Dialects of Tatar

Dialects of Tatar

There are 3 main dialects of Tatar: Western (Mişär or Mishar), Middle (Kazan), and Eastern (Siberian). All of these dialects also have subdivisions. Significant contribution to the study of the Tatar language and its dialects, made ​​famous scientist, a professor of philology Gabdulkhay Akhatov, who is considered the founder of modern Tatar dialectological school.

In the Western (Mişär) dialect Ç is pronounced [tʃ] (southern or lambir mishars) and as [ts] (northern mishars or nizhgars). C is pronounced [dʒ]. There are no differences between v and w, q and k, g and ğ in the Mişär dialect. (The Cyrillic alphabet doesn’t have special letters for q, ğ and w, so Mişär speakers have no difficulty reading Tatar written in Cyrillic.)

This is the dialect spoken by the Tatar minority of Finland.


In the Minzälä subdialect of the Middle Dialect z is pronounced [ð], as opposed to other dialects where it is silent.


Main article: Tatar-Russian code-switching

In bilingual cities people often pronounce h as [x], q as [k], ğ as [ɡ], w as [v]. This could be due to Russian influence. Another possibility is that these cities were places where both the western and middle dialects were used.

The influence of Russian is significant. Russian words and phrases are used with Tatar grammar or Russian grammar in Tatar texts. Some Russian verbs are taken entirely, un-nativized, and followed with itärgä. Some English words and phrases are also used.

There was a distinct cryptolect, the Gäp, spoken predominantly in Kazan, but now it is extinct or near extinction.
Siberian Tatar

Siberian Tatars pronounce ç as [ts], c as [j] and sometimes b as [p], d as [t], f as p, y and j as ch, t as d, z as s and h as k. There are also grammatical differences within the dialect, scattered across Siberia.

Many linguists claim the origins of Siberian Tatar dialects are actually independent of Volga–Ural Tatar; these dialects are quite remote both from Standard Tatar and from each other, often preventing mutual comprehension. The claim that this language is part of the modern Tatar language is typically supported by linguists in Kazan and denounced by Siberian Tatars.

Over time, some of these dialects were given distinct names and recognized as separate languages (e.g. the Chulym language) after detailed linguistic study. A brief linguistic analysis shows that many of these dialects exhibit features which are quite different from the Volga–Ural Tatar varieties, and should be classified as Turkic varieties belonging to several sub-groups of the Turkic languages, distinct from Kipchak languages to which Volga–Ural Tatar belongs.

By studying the phonetic peculiarities of dialect of the local population of Siberia, professor Gabdulkhay Akhatov first among the scientists discovered in the Speech of Siberian Tatars is such a thing as the pronounce, which in his opinion, was obtained for the Siberian Tatars of Kipchaks. In his classic fundamental research work “Dialect West Siberian Tatars” (1963) professor Gabdulkhay Akhatov wrote about a territorial resettlement of the Tobol-Irtysh Tatars Tyumen and Omsk areas. Subjecting a comprehensive integrated analysis of the phonetic system, the lexical composition and grammatical structure, the scientist concluded that the language of the Siberian Tatars is a separate dialect, it is not divided into sub-dialects and it is one of the most ancient Turkic languages.

Phonemically, Tatar may be argued to have two vowel heights, high and low. The low vowels are two, front and back, whereas the high vowels are eight: front and back, round and unround, long and short. However, phonetically, the short high vowels are reduced: they are mid-centralized. They are therefore generally transcribed with mid vowel letters such as e and o: high front i ü, high back ï u, reduced (mid) front e ö, reduced (mid) back ë o, and low ä, a. The high back unrounded vowel ï is only found in Russian loans, though the native diphthong ëy, which only occurs word-finally, has been argued to be phonemically ï.. Loaned vowels are considered to be back vowels.

Phonetically, the native vowels are approximately high и/i [i], ү/ü [ʉ], у/u [u], reduced е (э)/e [ɘ̆], ө/ө [ɵ̆], ы/ı [ɤ̆~ʌ̆] о/o [ŏ] (ë may be mid-low), and low ә/ə [a~æ], а/а [ɑ]. In polysyllabic words, the front-back distinction is lost in reduced vowels: all become mid-central. Reduced vowels in unstressed position are frequently elided. Low back /ɑ/ is rounded [ɒ] word-initially and after [ɒ], as in bala ‘child’. In Russian loans there are also [ɨ], [ɛ], and [ɔ]

Historically, the Turkic high vowels have become the Tatar reduced series, whereas the Turkic mid vowels have replaced them. Thus Kazakh til ‘language’ and kün ‘day’ correspond to Tatar tel and kön, while Kazakh men ‘I’, qol ‘hand’, and kök ‘sky’ are in Tatar min, qul, kük.
The consonants of Tatar     Labial     Labio-
velar     Alveolar     Post-
alveolar     Palatal     Velar     Uvular     Glottal
Nasals     m /m/         n /n/             ñ /ŋ/     ñ [ɴ]
Plosives     Voiceless     p /p/         t /t/             k /k/     q [q]     ‘ /ʔ/
Voiced     b /b/         d /d/             g /ɡ/
Fricatives     Voiceless     f /f/         s /s/     ş /ʃ/     ç /tɕ~ɕ/         x /χ/     h /h/
Voiced     v /v/         z /z/     j /ʒ/     c /dʑ~ʑ/         ğ [ʁ~ɢ]
Trill             r /r/
Approximants         w /w/     l /l/         y /j/ ([j~ɪ])

Uvular consonants are allophones of velars before back vowels.

Most of these phonemes are common to or have equivalents in all Turkic languages, but the phonemes /v/, /ts/, /h/ and /ʒ/ are only found in loanwords in Literary Tatar. /f/ is also of foreign origin, but is also found in native words, e.g. yafraq “leaf”.
Pronunciation of loanwords

While the consonants [ʒ], [f] and [v] are not native to Tatar, they are well established. However, Tatars usually substitute fricatives for affricates, for example [ɕ] for [tʃ], [ʒ] or [ʑ] for [dʒ], and [s] for [ts]. Nevertheless, literary traditions recommend the pronunciation of affricates in loanwords.

[ʔ] (hamza) is a sound found in Arabic loanwords and Islamic prayers. It is usually pronounced [e] in loanwords.

Palatalisation is not common in Tatar. As a result, speakers have no problem using the Arabic and Jaꞑalif scripts, neither of which has an accepted method for indicating palatalisation.

In general, Russian words with palatalisation have entered into the speech of bilingual Tatars since the 1930s. When writing in the Cyrillic alphabet, Russian words are spelled as they are in Russian. In today’s Latin orthography, palatalisation is sometimes represented by an acute diacritic under the vowel.

Some Tatars speak Russian without palatalisation, which is known as a Tatar accent.
Syllable types

V (ı-lıs, u-ra, ö-rä)
VC (at-law, el-geç, ir-kä)
CV (qa-la, ki-ä, su-la)
CVC (bar-sa, sız-law, köç-le, qoş-çıq)
VCC (ant-lar, äyt-te, ilt-kän)
CVCC (tört-te, qart-lar, ‘qayt-qan)

Stress is on the final syllable.
Phonetic replacement
A subway sign in Tatar (top) and Russian

Tatar phonotactics dictate many pronunciation changes.

Unrounded vowels may be pronounced as rounded after o or ö:

qorı /qoro/
borın /boron/
közge /közgö/
sorı /soro/)

Nasals are assimilated to following stops:

unber /umber/
mengeç /meñgeç/

Voicing may also undergo assimilation:

küzsez /küssez/

Unstressed vowels may be syncopated or reduced:

urını /urnı/
kilene /kilne/
bezne /bĕzne/
kerdem /kĕrdem/
qırğıç /qĭrğıç/

Vowels may also be elided:

qara urman /qar’urman/
kilä ide /kilä’yde/
turı uram /tur’uram/
bula almím /bul’almím/

In consonant clusters longer than two phones, ı or e (whichever is dictated by vowel harmony) is inserted into speech as an epenthetic vowel.

tekst → /tekest/
bank → /banık/ (not /bañk/)

Final devoicing is also frequent:

tabíb (doctor) → [tabíp]

Like other Turkic languages, Tatar is an agglutinative language.

After vowels, consonants, hard: -lar (bala-lar, abí-lar, kitap-lar, qaz-lar, malay-lar, qar-lar, ağaç-lar)
After vowels, consonants, soft: -lär (äni-lär, sölge-lär, däftär-lär, kibet-lär, süz-lär, bäbkä-lär, mäktäp-lär, xäref-lär)
After nasals, hard: -nar (uram-nar, urman-nar, tolım-nar, moñ-nar, tañ-nar, şalqan-nar)
After nasals, soft: -när (ülän-när, keläm-när, çräm-när, iñ-när, ciñ-när, isem-när)

Declension of Pronouns
Personal Pronouns
Case     Singular     Plural
Nominative     мин     син     ул     без     сез     алар
Genitive     минем     синең     аның     безнең     сезнең     аларның
Dative     миңа     сиңа     аңа     безгә     сезгә     аларга
Accusative     мине     сине     аны     безне     сезне     аларны
Locative     миндә     синдә     анда     бездә     сездә     аларда
Ablative     миннән     синнән     аннан     бездән     сездән     алардан
Demonstrative Pronouns
Case     Singular     Plural
Case     “This”     “That”     “These”     “Those”
Nominative     бу     шул     болар     шулар
Genitive     моның     шуның     боларның     шуларның
Dative     моңа     шуңа     боларга     шуларга
Accusative     моны     шуны     боларны     шуларны
Locative     монда     шунда     боларда     шуларда
Ablative     моннан     шуннан     болардан     шулардан
Interrogative Pronouns
Case     Who?     What?
Nominative     кем     нәрсә
Genitive     кемнең     нәрсәнең
Dative     кемгә     нәрсәгә
Accusative     кемне     нәрсәне
Locative     кемдә     нәрсәдә
Ablative     кемнән     нәрсәдән

[icon]     This section requires expansion.
Writing system
Main articles: Tatar alphabet and Jaꞑalif
Some guides in Kazan are in Latin script, especially in fashion boutiques

Tatar has been written in a number of different alphabets.

Writing was adopted from the Bolgar language, which used the Orkhon script, before the 920s. Later, the Arabic script was also used, as well as Latin and Cyrillic.

Before 1928 Tatar was written with an Arabic alphabet (Iske imla to 1920; Yanga imla 1920–1928).

In the Soviet Union after 1928, Tatar was written with a Latin alphabet called Jaꞑalif.

In 1939, in Tatarstan (a republic of Russia where Tatar is most commonly used) and all other parts of the Soviet Union a Cyrillic script was developed and is still used to write Tatar. It is also used in Kazakhstan.

In 2004, an attempt to introduce a Latin-based alphabet for Tatar was aborted when the Constitutional Court ruled that the 15 November 2002 federal law mandating the use of Cyrillic for the state languages of the republics of the Russian Federation does not contradict the Russian constitution. In accordance with this Constitutional Court ruling, on 28 December 2004, the Tatar Supreme Court overturned the Tatarstani law that made the Latin alphabet official.

In China, Tatars still use the Arabic script.

Tatar Cyrillic alphabet (letter order adopted in 1997):

А а     Ә ә     Б б     В в     Г г     Д д     Е е     Ё ё
Ж ж     Җ җ     З з     И и     Й й     К к     Л л     М м
Н н     Ң ң     О о     Ө ө     П п     Р р     С с     Т т
У у     Ү ү     Ф ф     Х х     Һ һ     Ц ц     Ч ч     Ш ш
Щ щ     Ъ ъ     Ы ы     Ь ь     Э э     Ю ю     Я я

1999 Tatar Latin alphabet, made official by a law adopted by Tatarstani authorities but annulled by the Tatar Supreme Court in 2004:

A a     Ə ə     B b     C c     Ç ç     D d     E e     F f
G g     Ğ ğ     H h     I ı     İ i     J j     K k     Q q
L l     M m     N n     Ꞑ ꞑ     O o     Ɵ ɵ     P p     R r
S s     Ş ş     T t     U u     Ü ü     V v     W w     X x
Y y     Z z     ’
Main article: Turkic languages#Vocabulary comparison

Tatar’s ancestors are the extinct Bolgar and Kipchak languages. Crimean Tatar is not closely related, being more akin to standard Turkish.

The literary Tatar language is based on Tatar’s Middle dialect and the Old Tatar language (İske Tatar Tele). Both are members of the Kipchak group of Turkic languages, although they are also partly derived from the ancient Volga Bolgar language.

The Tatar language has been strongly influenced by most of the Uralic languages in the Volga River area, as well as Arabic, Persian and Russian languages.

äye – yes
yuq – no
isänme(sez)/sawmı(sız) – hello
sälâm – hi
sau bul(ığız)/xuş(ığız) – bye bye
zínhar öçen – please
räxmät – thank you
ğafu it(egez) – excuse me
min – I
sin – you (sg.)
ul – he / she / it
bez – we
sez – you (pl.)
alar – they
millät – nation
İngliz(çä) – English

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