Northern Altai language

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Northern Altai
тÿндÿк алтай тили
Native toRussia
RegionAltai Republic
Altai Krai
Native speakers
Language codes
ISO 639-3atv
ELPNorthern Altai

Northern Altai or Northern Altay is the several tribal Turkic dialects spoken in the Altai Republic of Russia.[1] Though traditionally considered one language, Southern Altai and the Northern varieties are not fully mutually intelligible. Written Altai is based on Southern Altai, and is rejected by Northern Altai children.[2]

Northern Altai is written in Cyrillic. In 2006, in the Altay kray, an alphabet was created for the Kumandin variety.[3]


According to data from the 2002 Russian Census, 65,534 people in Russia stated that they have command of the Altay language.[4] Only around 10% of them speak Northern Altay varieties, while the remaining speak Southern Altay varieties. Furthermore, according to some data, only 2% of Altays fluently speak the Altay language.[5]


Northern Altay consists of the following varieties:

  • Kumandy dialect [ru; tr; tt] (also Qubandy/Quwandy). 1,862 Kumandins claim to know their national language,[6] but 1,044 people were registered as knowing Kumandy.[7]
  • Chelkan dialect [ru; pt] (also Kuu/Quu, Chalkandu/Shalkanduu, Lebedin). 466 Chelkans claim to speak their national language, and 539 people in all claim to know Chalkan.

Tubalar language [ru; tr] (also known as Tuba language), is also often ascribed to belong to the Northern Altai group, but its relation to other languages is dubious and it may belong to Kipchak languages.[8] 408 Tubalars claim to know their national language, and 436 people in all reported knowing Tuba.

Closely related to the northern varieties of Altay are Kondom Shor dialect [ru; tr] and the Lower Chulym dialect [ru; tr] of Chulym language.[8]

Linguistic features[edit]

The following features refer to the outcome of commonly used Turkic isoglosses in Northern Altay.[9][10][11]

  • */ag/ — Proto-Turkic */ag/ is found in three variations throughout Northern Altay: /u/, /aw/, /aʁ/
  • */eb/ — Proto-Turkic */eb/ is found as either /yj/ or /yg/, depending on the variety
  • */VdV/ — With a few lexical exceptions (likely borrowings), proto-Turkic intervocalic */d/ results in /j/.


  1. ^ "Northern Altai". ELP Endangered Languages Project. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
  2. ^ Raymond G. Gordon, Jr, ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  3. ^ В Алтайском крае издана азбука кумандинского языка. 2006
  4. ^ Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года. Том 13. «Коренные малочисленные народы Российской Федерации»
  5. ^ Энциклопедия «Кругосвет»
  6. ^ Russian census figures
  7. ^ Russian census figures
  8. ^ a b Tubalarskie ėti︠u︡dy. Tatevosov, S. G. (Sergeĭ Georgievich), Татевосов, С. Г. (Сергей Георгиевич), Moskovskiĭ gosudarstvennyĭ universitet im. M.V. Lomonosova. Filologicheskiĭ fakulʹtet., Московский государственный университет им. М.В. Ломоносова. Филологический факультет. Moskva: IMLI RAN. 2009. ISBN 9785920803504. OCLC 613983309.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ Baskakov, Nikolay Aleksandrovich (1966). Диалект Черневых Татар (Туба-Кижи): грамматический очерк и словарь. Moscow: Наука.
  10. ^ Baskakov, Nikolay Aleksandrovich (1972). Диалект Кумандинцев (Куманды-Кижи): грамматический очерк, тексты, переводы и словарь. Москва: Наука.
  11. ^ Baskakov, Nikolay Aleksandrovich (1985). Диалект Лебединских Татар-Чалканцев (Куу-Кижи). Москва: Наука.

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