Open main menu

Kipchak languages

The Kipchak languages (also known as the Kypchak, Qypchaq or the Northwestern Turkic languages) are a sub-branch of the Turkic language family spoken by approximately 26 million people in much of Central Asia and Eastern Europe, spanning from Ukraine to China. Some of the most widely spoken languages in this group are Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tatar.

Northwestern Turkic
Central Asia, Russia, Northern Caucasus, Ukraine
Linguistic classificationTurkic
  • Kipchak–Bulgar
  • Kipchak–Cuman
  • Kipchak–Nogai
  • Kyrgyz–Kipchak
Map-Kypchak Language World.png

 Kipchak–Bulgar   Kipchak–Cuman   Kipchak–Nogai and Kyrgyz–Kipchak 

Linguistic featuresEdit

The Kipchak languages share a number of features that have led linguists to classify them together. Some of these features are shared with other Common Turkic languages; others are unique to the Kipchak family.

Shared featuresEdit

  • Change of Proto-Turkic *d to /j/ (e.g. *hadaq > ajaq "foot")
  • Loss of initial *h (preserved only in Khalaj), see above example

Unique featuresEdit


The Kipchak languages may be broken down into four groups, based on geography and shared features:[1] Languages in bold are still spoken today.

Proto-Turkic Common Turkic Kipchak Kipchak–Bulgar (Uralian, Uralo-Caspian)
Kipchak–Cuman (Ponto-Caspian)
Kipchak–Nogai (Aralo-Caspian)
Kyrgyz–Kipchak (Kyrgyz)
South Kipchak

*Note: Kipchak–Cuman base, but have been heavily influenced by Oghuz languages.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kipchak". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.