Turkic languages

Turkic languages

Infobox Language family
region=Originally from Western China to Siberia and Eastern Europe
fam1=Altaiccite web|author=Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.)|authorlink=Ethnologue|url=http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90009|title=Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Language Family Trees - Altaic|format=HTML|accessdate=2007-03-18|date=2005] (controversial)
child1=Southwestern (Oghuz Turkic)
child2=Northwestern (Kypchak Turkic)
child3=Southeastern (Uyghur Turkic)
child4=Northeastern (Siberian Turkic)
child5=Oghur Turkic
child6=Arghu Turkic

Countries and autonomous subdivisions where a Turkic language has official status

The Turkic languages constitute a language family of some thirty languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are traditionally considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.cite book|last=Katzner|first=Kenneth|title=Languages of the World, Third Edition|publisher=Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis Books Ltd.|year=2002|month=March|isbn=978-0415250047]

Turkic languages are spoken by some 180 million people as a native language; [ [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90010 Turkic Language family tree] entries provide the information on the Turkic-speaking populations and regions.] and the total number of Turkic speakers is about 200 million, including speakers as a second language. The Turkic language with the greatest number of speakers is Turkish proper, or Anatolian Turkish, the speakers of which account for about 40% of all Turkic speakers.


The characteristic features of the Turkic languages are vowel harmony, extensive agglutination by means of suffixes, and lack of noun classes or grammatical gender. Subject Object Verb word order is universal within the family. All of these distinguishing characteristics are shared with the Mongolic and Tungusic language families, as well as with the Korean language, which are by some linguists considered to be genetically linked with the Turkic languages in the proposed Altaic language family, a language family rejected by some linguists though plainly accepted in the Voegelin & Voegelin classification (1977:18-19). [Voegelin, C.F. & F.M. Voegelin. 1977. "Classification and index of the World's languages". New York: Elsevier.]


The geographical distribution of Turkic-speaking peoples across Eurasia spreads from Turkey in the West to the North-East of Siberia (see picture in the box on the right above). [ [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90010 Turkic Language tree] entries provide the information on the Turkic-speaking regions.]

Early written records

The first established records of the Turkic languages are the 8th century Orkhon inscriptions by the Göktürks, recording the Old Turkic language, which were discovered in 1889 in the Orkhon Valley in Mongolia. The "Compendium of the Turkic Dialects" ( "Divânü Lügati't-Türk"), written during the 11th century by Kaşgarlı Mahmud of the Kara-Khanid Khanate, constitutes an early linguistic treatment of the family. The "Compendium" is the first comprehensive dictionary of the Turkic languages and also includes the first known map of the Turkic speakers' geographical distribution. It mainly pertains to the Southwestern branch of the family.cite book|last=Soucek|first=Svat|title=A History of Inner Asia|publisher=Cambridge University Press|year=2000|month=March|isbn=978-0521651691]

The Codex Cumanicus (12th - 13th centuries) concerning the Northwestern branch is another early linguistic manual, between Kipchak language and Latin, used by the Catholic missionaries sent to the Western Cumans inhabiting a region corresponding to present-day Hungary and Romania. The earliest records of the language spoken by Volga Bulgars, the parent to today's Chuvash language, are dated to 13th - 14th centuries.

Geographical expansion and development

With the Turkic expansion during Early Middle Ages (c. 6th - 11th centuries), Turkic languages, in the course of just a few centuries, spread across Central Asia, stretching from Siberia (the Sakha Republic) to the Mediterranean (Seljuk Turks). Various elements from the Turkic languages have passed into Hungarian, Persian, Urdu, Russian, Chinese and to a lesser extent, Arabic.cite book|last=Findley|first=Carter V.|title=The Turks in World History|publisher=Oxford University Press|year=2004|month=October|isbn=0-19-517726-6]


For centuries, the Turkic speaking peoples have migrated extensively and intermingled continuously, and their languages have been influenced mutually and through contact with the surrounding languages, especially the Iranian, Slavic, and Mongolic languages.cite paper|author=Johanson, Lars|title=Discoveries on the Turkic linguistic map|publisher=Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul|date=2001|url=http://www.srii.org/Map.pdf|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-03-18] This has obscured the historical developments within each language and/or language group, and as a result, there exist several systems to classify the Turkic languages. The modern genetic classification schemes for Turkic are still largely indebted to Samoilovich (1922) [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20070528154132/http://s155239215.onlinehome.us/turkic/40_Language/LangClassificationEn.htm Classification of Türkic languages] ] and are mainly based on the development of *d. However, there are still many elements of questioning for which ongoing research has not yet found an adequate solution.

The Turkic languages may be divided into six branches (Johanson 1998):Lars Johanson, The History of Turkic. In Lars Johanson & Éva Ágnes Csató (eds), The Turkic Languages, London, New York: Routledge, 81-125, 1998. [http://www.turkiclanguages.com/www/classification.html Classification of Turkic languages] ]
#Southwestern (Oghuz Turkic)
#Northwestern (Kypchak Turkic)
#Southeastern (Uyghur Turkic) [This branch is also referred to as Uyghuric to distinguish the branch from one of its members, Uyghur.]
#Northeastern (Siberian Turkic)
#Oghur Turkic
#Arghu Turkic

In this classification, Oghur Turkic is also referred to as Lir-Turkic and the other branches ar subsumed under the title of Shaz-Turkic or Common Turkic. It is not clear when these two major types of Turkic can be assumed to have actually diverged. [See the main article on Lir-Turkic.]

With less certainty, the Southwestern, Northwestern, Southeastern and Oghur groups may further be summarized as West Turkic, the Northeastern, Kyrgyz-Kypchak and Arghu (Khalaj) groups as East Turkic.cite web|author=Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.)|authorlink=Ethnologue|url=http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90010|title=Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Language Family Trees - Turkic|format=HTML|accessdate=2007-03-18|date=2005 The reliablity of "Ethnologue" lies mainly in its statistics whereas its framework for the internal classification of Turkic is still based largely on Baskakov (1962) and the collective work in Deny et al. (1959-1964). A more up to date alternative to classifying these languages on internal camparative grounds is to be found in the work of Johanson and his co-workers.]

Geographically and linguistically, the languages of Northwestern, and Southeastern subgroup belong to the central Turkic languages, while the Northeastern and Khalaj languages are the so-called peripheral languages.

Classification Schema

The following isoglosses are traditionally used in the classification of the Turkic languages:p.83]
* Rhoticisation, e.g. in the last consonant of the word for "nine" *toqqız. This separates the Oghur branch, which exhibits /r/, from the rest of Turkic, which exhibits /z/. In this case, rhoticisation refers to the development of *-/r/, *-/z/, and *-/d/ to /r/ in this branch. [Larry Clark, Chuvash. In Lars Johanson & Éva Ágnes Csató (eds), The Turkic Languages, London, New York: Routledge, 434-452, 2006.]
* Intervocalic *d, e.g. in the second consonant in the word for "foot" *hadaq
* Word-final -G, e.g. in the word for "mountain" *tāğ
* Suffix-final -G, e.g. in the suffix *lIG, in e.g. *tāğlığAdditional isoglosses include:
* Preservation of word initial *h, e.g. in the word for "foot" *hadaq
** This separates Khalaj as a peripheral language
* Denasalisation of palatal *ń, e.g. in the word for "moon", *ań


Further reading

* Baskakov, N.A. 1962, 1969. "Introduction to the study of the Turkic languages". Moscow. (In Russian)
* Boeschoten, Hendrik & Lars Johanson. 2006. "Turkic languages in contact". Turcologica, Bd. 61. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3447052120
* Clausen, Gerard. 1972. "An etymological dictionary of pre-thirteenth-century Turkish". Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* Deny, Jean et al. 1959-1964. "Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta". Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
* Johanson, Lars & Éva Agnes Csató (ed.). 1998. "The Turkic languages". London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-08200-5.
* Johanson, Lars. 1998. "The history of Turkic." In: Johanson & Csató, pp. 81-125. [http://www.turkiclanguages.com/www/classification.html]
* Johanson, Lars. 1998. "Turkic languages." In: "Encyclopaedia Britannica". CD 98. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, 5 sept. 2007. [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-80003/Turkic-languages]
* Menges, K. H. 1968. "The Turkic languages and peoples: An introduction to Turkic studies". Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
* Öztopçu, Kurtuluş. 1996. Dictionary of the Turkic languages: English, Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Uighur, Uzbek. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415141982
* Samoilovich, A. N. 1922. "Some additions to the classification of the Turkish languages". Petrograd. [http://s155239215.onlinehome.us/turkic/40_Language/LangClassificationEn.htm]
* Schönig, Claus. 1997-1998. "A new attempt to classify the Turkic languages I-III." "Turkic Languages" 1:1.117–133, 1:2.262–277, 2:1.130–151.
* Voegelin, C.F. & F.M. Voegelin. 1977. "Classification and index of the World's languages". New York: Elsevier.

ee also

* Altaic languages
* Proto-Turkic language
* Old Turkic
* Middle Turkic
* Orkhon script

External links

* [http://www.umich.edu/~turkish/langres_turkic.html Turkic Languages: Resources - University of Michigan]
* [http://titus.fkidg1.uni-frankfurt.de/didact/karten/turk/turklm.htm Map of Turkic languages]
* [http://www.turkiclanguages.com/www/classification.html Classification of Turkic Languages]
* [http://dict.yulghun.com/ Online Uyghur-English Dictionary]
* [http://www.tdk.org.tr/lehceler/Default.aspx Turkic language vocabulary comparison tool / dictionary]

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