The Info List - Kalmyk Language

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Kalmyk Oirat
Kalmyk Oirat
(Kalmyk: Хальмг Өөрдин келн, Xaľmg Öördin keln, IPA: [xalʲˈməg oːrˈtin kɛˈlən]),[2] commonly known as the Kalmyk language
Kalmyk language
(Kalmyk: Хальмг келн, Xaľmg keln, IPA: [xalʲˈməg kɛˈlɛn]), is a register of the Oirat language, natively spoken by the Kalmyk people
Kalmyk people
of Kalmykia, a federal subject of Russia. In Russia, it is the standard form of the Oirat language
Oirat language
(based on the Torgut dialect), which belongs to the Mongolic language family. The Kalmyk people
Kalmyk people
of the northwest Caspian Sea of Russia
claim descent from the Oirats
from Eurasia, who have also historically settled in Mongolia
and northwest China. According to UNESCO, the language is "Definitely endangered".[3] According to the Russian census of 2010, there are 80,500 speakers of an ethnic population consisting of 183,000 people.[4]


1 History 2 Geographic distribution 3 Linguistic classification 4 Writing systems 5 Phonology

5.1 Consonants 5.2 Vowels

6 See also 7 Notes 8 External links

History[edit] Kalmyk is now only spoken as a native language by a small minority of the Kalmyk population.[citation needed] Its decline as a living language began after the Kalmyk people
Kalmyk people
were deported en masse from their homeland in December 1943, as punishment for limited Kalmyk collaboration with the Nazis. Significant factors contributing to its demise include: (1) the deaths of a substantial percentage of the Kalmyk population from disease and malnutrition, both during their travel and upon their arrival to remote exile settlements in Central Asia, south central Siberia
and the Soviet Far East; (2) the wide dispersal of the Kalmyk population; (3) the duration of exile, which ended in 1957; (4) the stigma associated with being accused of treason, and (5) assimilation into the larger, more dominant culture. Collectively, these factors discontinued the intergenerational language transmission. In 1957, the Soviet government reinstated the Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast and later reestablished the Autonomous Republic of Kalmykia. The Kalmyk people
Kalmyk people
were permitted to return to the Republic in 1957, 14 years after exile. The Russian language, however, was made the official language of the Republic, and Sovietisation was imposed on the Kalmyk people, leading to drastic cuts in Kalmyk language education.[citation needed] The Cyrillic
alphabet became firmly established among the Kalmyks (and other peoples, too). For instance, books, periodicals, newspapers, etc., were published using it. By the late 1970s, the Russian language
Russian language
became the primary language of instruction in all schools in the Republic. During the period of Perestroika, Kalmyk linguists, in collaboration with the Kalmyk government, planned and tried to implement the revival of the Kalmyk language. This revival was seen as an integral part of the reassertion of Kalmyk culture. In an important symbolic gesture, the Kalmyk language
Kalmyk language
was declared an official language of the Republic, giving it equal status with the Russian language
Russian language
with respect to official governmental use and language education. During the production of the film Return of the Jedi, sound designer Ben Burtt
Ben Burtt
based the language of the Ewoks on Kalmyk after hearing it spoken in a documentary and being impressed with its unusual phonology. Geographic distribution[edit] The majority of Kalmyk language
Kalmyk language
speakers live in the Republic of Kalmykia, where it is an official language. A small group of Kalmyk language speakers also live in France and the USA, but the use of Kalmyk is in steep decline. In all three locations, the actual number of speakers is unknown. Kalmyk is regarded as an endangered language. As of 2012, the Kalmyk community in New Jersey, which arrived in the US in the 1950s, was planning to work with the Endangered Voices project to promote Kalmyk language
Kalmyk language
and culture.[5] Linguistic classification[edit] From a synchronic perspective, Kalmyk is the most prominent variety of Oirat. It is very close to the Oirat dialects found in Mongolia
and the People’s Republic of China, both phonologically and morphologically. The differences in dialects, however, concern the vocabulary, as the Kalmyk language
Kalmyk language
has been influenced by and has adopted words from the Russian language
Russian language
and various Turkic languages. Two important features that characterise Kalmyk are agglutination and vowel harmony. In an agglutinative language, words are formed by added suffixes to existing words, called stem words or root words. Prefixes, however, are not common in Mongolic. Vowel harmony
Vowel harmony
refers to the agreement between the vowels in the root of a word and the vowels in the word's suffix or suffixes. Other features include the absence of grammatical gender (with its distinctions of masculine, feminine, and neuter). It has some elements in common with the Uralic and Uyghur languages, which reflects its origin from the common language of the Oirats, a union of four Oirat tribes that absorbed some Ugric and Turkic tribes during their expansion westward. Writing systems[edit] The literary tradition of Oirat reaches back to 11th century when the Uyghur script was used. The official Kalmyk alphabet, named Clear Script or, in Oirat, Todo bicig, was created in the 17th century by a Kalmyk Buddhist monk called Zaya Pandita. In 1924 this script was replaced by a Cyrillic
script, which was abandoned in 1930 in favour of a Latin script. The Latin script
Latin script
was in turn replaced by another Cyrillic script
Cyrillic script
in 1938. These script reforms effectively disrupted the Oirat literary tradition.[6] The modified Cyrillic
alphabet used for the Kalmyk language
Kalmyk language
is as follows:

Cyrillic IPA Transliteration

Cyrillic IPA Transliteration

Аа a A a

Оо ɔ, o O o

Әә æ Ə ə

Өө ø, œ Ö ö

Бб b, bʲ B b

Пп p, pʲ P p

Вв w, wʲ; v in Russian borrowings V v

Рр r, rʲ R r

Гг ɡ, ɡʲ, ɢ G g

Сс s S s

Һһ ɣ H h

Тт t, tʲ T t

Дд d, dʲ D d

Уу ʊ, u U u

Ее je, jɛ Ye ye

Үү y Ü ü

Ёё (in Russian loanwords only) jɔ Yo yo

Фф (in Russian loanwords only) f F f

Жж tʃ J j

Хх x, xʲ X x

Җҗ ʤ, dʑ C c

Цц ʦ, ʦʲ Ts ts

Зз ts Z z

Чч ʧ, ʨ Ç ç

Ии i İ i

Шш ʃ Ş ş

Йй j Y y

Щщ (in Russian loanwords only) ʃʧ, ɕ: Şç şç

Кк k, kʲ K k

Ъъ (in Russian loanwords only) - -

Лл l, lʲ L l

Ыы (in Russian loanwords only) ɨ I ı

Мм m, mʲ M m

Ьь ʲ '

Нн n, nʲ N n

Ээ e, ɛ E e

Ңң ŋ Ñ ñ

Юю jʊ Yu yu

Яя ja Ya ya

Unlike other Mongolian dialects, which are transcribed using the BGN-PCGN romanisation method for Russian or with the classical transcription convention, a Turkish-style alphabet is preferred for transcription of Kalmyk. Phonology[edit] Consonants[edit]

Consonants of Kalmyk

Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar

Plosive voiceless p t tʲ k

voiced b d dʲ ɡ

Affricate voiceless

t͡s t͡ʃ~t͡ɕ



Fricative voiceless

s ʃ x




Nasal m n ɲ ŋ



Approximant lateral

l ʎ

central w




Front Central Back

Close i y


Mid e œ


Open æ a

[citation needed] See also[edit]

Languages of the Caucasus


^ Kalmyk in Ethnologue ^ Kalmyk is alternatively spelled as Kalmuck, Qalmaq, or Khal:mag; Kalmyk Oirat
Kalmyk Oirat
is sometimes called "Russian Oirat" or "Western Mongol" ^ UNESCO
Atlas of the World's languages in danger Retrieved on 2012-10-31[dead link] ^ Kalmyk in Ethnologue ^ K. David Harrison (2012-05-27). "Cultural Revival in Europe's Only Buddhist Region – News Watch". Retrieved 2012-10-21.  ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20120717012018/http://www6.gencat.net/llengcat/noves/hm01hivern-primavera/internacional/kornou4_9.htm#3#3

External links[edit]

Kalmyk Oirat
Kalmyk Oirat
edition of, the free encyclopedia

Kalmyk phrasebook travel guide from Wikivoyage [khamagmongol.com/tuuli/tales - Kalmyk fairy tales in Kalmyk and Russian languages] Article on language policy and history in Kalmykia Russian-Kalmyk On-Line Dictionary

v t e

State languages of Russia

Federal language


State languages of federal subjects

Abaza Adyghe Agul Altai Avar Azerbaijani Bashkir Buryat Chechen Chuvash Crimean Tatar Dargwa Erzya Ingush Kabardian Kalmyk Karachay-Balkar Khakas Komi Kumyk Lak Lezgian Mari

Hill Meadow

Moksha Nogai Ossetic Rutul Sakha Tabasaran Tat Tatar Tsakhur Tuvan Ukrainian Udmurt

Languages with official status

Chukchi Dolgan Even Evenki Finnish Karelian Kazakh Khanty Komi-Permyak Mansi Nenets Selkup Veps Yukaghir


Cyrillic Cyrillic

v t e

Languages of the Caucasus

Caucasian (areal)




Akhvakh Bagvalal–Tindi Botlix–Godoberi Chamalal Karata Literary Andi



Literary Dargwa and dialects

Chirag Itsari Kajtak Kubachi


Bezhta–Hunzib–Khwarshi Hinukh–Literary Tsez


Aghul Archi Budukh Kryts Lezgian Rutul Tabasaran Tsakhur Udi


Bats Chechen–Ingush


Khinalug Lak



Georgian Svan Zan

Laz Mingrelian



Abkhaz–Abaza Circassian







Pontic Greek





Judæo-Tat Kurdish Persian Talysh Tat


Russian Ukrainian





Karachay–Balkar Kumyk Urum




Azerbaijani Turkish Turkmen



Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Bohtan Neo-Aramaic

 See also: Languages of Armenia  Languages of Azerbaijan  Languages of Georgia  Languages of Russia

v t e

Mongolic languages



Buryat Khamnigan Mongolian

Baarin Chakhar Khalkha Khorchin


Alasha Kalmyk Torgut




Kangjia Santa

Eastern Yugur Monguor


Daur Moghol


Classical Mongolian Middle Mongol Tuoba