Tatar language

From Academic Kids

Tatar (Tatar tele/Tatara)
Spoken in: Idel-Ural, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, China, Finland, former Soviet Union
Region: Eastern Europe, Central Asia
Total speakers: 8 million
Ranking: 95
Genetic classification: Ural-Altaic languages (disputed)

Altaic languages (disputed)
 Turkic languages
  Northwestern (Kipchak-Bolghar)

Official status
Official language of: Tatarstan
Regulated by: -
Language codes
ISO 639-1tt
ISO 639-2tat
See also: LanguageList of languages

The Tatar language (Tatar tele, Tatara) is an Turkic language belonging to the Altaic branch of the Ural-Altaic family of languages.



Tatar is a Turkic language, which is considered part of the disputed Altaic language family.

Other European (see Crimean Tatar), Caucasian and West-Siberian Turco-Tatar languages are quite similar to Kazan Tatar, but not necessarily mutually intelligible with it.

Geographic distribution

Tatar is spoken in some parts of Europe, Russia, Siberia, China, Turkey, Poland, Ukraine, Finland, Estonia and Central Asia.

Kazan Tatar is also native for 400,000 Bashkirs, especially those living in Ufa, and some thousands of Maris. Mordva's Qaratay group also speak Tatar. The Tatar language is an international communication language between Tatars, Bashkirs, Chuvashs, Kazakhs, Maris, Mordvins, and Udmurts.

Official status

Tatar is the official language of the Republic of Tatarstan. Official script of Tatar language is considered to be a Cyrillic script, but sometimes other scripts are used, mostly Latin and Arabic. All official sources in Tatarstan use Cyrillic script at their web-sites and publishing. In other cases, where Tatar has no official status, using of concrete alphabet depend only on author's desire. Guides in Tatarstan are also in two scripts.

The Tatar language was used as official since 1917 first after Kazan Khanate was adsorbed to Russia in 1552, but only in Tatar-Bashkir Soviet Socialist Republic. Tatar is also considered the only official language in Idel-Ural State.

In the Soviet period the term official language wasn't in use, but the same meaning was a language could be used in trial in some republics. In Soviet epoch Tatar was a language could be used in trial in Bashkortostan, Mari El and other regions of RSFSR.

Since 1930s use of the Tatar language declined. In the 1980s it wasn't studied in city schools even for Tatar pupils. In rural schools it was used, but Tatar-speaking pupils had no chance to enter university, because all high education was only in Russian.

In the beginning of the 1990s most Russian republics declared titular nation's language as official. In Bashkortostan Tatar population exceed Bashkir, but Tatar language hasn't official status, even though 0.5 million Bashkirs and all Bashkortostan Tatars speaks it. At the last presidential election current president Murtaza Rakhimov was supported by Tatars only because he promised to make Tatar the third official language of Bashkortostan.

Today the Tatar language is not viewed by some people as an endangered language, but it is viewed as a low prestige language. High education in Tatar only takes place in Tatarstan and only for humanitarian sciences. In other regions Tatar is a spoken language firstly, the number of speakers as well as quality of knowledge outside Tatarstan tends to decrease. As a written language Tatar is popular only in Tatar-speaking areas where schools with Tatar language lessons are situated. On the other hand, in pure Tatar rural districts of Tatarstan Tatar language is, in fact, the only language in use.

Dialects of Kazan Tatar

There are 3 main dialects of Tatar: Western (Mişr), Middle (Tatarstan's most popular language), and Eastern (Siberian). All of these dialects also have subdivisions.

In the Western (Mişr) dialect is pronounced as , C as , sound also pronounced.

In the Minzl subdialect of the Central Dialect z is pronounced as , as opposed to other dialects where it is silent.

In come cases Y is pronounced as C ([]) before a consonant (rural speech).

In bilingual people's city slang there are differences between x and h, q and k, ğ and g, v and w which are less stronger than earlier. This can be viewed as an influence of the use of the Cyrillic alphabet.

Siberian Tatar

Siberian Tatar use language, differ than literary Kazan Tatar. Kazan Tatar was used as lterary writing language before 1930s, but then only Russian was used as writing language.

Siberian Tatars pronounce [ts] instead of , [j] instead of c and sometimes [p] and [t] instead of b and d.

Tatar in Russia

There are ~5,300,000 Tatar speakers in Russia. Only ~4,500,000 of them are Tatars. (5,500,000 in Russia). Other speakers are Bashkirs (520,000), Russians (130,000), Chuvashs (70,000), Maris (42,000), Udmurts and Mordvins. There are local Tatar language speakers in Tatarstan, this nomber includes Azeri, Armenian, Kazakh and Jewish communities.



Native Tatar words do not have the consonants , [f] or [v], but they are prounounced by Tatars well. Kazan Tatars cannot pronounce affricates at all. They usually pronounce Tatar (soft Esh) instead of (Tesh), (Ezh) instead of (Dezh), [s] instead of . However, pronounciation of affricates in loanwords is recommended by literary traditions. All loanwords are usually pronounced as they are in their native languages.

If there are more than 2 consonants, ı or e sounds are inserted into speech. Sometimes this process occurs in non-Tatar words without apparent reason.

tekst → [tekest]
bank → [banık] (not [bak])

It is frequent to devoice a final voiced consonant:

tabb (doctor) → [tabp]


There are 5 pairs of vowels: a-, o-, u-, ı-e and -i. The a letter is used for two sounds: the more long a and more short ; is also used to represent .

The Tatar language has vowel harmony.




Front "rounded" Front "unrounded"Back "rounded"Back "unrounded"
Upper /y:/i /i, ɪ/u /u:/ ı /ɨ:/
Middle / , :/e /e, ɜ()/o /ɔ, o: /ı /ɨ/
Downer //a/ʌ()/a /ɑ/

Logically: Long vowels: a-; i- (ıy /ɨɪ/); u-; Short vowels: ı-e; o-; sounds, not corresponding to vowel harmony: long ı: in recent Russian loanwords, long e and long o in both Western and Russian loanwords; long in recent Western loanwords.


Commonly pronounced:

b /b/, v /v/, g /g/, ğ /ɣ/, d /d/, j /ʒ/, c /ʓ/, z /z/; p /p/, f /f/, k /k/, q /q/, t /t/, ş /ʃ/, /ʆ/, s /s/, x /x/, h /h/; l /l/, m /m/, n /n/, /ŋ/, r /r/


y /j, ɪ/, w /w/

The most of the consonants are commonly for all Turkic languages.

f, x, j was loaned from European and Arabic languages in the Middle Ages, v was loaned in the beginning of 20th century.


ʧ (Western ), ʤ (Western c), ʦ, ʔ (hamza)

tS could be found in Western and Russian loanwords; tends to be pronounced like ʆ, exclude foreign names, dZ in Western and Asian foreign names, ts in Western, came across Russian and Russian loanwords, hamza in Arabic loanwords.

dZ and tS are mostly pronounced by people, who speaks English, ts and tS by Russian language speakers, hamza is a sound pronounced in Islamic prayers in Arab language.

In other cases ʆ, ʓ, s, e are pronounced.


Palatalisation is not common in the Tatar language, aided by the 1000 years Tatar used the Arabic alphabet which has no signs for palatalisation. The Janalif alphabet also lacks special signs for palatalisation.

The first palatalisated sound was l as it is pronounced in Arabic. Since the 1930s Russian words with palatalisation came into the speech of bilingual Tatars. When writing in the Cyrillic alphabet Russian words were spelt as they were in the Russian language. In today's Latin alphabet version palatalisation is sometimes represented by acute under the vowel.

Some Tatars speak Russian without palatalisation, which known as Tatar accent.

The types of syllables

  • vowel (ı-lıs, u-ra, -r)
  • vowel+consonant (at-law, el-ge, ir-k)
  • consonant+vowel (qa-la, ki-, su-la)
  • consonant+vowel+consonant (bar-sa, sız-law, k-le, qoş-ıq)
  • vowel+consonant+consonant (ant-lar, yt-te, ilt-kn)
  • consonant+vowel+consonant+consonant (trt-te, qart-lar, 'qayt-qan)

Replacing of sounds

  • vowel harmony (bar, bar-a, bar-a-lar, bar-a-lar-mı; kil, kil-, kil--lr, kil--lr-me)
  • lips harmony (qorı /qoro/; borın /boron/; kzge /kzg/; sorı /soro/); In the native words o/ may be written anly in the first syllable
  • assimilation (unber /umber/, menge /mege/, kzsez /kssez/)
  • reduction: full (urını /urnı/, kilene /kilne/); partly (bezne /bĕzne/, kerdem /kĕrdem/; qırğı /qĭrğı/ )
  • elision (qara urman /qar'urman/, kil ide /kil'yde/, turı uram /tur'uram/, bula almm /bul'almm/)
  • replacing to ring (aq ağa, tap taba, sip sib, qaq qağa, yıq - yığa)


  • After vowels, consonants, hard: -lar (bala-lar, ab-lar, kitap-lar, qaz-lar, malay-lar, qar-lar, ağa-lar)
  • After vowels, consonants, soft: -lr (ni-lr, slge-lr, dftr-lr, kibet-lr, sz-lr, bbk-lr, mktp-lr, xref-lr)
  • After nasals, hard: -nar (uram-nar, urman-nar, tolım-nar, mo-nar, ta-nar, şalqan-nar)
  • After nasals, soft: -nr (ln-nr, kelm-nr, rm-nr, i-nr, ci-nr, isem-nr)


Writing system

Main article: Tatar alphabet

Tatar has been written in a number of different alphabets.

Writing system was legased from Bolgar language, which used Orkhon_script before 920s and Arabic script later.


Before 1928 Tatar was written with a variant of the Arabic alphabet (Iske imla ...- 1920; Yanga imla 1920-1928).


In Soviet Union Tatar has been written with a Latin alphabet named Janalif.


In Tatarstan (a republic of Russia where Tatar is most commonly used) and all other parts of Russia a Cyrillic alphabet is used to write Tatar; also in Kazakhstan.

Modern Latin

A Latin alphabet-based system has been used mostly in Tatarstan since 2000 and generally on the Internet, although this has been less common more recently due to the Russian law that all languages of Russia must be written in the Cyrillic alphabet.


Tatar's ancestors are the extinct Bolgar and Kipchak languages.

The literary Tatar language is based on Kazan Tatar's Middle (Tatarstan) dialect and the Old Tatar language (İske Tatar Tele). Both are members of the Kypchak (or Northwestern) group of Turkic languages, although they are also partly derived from the ancient Volga Bolgar language.

The Tatar language strongly influenced most of the Caucasian, Slavic and Finnic languages in the Volga River area.


  • ye - yes
  • yuq - no
  • isnme(sez)/sawmı(sız) - hello
  • slm - hi
  • saw bul(ığız)/xuş(ığız) - goodbye
  • znhar en - please
  • min - I
  • sin - you
  • ul - he / she / it
  • bez - we
  • sez - you
  • alar - they
  • millt - nation
  • İngliz() - English

See also

External links


Language studies


History and literature


ca:Ttar de:Tatarische Sprache eo:Tatara lingvo fr:Tatar id:Bahasa Tatar ja:タタール語 ko:타타르어 nl:Tataars ru:Татарский язык tr:Tatarca tt:Tatar tele zh:塔塔尔语


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