Kazakh language

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Kazakh
қазақ тілі, qazaq tili, قازاق تىلى
Pronunciation [qɑˈzɑq tɘˈlɘ]
Native to Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Russia, Iran
Native speakers
11 million  (2007)[1]
Turkic
Kazakh alphabets (Cyrillic, Latin, Perso-Arabic, Kazakh Braille)
Official status
Official language in

 Kazakhstan
 Russia:

Regulated by Kazakh language agency
Language codes
ISO 639-1 kk
ISO 639-2 kaz
ISO 639-3 kaz
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Kazakh (natively Qazaqşa, Қазақша, Қазақ тілі, Qazaq tili, قازاق ٴتىلى; pronounced [qɑˈzɑq tɘˈlɘ]) is a Turkic language belonging to the Kipchak (or Northwestern Turkic) branch, closely related to Kyrgyz, Nogai, and especially Karakalpak.

Kazakh is an agglutinative language, and it employs vowel harmony.

Geographic distribution[edit]

The Kazakh language has its speakers (mainly Kazakhs) spread over a vast territory from the Tian Shan mountains to the western shore of Caspian Sea. Kazakh is the official state language of Kazakhstan, in which nearly 10 million speakers are reported to live (based on the CIA World Factbook's estimates for population and percentage of Kazakh speakers). In the People's Republic of China, more than one million ethnic Kazakhs and Kazakh speakers reside in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture within the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The 2002 Russian Census reported 560,000 Kazakh speakers in Russia. Other sizable populations of Kazakh speakers live in Mongolia (fewer than 200,000), Uzbekistan, other parts of former Soviet Union, as well as in Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, and Germany.

Writing system[edit]

Kazakh Arabic and Latin script in 1924
A 1902 Kazakh text in both Arabic and Cyrillic scripts. In modern orthography: «Бұрыңғы өткен заманда, бір данышпан кісі, Бағдат шаһарының бір үлкен қазысының үйіне келіп қоныпты. Қазыменен сөйлесіп, қазыны сөзге жеңе беріпті. Сонда қазы қорқып, — „Бұл маған келген бала — менің қазылығымды тартып алса керек! Не де болса, бұған жалынып, сый беріп, орнымда қалайын!“ — деп, қатынына ақылдасыпты.» Note the differences between the older Cyrillic here and the current Cyrillic alphabet.

Today, Kazakh is written in Cyrillic in Kazakhstan and Mongolia, while the more than one million Kazakh-speakers in China use an Arabic-derived alphabet similar to that used to write Uyghur.

The oldest known written records of languages closely related to Kazakh were written in the Orkhon script. However, it is not believed that any of these varieties were direct predecessors of Kazakh. Modern Kazakh has historically been written using versions of the Latin, Cyrillic and Arabic scripts.

In October 2006, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan, brought up the topic of using the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic alphabet as the official script for Kazakh in Kazakhstan.[2][3] A Kazakh government study released in September 2007 said that Kazakhstan could feasibly switch to a Latin script over a 10- to 12-year period, for a cost of $300 million.[4] On December 13, 2007, however, President Nazarbayev announced a decision not to advance the transformation to a Latin alphabet: “For 70 years the Kazakhstanis read and wrote in Cyrillic. More than 100 nationalities live in our state. Thus we need stability and peace. We should be in no hurry in the issue of alphabet transformation”.[5]

Cyrillic Script Arabic Script Latin Script English translation
Барлық адамдар тумысынан азат және қадір-қасиеті мен кұқықтары тең болып дүниеге келеді. Адамдарға ақыл-парасат, ар-ождан берілген, сондықтан олар бір-бірімен туыстық, бауырмалдық қарым-қатынас жасаулары тиіс. بارلىق ادامدار تۋمىسىنان ازات جانە قادىر-قاسيەتى مەن كۇقىقتارى تەڭ بولىپ دۇنيەگە كەلەدى. ادامدارعا اقىل-پاراسات، ار-وجدان بەرىلگەن، سوندىقتان ولار ءبىر-بىرىمەن تۋىستىق، باۋىرمالدىق قارىم-قاتىناس جاساۋلارى ءتيىس. Barlıq adamdar twmısınan azat jäne qadir-qasïeti men kuqıqtarı teñ bolıp dünïege keledi. Adamdarğa aqıl-parasat, ar-ojdan berilgen, sondıqtan olar bir-birimen twıstıq, bawırmaldıq qarım-qatınas jasawları tïis. All 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.

Phonology[edit]

Kazakh exhibits tongue-root vowel harmony, with some words of recent foreign origin (usually of Russian or Arabic origin) as exceptions. There is also a system of rounding harmony which resembles that of Kyrgyz, but which does not apply as strongly and is not reflected in the orthography.

Consonants[edit]

The following chart depicts the consonant inventory of standard Kazakh;[6] many of the sounds, however, are allophones of other sounds or appear only in recent loan-words. The 18 consonant phonemes listed by Vajda are in bold—since these are phonemes, their listed place and manner of articulation are very general, and will vary from what is shown. The borrowed phonemes /f/, /v/, /ɕ/, /t͡ɕ/ and /x/, only occur in recent mostly Russian borrowings, and are shown in parentheses ( ) in the table below.

In the table, the elements left of a divide are voiceless, while those to the right are voiced.

Kazakh consonant phonemes
Labials Dental/
Alveolar
Palato-
alveolar
Alveolo-
palatal
Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m м n н ŋ ң
Plosive p п b б t т d д k к ɡ г q қ
Affricate (t͡ɕ) ч
Fricative (f) ф (v) в s с z з ʃ ш ʒ ж (ɕ) щ (x) х ʁ ғ h һ
Approximant l л j й w у
Tap ɾ р


Vowels[edit]

Kazakh has a system of nine phonemic vowels, three of which are diphthongs. The rounding contrast and /æ/ generally only occur as phonemes in the first syllable of a word, but do occur later allophonically; see the section on harmony below for more information.

According to Vajda, the front/back quality of vowels is actually one of neutral versus retracted tongue root.[citation needed]

Per convention, rounded vowels are presented to the right of their unrounded counterparts. Phonetic values are paired with the corresponding character in Kazakh's Cyrillic alphabet.

Kazakh vowel phonemes
−RTR
("Front")
+RTR
("Back")
Diphthongised /i̯ɘ/, е /y̯ʉ/, ө /u̯ʊ/, о
Close /ɘ/, i /ʉ/, ү /ə/, ы /ʊ/, ұ
Open /æ/, ә /ɑ/, а

Morphology and syntax[edit]

Kazakh is generally verb-final, though various permutations on SOV (subject–object–verb) word order can be used.[7] Verbal and nominal morphology in Kazakh exists almost exclusively in the form of agglutinative suffixes.

Case[edit]

Kazakh has 7 cases. Case endings are applied only to the last element of a noun phrase—e.g., a noun, an adject, or a nominalised verb phrase. The endings outlined in the chart below are applied to a word ending in a front vowel, a word ending in a back vowel, a word ending in each of those with a voiced consonant, and a word ending with each of this and an unvoiced consonant. Note that the suffixes for the instrumental case do not follow vowel harmony—the vowel is a front vowel regardless of the other vowels in the word.

Declension of nouns
Case Morpheme Possible forms кеме "ship" ауа "air" шелек "bucket" сәбіз "carrot" бас "head" тұз "salt"
Nom кеме ауа шелек сәбіз бас тұз
Acc -NI -ні, -ны, -ді, -ды, -ті, -ты, -н кемені ауаны шелекті сәбізді басты тұзды
Gen -NIŋ -нің, -ның, -дің, -дың, -тің, -тың кеменің ауаның шелектің сәбіздің бастың тұздың
Dat -GA -ге, -ға, -ке, -қа, -не, -на кемеге ауаға шелекке сәбізге басқа тұзға
Loc -DA -де, -да, -те, -та кемеде ауада шелекте сәбізде баста тұзда
Abl -DAn -ден, -дан, -тен, -тан, -нен, -нан кемеден ауадан шелектен сәбізден бастан тұздан
Inst -Men -мен(ен) -бен(ен) -пен(ен) кемемен ауамен шелекпен сәбізбен баспен тұзбен

Pronouns[edit]

Kazakh has eight personal pronouns:

Personal pronouns
Singular Plural
Kazakh (transliteration) English Kazakh (transliteration) English
Мен (Men) I Біз (Biz) We
Сен (Sen) You (singular informal) Сендер (Sender) You (plural informal)
Сіз (Siz) You (singular formal) Сіздер (Sizder) You (plural formal)
Ол (Ol) He/She/It Олар (Olar) They

The declension of the pronouns is outlined in the following chart. Singular pronouns (with the exception of сіз, which used to be plural) exhibit irregularities, while plural pronouns don't. Irregular forms are highlighted in bold.

Declension of pronouns
Nom мен сен сіз ол біз сендер сіздер олар
Acc мені сені сізді оны бізді сендерді сіздерді оларды
Gen менің сенің сіздің оның біздің сендердің сіздердің олардың
Dat маған саған сізге оған бізге сендерге сіздерге оларға
Loc менде сенде сізде онда бізде сендерде сіздерде оларда
Abl менен сенен сізден онан бізден сендерден сіздерден олардан
Inst менімен сенімен сізбен онымен бізбен сендермен сіздермен олармен

In addition to the pronouns, there are several more sets of morphemes dealing with person.

Morphemes indicating person
pronouns copulas possessive endings past/conditional
1st sg мен -MIn -(I)m -(I)m
2nd sg сен -sIŋ -(I)ŋ -(I)ŋ
2nd formal sg сіз -sIz -(I)ŋIz -(I)ŋIz
3rd sg ол -(s)I(n)
1st pl біз -MIz -(I)mIz -(I)K
2nd pl сендер -sIŋdAr -(I)ŋ -(I)ŋ
2nd formal pl сіздер -sIzdAr -(I)ŋIz -(I)nIz
3rd pl олар -(s)I(n)

Tense, aspect and mood[edit]

Kazakh may express different combinations of tense, aspect, and mood through the use of various verbal morphology or through a system of auxiliary verbs, many of which might better be considered light verbs. For example, the (imperfect) present tense in Kazakh bears different aspectual information depending on whether basic present-tense morphology is used, or one of (commonly) four verbs is used:

Aspect in the Present Tense in Kazakh
Kazakh Aspect English translation
Жеймін non-progressive "I eat."
Жеп жатырмын progressive "I am eating [right now]."
Жеп отырмын progressive/durative "I am [sitting and] eating." / "I have been eating."
Жеп тұрмын progressive/punctual "I am [in the middle of] eating [this very minute]."
Жеп жүрмін habitual/frequentative "I eat [e.g., lunch at home every day]."

Evidentiality[edit]

Kazakh exhibits an evidentiality system which does not neatly align with morphological paradigms.

  • тазалап тастапты – he cleaned it and I saw the result
  • тазалап тастаған – he cleaned it, I saw the result and verified it with him
  • тазалап тастаған екен – he cleaned it and told me, but I probably didn't see the results
  • тазалап тастады – he cleaned it and I saw him clean it
  • тазалап тастағанға ұқсайды – he cleaned it, or so I infer from a result I saw which suggests this
  • тазалап тастаған шығар – he cleaned it, or so I infer from a result I saw which suggests this

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  2. ^ Kazakhstan switching to Latin alphabet
  3. ^ Kazakh President Revives Idea of Switching to Latin Script
  4. ^ Kazakhstan: Moving Forward With Plan to Replace Cyrillic With Latin Alphabet
  5. ^ Kazakhstan should be in no hurry in Kazakh alphabet transformation to Latin: Nazarbayev, Kazinform, December 13, 2007
  6. ^ Some variations occur in the different regions where Kazakh is spoken, including outside Kazakhstan; e.g. ж / ج (where the so-called “Uyghur” (Perso-Arabic) script is used) is read [ʒ] in standard Kazakh, but [d͡ʒ] in some places.
  7. ^ Beltranslations.com

External links[edit]