA /æ/
Turkish and Azerbaijani "ı", Karakhanid "ɨ", Turkmen "y", and Sakha "ï": IPA /ɯ/
Turkmen "ň", Karakhanid "ŋ": IPA /ŋ/
Turkish and Azerbaijani "y",Turkmen "ý" and "j" in other languages: IPA /j/
All "ş" and "š" letters: IPA /ʃ/
All "ç" and "č" letters: IPA /ʧ/
Kazakh "ž": IPA /ʒ/
Kyrgyz "ǰ": IPA /ʤ/
Other possible relations
The Turkic language family is currently regarded as one of the world's primary language families
Turkic is one of the main members of the controversial Altaic language family
. There are some other theories about an external relationship but none of them are generally accepted.
The possibility of a genetic relation between Turkic and Korean
, independently from Altaic, is suggested by some linguists.
The linguist Kabak (2004) of the University of Würzburg
states that Turkic and Korean share similar phonology
as well as morphology
. Li Yong-Sŏng (2014)
suggest that there are several cognates
between Turkic and Old Korean
. He states that these supposed cognates can be useful to reconstruct the early Turkic language. According to him, words related to nature, earth and ruling
but especially to the sky
seem to be cognates.
The linguist Choi
suggested already in 1996 a close relationship between Turkic and Korean regardless of any Altaic connections:
In addition, the fact that the morphological elements are not easily borrowed between languages, added to the fact that the common morphological elements between Korean and Turkic are not less numerous than between Turkic and other Altaic languages, strengthens the possibility that there is a close genetic affinity between Korean and Turkic.
— Choi Han-Woo, A Comparative Study of Korean and Turkic (Hoseo University)
Rejected or controversial theories
Some linguists suggested a relation to Uralic languages
, especially to the Ugric languages
. This view is rejected and seen as obsolete by mainstream linguists. Similarities are because of language contact and borrowings mostly from Turkic into Ugric languages. Stachowski (2015) states that any relation between Turkic and Uralic must be a contact one.
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- ^ Yunusbayev, Bayazit; Metspalu, Mait; Metspalu, Ene; et al. (21 April 2015). "The Genetic Legacy of the Expansion of Turkic-Speaking Nomads across Eurasia". PLOS Genetics. 11 (4): e1005068. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005068. ISSN 1553-7390. PMC 4405460. PMID 25898006. Thus, our study provides the first genetic evidence supporting one of the previously hypothesized IAHs to be near Mongolia and South Siberia.
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- ^ a b Lars Johanson, The History of Turkic. In Lars Johanson & Éva Ágnes Csató (eds), The Turkic Languages, London, New York: Routledge, 81–125, 1998.Classification of Turkic languages
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- ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.) (2005). "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Language Family Trees – Turkic". Retrieved 18 March 2007. The reliability of Ethnologue lies mainly in its statistics whereas its framework for the internal classification of Turkic is still based largely on Baskakov (1962) and the collective work in Deny et al. (1959–1964). A more up-to-date alternative to classifying these languages on internal comparative grounds is to be found in the work of Johanson and his co-workers.
- ^ Hruschka, Daniel J.; Branford, Simon; Smith, Eric D.; Wilkins, Jon; Meade, Andrew; Pagel, Mark; Bhattacharya, Tanmoy (2015). "Detecting Regular Sound Changes in Linguistics as Events of Concerted Evolution 10.1016/j.cub.2014.10.064". Current Biology. 25 (1): 1–9. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.10.064. PMC 4291143. PMID 25532895.
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- ^ Lars Johanson (1998) The History of Turkic. In Lars Johanson & Éva Ágnes Csató (eds) The Turkic Languages. London, New York: Routledge, 81–125. 
- ^ Deviating. Historically developed from Southwestern (Oghuz) (Johanson 1998) 
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- ^ Coene 2009, p. 75
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Last edited on 6 June 2021, at 19:07
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