Khakas language

Khakas (endonym: хакас тілі, xakas tįlį, тадар тілі, tadar tįlį) is a Turkic language spoken by the Khakas people, who mainly live in the southwestern Siberian Khakas Republic, or Khakassia, in Russia. The Khakas number 73,000, of whom 42,000 speak the Khakas language. Most of Khakas speakers are bilingual in Russian.[4]

хакас тілі, xakas tįlį, тадар тілі, tadar tįlį
Native toRussia
EthnicityKhakas people
Native speakers
43,000 (2010 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3kjh

Traditionally, the Khakas language is divided into several closely related dialects, which take their names from the different tribes: Sagay [ru], Kacha [ru], Koybal, Beltir, and Kyzyl. In fact, these names represent former administrative units rather than tribal or linguistic groups. The people speaking all these dialects simply referred to themselves as Tadar (i.e. Tatar).

History and documentationEdit

The people who speak the Fuyu Kyrgyz language originated in the Yenisei region of Siberia but were relocated into the Dzungar Khanate by the Dzungars, and then the Qing moved them from Dzungaria to northeastern China in 1761, and the name may be due to the survival of a common tribal name.[5][6] The Yenisei Kirghiz were made to pay tribute in a treaty concluded between the Dzungars and Russians in 1635.[7] Sibe Bannermen were stationed in Dzungaria while Northeastern China (Manchuria) was where some of the remaining Öelet Oirats were deported to.[8] The Nonni basin was where Oirat Öelet deportees were settled. The Yenisei Kirghiz were deported along with the Öelet.[9] Chinese and Oirat replaced Oirat and Kirghiz during Manchukuo as the dual languages of the Nonni-based Yenisei Kirghiz.[10] The present-day Kyrgyz people originally lived in the same area that the speakers of Fuyu Kyrgyz at first dwelled within modern-day Russia. These Kyrgyz were known as the Yenisei Kyrgyz. It is now spoken in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province, in and around Fuyu County, Qiqihar (300 km northwest of Harbin) by a small number of passive speakers who are classified as Kyrgyz nationality.[11]

The first major recordings of the Khakas language originate from the middle of the 19th century. The Finnish linguist Matthias Castrén, who travelled through northern and Central Asia between 1845 and 1849, wrote a treatise on the Koybal dialect, and recorded an epic. Wilhelm Radloff traveled the southern Siberian region extensively between 1859 and 1870. The result of his research was, among others, published in his four-volume dictionary, and in his ten-volume series of Turkic texts. The second volume contains his Khakas materials, which were provided with a German translation. The ninth volume, provided with a Russian translation, was prepared by Radloff's student Katanov, who was a Sagay himself, and contains further Khakas materials.

The Khakas literary language, which was developed only after the Russian Revolution of 1917, is based on the central dialects Sagay and Kacha; the Beltir dialect has largely been assimilated by Sagay, and the Koybal dialect by Kacha.

In 1924, a Cyrillic alphabet was devised, which was replaced by a Latin alphabet in 1929, and by a new Cyrillic alphabet in 1939.

In 2012, an Enduring Voices expedition documented the Xyzyl (pronounced hizzle) language from the Republic of Khakassia. Officially considered a dialect of Khakas, its speakers regard Xyzyl as a separate language of its own.[12]


The Khakas language is part of the South Siberian subgroup of Turkic languages, which includes Shor, Chulym, Tuvan, Tofa, and Altai in addition to Khakas. The language of the Turkic-speaking Yugurs of Gansu and the Fuyu Kyrgyz language of a small group of people in Manchuria also share some similarities with languages of this subgroup. The Khakas language has also been part of a wider language area covering the Southern Samoyedic languages Kamassian and Mator. A distinctive feature that these languages share with Khakas and Shor is a process of nasal assimilation, whereby a word-initial palatal stop (in all of these languages from an earlier palatal approximant *j) develops into an alveolar nasal /n/ or a palatal nasal /ɲ/, when followed by another word-internal nasal consonant.[13]


Khakas vowels[14]
Front Back
Close i ⟨и⟩
y ⟨ӱ⟩
ɯ ⟨ы⟩
ɯː ⟨ыы⟩
u ⟨у⟩
Mid e ⟨е⟩
ø ⟨ӧ⟩
øː ⟨ӧӧ⟩
o ⟨о⟩
Open a ⟨а⟩
Khakas consonants[14]
Labial Dental Palatal Velar
Nasal m ⟨м⟩ n ⟨н⟩ ŋ ⟨ң⟩
voiceless p ⟨п⟩ t ⟨т⟩ ⟨ч⟩ k ⟨к⟩
voiced b ⟨б⟩ d ⟨д⟩ ⟨ӌ⟩ ɡ ⟨г⟩
Fricative voiceless f ⟨ф⟩ s ⟨с⟩ ʃ ⟨ш⟩ x ⟨х⟩
voiced v ⟨в⟩ z ⟨з⟩ ʒ ⟨ж⟩ ɣ ⟨ғ⟩
Rhotic r ⟨р⟩
Approximant l ⟨л⟩ j ⟨й⟩


Latin alphabet:

A a B b C c Ç ç D d Ə ə F f G g
Ƣ ƣ I i Į į J j K k L l M m N n
Ꞑ ꞑ O o Ɵ ɵ P p R r S s Ş ş T t
U u V v X x Y y Z z Ƶ ƶ Ь ь

Cyrillic alphabet:

А а Б б В в Г г Ғ ғ Д д Е е Ё ё
Ж ж З з И и Й й І і К к Л л М м
Н н Ң ң О о Ӧ ӧ П п Р р С с Т т
У у Ӱ ӱ Ф ф Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ӌ ӌ Ш ш
Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я


  1. ^ Khakas at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Gregory D. S. Anderson (2005). Language Contact in South Central Siberia. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 44–. ISBN 978-3-447-04812-5.
  3. ^ Bernard Comrie (4 June 1981). The Languages of the Soviet Union. CUP Archive. pp. 53–. GGKEY:22A59ZSZFJ0.
  4. ^ Население по национальности и владению русским языком (in Russian). Федеральная служба государственной статистики. Archived from the original (Microsoft Excel) on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-02-16.
  5. ^ Tchoroev (Chorotegin) 2003, p. 110.
  6. ^ Stary, Giovanni (12 April 2018). Tumen Jalafun Jecen Aku: Manchu Studies in Honour of Giovanni Stary. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 9783447053785. Retrieved 12 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Millward 2007, p. 89.
  8. ^ Juha Janhunen (1996). Manchuria: An Ethnic History. Finno-Ugrian Society. p. 112. ISBN 978-951-9403-84-7.
  9. ^ Juha Janhunen (1996). Manchuria: An Ethnic History. Finno-Ugrian Society. pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-951-9403-84-7.
  10. ^ Juha Janhunen (1996). Manchuria: An Ethnic History. Finno-Ugrian Society. p. 59. ISBN 978-951-9403-84-7.
  11. ^ Hu & Imart 1987, p. 1
  12. ^ Andrew Howley (2012-05-21). "NG Explorers Help Record Xyzyl Language". National Geographic Explorers Journal. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
  13. ^ Helimski, Eugene (2003). "Areal groupings (Sprachbünde) within and across the borders of the Uralic language family: A survey" (PDF). Nyelvtudományi Közlemenyek. 100: 158. ISSN 0029-6791.
  14. ^ a b Donidze, 1997, p. 460-461.

Further readingEdit

  • Castrén, M. A. (1857). Versuch einer koibalischen und karagassischen Sprachlehre nebst Wörterverzeichnissen aus den tatarischen mundarten des minussinschen Kreises. St. Petersburg.
  • Radloff, W. (1893–1911). Versuch eines Wörterbuches der Türk-Dialecte I-IV. St. Petersburg.
  • Radloff, W. (1867). Proben der Volkslitteratur der türkischen Stämme Süd-Sibiriens. II. Theil: die Abakan-Dialecte (der Sagaische, Koibalische, Katschinzische), der Kysyl-Dialect und der Tscholym-Dialect (Küerik). St. Petersburg.
  • Katanov, N. F. (1907). Proben der Volkslitteratur der türkischen Stämme. IX. Theil: Mundarten der Urianchaier (Sojonen), Abakan-Tataren und Karagassen. St. Petersburg.
  • Anderson, G. D. S. (1998). Xakas. Languages of the world: Materials: 251. München.
  • Fuchs Christian; Lars Johanson; Éva Ágnes Csató Johanson (29 April 2015). The Turkic Languages. Routledge. pp. 100–. ISBN 978-1-136-82527-9.

External linksEdit