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Kazakh
Qazaq tili, Қазақ тілі, قازاق تىلى
Pronunciation [qɑzɑq tˈlə]
Spoken in Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Russia, Iran
Region Central Asia
Total speakers 12 million
Ranking 66
Language family Altaic[1] (controversial)
Writing system Cyrillic alphabet, Latin alphabet, Arabic alphabet
Official status
Official language in  Kazakhstan
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 kk
ISO 639-2 kaz
ISO 639-3 kaz

Area with significant Kazakh-speaking population

Kazakh (also Qazaq and variants[2], natively Qazaq tili, Қазақ тілі, قازاق ٴتىلى‎; pronounced [qɑzɑq tˈlə]) is a Turkic language closely related to Kyrgyz and Karakalpak.

Kazakh is an agglutinative language, and it employs vowel harmony.

Contents

Geographic distribution

The Kazakh language has its speakers (mainly Kazakhs) spread over a vast territory from the Tian Shan mountains to the Ural mountains. Kazakh is the official state language of Kazakhstan, in which nearly 10 million speakers are reported to live (based on the CIA World Factbook's estimates for population and percentage of Kazakh speakers). More than a million speakers reside in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The 2002 Russian Census reported 560,000 Kazakh speakers in Russia. Other sizable populations of Kazakh speakers live in Mongolia (fewer than 200,000). Large numbers exist elsewhere in Central Asia (mostly in Uzbekistan) and the former Soviet Union, and in Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and other countries. There are also some Kazakh speakers in Germany who immigrated from Turkey in the 1970s.

Writing system

Today, Kazakh is written in the Cyrillic alphabet in Kazakhstan and Mongolia, while the more than one million Kazakh-speakers in China use an Arabic-derived script similar to that used to write Uyghur.

The oldest known written records of languages closely related to Kazakh were written in the Orkhon script. However, it is not believed that any of these varieties were direct predecessors of Kazakh. Modern Kazakh has historically been written using versions of the Latin, Cyrillic and Arabic scripts.

In October 2006, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan, brought up the topic of using the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic alphabet as the official script for Kazakh in Kazakhstan.[3][4] A Kazakh government study released in September 2007 said that Kazakhstan could feasibly switch to a Latin script over a 10 to 12 year period, for a cost of $300 million.[5] On December 13, 2007, however, President Nazarbayev announced a decision not to advance the transformation to a Latin alphabet: “For 70 years the Kazakhstanis read and wrote in Cyrillic. More than 100 nationalities live in our state. Thus we need stability and peace. We should be in no hurry in the issue of alphabet transformation”.[6]

Phonology

Kazakh exhibits tongue-root vowel harmony, with some words of recent foreign origin (usually of Russian or Arabic origin) as exceptions. There is also a system of rounding harmony which resembles that of Kyrgyz, but which does not apply as strongly and is not reflected in the orthography.

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Consonants

The following chart depicts the consonant inventory of standard Kazakh[7]; many of the sounds, however, are allophones of other sounds or appear only in recent loan-words. The 18 consonant phonemes listed by Vajda are in bold—since these are phonemes, their listed place and manner of articulation are very general, and will vary from what is shown. The borrowed phonemes /f/, /v/, /ɕ/, /tɕ/ and /x/, only occur in recent mostly Russian borrowings, and are shown in parentheses ( ) in the table below.

In the table, the elements left of a divide are voiceless, while those to the right are voiced.

Kazakh consonant phonemes
Bilabial Labio-
dental
Dental/
Alveolar
Palato-
alveolar
Alveo-
palatal
Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p b t d k ɡ q ɢ
Fricative (f) (v) s z ʃ ʒ (ɕ) (x) h
Affricate (tɕ)
Tap ɾ
Approximant l j w

Vowels

Kazakh has a system of nine phonemic vowels, three of which diphthongs. The rounding contrast and /æ/ generally only occur as phonemes in the first syllable of a word, but do occur later allophonically; see the section on harmony below for more information.

According to Vajda, the front/back quality of vowels is actually one of neutral versus retracted tongue root.

Per convention, rounded vowels are presented to the right of their unrounded counterparts. Phonetic values are paired with the corresponding character in Kazakh's Cyrillic alphabet.

Kazakh vowel phonemes
−RTR
("Front")
+RTR
("Back")
Diphthongised /i̯ə/, ‹е› /y̯ʉ/, ‹ө› /u̯ʊ/, ‹о›
Close /ɘ/, ‹i› /ʉ/, ‹ү› /ə/, ‹ы› /ʊ/, ‹ұ›
Open /æ/, ‹ә› /ɑ/, ‹а›

Morphology and syntax

Kazakh is generally verb-final, though various permutations on SOV word order can be used. Verbal and nominal morphology in Kazakh exists almost exclusively in the form of agglutinative suffixes.

Case

Kazakh has 7 cases. Case endings are applied only to the last element of a noun phrase—e.g., a noun, an adject, or a nominalised verb phrase. The endings outlined in the chart below are applied to a word ending in a front vowel, a word ending in a back vowel, a word ending in each of those with a voiced consonant, and a word ending with each of this and an unvoiced consonant. Note that the suffixes for the instrumental case do not follow vowel harmony—the vowel is a front vowel regardless of the other vowels in the word.

Declension of nouns
Case Morpheme Possible forms кеме "ship" ауа "air" шелек "bucket" сәбіз "carrot" бас "head" тұз "salt"
Nom кеме ауа шелек сәбіз бас тұз
Acc -NI -ні, -ны, -ді, -ды, -ті, -ты, -н кемені ауаны шелекті сәбізді басты тұзды
Gen -NIŋ -нің, -ның, -дің, -дың, -тің, -тың кеменің ауаның шелектің сәбіздің бастың тұздың
Dat -GA -ге, -ға, -ке, -қа, -не, -на кемеге ауаға шелекке сәбізге басқа тұзға
Loc -DA -де, -да, -те, -та кемеде ауада шелекте сәбізде баста тұзда
Abl -DAn -ден, -дан, -тен, -тан, -нен, -нан кемеден ауадан шелектен сәбізден бастан тұздан
Inst -Men -мен(ен) -бен(ен) -пен(ен) кемемен ауамен шелекпен сәбізбен баспен тұзбен

Pronouns

Kazakh has eight personal pronouns:

Personal pronouns
Singular Plural
Kazakh (transliteration) English Kazakh (transliteration) English
Мен (Men) I Біз (Biz) We
Сен (Sen) You (singular informal) Сендер (Sender) You (plural informal)
Сіз (Siz) You (singular formal) Сіздер (Sizder) You (plural formal)
Ол (Ol) He/She/It Олар (Olar) They

The declension of the pronouns is outlined in the following chart. Singular pronouns (with the exception of сіз, which used to be plural) exhibit irregularities, while plural pronouns don't. Irregular forms are highlighted in bold.

Declension of pronouns
Nom мен сен сіз ол біз сендер сіздер олар
Acc мені сені сізді оны бізді сендерді сіздерді оларді
Gen менің сенің сіздің оның біздің сендердің сіздердің олардың
Dat маған саған сізге оған бізге сендерге сіздерге оларға
Loc менде сенде сізде онда бізде сендерде сіздерде оларда
Abl менен сенен сізден онан бізден сендерден сіздерден олардан
Inst менімен сенімен сізбен онымен бізбен сендермен сіздермен олармен

In addition to the pronouns, there are several more sets of morphemes dealing with person.

Morphemes indicating person
pronouns copulas possessive endings past/conditional
1st sg мен -MIn -(I)m -(I)m
2nd sg сен -sIŋ -(I)ŋ -(I)ŋ
2nd formal sg сіз -sIz -(I)ŋIz -(I)ŋIz
3rd sg ол -(s)I(n)
1st pl біз -MIz -(I)mIz -(I)K
2nd pl сендер -sIŋdAr -(I)ŋ -(I)ŋ
2nd formal pl сіздер -sIzdAr -(I)ŋIz -(I)nIz
3rd pl олар -(s)I(n)

Tense/Aspect/Mood

Kazakh may express different combinations of tense, aspect, and mood through the use of various verbal morphology or through a system of auxiliary verbs, many of which might better be considered light verbs. For example, the (imperfect) present tense in Kazakh bears different aspectual information depending on whether basic present-tense morphology is used, or one of (commonly) four verbs is used:

Aspect in the Present Tense in Kazakh
Kazakh aspect English translation
Жеймін non-progressive "I eat."
Жеп жатырмын progressive "I am eating [right now]."
Жеп отырмын progressive/durative "I am [sitting and] eating." / "I have been eating."
Жеп тұрмын progressive/punctual "I am [in the middle of] eating [this very minute]."
Жеп жүрмін habitual/frequentative "I eat [e.g., lunch at home every day]."

Evidentiality

Kazakh exhibits an evidentiality system which does not neatly align with morphological paradigms.

  • тазалап тастапты - he cleaned it and I saw the result
  • тазалап тастаған - he cleaned it, I saw the result and verified it with him
  • тазалап тастаған екен - he cleaned it and told me, but I probably didn't see the results
  • тазалап тастады - he cleaned it and I saw him clean it
  • тазалап тастағанға ұқсайды - he cleaned it, or so I infer from a result I saw which suggests this
  • тазалап тастаған шығар - he cleaned it, or so I infer from a result I saw which suggests this

See also

References

  1. ^ "Ethnologue report for Altaic"
  2. ^ The most common English spelling, Kazakh, is from the Russian name, Казах.
  3. ^ Kazakhstan switching to Latin alphabet
  4. ^ Kazakh President Revives Idea of Switching to Latin Script
  5. ^ Kazakhstan: Moving Forward With Plan to Replace Cyrillic With Latin Alphabet
  6. ^ Kazakhstan should be in no hurry in Kazakh alphabet transformation to Latin: Nazarbayev, Kazinform, December 13, 2007
  7. ^ Some variations occur in the different regions where Kazakh is spoken, including outside Kazakhstan; e.g. ж / ج (where the so-called “Uyghur” (Perso-Arabic) script is used) is read [ʒ] in standard Kazakh, but [d͡ʒ] in some places.

Mark Kirchner: Kazakh and Karakalpak. In: The Turkic languages. Ed. by Lars Johanson and É. Á. Csató. London [u.a.] : Routledge, 1998. (Routledge language family descriptions). S.318-332.

External links

Kazakh language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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