|Native to||Kyrgyzstan (official), Afghanistan, Xinjiang (China), Tajikistan, Russia, Pakistan|
|4.3 million (2009 census)|
|Kyrgyz alphabets (Cyrillic script, Perso-Arabic script, formerly Latin, Kyrgyz Braille)|
Official language in
Collective Security Treaty Organization
Kyrgyz // (natively кыргызча, قىرعىزچا, kyrgyzcha or кыргыз тили, قىرعىزتئلى, kyrgyz 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, gradually replaced by a Perso-Arabic alphabet (in use until 1928 in USSR, still in use in China). Between 1928 and 1940 a Latin-script alphabet, the 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 Kyrgyzstanis to switch to the Latin script, which is still common in some small pockets of the countryside, and make the Latin script the country’s official national script (taking in mind a version closer to the Turkish alphabet rather than the original alphabet of 1928–40). Although the plan has not yet been implemented, it remains in occasional discussion.
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The first people certainly known 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.
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-script 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. Josip Broz Tito learned to speak Kyrgyz perfectly. During the long period of Russian rule, the Kyrgyz language was strongly influenced by Russian.
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. However, in March 1996, Kyrgyzstan's parliament adopted a resolution making Russian an official language alongside Kyrgyz, marking a reversal of the 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. Nowadays, Russian remains the main language in the main cities, such as Bishkek while Kyrgyz continues losing ground, especially among the younger generations 
/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.
|Left Shift (<)||Right Shift (>)||Shift Direction|
|а||ы||Straight Across Left-Right Shift|
|о||у||("y" Left-shifts up-diagonally to "a")|
|е||й||Straight Across Left-Right Shift|
|ө (э)||ү||Straight 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 Kyrgyz Republic.
- /f, v, t͡s, x/ occur only in foreign borrowings.
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.||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.||Bardıq adamdar öz bedelinde jana uquqtarında erkin jana teñ uquqtuu bolup jaralat. Alardın añ-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 tijiʃ||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
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|Case||Underlying form||Possible forms||"boat"||"air"||"bucket"||"hand"||"head"||"salt"||"eye"|
|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 ~ 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:
|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.
|1st||2nd inf||2nd frm||3rd||1st||2nd inf||2nd frm||3rd|
In addition to the pronouns, there are several more sets of morphemes dealing with person.
|pronouns||copulas||present tense||possessive endings||past/conditional||imperative|
|2nd sg||сен||-sIŋ||-sIŋ||-(I)ŋ||-(I)ŋ||—, -GIn|
|2nd formal sg||сиз||-sIz||-sIz||-(I)ŋIz||-(I)ŋIz||-GIlA|
|2nd formal pl||сиздер||-sIzdAr||-sIzdAr||-(I)ŋIzdAr||-(I)nIzdAr|
|3rd pl||алар||—||-(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.
|2nd formal sg||Сиз||-йс<з||-йс<з|
|2nd formal pl||Сизлер|
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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)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kirghiz". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- 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.
- Latin alphabet. "Kyrgyzstan has to switch to Latin alphabet since 2040, MP". Информационное Агентство Кабар.
- LIFE Magazine, August 14, 1944, Page 38
- "Ferdinand, S. & Komlósi, F. 2016. Vitality of the Kyrgyz Language in Bishkek". IJORS 5-2, pp.210-226. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
- Kara (2003:10)
- Washington (2007:11)
- Washington (2006b:2)
- Kara (2003:11)
- 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).
- Washington, Jonathan North (2006b), Root Vowels and Affix Vowels: Height Effects in Kyrgyz Vowel Harmony (PDF)
- Washington, Jonathan North (2007), Phonetic and Phonological Problems in Kyrgyz: A Fulbrighter's plans for gathering data in the field (PDF)
|Kyrgyz edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Kyrgyz.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kyrgyz language.|
-  Ferdinand, S. & Komlósi, F. 2016. Vitality of the Kyrgyz Language in Bishkek. IJORS, 5/2, pp. 210–226.
- Kyrgyz language
- Root Vowels and Affix Vowels: Height Effects in Kyrgyz Vowel Harmony
- (in Japanese) "事前学習補助教材Кыргыз тили （キルギス語）" (Kyrgyz exercises; Archive) - Japan International Cooperation Agency
- The Talking Kyrgyz Phrasebook
- Кыргыз тили – Kyrgyz language resources (in Russian)
- Кербен Translit - Easy Kyrgyz-Cyrillic–Latin converter
- Kyrgyz Cyrillic–Arabic–Latin converter
- Kyrgyz–Russian–English Dictionary
- Kyrgyz Latin Alphabet
- Kyrgyz-Turkish Dictionary
- Kyrgyz<>Turkish dictionary (Pamukkale University)
- Russian-Kyrgyz Kyrgyz-Russian Dictionary
- Kyrgyz - Apertium