The Kipchak languages (also known as the Kypchak, Qypchaq, Qypshaq or the Northwestern Turkic languages) are a sub-branch of the Turkic language family spoken by approximately 28 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.
|Central Asia, Russia, Northern Caucasus, Ukraine|
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.
- Change of Proto-Turkic *d to /j/ (e.g. *hadaq > ajaq "foot")
- Loss of initial *h (preserved only in Khalaj), see above example
- Extensive labial vowel harmony (e.g. olor vs. olar "them")
- Frequent fortition (in the form of assibilation) of initial */j/ (e.g. *jetti > ʒetti "seven")
- Diphthongs from syllable-final */ɡ/ and */b/ (e.g. *taɡ > taw "mountain", *sub > suw "water")
- In both Tatar and Bashkir, the original mid and high vowels are swapped in position by vowel raising and lowering:
|Mid → high|
|High → Mid|
The Kipchak languages may be broken down into four groups based on geography and shared features (languages in bold are still spoken today):
|Proto-Turkic||Common Turkic||Kipchak||Kipchak–Bulgar (Uralian, Uralo-Caspian)|
|Kyrgyz–Kipchak (Kyrgyz)||Southern Altai Turkic|
- Yazyki mira Языки мира [Languages of the World]. Vol. 2. Indirk: Институт языкознания (Российская академия наук). 1997. pp. 19–20.
- Some dialects are close to Kirghiz (Johanson 1998)
- Nevskaya, I.A. "The Teleut Language". Endangered Languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia. UNESCO. Retrieved 2021-07-16.