Crimean Tatar language

Crimean Tatar language
Crimean Tatar
Qırımtatarca, Qırımtatar tili
Къырымтатарджа, Къырымтатар тили
Pronunciation [qɯrɯmtɑtɑrˈd͡ʒɑ]
Spoken in  Ukraine
Region Black Sea
Ethnicity Crimean Tatars
Native speakers 483,990[1]  (date missing)
Language family
Official status
Recognised minority language in

 Romania (Dobroudja)
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-3 crh
Linguasphere part of 44-AAB-a
Crymean Tatar lang.png
Crimean Tatar-speaking world

The Crimean Tatar language[2] is the language of the Crimean Tatars. It is a Turkic language spoken in Crimea, Central Asia (mainly in Uzbekistan), and the Crimean Tatar diasporas in Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria. It is not to be confused with the Tatar language.


Number of speakers

Today, more than 260,000 Crimean Tatars live in Crimea, and approximately 150,000 are still in exile in Central Asia (mainly in Uzbekistan).[1] An estimated 5 million people of Crimean origin live in Turkey, descendants of those who emigrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries.[citation needed] Of these an estimated 2,000 still speak the language.[1] Smaller Crimean Tatar communities are also found in Romania (22,000),[1] Bulgaria (6,000),[1] Poland[citation needed], Finland[citation needed], and the United States.[1] It is one of the seriously endangered languages in Europe.[3]


Each of the three subethnic groups of the Crimean Tatars has its own dialect. The dialect of the Noğays – the former inhabitants of the Crimean steppe (should not be confused with Nogai people) – is of Kypchak origin, Yalıboylus, who lived on the southern coast of Crimea before 1944, speak an Oghuz dialect very close to Turkish, and the middle dialect of the Tat Tatars from the Crimean Mountains (should not be confused with Tat people) is a mixture of the two. This dialect is a direct descendant of the Cuman language, but it has been strongly influenced by the Oghuz Turkic. The modern Crimean Tatar written language is based on this middle dialect because the Tats comprise about 55% of the total Crimean Tatar population and their dialect is equally intelligible to the speakers of the others.


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

In 1876, the different Turkish 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, it was reoriented to the middle dialect.

In 1928, the alphabet was replaced with the Uniform Turkic Alphabet based on the Latin alphabet. The Uniform Turkic Alphabet was itself replaced in 1938 by a Cyrillic alphabet. Since the 1990s, the script is in the process of being replaced with a Latin version again, but the Cyrillic is still widely used (mainly in published literature and newspapers). The current Latin-based Crimean Tatar alphabet is the same as the Turkish alphabet with two additional characters: Ñ ñ and Q q.

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



Front Back
+high i y ɯ u
-high e ø ɑ o

The vowel system of Crimean Tatar is similar to those of other Turkic languages, such as Turkish.[4] While /i/ and /ɯ/ are phonologically distinct, since high vowels in Crimean are short and reduced, they are realized close to [ɪ].[5]


Labial Dental-alveolar Post-
Velar Uvular
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p b t d t͡ʃ d͡ʒ k ɡ q
Fricative f v s z ʃ x ɣ
Trill r
Approximants l j

In additional to these phonemes, Crimean also displays marginal phonemes that occur in borrowed words, especially palatalized consonants.[6]

Current situation

According to the constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as published in Russian by its Verkhovna Rada (see Конституция Автономной Республики Крым), Russian and Crimean Tatar languages enjoy a "protected" (Russian – обеспечивается ... защита) status; every citizen is entitled, at his request (Russian 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, so the recognition of those languages is a matter of political and legal debate.

Before the Sürgün, the deportation of Crimean Tatars to the Uzbek SSR (18 May 1944), it had an official language status in the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

Writing systems

Crimean Tatar Latin alphabet

 â symbol is not considered to be a separate letter.

а 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]

Crimean Tatar 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)] [ɨ] [ʲ] [ɛ] [y],[jy],[ju],[ʲu] [ʲa],

гъ, къ, нъ and дж are separate letters.

Crimean Tatar in comparison with other languages

Crimean Tatar, Turkish and Azerbaijani

The following newspaper report compares the Crimean Tatar, Turkish and Azerbaijani languages:

Crimean Tatar Turkish Azerbaijani English
Meclis Haberleri 10.09.2003// Qırımtatar Milliy Meclisiniñ 120-cı toplaşuvı olıp keçti

2003 senesi sentâbr 7 künü Aqmescitteki İslâm Merkeziniñ binasında Qırımtatar Milliy Meclisiniñ 120-cı toplaşuvı olıp keçti. Toplaşuvda...

Meclis Haberleri 10.09.2003// Kırım Tatar Millî Meclisi'nin 120. toplantısı gerçekleşti

7 Eylül 2003 günü Akmescit'teki İslam Merkezi'nin binasında Kırım Tatar Millî Meclisi'nin 120. toplantısı gerçekleşti. Toplantıda...

Məclis Xəbərləri 10.09.2003// Qırım Tatar Milli Məclisinin 120-ci toplantısı keçirildi

2003-cü il sentyabrın 7-si günü Ağməsciddəki İslam Mərkəzinin binasına Qırım Tatar Milli Məclisinin 120-ci toplantısı keçirildi. Toplantıda...

Assembly News 10.09.2003// 120th meeting of Crimean Tatar National Assembly was held

On 7 September 2003, 120th meeting of Crimean Tatar National Assembly was held at the Islamic Centre building in Simferopol. At the meeting...

Crimean Tatar and Tatar

Because of its common name, Crimean Tatar is sometimes mistaken to be a dialect of the Tatar language. Although these languages are related (as both are Turkic), the Kypchak languages closest to Crimean Tatar are (as was mentioned above) Kumyk and Karachay-Balkar, not the Tatar language.



  • Berta, Árpád (1998), "West Kipchak Languages", in Johanson, Lars; Csató, Éva Ágnes, The Turkic Languages, Routledge, pp. 301–317, ISBN 978-0-415082-00-6 
  • Kavitskaya, Darya (2010), Crimean Tatar, Munich: Lincom Europa 

External links

Portal icon Crimea portal
Portal icon Languages portal


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