Turkic languages: Similar or identical?

Discussion in 'Other Languages' started by MarcB, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    I introduced a Turkish person to an Azeri. I said you speak the same language. the Azeri agreed, the Turk said no we speak a similar language.
    Then a person from Turkey said all Turkic languages are the same. Some are 100% intelligible others 95 %. A Uighur from eastern Turkistan (annexed by China) said he speaks the same language as all Turks even though some have several vocabulary words that are different. His country is the original homeland of the Turks but is written with Arabic letters as all Turkic languages once were. . Today Turkmen, Kirguiz, Uzbec and others are written in Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet. Turkish (Turkey) is written in roman characters.
    Is this a political issue or can several languages which all call themselves Turk and are for the most part intelligible be separate languages. Confer Serb, Croatian, Bosnian Slovene etc. and Chinese dialects which in some cases are not mutually intelligible.
    By the way, Turkey has granted residence and in some cases citizenship to other Turks who were/are fleeing Russian or Chinese persecution.
  2. Nurzik Member

    Kyrgyzstan, Russian

    I live in Kyrgyzstan where once long ago Turkistan was located. I would not say that Turkic languages are identical. There are a lot of similarities in them.

    It is true that Turkic languages once used Arabic alphabet. In China, there are some Kyrgyz groups who still use Arabic letters. They fled the Soviets at the start of 20th century and were not under the Russian influence. However, today most use Cyrrilic except Turkish and Uzbek.

    I speak Kyrgyz and I can understand Turkish, Uzbek and Kazakh, but the first 2 hours I have to strain my ears to get used to the sounds. I think it would take me from 2 to 6 months to learn and speak them as well as native speakers.

  3. adli New Member

    You are exactly right. All Turks scattered into the world ironically.And they interacted and communicated with their neighbourhood. The OGUZ Turks (Turkey,Azeri,Turkmen,Uzbek) can interact easily like an Portugual and Espanol.
    But the others Tatars, Kazaks, Kırgızs, Uygur-Sin can- have differences because of historical, alpahabetical, political distortions. Pronunciation is a bit different. But happily 3 months is enough to speak all just like a native language. (Same as Italian and Spanish languages)
    Thanks for your interest. I wish I make you understand

    Is this a political issue or can several languages which all call themselves Turk and are for the most part intelligible be separate languages. Confer Serb, Croatian, Bosnian Slovene etc. and Chinese dialects which in some cases are not mutually intelligible.
    By the way, Turkey has granted residence and in some cases citizenship to other Turks who were/are fleeing Russian or Chinese persecution.
  4. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Hi MarcB,

    It's definitely not identical. It's just similar. I can easily understand Azeri movies unless there are not many Russian loan-words involved, of course.

    I truely wonder how many Turkic languages he knows and has ever heard in his life, really.

    Unfortunately our fellow Uighur is mistaken.

    Here the sample of Universal Declaration of Human Rights in English, Turkish and Uighur so that you can compare the vocabulary.

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    Bütün insanlar hür, haysiyet ve haklar bakımından eşit doğarlar. Akıl ve vicdana sahiptirler ve birbirlerine karşı kardeşlik zihniyeti ile hareket etmelidirler.

    Hemme adem zatidinla erkin, izzet-hörmet we hoquqta babbarawer bolup tughulghan. Ular eqilghe we wijdan'gha ige hemde bir-birige qérindashliq munasiwitige xas roh bilen muamile qilishi kérek

    Nope. All Turkic languages once were, you can say, written in Orkhon script which resembles Runic alphabet that Germanic languages used to use. There were many Turkic peoples that hadn't known about the existence of Arabic alphabet and Arabs until the age of worldwide communication. In the sense of language, Chinese and Mongolian were probably the most familiar language for ancient Turkic peoples.

    Writing system varies in Turkic languages. Gagauz, the closest Turkic language to Turkish, has used Greek and Cyrillic alphabets and now they use Latin-based Gagauz script, modelled after Turkish.

    Turkic people, if they wish to be citizen of Turkey, are given the same full citizenship rights which Turks of Turkey have. That means, they can work as doctors, police officers, teachers etc.

    Hi Nurzik,
    Well, my dear Kyrgyz fellow, I'm now disappointed to see that I was wrong to think that the Kyrgyz are one of the most informed Turkic peoples about Turkic history and its languages. :rolleyes:

    Except Turkish, Uzbek, Azeri, Gagauz...

    Can you understand Tatar as well? I heard it's more similar than Turkish to Kyrgyz. What do you think?

    Hi adli,
    Got two questions:
    1- Do you actually mean Turkic peoples by Turks?
    2- What's so ironic about that?

  5. Honour Senior Member

    Türkçe, Türkiye
    A similar thread had also been discussed here
  6. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    MarcB, there's a section on Turkic languages in this article which you might like to read.
  7. spakh

    spakh Senior Member

    Anatolian Turkish
    Sakha, Chuvash, Uzbek, Turkish etc. are all Turkic languages. An Azeri can understand a Turk, whereas he/she cannot get what a Chuvash says. Turks have immigrated to a large proportion of the world, so Turkish has separated into lots of dialects. However some of the Turkic people left the homeland (for example Yakuts in Sibiria) so early that today their language is not intelligible to the majority of the Turkic world. But not all the Turkic languages are like that. A Turk can understand an Azeri or a Turkmen, however I think there might be some difficulties for a person, who is not native of Turkish. So can we say Azeri, Turkish, Uzbek or Turkmen are identical? I don't know the answer. But I can truely say that Sakha or Chuvash are all separate languages from Turkish. I wish I could understand all the Turkic languages from Balkans to China.:)
  8. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Indeed, Chuvash is bound to be the most dissimilar one of the all Turkic languages. Maybe speakers of Khazar and Bolgar would understand Chuvash natives but now both languages are extinct.

    When you Turkish, you simply refer to Turkic language spoken by Turks of Turkey which is not you want to mean. Turks, on the other hand, are generally used for us, not for all Turkic peoples.

    Turkish, Azeri, Gagauz, Turkmen etc. are all Turkic languages, not dialects of Turkish.

    I didn't know this was because they left Central Asia before others did. How early you mean, and can you tell us what the reason was?

    No, of course not. Azeri and Turkmen are Oghuz languages but they are not in Turkish group of Oghuz languages. Uzbek, of course, is a Chagatay language that we don't consider as an Oghuz. They are all, on the other hand, are West Turkic languages.

    Gagauz is not totally identical but it's the closest one to Turkish we speak today. It's also considered to be in Turkish group along with Turkish, Ottoman and probably languages of Meskhetians.

    Sakha is slightly more close to Turkish, I suppose.
    Sakha Turkish
    ayak ağız
    atak ayak
    but bacak
    dıl dil
    eli el
  9. spakh

    spakh Senior Member

    Anatolian Turkish

    There might be lots of reasons to immigrate. And that is true Yakuts had left the homeland long before we did.

    The examples you give can be found in many Turkic languages. But I can assure you that understanding a Sakha conversation is totally impossible for a Turk.:)
  10. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Those who want to compare intelligiblity of Sakha and Chuvash may download a folk song of these two languages. Don't worry, the MP3's are on official website of government.

    Sakha - Kiye Henni
    Chuvash - Şıngır Şıngır
    Indeed, they cannot be understood by me. What do you think? I actually couldn't even catch the words, really.

    Azeri - Getme
    Gagauz - Mari Kız
    Now these two can be easily understood by Turks. You will notice some pronunciation and just a few different words in Azeri song, but when you listen to Gagauzian song, it will sound almost like Turkish to your ears. :)
  11. übermönch

    übermönch Senior Member

    Warum wohne ich bloß in so einem KAFF?
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    So Yakutian is a Turkic language? :eek: I didn't know. Sorry if after the long thread I ask a stupid question like this, but, if I say, learn Turkish (or any other Turkic language), would it be enough to communicate with turkic peoples all the way to the far east?(given I know Russian and thus all the potentional loan words :D)Or do you need to be a native speaker knowing all the archaic words?
    From what I've heared modern day Turkish has a high amount of Persian and Arabian vocabulary - is it the same with Turkmen and Azeri?
  12. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Yes, Yakutians are Turkic people who are predominantly Orhodox Christians, but the majority still practise Sahamism/Tengriism. :)

    First off, check this out. :)

    Well, if you learn Turkish, as in your example, you'll be able to communicate with some Turkic peoples easily but not all. Many Turkic peoples are bilingual and their second/first language is usually Russian, so it's always easy for you to have a conversation with a Gagauz, Kazakh, Yakutian, Tuvan etc.

    Some Turkic languages still use Cyrillic alphabet, despite many converted to Latin, modelled after Turkish.

    Native speakers don't even know all the archaic words. Those words that our common ancestors used are not mostly used by Turkic peoples today. They are now replaced by newly-coined words or loanwords. Since the last century, we, Turkic peoples, have better chance to know each other and that of course developed mutual intelligebility simply by influcing.

    Also see here.

    I'm not very well informed about Turkmen but Azeri should have more Russian loan-words than Persian or Arabic.

    Thousand years ago, when our ancestors, the Oghuz, was going into the west, they had to seperate as two groups. First group choosed Southern way and the other took the Northern way. So, those who took South had to face and war with Persians and Arabs that they hadn't known about before. Those who took Northern way, of course, faced with Slavic peoples which they hadn't known either. Of course, this influnced their languages. Today, that's why, the Gagauz has many Slavic loanwords and we have Arabian and Persian as a result of our historical events, just kind of like vocabular of Spanish in this matter. But it does not make Turkish difficult to learn because those words don't sound how their original forms sound like. They are pronounced as if they were Turkish, no harsh sound from your throt and so on.
  13. spakh

    spakh Senior Member

    Anatolian Turkish
    Thank you chazzwozzer for Turkic MP3 contribution:)
    By the the way Azeri really has many Russian loan words. For example all the month names. It's probably same for Turkmen, Uzbek, Kazakh, etc.
  14. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    So here I write months in some Turkic languages so that we can now compare. :)

    • Ocak
    • Şubat
    • Mart
    • Nisan
    • Mayıs
    • Haziran
    • Temmuz
    • Ağustos
    • Eylül
    • Ekim
    • Kasım
    • Aralık
    • Büyük ay
    • Küçük ay
    • Baba marta
    • Çiçek ayı
    • Kelebek ayı
    • Petro ayı
    • Orak ayı
    • Harman ayı
    • İstavroz ayı
    • Kasım (Kasım means October in Gagauz, whereas it means November in Turkish.)
    • Canavar ay (*Canavar: kurt-Monster: wolf -they celebrate "Wolf Holiday" in this month, which should have something to do with old Turkic myth: Ergenekon*)
    • Kırım ayı
    *A lone she-wolf named Asena happened upon the babe and took him away to the legendary Ergenekon mountain range in northern Siberia. Within these mountains, the boy was reared by the wolf to maturity whereupon Asena and the prince gave birth to the new Turks. "The Grey Wolves" were named after the legendary she-wolf that led the enslaved Central Asian Turks to freedom. This day is celebrated as Nevruz in many Turkic communities by reading extracts from the Ergenekon legend.

    • Yanvar
    • Fevral
    • Mart
    • Aprel
    • May
    • İyun
    • İyul
    • Avgust
    • Sentyabr
    • Ogtyabr
    • Noyabr
    • Dekabr
    • Yanvar
    • Febral
    • Mart
    • April
    • May
    • İyun
    • İyul
    • Avgust
    • Sentyabır
    • Öktebır
    • Noyabır
    • Dekabr
    • Yanvar
    • Fevral
    • Mart
    • Aprel
    • May
    • İyun
    • İyul
    • Avgust
    • Sentyabr
    • Ogtyabr
    • Noyabr
    • Dekabr
    • Yanvar
    • Fevral
    • Mart
    • Aprel
    • May
    • İyun
    • İyul
    • Avgust
    • Sentyabır
    • Ogtyabr
    • Noyabr
    • Dekabır
    • Üçtün ayı(Yanuar)
    • Birdin ayı(febral)
    • Calğan Kuran(Mart)
    • Çın kuran(aprel)
    • Bugu(may)
    • Kulca (iyun)
    • Teke(iyul)
    • Baş oona(avgust)
    • Ayak oona(Sentyabr)
    • Toguzdun ayı(Oktaybr)
    • Cetinin ayı(Noyabr)
    • Beştin ayı (Dekabr)
    • Kangtar
    • Akpan
    • Nevrız
    • Kökek
    • Mamır
    • Mavsım
    • Şilde
    • Tamız
    • Kırküyek
    • Kazan
    • Karaşa
    • Celtoksan
    • Ginvar
    • Fevral
    • Mart
    • Aprel
    • May
    • İyun
    • İyul
    • Avgust
    • Sintebir
    • Üktebir
    • Noyebir
    • Dikebir
  15. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    Bir,ikki, üq, tort,bash,alte, yet'te, sekkiz, Tokh'khuz,on. How do they compare?
    listen to Uyghurche here. Chazzwozzer many Turckic(a western word) refer to themselves as Turk in their own languages and the other names are often tribal names. for political and yes linguistic reasons they are separate. In some people's eyes there is a dream of a greater turkistan, especialy by those persecuted the most. It can be defined as a solidarity among turks or more to some.
    texekkur bildurmek
    rehmet eytmakh
  16. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Bir, iki, üç, dört, beş, altı, yedi, sekiz, dokuz and on.

    I could barely catch the phrases, it sounds very different to my Turkish ears. However, an Uyghurian song called "Hasret çektim," sound very much like Turkish. How come?

    Uighur - Hasret Çektim
    What do you think?

    "Bu yürüyüş devam ediyor. Türk orduları ata ruhlarının dolaştığı Altay ve Tanrı Dağları eteklerinde geçit resmi yapıncaya kadar devam edecektir." translated "This march is going on. It will continue until the Turkic Armies' parade on the foothills of Altai and Tien-Shan mountains where the souls of their ancestors stroll."
    Hüseyin Nihâl Atsız, a famous Pan-Turkist.

    Although we should normally say Türkî for Turkic, we mostly prefer Türk in Turkish. Still, I'm in favor of distinguishing these two in English. :)

    P.S: Are you an Uygur or just a learner?
  17. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    The numbers look the same just spelling. My take on your question. They use a languge that is formal with many loan words and an informal one with more Turkic words closer to Turkish. Like Hindi and Urdu. That is why you can understand some and not others. Consider they want the country to be officially Sharqi Turkistan and the popular name is Dogu Turkistan.
    sharqi is Arabic. Also thanks for answerig my question after all of theses months.
  18. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Regarding things like the text for the "UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights":

    Comparing texts may not be the best way to judge the intelligibility between two language/dialects. The translator for language A may have decided to use a word different from that used in the translation for language B even though both words exist in language A.

    Word A may be the best word for Language A and Word B may be the best word for Language B but it often happens that Language B-speakers will understand Word A, even if it does not exist in the everyday language of Language B. This may be due to it being a literary or archaic word.

    An example is the word "but" in Portuguese and Spanish. A Portuguese translator might choose to use the word "mas". A Spanish translator would use the word "pero". But most Spanish-speakers would be able to understand "mas" in the context of "but", even though it is rarely used in everyday language.

    Or, word A may be used in a slightly different way in Language A than it is used in Language B, but not different enough to impede comprehension.

    e.g. Portuguese people often use "para" to mean "to" (a destination), whereas Spanish speakers usually stick to "a". Sticking in "para" in the Spanish translation would not cause the sentence to be unintelligible, only a bit grammatically awkward. Another example is if Spanish "Estoy bebiendo" ("I am drinking") was substituted for "Estou a beber" in a Portuguese text. Portuguese people would still understand "estoy bebiendo", even though in Portuguese they prefer "estou a beber".


    So the moral is, take text-to-text comparisons with a grain of salt. One could probably have an American English translation and a British English translation of the same Arabic document that are completely different-looking.
  19. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Vince, now I belive you are right. However, since I cannot understand Uyghur audio provided by SofiaB, I think these texts may somehow reflect the reality. Though, it does not mean there cannot be another way to write and make them alike to each other. But, it means Uyghur and Turkish can be very dissimilar sometimes.
  20. This is rather curious although a bit off topic. I noticed that a few of the Turkish month names essentially coincide with Hebrew names for approximately the same time of year (note that the Hebrew calendar is partially lunar, so the months do not usually match the solar calendar's months). Specifically:

    Nisan = ניסן

    Temmuz = תמוז

    Eylul = אלול

    Does anyone know the origin of these names in Turkish?

  21. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    It was originally an Sumerian word (nisag)meaning "first fruit," which was also the name of the first month in Babylonian Calendar. Then, this name was borrowed by Akkadian as nisnu. As you can guess, Hebrew and Arabic borrowed it from Akkadian as well. Finally, Turkish got it and started using.

    "Kork Aprilin beşinden, öküzü ayırır eşinden!"
    "Kork Avrilin beşinden, öküzü ayırır eşinden!"
    These two rhyming folk sayings mean: "Be afraid of 5th April, it sets apart the ox and its mate!" (I know my translation sounds horribly poor!)
    As you see, there are two versions of this saying: either April or Avril. It appears with April version in Turkish Language Magazine published by the official regulator. However, I've heard that Avril is much more common inside Anatolia.

    Interesting thing here, fellow countrymen call Nisan as April or Avril instead! TDK suggests April comes from English and doesn't even define Avril, which comes from French. Go figure these! :eek:

    We can trace Temmuz all the way back to Babylon again. Tammuz was originally the name of a god of Babylonians.

    Temmuz is also known as "Orak ayı" (Harvester month) and "Ot ayı" (Grass moth) in Turkish.

    Originally comes from Babylonian, Ulul.

    Christian Turks call it "İstavroz ayı" and "Haç ayı" (Sign month -sign is a cross, you know, crucİfix.) It's also known as, with an altered name, "İstavrit ayı" (Horse mackarel month) in Black Sea region.

  22. българин Senior Member

    What languages are mutually intelligible (or closely related) to Turkish?

    Mod note:
    This post was a new thread that I merged with this one to avoid redundancies.
    Please, everyone, use the search function before opening new threads.
    Thanks :)
  23. yakutistan Member

    Turkiye - Istanbul
    Turkiye - Turkish
    I am from Turkey and I can understand the Turks of Azarbaijan, Turkmens Iraq, and Turks of Iran. And they understand Turkiye Turkish. (%95)
    I don't know how much I would understand of Kazakh, Kyrgiz, Tartar or Uighur Turkish. But I think we would understand %40-50 with them.
  24. българин Senior Member

    Well, I'm confused. Are you talking about the Turks in those countries that speak Turkish? Or are you talking about the Azerbajani language?
    How about Uzbek? is it related?
  25. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Nope, he's talking about the Turkic peoples and the Azerbaijani language. It's just a common mistake among Turks. (cf. this)

    Please see this thread, българин. I think you'll find your answer there. ;)
  26. OldAvatar Senior Member

    Also, I understood that the Turk Tatar's language is intelligible with Turkish.
  27. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    I agree.
    I used to think Malaysian was very hard to understand, which is true, if they speak fast and use a lot of slang. But I've had the chance of talking with a couple of Malaysians so far, and we realized that our languages are way over 90% similar. In fact, they're almost identical. I noticed that they use words that I personally wouldn't use, but still understand, and vice versa.
    I imagine it may be similar with the Turk languages.

  28. altay

    altay New Member

    Azerbaycan Dili
    What languages are mutually intelligible (or closely related) to Turkish?

    I am a native Azerbaijani and i understand turkish compeletly.i also learned turkmen in turkmrnistan and now i understand 80 percent of turkic languages.
  29. olaszinho Senior Member

    Central Italian
    But happily 3 months is enough to speak all just like a native language. (Same as Italian and Spanish languages)
    I know, this is not the main topic of this thread but I wonder who told you that a Spanish speaker (and the other way round) can speak Italian like a native speaker after only three months? This is hilarious and absurd at the same time. These two languages are quite similar but syntax and vocabulary are different at times. Furthermore, if two languages are very similar you may end up mixing them even after many years, not to mention accent and intonation......
  30. Träumer

    Träumer New Member

    Azeri, Russian
    Hello. Being a native Azeri I can't claim that the intelligibility between Azeris and Turks reaches 95%. It's less or more 80%/
    Azeri has so many dialects that may seem very unusual to an ordinary Turk. Yeah, written forms of our languages are closely related to each other. But almost noone in Azerbaijan speaks in lterature language. Speech of every speaker is strongly influenced by his native dialect.
    I don't think that Turk can understand following^
    bayramı yaxca çetsra bildin(İ got a message containing this)
  31. Träumer

    Träumer New Member

    Azeri, Russian
    Actually, it's a western dialect of Azeri
  32. Daniyar New Member

    Tatar, Russian
    I am a tatar. Turk languages are far not the same. For myself they are similar by not more than mere ~15%. The difference is not only in phonetics, but also in morphology. For me it is easier to understand (or guess) a turk language in writing than spoken.
  33. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    I've only just seen this thread!

    You will have different answers from every individual, naturally, but here are my two cents.
    People in Azerbaidjan can understand Turks (from Turkey) better than the other way around. I'd say I can understand spoken Azeri at around 70-75% (it's much higher if I'm reading the text obviously), but from what I've noticed, Azeris can understand us at a much higher level. It's probably because they are more exposed to Turkish (of Turkey) on TV.

    The farther you go towards the East, the more unintelligible the languages become for a Turkish person. After Azerbaidjan, when I listen to or read something in Kazakh, the intelligibility drops drammatically, to perhaps less than 15%. I can understand certain words, but can hardly make a head or tail of an entire sentence.

    I haven't seen any document or listened to a recording in Uyghur or Kyrgyz, but I presume it's even less intelligible than Kazakh. Sadly, though, there aren't many ressources in those languages - or I can't find any - and most of the people living in those areas are more fluent in Russian. I think I had read somewhere that in Kazakhstan there is a movement towards using Kazakh more often on TV and in litterature. I wonder if this is the case in the other countries as well.
  34. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
  35. jcpjcp Senior Member

    The Turkic Languages are very similar. Speaking from my own experience, I think, for a Turkish Speaker, mutual intelligibility is as follows:

    A Turkish speaker:
    can understand Azeri, Turkmen und Gagauz easily.
    can understand Uzbek and Uyghur with a little difficulty.

    as for Kazakh und Kyrgyz:
    if Turkish speaker knows the sound changes in Kazakh and Kyrgyz, for example "Y to J", "Ç to Ş", "Ş to S", so Turkish speaker would not have difficulty understanding Kazakh and Kyrgyz, they can understand each other.

    if Turkish speaker doesn't know the sound changes in Kazakh and Kyrgyz, Turkish speaker can understand Kazakh and Kyrgyz as well, but with some difficulty.

    I am sure, if two Turkic people meet, they can communicate with each other, at least, at everyday-life basic level.

    And I always wonder, how much other Turkic People can understand Turkish ?
    Last edited: May 24, 2013
  36. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    I'd say they understand it at a much higher level, due to the proliferation of the Turkish media that they are exposed to. At least, in the case of Azerbaidjan.
  37. ancalimon Senior Member

    I remember reading somewhere that in ancient times there was a "common" language spoken by Turks and every Turk could communicate using that language. Of course they spoke their regional dialect when they weren't speaking with different Turks.

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