Kyrgyz language

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Not to be confused with Fuyu Kyrgyz language.
Кyrgyz
Кыргызча or Кыргыз тили, قىرعىز تىلى, Kırgızça or Kırgız tili
Region Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Xinjiang (China), Tajikistan, Russia, Pakistan
Native speakers
2.9 million  (1993–2000)[1]
Turkic
Kyrgyz alphabets (Cyrillic script, Perso-Arabic script, formerly Latin, Kyrgyz Braille)
Official status
Official language in
 Kyrgyzstan
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ky
ISO 639-2 kir
ISO 639-3 kir
Glottolog kirg1245[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Kyrgyz /ˈkɪərɡɪz/ or Kirghiz (natively Кыргызча, Кыргыз тили, قىرعىز تىلى, Kırgızça, Kırgız tili) is a Turkic language spoken by about four million people in Kyrgyzstan as well as China, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Russia. Kyrgyz is a member of the Kyrgyz–Kipchak subgroup of the Kypchak languages, and modern-day language convergence has resulted in an increasing degree of mutual intelligibility between Kyrgyz and Kazakh.

Kyrgyz was originally written in the Turkic runes,[3] gradually replaced by an Arabic alphabet (in use until 1928 in USSR, still in use in China). Between 1928 and 1940, the Latin-based Uniform Turkic Alphabet was used. In 1940 due to general Soviet policy, a Cyrillic alphabet eventually became common and has remained so to this day, though some Kyrgyz still use the Arabic alphabet. When Kyrgyzstan became independent following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, there was a popular idea among some Kyrgyz people to make transition to the Latin alphabet (taking in mind a version closer to the Turkish alphabet, not the original alphabet of 1928–1940), but the plan has not been implemented yet.

History[edit]

Pre-historic roots[edit]

The first people known certainly by the name Kyrgyz are mentioned in early medieval Chinese sources as northern neighbors and sometime subjects of the Turkic steppe empire based in the area of Mongolia. The Kyrgyz people were involved in the international trade route system popularly known as the Silk Road no later than the late eighth century. By the time of the destruction of the Uighur Empire in 840 CE, they spoke a Turkic language little different from Old Turkic, and wrote it in the same runic script. After their victory over the Uyghurs the Kyrgyz did not occupy the Mongolian steppe, and their history for several centuries after this period is little known, though they are mentioned in medieval geographical works as living not far from their present location.

Colonization[edit]

In the period of tsarist administration (1876–1917), the Kazakhs and the Kyrgyz both were called Kyrgyz, with what are now the Kyrgyz subdenominated when necessary as Kara-Kyrgyz "black Kyrgyz" (alternatively known as "The Great Kyrgyz").The modern Kyrgyz language did not have a standard written form until 1923, at which time an Arabic alphabet was introduced. That was changed to a Latin alphabet, developed by Kasym Tynystanov in 1928 and to a Cyrillic alphabet in 1940. In the years immediately following independence, another change of alphabet was discussed, but the issue does not seem to generate the same passions in Kyrgyzstan that it does in other former Soviet republics, perhaps because the Kyrgyz Cyrillic alphabet is relatively simple and is particularly well-suited to the language.[citation needed]

Post-Soviet dynamics[edit]

In the early 1990s, the Akayev government pursued an aggressive policy of introducing Kyrgyz as the official language, forcing the remaining European population to use Kyrgyz in most public situations. Public pressure to enforce this change was sufficiently strong that a Russian member of President Akayev's staff created a public scandal in 1992 by threatening to resign to dramatize the pressure for "Kyrgyzification" of the non-native population. A 1992 law called for the conduct of all public business to be converted fully to Kyrgyz by 1997. But in March 1996, Kyrgyzstan's parliament adopted a resolution making Russian an official language alongside Kyrgyz and marking a reversal of earlier sentiment. Substantial pressure from Russia was a strong factor in this change, which was part of a general rapprochement with Russia urged by Akayev.

Phonology[edit]

Vowels[edit]

Front Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
Close и [i] ү [y] ы [ɯ] у [u]
Mid е [e] ө [ø] o [o]
Open а [ɑ]

Consonants[edit]

Adopted from Kara (2003:11)

Labial Dental (Post-)
alveolar
Palatal Velar/
Uvular
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p b t d k~[q] ɡ
Affricate t͡s t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Fricative f v s z ʃ x [ɣ]
Lateral l
Trill r
Approximant [w] j

/f v t͡s x/ occur only in foreign borrowings.

The consonant phonemes /k/, /g/, and /ŋ/ have uvular realisations ([q], [ɢ], and [ɴ] respectively) in back vowel contexts (before back vowels). In front-vowel environments, /g/ is fricativised between continuants (to [ɣ]), and in back vowel environments both /k/ and /g/ fricativise (to [χ] and [ʁ] respectively). Additionally, the liquid /l/ is realised as a dorsal /ɫ/ in back vowel contexts. Other consonants have slightly different realisations in front- versus back-vowel contexts and when between continuants or not, but these are the clearest examples.

Desonorisation and devoicing[edit]

In Kyrgyz, suffixes beginning with /n/ show desonorisation of the /n/ to [d] after consonants (including /j/), and devoicing to [t] after voiceless consonants; e.g. the definite accusative suffix -NI patterns like this: кемени the boat, айды the month, торду the net, колду the hand, таңды the dawn, көздү the eye, башты the head.

Suffixes beginning with /l/ also show desonorisation and devoicing, though only after consonants of equal or lower sonority than /l/, e.g. the plural suffix -LAr patterns like this: кемелер boats, айлар months, торлор nets, колдор hands, таңдар dawns, көздөр eyes, баштар heads. Other /l/-initial suffixes, such as -LA, a denominal verbal suffix, and -LUU, a denominal adjectival suffix, may surface either with /l/ or /d/ after /r/; e.g. тордо-/торло- to net/weave, түрдүү/түрлүү various.

See the section below on case for more examples.

Writing system[edit]

Main article: Kyrgyz alphabet

The Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan use a Cyrillic alphabet, which uses all the Russian letters plus ң, ө, and ү.

In Xinjiang, an Arabic alphabet is used.

Cyrillic Arabic Transliteration English
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. باردىق ادامدار ۅز بەدەلىندە جانا ۇقۇقتارىندا ەركىن جانا تەڭ ۇقۇقتۇۇ بولۇپ جارالات.۔ الاردىن اڭ-سەزىمى مەنەن ابئيىرى بار جانا بئرى-بئرىنە بئر تۇۇعاندىق مامئلە قىلۇۇعا تئيىش. Bardık adamdar öz bedelinde jana ukuktarında erkin jana teng ukuktuu bolup jaralat. Alardın ang-sezimi menen abiyiri bar jana biri-birine bir tuugandık mamile kıluuga tiyish. 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.

Morphology and syntax[edit]

Case[edit]

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).

Case Underlying form Possible forms "boat" "air" "bucket" "hand" "head" "salt" "eye"
Nominative кеме аба челек кол баш туз көз
Genitive -NIn -нын, -нин, -дын, -дин, -тын, -тин, -нун, -нүн, -дун, -дүн, -тун, -түн кеменин абанын челектин колдун баштын туздун көздүн
Dative -GA -га, -ка, -ге, -ке, -го, -ко, -гө, -кө кемеге абага челекке колго башка тузга көзгө
Accusative -NI -ны, -ни, -ды, -ди, -ты, -ти, -ну, -нү, -ду, -дү, -ту, -тү кемени абаны челекти колду башты тузду көздү
Locative -DA -да, -де, -та, -те, -до, -дө, -то, -тө кемеде абада челекте колдо башта тузда көздө
Ablative -DAn -дан, -ден, -тан, -тен, -дон, -дөн, -тон, -төн кемеден абадан челектен колдон баштан туздан көздөн

Normally the decision between the velar ([ɡ], [k]) and uvular ([ʀ] and [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.

Pronouns[edit]

Kyrgyz has eight personal pronouns:

Personal pronouns
Singular Plural
Kyrgyz (transliteration) English Kyrgyz (transliteration) English
Мен (Men) I Биз (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/It Алар (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
Singular Plural
1st 2nd inf 2nd frm 3rd 1sg 2nd inf 2nd frm 3rd
Nom мен сен сиз ал биз силер сиздер алар
Acc мени сени сизди аны бизди силерди сиздерди аларды
Gen менин сенин сиздин анын биздин силердин сиздердин алардын
Dat мага сага сизге ага бизге силерге сиздерге аларга
Loc менде сенде сизде анда бизде силерде сиздерде аларда
Abl менден сенден сизден андан бизден силерден сиздерден алардан

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

Morphemes indicating person
pronouns copulas present tense possessive endings past/conditional imperative
1st sg мен -mIn -mIn -(I)m -(I)m -AyIN
2nd sg сен -sIŋ -sIŋ -(I)ŋ -(I)ŋ —, -GIn
2nd formal sg сиз -sIz -sIz -(I)ŋIz -(I)ŋIz -GIlA
3rd sg ал -t -(s)I(n) -sIn
1st pl биз -BIz -BIz -(I)bIz -(I)K -AyIK
2nd pl силер -sIŋAr -sIŋAr -(I)ŋAr -(I)ŋAr
2nd formal pl сиздер -sIzdAr -sIzdAr -(I)ŋIzdAr -(I)nIzdAr
3rd pl алар -(I)şAt -(s)I(n) -sIn, -IşsIn

Demonstrative pronouns[edit]

Subordinate clauses[edit]

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[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Кyrgyz at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kirghiz". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  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 5-02-017741-5, with further bibliography.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Kara, Dávid Somfai (2003), Kyrgyz, Lincom Europa, ISBN 3895868434 .
  • Krippes, Karl A. (1998). Kyrgyz: Kyrgyz-English/English-Kyrgyz: Glossary of Terms. Hippocrene Books, New York. ISBN 0-7818-0641-0.
  • 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 92-3-103876-1).

External links[edit]