Sakha language

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Not to be confused with Saka language.
Саха тыла Saxa tila
Native to Russia
Region Sakha
Ethnicity 480,000 Yakuts (2010 census)[1]
Native speakers
450,000  (2010 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
 Sakha Republic (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-2 sah
ISO 639-3 sah
Glottolog yaku1245[2]
Locations of Sakha (dark blue) and Dolgan (blue)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Sakha, or Yakut, is a Turkic language with around 360,000 native speakers spoken in the Sakha Republic in the Russian Federation by the Sakha or Yakuts.

Like all Turkic languages, Sakha is an agglutinative language and employs vowel harmony.


Sakha is a member of the Northern Turkic family of languages, which includes Shor, Tuvan, and Dolgan in addition to Sakha. Like Turkish, Sakha has vowel harmony, is agglutinative and has no grammatical gender. Word order is usually subject–object–verb. Sakha has been influenced by Tungusic and Mongolian languages.[3]

Geographic distribution[edit]

Sakha is spoken mainly in the Sakha Republic. It is also used by ethnic Sakha in Khabarovsk Region and a small diaspora in other parts of the Russian Federation, Turkey, and other parts of the world. Dolgan, a close relative of Sakha, considered by some[who?] a dialect, is spoken by Dolgans in Krasnoyarsk Region. Sakha is widely used as a lingua franca by other ethnic minorities in the Sakha Republic – more Dolgans, Evenks, Evens and Yukagirs speak Yakut than their own languages. About 8% of the people of other ethnicities than Yakut living in Sakha claimed knowledge of the Yakut language during the 2002 census.[4]


One characteristic feature of Sakha is vowel harmony. For example, if the first vowel of a Sakha word is a front vowel, the second and other vowels of the same word are usually the same vowel or another front vowel: кэлин (kelin) "back": э (e) is open unrounded front, и (i) is close unrounded front.


Consonant phonemes of Sakha
Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t c k
voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Fricative voiceless s x h
voiced ɣ
Approximant plain l j
nasalized ȷ̃
Flap ɾ


Vowel phonemes of Sakha
Front Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
Close short i y ɯ u
long ɯː
Open short e ø a o
long øː
Diphthong ie ɯa uo

Writing system[edit]

Main article: Sakha scripts

Sakha is written using the Cyrillic script: the modern Sakha alphabet, established in 1939 by the Soviet Union, consists of the usual Russian characters but with 5 additional letters: Ҕҕ, Ҥҥ, Өө, Һһ, Үү.

Сахалыы сурук-бичигэ Saqalıı suruk-biçige (Sakha alphabet)

Letter Name IPA Note Turkic Latin translit.[citation needed]
А а а /a/ A a
Б б бэ /b/ B b
В в вэ /v/ found only in Russian loanwords [5] V v
Г г гэ /ɡ/ G g
Ҕ ҕ ҕэ /ʁ/ Ğ ğ
Д д дэ /d/ D d
Дь дь дьэ /ɟ/ C c
Е е е /e, je/ found only in Russian loanwords Ye ye or e
Ё ё ё /jo/ found only in Russian loanwords Yo yo
Ж ж жэ /ʒ/ found only in Russian loanwords J j
З з зэ /z/ found only in Russian loanwords Z z
И и и /i/ İ i
Й й йот /j, ȷ̃/ Nasalization of the glide is not indicated in the orthography Y y or Ỹ ỹ
К к ка /k/ K k
Л л эл /l/ L l
М м эм /m/ M m
Н н эн /n/ N n
Ҥ ҥ эҥ /ŋ/ Ñ ñ
Нь нь эньэ /ɲ/ Ny ny
О о о /o/ O o
Ө ө ө /ø/ Ö ö
П п пэ /p/ P p
Р р эр /ɾ/ R r
С с эс /s/ S s
Һ һ һэ /h/ H h
Т т тэ /t/ T t
У у у /u/ U u
Ү ү ү /y/ Ü ü
Ф ф эф /f/ found only in Russian loanwords F f
Х х ха /q~x/ Q q (X x)
Ц ц цэ /ts/ found only in Russian loanwords Ts ts
Ч ч че /c/ Ç ç
Ш ш ша /ʃ/ found only in Russian loanwords Ş ş
Щ щ ща /ɕː/ found only in Russian loanwords Şş şş
Ъ ъ кытаанах бэлиэ /◌./ found only in Russian loanwords "
Ы ы ы /ɯ/ I ı
Ь ь сымнатар бэлиэ /◌ʲ/ natively in дь and нь (see above); otherwise only in Russian loanwords '
Э э э /e/ E e
Ю ю ю /ju/ found only in Russian loanwords Yu yu
Я я я /ja/ found only in Russian loanwords Ya ya



The typical word order can be summarized as subject adverbobjectverb; possessorpossessed; nounadjective.


Nouns have plural and singular forms. The plural is formed with the suffix /-LAr/, which may surface as [-лар (-lar)], [-лэр (-ler)], [-лөр (-lör)], [-лор (-lor)], [-тар (-tar)], [-тэр (-ter)], [-төр (-tör)], [-тор (-tor)], [-дар (-dar)], [-дэр (-der)], [-дөр (-dör)], [-дор (-dor)], [-нар (-nar)], [-нэр (-ner)], [-нөр (-nör)], or [-нор (-nor)], depending on the preceding consonants and vowels. The plural is used only when referring to a number of things collectively, not when specifying an amount. Nouns have no gender.


Personal pronouns in Sakha distinguish between first, second, and third persons and singular and plural number.

Singular Plural
1st мин (min) биһиги (bihigi)
2nd эн (en) эһиги (ehigi)
3rd human кини (kini) кинилэр (kiniler)
non-human ол (ol) олор (olor)

Although nouns have no gender, the pronoun system distinguishes between human and non-human in the third person, using кини (kini, 'he/she') to refer to human beings and ол (ol, 'it') to refer to all other things.[6]


Question words in Sakha remain in-situ; they do not move to the front of the sentence. Sample question words include: туох (tuox) "what", ким (kim) "who", хайдах (xaydax) "how", хас (xas) "how much", ханна (xanna) "where", and ханнык (xannık) "which".


Sakha (Cyrillic) Sakha (Latin) Turkish English Монгол (Mongolian)
aac aas hunger
аччык achchik açlık hungry
аат aat ad name
балык balik balık fish
балыксыт baliksit balıkçı fisherman
yy uu su water us
тимир timir demir iron tömör
күөл ku‘o‘l göl lake nuur
атах atax ayak foot
мурун murun burun nose
баттах battax saç hair üs
илии ilii el hand
күн ku‘n gün day, sun
муус muus buz ice mös
ыт it it dog
сүрэх su‘rex yürek heart zürkh
сарсын sarsin yarın tomorrow
бүгүн bu‘gu‘n bugün today
былыт bilit bulut cloud
хаар xaar kar snow
хаан xaan kan blood
эт et et meat
тиис tiis diş tooth
ат at at horse
таас taas taş stone
үүт u‘u‘t süt milk süü
ынах inax inek cow ünee
хара xara kara black khar
сыттык sittik yastık pillow
быһах bihax bıçak knife
бытык bitik bıyık mustache
кыс, кыһын kis, kihin kış, kışın winter
туус tuus tuz salt
тыл til dil tongue, language khel
cаха тылa saxa tila saha dili, sahaca sakha language
кыыс kiis kız girl, daughter
уол uol oğul, oğlan son, boy
үөрэтээччи u‘o‘reteechchi öğretici, öğretmen teacher
үөрэнээччи u‘o‘reneechchi öğrenci student
уһун uhun uzun long, tall
кулгаах kulgaax kulak ear
сыл sil yıl year jil
киһи kihi kişi human, man hün
суол suol yol road, way
асчыт aschit aşçı cook
тараах taraax tarak comb
орто orto orta middle
күн ортото ku‘n ortoto gün ortası midday, noon
күл ku‘l gülmek to laugh
өл o‘l ölmek to die
ис is içmek to drink
бил bil bilmek to know
көр ko‘r görmek to see khar
үөрэн u‘o‘ren öğrenmek to learn
үөрэт u‘o‘ret öğretmek to teach
ытыр itir ısırmak to bite
хас xas kazmak to dig
тик tik dikiş dikmek, dikmek to sew
кэл kel gelmek to come
салаа salaa yalamak to lick
тараа taraa taramak to comb
биэр bier vermek to give
бул bul bulmak to find
диэ die demek to say
киир kiir girmek to enter
иһит ihit işitmek to hear
ас as açmak to open
тут tut tutmak to hold


In this table, the Sakha numbers are written in Latin transcription (see Writing system).

Old Turkic Turkish Sakha English
Bir Bir Biir One
Eki İki Ikki Two
Üç Üç U‘s Three
Tört Dört Tu‘o‘rt Four
Beş Beş Bies Five
Altı Altı Alta Six
Yeti Yedi Sette Seven
Sekiz Sekiz Ag‘is Eight
Tokuz Dokuz Tog‘us Nine
On On Uon Ten


The first printing in Sakha was a part of a book by Nicolaas Witsen published in 1692 in Amsterdam.

In 2005, Marianne Beerle-Moor, director of the Institute for Bible Translation, Russia/CIS, was awarded the “Civil Valour” Order for the translation of the New Testament into Sakha.[7]

Oral traditions[edit]

The Sakha have a tradition of oral epic in their language called "Olonkho", traditionally performed by skilled performers. Only a very few older performers of this Olonkho tradition are still alive. They have begun a program to teach young people to sing this in their language and revive it, though in a modified form.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sakha at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Yakut". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Forsyth, James (1994). A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia's North Asian Colony 1581-1990. Cambridge University Press. p. 56. ISBN 9780521477710. Their language...Turkic in its vocabulary and grammar, shows the influence of both Tungus and Mongolian 
  4. ^ Russian Census 2002. 6. Владение языками (кроме русского) населением отдельных национальностей по республикам, автономной области и автономным округам Российской Федерации (Knowledge of languages other than Russian by the population of republics, autonomous oblast and autonomous districts) (Russian)
  5. ^ Krueger, John R. (1962). Yakut Manual. Bloomington: Indiana U Press. 
  6. ^ Kirişçioğlu, M. Fatih (1999). Saha (Yakut) Türkçesi Grameri. Ankara: Türk Dil Kurumu. ISBN 975-16-0587-3. 
  7. ^ "about". Institute for Bible Translation, Russia/CIS. Retrieved 5 Nov 2011. 
  8. ^ Robin Harris. 2012. Sitting "under the mouth": decline and revitalization in the Skha epic tradition "Olonkho". Doctoral dissertation, University of Georgia.

External links[edit]


Content in Sakha[edit]