The Gagauz language (Gagauz dili, Gagauzça) is a Turkic language spoken by the Gagauz people of Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey, and it is the official language of the Autonomous Region of Gagauzia in Moldova. Gagauz belongs to the Oghuz branch of Turkic languages, alongside Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Crimean Tatar (considered Kipchak in some cases), and Turkish. Gagauz has two dialects, Bulgar Gagauzi and Maritime Gagauzi. Gagauz is a distinct language from Balkan Gagauz Turkish.
|Gagauz dili, Gagauzça|
|Native to||Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey|
Official language in
Though it was established as a written language in 1957, Gagauz was not used in curriculum until 1959. Gagauz is a language coming from Balkan Gagauz Turkish; Balkan linguistics was the first to view the consequences of language contact as normal rather than corrupt. The term "Gagauz language" and identification of one's language as "Gagauz" were established concurrently with or even after the creation of national self-awareness. About 150,000 Gagauzes resided in Moldova in 1986, where they lived in settlements within the Komratskii, Chadyr-Lungskii and Vulkaneshtskii Rayons. Along with the majority of Gagauzes living in Moldova, there are four other cities in Bulgaria in which the Gagauz reside.
In 1994, the Gagauz wanted autonomy from the former Soviet Union. The Law on Special Legal Status of Gagauzia was passed leading the Gagauz case to be the only case in the former Soviet Union where an ethnic group was granted autonomy status. On January 14, 1995, The Autonomy Statute for Gagauzia was put into effect, granting independence and attempting to regain control of the areas surrounding the Gagauz capital Comrat. Between 1750 and 1846, Gagauz ancestors fled to Russia and settled in the region that is now the current-day Republic of Moldova. Empress Catherine allowed the Gagauz to settle in the region under the condition that they converted to Orthodox Christianity. The districts of Gagauzia were the poorest in Moldova. In the years leading up to their independence, Gagauzia fought hard against the government over water supply, health care and native language education. Gagauzian autonomy led to tough times and turmoil both internally and with the central government in 2002. Power-sharing is a difficult thing to do, so international assistance was needed many times for disputes between the power-sharing Moldova and Gagauzia.
It appears that the first alphabet to be used for the language was the Greek alphabet in the late 19th century. For example, orientalist Otto Blau claims that plays of Euripides had been translated into the Gagauz language and had been written with Greek letters.
Beginning in 1957, Cyrillic was used up until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1993, the parliament of the Republic of Moldova passed a decision providing for the official adoption of the Latin-based alphabet for the Gagauz language. This was subsequently amended in 1996. The Gagauz alphabet adopted is modelled on the modern Turkish alphabet, with the addition of three letters: ⟨ä⟩ to represent the sound of [æ] (as ⟨ə⟩ in Azeri), ⟨ê⟩ to represent the [ə] (schwa) sound, which does not exist in Turkish, and ⟨ț⟩ or ⟨ţ⟩ to represent the sound [ts] as in Romanian. On the other hand, unlike Crimean Tatar, Turkish, and some other Turkic languages, Gagauz does not have the letter ⟨ğ⟩, which had become completely silent in the Gagauz language.
Note that dotted and dotless I are separate letters, each with its own uppercase and lowercase form. I is the capital form of ı, and İ is the capital form of i. The Gagauz alphabet has no q, w or x. Instead, those characters are transliterated into Gagauz as k, v and ks.
A study in 2012 was conducted on the Gagauz community to assess the current situation and sociocultural context. The findings show that within Gagauzia, official documents, printed publications, and official web sites are only in Russian. The National Passport System in Moldova does not allow the spelling of names in Gagauz. Signposts in Gagauzia are mostly in Romanian, and the names of squares and streets have not changed since the time of the Soviet Union.
Despite various laws that support the rights of citizens to education in their native language, almost all instruction in Gagauzian schools is in Russian. Gagauz, while the native language of all students, is only taught as a "native language" class for a few hours per week. Research has also shown that there are not serious desires or attempts to institute Gagauz as a language of instruction. In a study, 80.6% of respondents preferred Russian as the medium of instructions at schools. There are, however, some notable efforts to increase Gagauz language education. Todur Zanet, editor-in-chief of the Ana Sözü local newspaper, has played an active role in encouraging readers and local authorities to promote instruction in their mother tongue. Zanet has also contributed significantly to efforts to standardize the language, and increase its accessibility through print and other mediums.
Ana Sözü is the largest local newspaper in Gagauzia. It is also the only local newspaper still written entirely in Gagauz, and was the first newspaper of any kind published in the Gagauz language. Apart from Ana Sözü, there are various newspapers published in the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia, including Açık Göz, Gagauz Yeri, Gagauz Sesi, Halk Birliği, Novıy Vzgled, Vesti, Gagauzii, and Znamea.
In addition to printed materials, the company Gagauz Radio Televisionu (GRT) produces radio and television broadcasts in Gagauz.
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