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Tatar
татар теле, tatar tele, تاتار تلی
Native toRussia, other post-Soviet states
EthnicityVolga Tatars
Native speakers
5.2 million (2015)[1]
(may include some L2 speakers)
Turkic
Early form
Tatar alphabet (Cyrillic, Latin, formerly Arabic)
Official status
Official language in
 Russia
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byInstitute of Language, Literature and Arts of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan
Language codes
ISO 639-1tt
ISO 639-2tat
ISO 639-3tat
Glottologtata1255[3]
Linguasphere44-AAB-be
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper The Tatar language (татар теле, tatar tele or татарча, tatarça) is a Turkic language spoken by Tatars mainly located in modern Tatarstan (European Russia), as well as Siberia. It should not be confused with the Crimean Tatar or Siberian Tatar which are closely related but belong to different subgroups of the Kipchak languages.

Geographic distribution

The Tatar language is spoken in Russia (about 5.3 million people), Ukraine, China, Finland, Turkey, Uzbekistan, the United States of America, Romania, Azerbaijan, Israel, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia and other countries. There are more than 7 million speakers of Tatar in the world.

Tatar is also native for several thousand Maris. Mordva's Qaratay group also speak a variant of Kazan Tatar.

In the 2010 census, 69% of Russian Tatars who responded to the question about language ability claimed a knowledge of the Tatar language.[4] In Tatarstan, 93% of Tatars and 3.6% of Russians did so. In neighbouring Bashkortostan, 67% of Tatars, 27% of Bashkirs, and 1.3% of Russians did.[5]

Official status

The word Qazan – قازان is written in Arabic script in the semblance of a Zilant
Bilingual guide in Kazan Metro
Russia (about 5.3 million people), Ukraine, China, Finland, Turkey, Uzbekistan, the United States of America, Romania, Azerbaijan, Israel, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia and other countries. There are more than 7 million speakers of Tatar in the world.

Tatar is also native for several thousand Maris. Mordva's Qaratay group also speak a variant of Kazan Tatar.

In the 2010 census, 69% of Russian Tatars who responded to the question about language ability claimed a knowledge of the Tatar language.[4] In Tatarstan, 93% of Tatars and 3.6% of Russians did so. In neighbouring Bashkortostan, 67% of Tatars, 27% of Bashkirs, and 1.3% of Russians did.[5]

Official status

The word Qazan – قازان is written in Arabic script in the semblance of a Zilant
Bilingual guide in Kazan Metro
A subway sign in Tatar (top) and Russian

Tatar, along with Russian, is the official language of the Republic of Tatarstan. The official script of Tatar language is based on the Cyrillic script with some additional letters. The Republic of Tatarstan passed a law in 1999, which came

Tatar is also native for several thousand Maris. Mordva's Qaratay group also speak a variant of Kazan Tatar.

In the 2010 census, 69% of Russian Tatars who responded to the question about language ability claimed a knowledge of the Tatar language.[4] In Tatarstan, 93% of Tatars and 3.6% of Russians did so. In neighbouring Bashkortostan, 67% of Tatars, 27% of Bashkirs, and 1.3% of Russians did.[5]

Tatar, along with Russian, is the official language of the Republic of Tatarstan. The official script of Tatar language is based on the Cyrillic script with some additional letters. The Republic of Tatarstan passed a law in 1999, which came into force in 2001, establishing an official Tatar Latin alphabet. A Russian federal law overrode it in 2002, making Cyrillic the sole official script in Tatarstan since. Unofficially, other scripts are used as well, mostly Latin and Arabic. All official sources in Tatarstan must use Cyrillic on their websites and in publishing. In other cases, where Tatar has no official status, the use of a specific alphabet depends on the preference of the author.

The Tatar language was made a de facto official language in Russia in 1917, but only within the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Tatar is also considered to have been the official language in the short-lived Idel-Ural State, briefly formed during the Russian Civil War.

The usage of Tatar declined from during the 20th century. By the 1980s, the study and teaching of Tatar in the public education system was limited to rural schools. However, Tatar-speaking pupils had little chance of entering university because higher education was available in Russian almost exclusively.

As of 2001 Tatar was considered a potentially endangered language while Siberian Tatar received "endangered" and "seriously endangered" statuses, respectively.[6] Higher education in Tatar can only be found in Tatarstan, and is restricted to the humanities. In other regions Tatar is primarily a spoken language and the number of speakers as well as their proficiency tends to decrease. Tatar is popular as a written language only in Tatar-speaking areas where schools with Tatar language lessons are situated. On the other hand, Tatar is the only language in use in rural districts of Tatarstan.

Since 2017, Tatar language classes are no longer mandatory in the schools of Tatarstan.[7] According to the opponents of this change, it will further endanger the Tatar language and is a violation of the Tatarstan Constitution which stipulates the equality of Russian and Tatar languages in the republic.[8][9]

Dialects of Tatar

There are two main dialects of Tatar:

  • Central or Middle (Kazan)
  • Western (Mişär or Mishar)

All of these dialects also have subdivisions. Significant contributions to the study of the Tatar language and its dialects, were made by a scientist Gabdulkhay Akhatov, who is considered to be the founder of the mo

The Tatar language was made a de facto official language in Russia in 1917, but only within the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Tatar is also considered to have been the official language in the short-lived Idel-Ural State, briefly formed during the Russian Civil War.

The usage of Tatar declined from during the 20th century. By the 1980s, the study and teaching of Tatar in the public education system was limited to rural schools. However, Tatar-speaking pupils had little chance of entering university because higher education was available in Russian almost exclusively.

As of 2001 Tatar was considered a potentially endangered language while Siberian Tatar received "endangered" and "seriously endangered" statuses, respectively.[6] Higher education in Tatar can only be found in Tatarstan, and is restricted to the humanities. In other regions Tatar is primarily a spoken language and the number of speakers as well as their proficiency tends to decrease. Tatar is popular as a written language only in Tatar-speaking areas where schools with Tatar language lessons are situated. On the other hand, Tatar is the only language in use in rural districts of Tatarstan.

Since 2017, Tatar language classes are no longer mandatory in the schools of Tatarstan.[7] According to the opponents of this change, it will further endanger the Tatar language and is a violation of the Tatarstan Constitution which stipulates the equality of Russian and Tatar languages in the republic.[8][9]

There are two main dialects of Tatar:

  • Central or Middle (Kazan)
  • Western (Mişär or Mishar)

All of these dialects also have subdivisions. Significant contributions to the study of the Tatar language and its dialects, were made by a scientist Gabdulkhay Akhatov, who is cons

All of these dialects also have subdivisions. Significant contributions to the study of the Tatar language and its dialects, were made by a scientist Gabdulkhay Akhatov, who is considered to be the founder of the modern Tatar dialectological school.

Spoken idioms of Siberian Tatars, which differ significantly from the above two

Spoken idioms of Siberian Tatars, which differ significantly from the above two, are often considered as the third dialect group of Tatar by some, but as an independent language on its own by others.

The Central or Middle dialectal group is spoken in Kazan and most of Tatarstan and is the basis of the standard literary Tatar language.

MişärIn the Western (Mişär) dialect ç is pronounced [] (southern or Lambir Mişärs) and as [ts] (northern Mişärs or Nizhgars). C is pronounced []. 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.

Siberian Tatar