Crimean Tatar language

Crimean Tatar (Къырымтатар тили, Qırımtatar tili), also called Crimean Turkic[6][7] or simply Crimean (Къырым тили, Qırım tili),[1] is a Kipchak Turkic language spoken in Crimea and the Crimean Tatar diasporas of Uzbekistan, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as small communities in the United States and Canada. It should not be confused with Tatar proper, spoken in Tatarstan and adjacent regions in Russia; the languages are related, but belong to two different subgroups of the Kipchak languages and thus are not mutually intelligible. Crimean Tatar arrived in the 13th century with the Mongol Golden Horde, succeeding the Crimean Greek and Crimean Gothic Principality of Theodoro, and continued through the 15th–18th century Crimean Khanate period. Though only distantly related, it has been extensively influenced by nearby Oghuz Turkic languages such as Turkish, Turkmen and Azerbaijani.

Crimean Tatar
Qırımtatar tili, Къырымтатар тили
Qırım tili, Къырым тили
Native toUkraine, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Romania, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Bulgaria, Lithuania
RegionBlack Sea
EthnicityCrimean Tatars
Native speakers
540,000 (2006–2011)[1]
officially Latin but Cyrillic is also widely used in the Crimea; previously Arabic (Crimean Tatar alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2crh
ISO 639-3crh
Linguaspherepart of 44-AAB-a
Crymean Tatar lang
Crimean Tatar-speaking world
Crimean Tatar language on airport bus, Simferopol
"Welcome to Crimea" (Qırımğa hoş keldiñiz!) written in Crimean Tatar Cyrillic, airport bus, Simferopol International Airport
Bağçasaray Devlet Tarihiy-Medeniy Qoruması
Crimean Tatar Latin script on a plate in Bakhchisaray in 2009, along with Ukrainian
Crimean Tatar language
An example of Crimean Tatar Arabic script

Number of speakers

Today, more than 260,000 Crimean Tatars live in Crimea. Approximately 150,000 reside in Central Asia (mainly in Uzbekistan), where their ancestors had been exiled in 1944 during World War II by the Soviet Union. However, of all these people, mostly the older generations are the only ones still speaking Crimean Tatar.[8] In 2013, the language was estimated to be on the brink of extinction, being taught in only around 15 schools in Crimea. Turkey has provided support to Ukraine, to aid in bringing the schools teaching in Crimean Tatar to a modern state.[9] An estimated 5 million people of Crimean origin live in Turkey, descendants of those who emigrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Of these an estimated 2,000 still speak the language.[8] Smaller Crimean Tatar communities are also found in Romania (22,000), Bulgaria (6,000), and the United States.[8] Crimean Tatar is one of the seriously endangered languages in Europe.[10]

Almost all Crimean Tatars are bilingual or multilingual, using as their first language the dominant languages of their respective home countries, such as Russian, Turkish, Romanian, Uzbek, Bulgarian or Ukrainian.

Classification and dialects

Crimean Tatar is conventionally divided into three main dialects: northern, middle and southern.

The middle dialect is spoken in the Crimean Mountains by the sedentary Tat Tatars (should not be confused with the Tat people which speak an Iranic language). The modern Crimean Tatar written language is based on Tat Tatar because the Tat Tatars comprise a relative majority.

Standard Crimean Tatar and its middle dialect are classified as a language of the Cuman (Russian: кыпчакско-половецкая) subgroup of the Kipchak languages and the closest relatives are Karachay-Balkar, Karaim, Krymchak, Kumyk, Urum and extinct Cuman.

However, two other unwritten dialects of Crimean Tatar belong to two different groups or subgroups of the Turkic languages.

The northern dialect (also known as steppe or Nogay) is spoken by the Noğay ethnic subgroup, the former nomadic inhabitants of the Crimean (Nogay) steppe (should not be confused with Nogai people of the Northern Caucasus and the Lower Volga). This dialect belongs to the Nogay (Russian: кыпчакско-ногайская) subgroup of the Kipchak languages. This subgroups also includes Kazakh, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz, and Nogai proper. It is thought that the Nogays of the Crimea and the Nogais of the Caucasus and Volga are of common origin from the Nogai Horde, which is reflected in their common name and very closely related languages. In the past some speakers of this dialects also called themselves Qıpçaq (that is Cumans).

The southern or coastal dialects is spoken by Yalıboylu ("coastal dwellers") who have traditionally lived on the southern coast of the Crimea. Their dialects belongs to the Oghuz group of the Turkic languages which includes Turkish, Azeri and Turkmen. This dialect is most heavily influenced by Turkish.

Thus, Crimean Tatar has a unique position among the Turkic languages, because its three "dialects" belong to three different (sub)groups of Turkic. This makes the classification of Crimean Tatar as a whole difficult. The middle dialect, although thought to be of Kipchak-Cuman origin, is in fact combine elements of both Cuman and Oghuz languages. This latter fact may also be another reason why Standard Crimean Tatar has had its basis in the middle dialect.

Volga Tatar

Because of its common name, Crimean Tatar is sometimes mistaken to be a dialect of Tatar proper, or both being two dialects of the same language. However, Tatar spoken in Tatarstan and the Volga-Ural region of Russian belongs to the different Bulgaric (Russian: кыпчакско-булгарская) subgroup of the Kipchak languages, and its closet relative is Bashkir. Both Volga Tatar and Bashkir differ notably from Crimean Tatar, particularly because of the specific Volga-Ural Turkic vocalism and historical shifts.


The formation period of the Crimean Tatar spoken dialects began with the first Turkic invasions of Crimea by Cumans and Pechenegs and ended during the period of the Crimean Khanate. However, the official written languages of the Crimean Khanate were Chagatai and Ottoman Turkish. After Islamization, Crimean Tatars wrote with an Arabic script.

In 1876, the different Turkic Crimean dialects were made into a uniform written language by Ismail Gasprinski. A preference was given to the Oghuz dialect of the Yalıboylus, in order to not break the link between the Crimeans and the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. In 1928, the language was reoriented to the middle dialect spoken by the majority of the people.

In 1928, the alphabet was replaced with the Uniform Turkic Alphabet based on the Latin script. The Uniform Turkic Alphabet was replaced in 1938 by a Cyrillic alphabet. During the 1990s and 2000s, the government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea under Ukraine encouraged replacing the script with a Latin version again, but the Cyrillic has still been widely used (mainly in published literature, newspapers and education). The current Latin-based Crimean Tatar alphabet is the same as the Turkish alphabet, with two additional characters: Ñ ñ and Q q. Currently, in the Russian Republic of Crimea all official communications and education in Crimean Tatar are conducted exclusively in the Cyrillic alphabet.[11]

Crimean Tatar was the native language of the poet Bekir Çoban-zade.

Since 2015 Crimea Realii (Qirim Aqiqat) starts series of video lessons "Elifbe" on Crimean language.

In 2016, the language was brought to international attention by the win of Ukrainian singer Jamala at that year's Eurovision Song Contest, with the song "1944" which featured a chorus fully in Crimean Tatar.

In 2016 Slava Vakarchuk, popular Ukrainian rock star, together with Iskandar Islamov sang song Sağındım in Lviv.



Front Back
Close i y ɯ u
Mid/open e ø ɑ o

The vowel system of Crimean Tatar is similar to some other Turkic languages.[12] Because high vowels in Crimean Tatar are short and reduced, /i/ and /ɯ/ are realized close to [ɪ], even though they are phonologically distinct.[13]


Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Velar Uvular
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop voiceless p t t͡ʃ k q
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Affricate voiceless
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ x
voiced v z ɣ
Trill r
Approximants l j

In addition to these phonemes, Crimean also displays marginal phonemes that occur in borrowed words, especially palatalized consonants.[14]

The southern (coastal) dialect substitutes /x/ for /q/, e.g. standard qara 'black', southern xara.[15] At the same time the southern and some central dialects preserve glottal /h/ which is pronounced /x/ in the standard language.[15] The northern dialect on the contrary lacks /x/ and /f/, substituting /q/ for /x/ and /p/ for /f/.[15] The northern /v/ is usually [w], often in the place of /ɣ/, compare standard dağ and northern taw 'mountain' (also in other Oghuz and Kipchak languages, such as Azerbaijani: dağ and Kazakh: taw).

/k/ and /ɡ/ are usually fronted, close to [c] and [ɟ].

Writing systems

Crimean Tatar can be written in either the Cyrillic or Latin alphabets, both modified to the specific needs of Crimean Tatar, and either used respective to where the language is used. Under Ukrainian rule, the Latin alphabet was preferred, but upon Russia's annexation of the Crimea, Cyrillic became the sole official script.[11]

Arabic alphabet

Crimean Tatars used Arabic script from 16th century to 1928.

Latin alphabet

 â symbol is not considered to be a separate letter.

a b c ç d e f g ğ h ı i j k l m n ñ o ö p q r s ş t u ü v y z
[a] [b] [dʒ] [tʃ] [d] [e] [f] [ɡ] [ɣ] [x] [ɯ] [i], [ɪ] [ʒ] [k] [l] [m] [n] [ŋ] [o] [ø] [p] [q] [r] [s] [ʃ] [t] [u] [y] [v], [w] [j] [z]

Cyrillic alphabet

а б в г гъ д е ё ж з и й к къ л м н нъ o п p c т у ф x ц ч дж ш щ ъ ы ь э ю я
[a] [b] [v],[w] [ɡ] [ɣ] [d] [ɛ],[jɛ] [ø],[jø],[jo],[ʲo] [ʒ] [z] [i],[ɪ] [j] [k] [q] [l],[ɫ] [m] [n] [ŋ] [o],[ø] [p] [r] [s] [t] [u],[y] [f] [x] [ts] [tʃ] [dʒ] [ʃ] [ʃtʃ] [(.j)] [ɯ] [ʲ] [ɛ] [y],[jy],[ju],[ʲu] [ʲa],

гъ, къ, нъ and дж are separate letters (digraphs).

Legal status

According to the constitution of the Republic of Crimea and the Crimean language law,[11] the Crimean Tatar language is an official language in Crimea as well as Russian and Ukrainian.

According to the constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as published in Russian by its Verkhovna Rada,[16] Russian and Crimean Tatar languages enjoy a "protected" (Russian: обеспечивается ... защита) status; every citizen is entitled, at his request (ходатайство), to receive government documents, such as "Passport, Birth certificate and others" in Crimean Tatar. According to the constitution of Ukraine, however, Ukrainian is the only official language in all of Ukraine. Recognition of Russian and Crimean Tatar was a matter of political and legal debate.

Before the Sürgün, the 18 May 1944 deportation by the Soviet Union of Crimean Tatars to internal exile in Uzbek SSR, Crimean Tatar had an official language status in the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.


  1. ^ a b Crimean Tatar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b The status of Crimea and of the city of Sevastopol is since March 2014 under dispute between Russia and Ukraine; Ukraine and the majority of the international community consider Crimea to be an autonomous republic of Ukraine and Sevastopol to be one of Ukraine's cities with special status, whereas Russia considers Crimea to be a federal subject of Russia and Sevastopol to be one of Russia's three federal cities like Russians cities Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
  3. ^ "To which languages does the Charter apply?". European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Council of Europe. p. 2.
  4. ^ "Reservations and Declarations for Treaty No.148 - European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages". Council of Europe. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  5. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Crimean Tatar". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c Crimean Tatar language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  9. ^ Crimean Tatar language in danger, Avrupa Times, 02/19/2013
  10. ^ "Tapani Salminen, UNESCO Red Book on Endangered Languages: Europe, September 1999". University of Helsinki, Finland. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  11. ^ a b c (in Russian) Закон Республики Крым «О государственных языках Республики Крым и иных языках в Республике Крым»
  12. ^ Kavitskaya 2010, p. 6
  13. ^ Kavitskaya 2010, p. 8
  14. ^ Kavitskaya 2010, p. 10
  15. ^ a b c Изидинова 1997.
  16. ^ Конституция Автономной Республики Крым


  • Berta, Árpád (1998). "West Kipchak Languages". In Johanson, Lars; Csató, Éva Ágnes. The Turkic Languages. Routledge. pp. 301–317. ISBN 978-0-415-08200-6.
  • Kavitskaya, Darya (2010). Crimean Tatar. Munich: Lincom Europa.
  • (in Russian) Изидинова, С. Р. (1997). "Крымскотатарский язык". Языки мира. Тюркские языки.

External links


Armyansk (Ukrainian: Армянськ, Russian: Армянск, Armenian: Արմյանսկ, Crimean Tatar: Ermeni Bazar) is a town of regional significance in northern Crimea, a territory recognized by a majority of countries as part of Ukraine, but de facto under control and administration of Russia. Armyansk serves as the administrative center of Armyansk municipality, one of the regions Crimea is divided into. It is located on the Isthmus of Perekop. Population: 21,987 (2014 Census).


A bashlyk, also spelled Bashlik (Adyghe: Shkharkhon, Crimean Tatar: Başlıq, Tatar: Başlıq, Turkish: Başlık; "baş" - head, "-lıq" (Tatar) / "-lık" (Turkish) - derivative suffix), is a traditional Circassian, Iranian, Turkic and Cossack cone-shaped headdress hood, usually of leather, felt or wool, an ancient round topped felt bonnet with lappets for wrapping around the neck. Local versions determine the trim, which may consist of decorative cords, embroidery. metallized strings, fur balls or tassels. Among dozens of versions are winter bashlyks worn atop regular headdress, cotton bashlyks, homeknitted bashlyks, silk bashlyks, scarf bashlyks, down bashlyks, dress bashlyks, jumpsuit-type bashlyks, etc. Bashlyks are used as traditional folk garment, and as uniform headdress.A variation of bashlyks is a Kalpak (Qalpaq), a cone-shaped headdress without lappets, mostly made of leather, felt or wool, as depicted in the Repin's painting below. "Kalpak" is also a component of the ethnic name "Kara-Kalpak" (literally "a black kalpak" in Turkic), known from the history of the medieval Eastern Europe, and from the modern Karakalpak autonomous republic in the western Syr Darya - Amu Darya interfluve in Uzbekistan, north of the ancient Balkh.

In modern times, bashlyks became fashionable in Russia in 1830-1840, after the Napoleonic War with significant participation of the Bashkir cavalry. By the 1862 bashlyks were made a uniform headdress in Cossack armies, and later in other branches of Russian armed forces. The military bashlyk was bright yellow camel wool, with a yellow band. Officer bashlyks had gold or silver band. In Russian army bashlyks lasted till 1917, when they became a trademark of White Army uniform, and some White Army troops have the lappets tucked into the belt on the front instead of wrapping around the neck.

Bilohirsk Raion

Bilohirsk Raion (Ukrainian: Білогірський район, Russian: Белогорский район, Crimean Tatar: Qarasuvbazar rayonı) is one of the 25 regions of Crimea, currently subject to a territorial dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Population: 60,445 (2014 Census).This landlocked region is situated in the foothills of the central Crimea. The raion's administrative centre is the historical town of Bilohirsk.


Chatyr-Dah (Crimean Tatar: Çatır Dağ, Ukrainian: Чатир-Даг, Russian: Чатыр-Даг) is a mountainous massif in Crimea, near Simferopol-Alushta highway. In the Crimean Tatar language çatır means tent and dağ means mountain.

Crimean Oblast

The Crimean Oblast (Ukrainian: Кримська область, translit. Krymsjka oblastj; Russian: Крымская область, translit. Krymskaja oblastj; Crimean Tatar: Qırım vilâyeti) was an oblast (province) of the former Russian SFSR (1945–1954) and Ukrainian SSR (1954–1991) within the Soviet Union. Its capital was the city of Simferopol.

Crimean Tatar Wikipedia

The Crimean Tatar Wikipedia (Crimean Tatar: Qırımtatarca Vikipediya) is the Crimean Tatar language edition of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The articles were originally written in Wikimedia Incubator, and the Crimean Tatar Wikipedia was created on January 12, 2008. Currently (February 2019), Crimean Tatar has 6263 articles.

Devlet I Giray

Devlet I Giray, Dolat Girai (Crimean Tatar: I Devlet Geray, ۱دولت كراى‎‎; Taht Alğan Devlet Geray, تخت آلغان دولت كراى‎‎) (1512–1577) was a khan of the Crimean Khanate during whose long reign (1551–1577) the khanate rose to the pinnacle of its power.


Dzhankoy or Jankoy (Ukrainian and Russian: Джанкóй, Crimean Tatar: Canköy, Yiddish: דזשאנקאיע‎) is a town of regional significance in the north of the Crimea. It also serves as administrative center of Dzhankoy Raion although it is not a part of the raion (district). Population: 38,622 (2014 Census).The name Dzhankoy is often translated into English from Crimean Tatar as "spirit-village" (can — spirit, köy — village) -Canköy. But real meaning of this name is "new village": canköy < cañı köy (cañı is "new" in the northern dialect of Crimean Tatar).

In the city there are many types of industrial factories, some of which are: automobile, reinforced concrete, fabric, meat, and others. Dzhankoy also contains professional technical schools.

Emil Dervish

Emil Dervish (Ukrainian: Еміл Дервіш, Crimean Tatar: Emil Dervish) is a Ukrainian architect graduated in Architecture from the National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture and located in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Isthmus of Perekop

The Isthmus of Perekop (Ukrainian: Перекопський перешийок; translit. Perekops'kyy pereshyyok; Russian: Перекопский перешеек; translit. Perekopskiy peresheek Crimean Tatar: Or boynu, Turkish: Orkapı; Greek: Τάφρος; translit. Taphros) is the narrow, 5–7 kilometres (3.1–4.3 mi) wide strip of land that connects the Crimean Peninsula to the mainland of Ukraine. The isthmus is located between the Black Sea to the west and the Sivash to the east. The isthmus takes its name of Perekop from the Tatar fortress of Or Qapi.

The border between the Crimea republic and Ukraine's Kherson Oblast runs though the northern part of the isthmus. The cities of Perekop, Armyansk, Suvorovo and Krasnoperekopsk are situated on the isthmus. The North Crimean Canal ran through the isthmus, supplying Crimea with fresh water from the Dnieper River. The canal was closed by Ukraine in 2014, and the water supply was replaced by other local and Russian sources.

South of Perekop, there are rich salt ores which still are very important commercially for the region.

Krymchak language

The Krymchak language (кърымчах тыльы, Qrımçah tılyı) (also called Judeo-Crimean Tatar, Krimchak, Chagatai, Dzhagatay) is a moribund Turkic language spoken in Crimea by the Krymchak people. The Krymchak community was composed of Jewish immigrants who arrived from all over Europe and Asia and who continuously added to the Krymchak population. The Krymchak language, as well as culture and daily life, was very similar to Crimean Tatar, the peninsula's majority population, with the addition of a significant Hebrew influence.

Like most Jewish languages, it contains a large number of Hebrew loanwords. Before the Soviet era, it was written using Hebrew characters. In the Soviet Union in the 1930s, it was written with the Uniform Turkic Alphabet (a variant of the Latin script), like Crimean Tatar and Karaim. Now it is written in the Cyrillic script.

Over the last century the language has disappeared and been replaced by Russian, with approximately 70% of the population perishing in the Holocaust. When in May 1944 almost all Crimean Tatars were deported to Soviet Uzbekistan, many speakers of Krymchak were among them, and some remained in Uzbekistan.

Nowadays the language is almost extinct. According to the Ukrainian census of 2001, less than 785 Krymchak people remain in Crimea. One estimate supposes that of the approximately 1500-2000 Krymchaks living worldwide, mostly in Israel, Crimea, Russia, and the United States, only 5-7 are native speakers.

Lenine Raion

Lenine Raion (Russian: Ленинский район, Ukrainian: Ленінський район, Crimean Tatar: Yedi Quyu rayonı) is one of the 25 regions of the Crimea, currently subject to a territorial dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. It is located in the eastern part of the peninsula. The administrative centre of Lenine Raion is the urban-type settlement of Lenine. Population: 61,143 (2014 Census).


Perekop (Ukrainian: Перекоп; Russian: Перекоп; Crimean Tatar: Or Qapı; Greek: Τάφρος) is an urban-type settlement located on the Perekop Isthmus connecting the Crimean peninsula to the Ukrainian mainland. It is known for the fortress Or Qapi that served as the gateway to Crimea. The village currently is part of Armyansk Municipality. Population: 919 (2014 Census).


Perevalne (Ukrainian: Перевальне; Russian: Перевальное (Perevalnoye); Crimean Tatar: Anğara, Ангъара) (until 1945, Angara) is a village in Crimea, a disputed territory recognized by a majority of countries as part of Ukraine but administered by Russia as the Republic of Crimea. The village of Perevalne is administered by the Dobre Village Council, which in turn is subordinate to Crimea's Simferopol Raion (district) authorities.

According to the 2001 Ukrainian census, its population was 3,660. The village is located in the middle of the Crimean Mountains, next to the Chatyr-Dag massif. The Simferopol—Alushta—Yalta highway runs through the village, as well as the Crimean Trolleybus line, which has a stop in the settlement.

There is a garrison (воинская часть A-2320) in Pevevalne. Former Soviet trainning center for special forces. The Ukrainian 36th separate machanised coastal infantry brigade is located there and during the Crimean crisis 2014 was surrounded by the Russian troops without military rank insignia or cockade.


Roman-Kosh (Ukrainian: Роман-Кош, Russian: Роман-Кош, Crimean Tatar: Roman Qoş) is the highest peak of Crimean Mountains .

Simferopol Raion

Simferopol Raion (Ukrainian: Сімферопольський район, Russian: Симферопольский район, Crimean Tatar: Aqmescit rayonı) is one of the 25 regions of the Crimean peninsula, currently subject to a territorial dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The administrative center of the raion is the city of Simferopol which is incorporated as a town of republican significance and is not a part of the district. The Simferopol Raion is situated in the central part of the peninsula. Population: 152,091 (2014 Census).

Sovietskyi Raion

Sovietskyi Raion (Russian: Советский район, Ukrainian: Совєтський район, Crimean Tatar: İçki rayonı) is one of the 25 regions of Crimea, currently subject to a territorial dispute between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The administrative center of the raion is the urban-type settlement of Sovietskyi. Population: 31,898 (2014 Census).


Topraisar is a commune in the Constanța County, Romania.

The commune includes four villages:

Topraisar (historical name: Crimean Tatar: Topraysar)

Biruința (historical name: Crimean Tatar: Muratan, probably rounded out phonetically from Murat Han)

Movilița (historical name: Crimean Tatar: Musurat, probably rounded out phonetically from Musavvirat; for short periods in the 20th century it has also been named Regele Mihai and Filimon Sîrbu (1948-1964) )

Potârnichea (historical name: Crimean Tatar: Abdullahköy)Topraisar and the surrounding areas were the site of fierce fighting in 1916 during two battles of the World War I: the First and Second Battle of Cobadin.

Uchan-su (waterfall)

Uchan-su (Ukrainian: Учан-Су, Russian: Уча́н-Су Crimean Tatar: Uçan Suv), is a waterfall on the river Uchan-su on the southern slopes of the Crimean Mountains in Crimea. The name translates from the Crimean Tatar language for flying water.

Uchan-su, the highest waterfall in Crimea, is a popular tourist attraction located 7 km from the city of Yalta halfway to Ai-Petri Mountain. The waterfall is 98 metres (322 ft) high at an altitude of 390 metres (1,280 ft) and is most powerful during the spring when it is fed by snow melt in the mountains.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.