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Jaꞑalif, Yangalif or Yañalif (Tatar: jaꞑa əlifba/yaña älifba → jaꞑalif/yañalif, [jʌŋɑˈlif], Cyrillic: Яңалиф, "new alphabet"), is the first Latin alphabet used during the latinisation in the Soviet Union in the 1930s for the Turkic languages. It replaced the Yaña imlâ Arabic script-based alphabet in 1928, and was replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet in 1938-1940. Several former Soviet states in Central Asia switched back to Latin script, with slight modifications to the original Jaꞑalif.

There are 33 letters in Jaꞑalif, nine of which are vowels. The apostrophe is used for the glottal stop (həmzə/hämzä) and is sometimes considered a letter for the purposes of alphabetic sorting. Other characters may also be used in spelling foreign names. The lowercase form of letter B is ʙ, to prevent confusion with Ь ь. Letter № 33, similar to Zhuang Ƅ, is not currently available as a Latin character in Unicode, but it looks exactly like Cyrillic soft sign (Ь). Capital Ə also looks like Russian Э in some fonts.

Jaꞑalif (1928–1940)
No. Characters Yaña imlâ
version of
a version of
modern Latin
Tatar alphabet
a version of
modern Cyrillic
Tatar alphabet
1 A a ىا A a А а
2 B ʙ B b Б б
3 C c Ç ç Ч ч
4 Ç ç C c Җ җ
5 D d D d Д д
6 E e ئە E e Е е (э)
7 Ə ə ئا Ä ä Ә ә
8 F f F f Ф ф
9 G g G g Г г (гь)
10 Ƣ ƣ Ğ ğ Г г (гъ)
11 H h H h Һ һ
12 I i ﺋﻴ İ i И и
13 J j ي Y y Й й
14 K k K k К к (кь)
15 L l L l Л л
16 M m M m М м
17 N n N n Н н
18 Ꞑ ꞑ Ñ ñ Ң ң
19 O o ىو O o О о
20 Ɵ ɵ ئو Ö ö Ө ө
21 P p P p П п
22 Q q Q q К к (къ)
23 R r R r Р р
24 S s S s С с
25 Ş ş Ş ş Ш ш
26 T t T t Т т
27 U u ىۇ U u У у
28 V v ۋ W w В в (в, у)
29 X x X x Х х
30 Y y ئۇ Ü ü Ү ү
31 Z z Z z З з
32 Ƶ ƶ J j Ж ж
33 Ь ь ى I ı Ы ы
(34.1) ' ء ' ъ, ь, э
(34.2) Ьj ىي (Í í) ый


Tatar Latin Jaꞑalif Arabic script 1927

The earliest example of the Kipchak language, specifically the Cuman language, the main ancestor of the modern Tatar language and written with Latin characters, is the Codex Cumanicus. These letters were used in Catholic ceremonies among Turkic Catholics within the Golden Horde. The culture of Catholic Hordians disappeared and this alphabet was lost.

For centuries the Tatar language as well as other Turkic languages used a modified Arabic alphabet, İske imlâ. The alphabet was far from perfect, both technically and logically (different initial, medium, final and stand-alone forms, no glyphs for short vowels). Because of this some Turkic intelligentsia tended to use the Latin or Cyrillic script. The first attempts appeared in the mid-19th century among Azerbaijanis.[1] At the same period the Russian missionary Ilminski, along with followers, invented the modified Russian alphabet for all peoples of Idel-Ural. Modern alphabet uses other glyphs: (Ә instead of Ӓ, Ө instead of Ӧ, Ү instead of Ӱ, Җ instead of Ж, Ң instead of Ҥ), the principles of the modern Cyrillic Tatar alphabet was invented then. Ilmiski's alphabet was used for the purpose of Christianization and Muslim Tatars did not use his alphabet. Ilminski's alphabet is still used among Keräşen Tatars. This alphabet uses pre-revolutionary Russian spelling of Orthodox names, using Fita and Ukrainian I.

In 1908–1909 the Tatar poet Säğit Rämiev started to use the Latin script in his works. He offered the use of digraphs: ea for ä, eu for ü, eo for ö and ei for ı. Arabists turned down his project. In the early 1920s Azerbaijanis devised their own Latin alphabet, but Tatarstan scholars set a little store to this project, preferring to reform the İske imlâ. The simplified Iske imla, known as Jaꞑa imlâ was used from 1920–1927.[1]

Latinization was adopted by the Soviet officials and the special Central Committee for a New Alphabet was established in Moscow. The first project of the Tatar-Bashkir Latin alphabet was published in Eşçe (The Worker) gazette in 1924. The pronunciation of the alphabet was similar to English, unlike the following. Specific Bashkir sounds were written with digraphs. This alphabet was declined.[1]

In 1926 the Congress of Turkologists in Baku recommended to switch all Turkic languages to the Latin script. In April 1926 the Jaꞑa tatar əlifʙasь/Yaña tatar älifbası/Яңа татар әлифбасы (New Tatar alphabet) society started its work at Kazan.[2]

On July 3, 1927, Tatarstan officials declared Jaꞑalif the official script of the Tatar language, replacing the Jaꞑa imla script. The first variant of Jaꞑalif (acutes-Jaꞑalif) is shown in the second table below. There were not separate letters for K and Q (realized as K) and for G and Ğ (realized as G), V and W (realized as W). Ş (sh) looked like the Cyrillic letter Ш (she). C and Ç were realized as in Turkish and the modern Tatar Latin alphabet and later were transposed in the final version of Jaꞑalif.[1]

In 1928 Jaꞑalif was reformed (see first table below) and was in active use for 12 years. Some sources claim that this alphabet had 34 letters, but the last was a digraph Ьj, used for the corresponding Tatar diphthong.[1] Another source states that the 34th letter was an apostrophe. They also give another sorting of the alphabet. (Ə after A, Ь after E)[2]

After the introduction of Jaꞑalif most of the books which were printed in the Arabic alphabet were withdrawn from libraries.

Jaꞑalif as published in the Eşçe newspaper[edit]

'1924-07-18 Eşçe alphabet
No. characters final version
of Jaꞑalif
modern Latin Tatar alphabet
and Romanization of Bashkir
modern Cyrillic Tatar alphabet
+ some Bashkir Cyrillic
1 A a A a A a А а
2 Ä ä Ə ə Ä ä
3 B b B ʙ B b Б б like in modern alphabet
4 C c C c Ç ç Ч ч like in Jaŋalif
5 Ç ç Ç ç C c Җ җ unique variant
6 D d D d D d Д д
7 Dh dh Đ đ Ź ź Ҙ ҙ like in today transliteration of Bashkir
8 E e Ə ə Ä ä Ә ә like in Turkish-style transliteration
9 F f F f F f Ф ф
10 G g G g G g Г г (гь)
11 Ĝ ĝ Ƣ ƣ Ğ ğ Г г (гъ) similar to modern alphabet
12 H h H h H h Һ һ
13 I i I i İ i И и like in Jaŋalif
14 J j J j Y y Й й like in English-style transliteration
15 K k K k K k К к (кь)
16 L l L l L l Л л
17 M m M m M m М м
18 N n N n N n Н н
19 Ŋ ŋ Ŋ ŋ Ñ ñ Ң ң like in Jaŋalif
20 O o O o O o О о
21 Ö ö Ɵ ɵ Ö ö Ө ө like in modern alphabet
22 P p P p P p П п
23 Q q Q q Q q К к (къ)
24 R r R r R r Р р
25 S s S s S s С с
26 T t T t T t Т т
27 Th th Ś ś Ҫ ҫ like in today transliteration of Bashkir, English th
28 U u U u U u У у
29 Ü ü Y y Ü ü Ү ү like in modern alphabet
30 V v V v V v В в (в) like in modern alphabet
31 W w V v W w В в (в, у) like in modern alphabet
32 X x X x X x Х х
33 Y y Ь ь I ı ый unique variant; also Arabic used one letter for this diphthong
34 Z z Z z Z z З з
35 Ƶ ƶ Ƶ ƶ J j Ж ж like in Jaŋalif

The original "acutes" version of Jaꞑalif[edit]

"Acutes"- Jaꞑalif
No. characters final version
of Jaꞑalif
Yaña imlâ,
stand-alone form
Modern Latin Tatar alphabet
and Romanization of Bashkir
modern Cyrillic Tatar alphabet
+ some Bashkir Cyrillic
1 A a A a ئا A a А а
2 B b B ʙ ب B b Б б like in modern alphabet
3 C c Ç ç ج C c Җ җ like in modern alphabet
4 Ç ç C c چ Ç ç Ч ч like in modern alphabet
5 D d D d د D d Д д
6 E e E e ئـ E e Е е (э) like in modern alphabet
7 É é Ь ь ࢭئـ I ı Ы ы unique variant, acute as a sign of "hard" vowel
8 Э ә Ə ə ئە Ä ä Ә ә like in Jaꞑalif, but original capitalization
9 F f F f ف F f Ф ф
10 G g G g, Ƣ ƣ گ‎, ع G g, Ğ ğ Г г one letter for two phonemes, as in Cyrillic
11 H h H h ه H h Һ һ
12 I i I i ئی İ i И и like in Jaꞑalif
13 J j J j ی Y y Й й like in Jaꞑalif
14 K k K k, Q q ک‎, ق K k, Q q К к one letter for two phonemes, as in Cyrillic
15 L l L l ل L l Л л
16 M m M m م M m М м
17 N n N n ن N n Н н
18 Ŋ ŋ Ŋ ŋ ڭ Ñ ñ Ң ң like in Jaꞑalif
19 O o O o ࢭئۇ O o О о
20 Ó ó Ɵ ɵ ئۇ Ö ö Ө ө unique variant, acute as a sign of "soft" vowel
21 P p P p پ P p П п
22 R r R r ر R r Р р
23 S s S s س S s С с
24 T t T t ت T t Т т
25 U u U u ࢭئو U u У у
26 V v Y y ئو Ü ü Ү ү unique variant, V is used for "soft" vowel
27 X x X x ح X x Х х
28 Y y Ьj ьj ࢭئیـ Í í (ıy) ый inherited from Tatar-Bashkir alphabet project
29 Z z Z z ز Z z З з
30 Ƶ ƶ Ƶ ƶ ژ J j Ж ж like in Jaꞑalif
31 Ш ш Ş ş ش Ş ş Ш ш unique variant, like in Cyrillic
32 W w V v و‎, ۋ W w, V v В в one letter for two phonemes, as in Cyrillic, but [v] is found only in Russian loanwords


In 1939 the Stalinist government prohibited Jaꞑalif and it remained in use until January 1940. Jaꞑalif was also used in Nazi gazettes for prisoners of war and propaganda during World War II.[citation needed] The alphabet served until the 1950s, because most of the schoolbooks were printed before World War II. Some Tatar diasporas also used Jaꞑalif outside of the Soviet Union, for example the Tatar bureau of Radio Free Europe.

For 12 years of usage the Latin script, Arabic script (and not only Jaña imlâ, but İske imlâ too) also were used. One of the Musa Cälil's Moabit Notebooks was written in Jaꞑalif, and another was written in Arabic letters. Both notebooks were written in German prison, after 1939, the year when the Cyrillic script was established.

Restoring Jaꞑalif[edit]

Cyrillic Ь-like letter, in some fonts also looks like Ƅ, and is not currently represented in Unicode. Only some Tatar fonts use this glyph.
N-descender, a variant of Ŋ, that was used in Jaꞑalif and is represented in Unicode since 6.0. Only some Tatar fonts use this glyph at the position of Ñ.

In the 1990s some wanted to restore Jaꞑalif, or Jaꞑalif+W, as being appropriate for the modern Tatar phonetics. But technical problems, such as font problems and the disuse of Uniform Turkic alphabet among other peoples, forced the use of a "Turkish-based alphabet". In 2000 such an alphabet was adopted by the Tatarstan government, but in 2002 it was abolished by the Russian Federation.[1]


The "Internet-style" alphabet named Inalif after Internet and älifba was convented in 2003 and partly it was inspired by Jaꞑalif. The main purpose of this alphabet was standardization of texts, which are typed on a standard English keyboard, without any diacritical marks. But this is not a simple transliteration of non-English symbols of Jaꞑalif or modern alphabet. Sounds absent from English are represented with digraphs; soft vowels are represented as a combination of the pairmate and apostrophe, apart from [ɤ], corresponding to ⟨ь⟩ in Jaꞑalif, which is represented as ⟨y⟩, probably under influence of transliteration of Russian. Like in Jaꞑalif, ⟨j⟩ represent [j], and ⟨zh⟩ is used for [ʒ], corresponding to ⟨ƶ⟩ in Jaꞑalif. ⟨x⟩ isn't used in Inalif, and ⟨kh⟩ is used instead. Other changes include: ⟨ä⟩ → ⟨a'⟩; ⟨ö⟩ → ⟨o'⟩; ⟨ü⟩ → ⟨u'⟩; ⟨ç⟩ → ⟨ch⟩; ⟨ğ⟩ → ⟨gh⟩; ⟨ñ⟩ → ⟨ng⟩; ⟨ş⟩ → ⟨sh⟩. The sorting order of Inalif isn't specified, but in practice, the English sorting order is used. Inalif is used only on the Internet.


  1. ^ a b c d e f (in Russian) М.З. Закиев. Тюрко-татарское письмо. История, состояние, перспективы. Москва, "Инсан", 2005
  2. ^ a b "Jaꞑalif/Яңалиф". Tatar Encyclopaedia (in Tatar). Kazan: The Republic of Tatarstan Academy of Sciences. Institution of the Tatar Encyclopaedia. 2002.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]