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Native toRussia
RegionVolga region (esp. Chuvashia)
Native speakers
1,042,989 (2010 census)[1]
Early form
Volga Bulgar (possibly)
Official status
Official language in
Chuvashia (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-1cv
ISO 639-2chv
ISO 639-3chv
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Chuvash (UK: /ˈvɑːʃ/ CHOO-vahsh,[2] US: /ʊˈvɑːʃ/ chuu-VAHSH;[3] Чӑвашла, translit. Chăvashla, IPA: [tɕəʋaʃˈla])[a] is a Turkic language spoken in European Russia, primarily in the Chuvash Republic and adjacent areas. It is the only surviving member of the Oghur branch of Turkic languages, one of the two principal branches of the Turkic family.[4]

The writing system for the Chuvash language is based on the Cyrillic script, employing all of the letters used in the Russian alphabet and adding four letters of its own: Ӑ, Ӗ, Ҫ and Ӳ.


Stamp of the Soviet Union, Chuvash people, 1933
Stamp of the Soviet Union, Chuvash people, 1933

Chuvash is the native language of the Chuvash people and an official language of Chuvashia.[5][6] It is spoken by 1,640,000 persons in Russia and another 34,000 in other countries.[7] 86% of ethnic Chuvash and 8% of the people of other ethnicities living in Chuvashia claimed knowledge of Chuvash language during the 2002 census.[8] Despite that and although Chuvash is taught at schools and sometimes used in the media, it is considered endangered,[9][10] because Russian dominates in most spheres of life and few children learning the language are likely to become active users.

A fairly significant production and publication of literature in Chuvash still continues. According to UNESCO's Index Translationum, at least 202 books translated from Chuvash were published in other languages (mostly Russian) since ca. 1979.[11] However, as with most other languages of the former USSR, most of the translation activity took place before the dissolution of the USSR: out of the 202 translations, 170 books were published in the USSR[12] and just 17, in the post-1991 Russia (mostly, in the 1990s).[13] A similar situation takes place with the translation of books from other languages (mostly Russian) into Chuvash (the total of 175 titles published since ca. 1979, but just 18 of them in post-1991 Russia).[14]


Chuvash is the most distinctive of the Turkic languages and cannot be understood by other Turkic speakers, whose languages have varying degrees of mutual intelligibility within their respective subgroups. Chuvash is classified, alongside several extinct languages including Bulgar, as the only remaining member of the Oghuric branch of the Turkic language family. Since the surviving literary records for the non-Chuvash members of Oghuric are scant, the exact position of Chuvash within the Oghuric family cannot be determined.

The Oghuric branch is distinguished from the rest of the Turkic family (the Common Turkic languages) by two sound changes: r corresponding to Common Turkic z and l corresponding to Common Turkic š.[15] The first scientific fieldwork description of Chuvash, by August Ahlqvist in 1856, allowed researchers to establish its proper affiliation.[16]

Chuvash is so divergent from the main body of Turkic languages that some scholars formerly considered Chuvash to be a Turkified Finno-Ugric (Uralic) language.[17] Conversely, other scholars regard it as a Turkic language heavily influenced by Finno-Ugric languages.[18]

The following sound changes and resulting sound correspondences are typical:[19][20]

Sound change from Proto-Turkic Example of sound correspondence
*z > r хӗр (hĕr) : Turkish kız 'girl'
*š > l,

but occasionally š > ś

хӗл (hĕl) : Turkish kış ‘winter’

пуҫ (puş) : Turkish baş ‘head’

*y > ǰ > č > ś ҫул (şul) : Turkish yol ‘road’
*č > ś ҫeҫке (şeşke) : Turkish çiçek ‘flower’
*-n > -m тӗтӗм (tĕtĕm) : Turkish tütün ‘smoke’
*-ŋ > -n (sometimes -m) ҫӗнӗ (şĕnĕ) : Yakut саҥа, Turkish yeni 'new' (< Proto-Turkic *yaŋï, yeŋi)
*-d > -ð > -z > -r урӑ (ura) : Tuvan адак, Turkish ayak (< Proto-Turkic *adak) ‘foot’
*[q] (i.e. */k/ in back environments) > χ

But dropped before later *y

хура (hura) : Turkish kara 'black'

юн (jun) : Turkish kan 'blood' (Proto-Turkic *qaːn > Oguric *χaːn > *χyan > *yån)

*-/k/ (both -[q] or -[k]) finally in disyllabic stems: > g > γ > ∅ пулӑ (pulă) : Turkish balık 'fish',

ĕне (ĕne) : Turkish inek 'cow'

*-g > *-w > -v, - (also via monophthongisation) ту (tu) : Turkish dağ 'mountain', тив : Turkish değ 'touch',

вӗрен (wĕren) : Turkish öğren 'learn',

аллӑ (allă) : Shor элиг, Turkish elli (< Proto-Turkic *ellig, ellüg)

*s > š occasionally (due to a following *y?) шыв (šyw) : Old Turkic sub, Turkish su 'water'
*b- > p- пӗр (pĕr) : Turkish bir 'one'
*-b > *-w > -v шыв (šyw) : Old Turkic sub, Turkish su 'water'
*t in palatal environments > č чӗр (çĕr) : Turkish diz 'knee'
diphthongisation of long vowels producing /yV/ and /vV/ sequences (but not in all relevant lexemes); e.g.:

*ā > ya

*ō > *wo > vu

*ȫ, ǖ > *üwä > ăva

ят (jat) : Turkmen āt, Turkish ad 'name' (< Proto-Turkic *āt)

вут (wut) : Turkmen ōt, Turkish ot 'fire' (< Proto-Turkic *ōt)

тӑват (tăwat): Turkish dört (< Proto-Turkic *tȫrt)

reduction and centralisation of high vowels:

*u > ă;

*ï > ă or ĕ

*i, *ü > ĕ

тӑр (tăr) : Turkish dur 'stand'

хӗр (hĕr) : Turkish kız 'girl'

пӗр (pĕr) : Turkish bir 'one', кӗл (kĕl): Turkish kül 'ash'

*a > *å > o > u (the latter only in the Anatri dialect, on which the standard is based);

but also (the determining circumstances are unclear):

*a > ï

ут (ut) : Turkish at 'horse'

ҫыр (şyr) : Turkish yaz 'write'

raising of most other low vowels: * > i, *o > u, *ö > ü кил (kil) : Turkish gel 'come', утӑ 'hay' : Turkish ot 'grass'
*e (i.e. *ä) > a кас (kas) : Turkish kes 'cut'
Allophonic rules: voicing between voiced segments,

palatalisation of consonants in palatal environments,

leftward stress retraction from reduced vowels

See Phonology section.

Most of the (non-allophonic) consonant changes listed in the table above are thought to date from the period before the Bulgars migrated to the Volga region in the 10th century; some notable exceptions are the č > ś shift and the final stage of the -d > > -z > -r shift, which date from the following, Volga Bulgar period (between the 10th-century migration and the Mongol invasions of the 13th century). The vowel changes mostly occurred later, mainly during the Middle Chuvash period (between the invasions and the 17th century), except for the diphthongisation, which took place during the Volga Bulgar period. Many sound changes known from Chuvash can be observed in Turkic loanwords into Hungarian (from the pre-migration period) and in Volga Bulgar epitaphs or loanwords into languages of the Volga region (from the Volga Bulgar period). Nevertheless, these sources also indicate that there was significant dialectal variation within the Oguric-speaking population during both of these periods.[21]

Comparison with Turkic languages

In the VIII—X centuries in Central Asia, the ancient Turkic script (the Orkhon-Yenisei runic script) was used for writing in Turkic languages. Turkic epitaphs of VII-IX AD were left by speakers of various dialects (table):

Words in the Turkic languages: leg, put-

j - language (Oguz): ajaq, qoj-

d - language (Uyghur): adaq, qod-

z - language (Kypchak): azaq, qoz-

r - language (Oghur): urah, hor- [22]

Words in Turkic languages: black, goose, girl, zucchini

Oguz, kipchaks: qara, qaz, qyz, qabaq

Chuvash: hura, hur, hĕr, hupah [22]

The -h- sound disappears and disappears if it is the last letter .

Dudaq - Tuta - Lips instead of Tutah

Ayaq - Ura - Leg instead of Urah

Baliq - Pulă - Fish instead of Pulăh

Ineq - Ĕne - Cow instead of Ĕneh [22]

Words in Turkic languages: egg, snake, rain, house, earth

Oguz: jumurta, jylan, jagmur, jort, jez (turk., azerb., tat.,)

Kipchaks: žumurtka, žylan, žamgyr, žort, žer (kyrgyz., kazakh.)

Chuvash: şămarta, şĕlen, şămăr, şurt, şĕr [22]

Words in Turkic languages: winter, silver, sun

Oguz, Kipchaks: qyš, qemeš, qoyaš

Chuvash: hĕl, qӗmӗl, hĕvel [22]

Words in Turkic languages: horse, coin, head, step

Oguz, Kipchaks: at, akça, baš, adym

Chuvash: ut, ukşa, puş, utăm [22]

In modern times, in Chuvash [a] remains, Tatar "kapka" ~ Chuvash "hapha" (gate), when there should be a "hupha" from the root "hup - close".

Words in Turkic languages: fire, ten, forest, russian, he, thirty

Oguz: ut, un, urman, urus, ul, utyz

Chuvash (upper): wut, wun, wărman, wyrăs, wăl, wătăr

Kipchaks: оt, оn, оrman, orus, ol, оtyz

Chuvash (lower): wot, won, wărman, wyrăs, wăl, wătăr

The fricative -g- in some words in Chuvash corresponds to -v-

Words in Turkic languages: native, mountain

Oguz: tugan, dag

Chuvash: tăvan, tuv [22]


There are two dialects of Chuvash:

The literary language is based on both the Lower and Upper dialects. Both Tatar and the neighbouring Uralic languages such as Mari have influenced the Chuvash language, as have Russian, Mongolian, Arabic and Persian, which have all added many words to the Chuvash lexicon.

Writing systems


А а Ӑ ӑ Б б В в Г г Д д Е е Ё ё
Ӗ ӗ Ж ж З з И и Й й К к Л л М м
Н н О о П п Р р С с Ҫ ҫ Т т У у
Ӳ ӳ Ф ф Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ
Ы ы Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я

Unofficial Latin alphabet

Unofficial Latin alphabet used by Chuvash people living in the USA and Europe, used for the convenience of writing Chuvash words

Aa Ăă Bb Cc Çç Dd Ее Ĕĕ
Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm
Nn Oo Pp Rr Ss Şş Šš Tt
Uu Üü Ww Zz Žž Әә Ju Ja

Examples of writing text:

Çĕkĕntĕr (Чĕкĕнтĕр) - beet, Çul (Чул) - stone, Çüreçe (Чÿрече) - window

Şĕmĕrt (Çĕмĕрт) - bird cherry, Şăkăr (Çăкăр) - bread

Šură (Шурă) - white, Šăl (Шăл) - tooth, Šapa (Шапа) - frog

Üpĕte (Ӱпĕте) - monkey, Ükerçĕk (Ӱкерчĕк) - drawing

Žiraf (Жираф) - giraffe, Žuk (Жук) - beatle, Žjuri (Жюри) - jury

Әnergi (Энерги) - energy, Әtem (Этем) - human, Әpĕr (Эпĕр) - we

Juman (Юман) - oak, Jur (Юр) - snow

Jalaw (Ялав) - flag, Japala (Япала) - thing

Jomkăş (Ёмкăç) - container, Joršik (ёршик) - brush

Wăjlă (Вăйлă) - strong, Wişşĕ (Виççĕ) - three

Transliteration of the Chuvash alphabet [23]

Name IPA KNAB [24] 1995 ALA-LC[25] 1997 Edward Allworth[26] 1971 ISO

System A


System B

Turkkălla[27] Ivanof CVLat 1.1

2007 [28]

А а а /a/~/ɑ/ a a a a a a a a
Ӑ ӑ ӑ /ɤ̆/, /ə/, /ɒ/ ä ă ă ă ĭ ah ă/ò a'
Б б бӑ /b/ b b b b b b b b only in loanwords from Russian
В в вӑ /ʋ/~/w/, /v/ (in non-Chuvash loanwords) v v v v v v v v
Г г гӑ /ɡ/ g g g g g g g g only in loanwords from Russian
Д д дӑ /d/ d d d d d d d d only in loanwords from Russian
Е е е /ɛ/ ye-, -e- e e, je e e -e-, ye- je e, je/ye
Ё ё ё /jo/ or /ʲo/ yo ë ë ë yo yo jo jo/yo only in loanwords from Russian
Ӗ ӗ ӗ /ɘ/ (ɘ~ø) ĕ ĕ ö ĕ ĭ̇ eh ĕ/ö e'
Ж ж жӑ /ʒ/ zh zh ž ž zh j q sh (š) only in loanwords from Russian
З з зӑ /z/ z z z z z z zh s only in loanwords from Russian
И и и /i/ i i i i i i i i
Й й йӑ /j/ y ĭ j j j y j j
К к кӑ /k/, /kʲ/ (c), /k̬ʲ/ (gʲ, ɟ) k k k k k k k k
Л л лӑ /l/~/ɫ/, /lʲ/ (ʎ) l l l l l l l l, lĭ/l' l'
М м мӑ /m/ m m m m m m m m
Н н нӑ /n/, /nʲ/ (ɲ) n n n n n n n n, nĭ/n' n'
О о о /o/ o o o o o o o o only in loanwords from Russian
П п пӑ /p/, /p̬/ (b) p p p p p p p p
Р р рӑ /r/~/ɾ/ r r r r r r r r r'
С с сӑ /s/, /s̬/ (z) s s s s s s s s
Ҫ ҫ ҫӑ /ɕ/, /ɕ̬/ (ʑ) s' ś ś ş ş́ c ş/ś s'
Т т тӑ /t/, /tʲ/, /t̬ʲ/ (dʲ), /t̬/ (d) t t t t t t t t, tĭ/t'
У у у /u/, /̯u/ (o) u u u u u u u u
Ӳ ӳ ӳ /y/ ü ü ű ü uh ü u'
Ф ф фӑ /f/, /̯f̬/ (v) f f f f f f f f only in loanwords from Russian
Х х хӑ /χ/, /χʲ/, /χ̃/ (ɣ), /χ̃ʲ/ (ɣʲ) kh kh h h x h x h/x
Ц ц цӑ /ts/, /ʦ̬/ (dz) ts t͡s c c cz, c z ts/z only in loanwords from Russian
Ч ч чӑ //, /ʨ̬/ (ʥ) ch ch č č ch ç ch tś/c
Ш ш шӑ /ʃ/, /ʃ̬/ (ʒ) sh sh š š sh ş sh (š)
Щ щ щӑ /ɕː/
shch shch šč ŝ shh th śç, ş only in loanwords from Russian
Ъ ъ хытӑлӑх палли " ʺ `` j only in loanwords from Russian. Placed after a consonant, acts as a "silent back vowel"; puts a distinct /j/ sound in front of the following iotified: Е, Ё, Ю, Я vowels with no palatalization of the preceding consonant
Ы ы ы /ɯ/ ï y y y y' ı y y only in beginning of words, 1-2 letters
Ь ь ҫемҫелӗх палли /ʲ/ ' ' / j ʹ ` ĭ/' Placed after a consonant, acts as a "silent front vowel", slightly palatalizes the preceding consonant
Э э э /e/ ë ė è, e è e` e e e only first letter
Ю ю ю /ju/ or /ʲu/ ͡iu ju û yu ju ju ju/yu, ‘u
Я я я /ja/ or /ʲa/ ͡ia ja â ya ja ja ja/ya, ‘a


The modern Chuvash alphabet was devised in 1873 by school inspector Ivan Yakovlevich Yakovlev.[29]

а е ы и/і у ӳ ӑ ӗ й в к л ԡ м н ԣ п р р́ с ҫ т т̌ х ш

In 1938, the alphabet underwent significant modification which brought it to its current form.

Previous systems

The most ancient writing system, known as the Old Turkic alphabet, disappeared after the Volga Bulgars converted to Islam. Later, the Arabic script was adopted. After the Mongol invasion, writing degraded. After Peter the Great's reforms Chuvash elites disappeared, blacksmiths and some other crafts were prohibited for non-Russian nations, the Chuvash were educated in Russian, while writing in runes recurred with simple folk.[30][31]



The consonants are the following (the corresponding Cyrillic letters are in brackets): The stops, sibilants and affricates are voiceless and fortes but become lenes (sounding similar to voiced) in intervocalic position and after liquids, nasals and semi-vowels. Аннепе sounds like annebe, but кушакпа sounds like kuzhakpa. However, geminate consonants do not undergo this lenition. Furthermore, the voiced consonants occurring in Russian are used in modern Russian-language loans. Consonants also become palatalized before and after front vowels. However, some words like пульчӑклӑ "dirty", present palatalized consonants without preceding or succeeding front vowels, and should be understood that such are actually phonemic.

Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar
Stop p ⟨п⟩ t ⟨т⟩ ⟨ч⟩ k ⟨к⟩
Fricative s ⟨c⟩ ʃ ⟨ш⟩ ɕ ⟨ҫ⟩ x ⟨x⟩
Nasal m ⟨м⟩ n ⟨н⟩
Approximant ʋ ⟨в⟩ l ⟨л⟩ j ⟨й⟩
Trill r ⟨p⟩


A possible scheme for the diachronic development of Chuvash vowels[citation needed] (note that not all the sounds with an asterisk are necessarily separate phonemes).
A possible scheme for the diachronic development of Chuvash vowels[citation needed] (note that not all the sounds with an asterisk are necessarily separate phonemes).

According to Krueger (1961), the Chuvash vowel system is as follows (the precise IPA symbols are chosen based on his description since he uses a different transcription).

Front Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
High i ⟨и⟩ y ⟨ӳ⟩ ɯ ⟨ы⟩ u ⟨у⟩
Low e ⟨е⟩ ø̆ ⟨ӗ⟩ a ⟨а⟩ ŏ ⟨ӑ⟩

András Róna-Tas (1997)[32] provides a somewhat different description, also with a partly idiosyncratic transcription. The following table is based on his version, with additional information from Petrov (2001). Again, the IPA symbols are not directly taken from the works so they could be inaccurate.

Front Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
High i ⟨и⟩ y ⟨ӳ⟩ ɯ ⟨ы⟩ u ⟨у⟩
Close-mid ӗ ⟨ĕ⟩ ɤ̆ ⟨ӑ⟩
Open-mid ɛ ⟨е⟩
Low a ⟨а⟩

The vowels ӑ and ӗ are described as reduced, thereby differing in quantity from the rest. In unstressed positions, they often resemble a schwa or tend to be dropped altogether in fast speech. At times, especially when stressed, they may be somewhat rounded and sound similar to /o/ and /ø/.

Additionally, ɔ (о) occurs in loanwords from Russian where the syllable is stressed in Russian.

Word accent

The usual rule given in grammars of Chuvash is that the last full (non-reduced) vowel of the word is stressed; if there are no full vowels, the first vowel is stressed.[33] Reduced vowels that precede or follow a stressed full vowel are extremely short and non-prominent. One scholar, Dobrovolsky, however, hypothesises that there is in fact no stress in disyllabic words in which both vowels are reduced.[34]


Vowel harmony

Vowel harmony is the principle by which a native Chuvash word generally incorporates either exclusively back or hard vowels (а, ӑ, у, ы) and exclusively front or soft vowels (е, ӗ, ӳ, и). As such, a Chuvash suffix such as -тен means either -тан or -тен, whichever promotes vowel harmony; a notation such as -тпӗр means either -тпӑр, -тпӗр, again with vowel harmony constituting the deciding factor.

Chuvash has two classes of vowels: front and back (see the table above). Vowel harmony states that words may not contain both front and back vowels. Therefore, most grammatical suffixes come in front and back forms, e.g. Шупашкарта, "in Cheboksary" but килте, "at home".

Two vowels cannot occur in succession.


Vowel harmony does not apply for some invariant suffixes such as the plural ending -сем and the 3rd person (possessive or verbal) ending -ӗ, which only have a front version.[35] It also does not occur in loanwords and in a few native Chuvash words (such as анне "mother"). In such words suffixes harmonize with the final vowel; thus Аннепе "with the mother".

Compound words are considered separate words with respect to vowel harmony: vowels do not have to harmonize between members of the compound (so forms like сӗтел|пукан "furniture" are permissible).

Other processes

The consonant т often alternates with ч before ӗ from original *i (ят 'name' - ячӗ 'his name'). There is also an alternation between т (after consonants) and р (after vowels): тетел 'fishing net (nom.)' - dative тетел-те, but пулӑ 'fish (nom.)' - dative пулӑ-ра.[36]


Deaf consonant sounds and if they stand in the middle and end of words become sonorous:

Words in english - sword, owner, peak, lunch, bouillon, window, glass, little, slice

Written - hĕşĕ, huşa, pekĕ, apat, šürpe, çüreçе, kĕlençe, pĕçĕkke, katăk

Pronounced - hĕžĕ, huža, pegĕ, abat, šürbe, çürejе, kĕlenje, pĕjĕkke, kadăk

So that the consonants do not sonorous, put gemination:

ikkĕ - two, piççe - brother, sakkăr - eight, appa - sister.


As characteristic of all Turkic languages, Chuvash is an agglutinative language and as such, has an abundance of suffixes but no native prefixes or prepositions, apart from the partly reduplicative intensive prefix, such as in: шурӑ - white, шап-шурӑ - snow-white, хура - black, хуп-хура - jet black, такӑр - flat, так-такӑр - absolutely flat, тулли - full, тӑп-тулли - chock full (compare to Turkish beyaz - white, bem-beyaz snow-white, kara - black, kap-kara - jet black, düz - flat, dümdüz - absolutely flat, dolu - full, dopdolu - chock full). One word can have many suffixes, which can also be used to create new words like creating a verb from a noun or a noun from a verbal root. See Vocabulary below. It can also indicate the grammatical function of the word.



Chuvash nouns decline in number and case and also take suffixes indicating the person of a possessor. The suffixes are placed in the order possession - number - case.[37] There are six noun cases in the Chuvash declension system:

Grammatical cases:
Singular Plural
Nominative -∅ -сем
Genitive (of) -(ӑ)н/-(ӗ)н -сен
Dative-Accusative (for) -(н)а/-(н)е -сене
Locative (in, on) -ра/-ре, -та/-те -сенче
Ablative (from) -ран/-рен, -тан/-тен -сенчен
Instrumental (with) -па(лан)/-пе(лен) -семпе(лен)
Abessive (without) -сӑр/-сӗр -семсӗр
Causative -шӑн/-шӗн -семшӗн

In the suffixes where the first consonant varies between р- and т-, the allomorphs beginning in т- are used after stems ending in the dental sonorants -р, -л and -н. The allomorphs beginning in р- occur under all other circumstances.[38] The dative-accusative allomorph beginning in н- is mostly used after stems ending in vowels, except in -и, -у, and -ӑ/-ӗ, whereas the one consisting only of a vowel is used after stems ending in consonants.[39]

The nominative is used instead of the dative-accusative to express indefinite or general objects, e.g. утӑ типӗт 'to dry hay'.[40] It can also be used instead of the genitive to express a possessor, so that the combination gets a generalised compound-like meaning (лаша пӳҫӗ 'a horse head' vs лашан пӳҫӗ 'the horse's head'); with both nominative and genitive, however, the possessed noun has a possessive suffix (see below).[41][42]

In the genitive and dative-accusative cases, some nouns ending in -у and -ӳ were changed to -ӑв and -ӗв (ҫыру → ҫырӑван, ҫырӑва, but ҫырура; пӳ → пӗвен, пӗве, but пӳре). In nouns ending in -ӑ, the last vowel simply deletes and may cause the last consonant to geminate (пулӑ 'fish' > пуллан). Nouns ending in consonants sometimes also geminate the last letter (ҫын 'man' → ҫыннан).[43]

There are also some rarer cases, such as:

Taking кун (day) as an example:

Noun case Singular Plural
Nominative кун кунсем
Genitive кунӑн кунсен
Dative-Accusative куна кунсене
Locative кунта кунсенче
Ablative кунтан кунсенчен
Instrumental кунпа кунсемпе

Possession is expressed by means of constructions based on verbs meaning "to exist" and "not to exist" ("пур" and "ҫук"). For example, to say, "The cat had no shoes":

кушак + -ӑн ура атӑ(и) + -сем ҫук + -ччӗ
(кушакӑн ура аттисем ҫукччӗ)

which literally translates as "cat-of foot-cover(of)-plural-his non-existent-was."

The possessive suffixes are as follows (ignoring vowel harmony):

singular plural
1st person -(ӑ)м -мӑр
2nd person -ӑр
3rd person -ӗ/и -ӗ/и[44]

Stem-final vowels are deleted when the vowel-initial suffixes (-у, -и, -ӑр) are added to them. The 3rd person allomorph -ӗ is added to stems ending in consonants, whereas -и is used with stems ending in vowels. There is also another postvocalic variant -шӗ, which is used only in designations of family relationships: аппа 'elder sister' > аппа-шӗ.[45] Furthermore, the noun атте 'father' is irregularly declined in possessive forms:[46]

singular plural
1st person атте
2nd person аҫу аҫӑр
3rd person ашшӗ ашшӗ

When case endings are added to the possessive suffixes, some changes may occur: the vowels comprising the 2nd and 3rd singular possessive suffixes are dropped before the dative-accusative suffix: (ывӑл-у-на 'to your son', ывӑл-ӗ-нe 'to his son' > ывӑлна, ывӑлнe), whereas a -н- is inserted between them and the locative and ablative suffixes: ывӑл-у-н-та 'in/at your son', ывӑл-ӗ-н-чен 'from his son'.[47]


Adjectives do not agree with the nouns they modify, but may receive nominal case endings when standing alone, without a noun.[48] The comparative suffix is -рах/-рех, or -тарах/терех after stems ending in -р or, optionally, other sonorant consonants.[49] The superlative is formed by encliticising or procliticising the particles чи or чӑн to the adjective in the positive degree.[50] A special past tense form meaning '(subject) was A' is formed by adding the suffix -(ч)чӗ.[51] Another notable feature is the formation of intensive forms via complete or partial reduplication: кǎтра 'curly' - кǎп-кǎтра 'completely curly'.[52]

The 'separating' form

Both nouns and adjectives, declined or not, may take special 'separating' forms in -и (causing gemination when added to reduced vowel stems and, in nouns, when added to consonant-final stems) and -скер. The meaning of the form in -и is, roughly, 'the one of them that is X', while the form in -скер may be rendered as '(while) being X'.[53] For example, пӳлӗм-р(е)-и-сем 'those of them who are in the room'. The same suffixes may form the equivalent of dependent clauses: ачисем килте-скер-ӗн мӗн хуйхӑрмалли пур унӑн? 'If his children (are) at home, what does he have to be sad about?', йӗркеллӗ çынн-и курӑнать 'You (can) see that he is a decent person', эсӗ килт(e)-и савӑнтарать (lit. 'That you are at home, pleases one').[54]


The personal pronouns exhibit partly suppletive allomorphy between the nominative and oblique stems; case endings are added to the latter:[55]

singular plural
nominative oblique nominative oblique
1st person эпӗ ман- эпир пир-
2nd person эсӗ сан- эсир сир-
3rd person вӑл ун- вӗсем вӗсен

Demonstratives are ку 'this', çак 'this' (only for a known object), çав 'that' (for a somewhat remote object), леш 'that' (for a remote object), хай 'that' (the above-mentioned). There is a separate reflexive originally consisting of the stem in х- and personal possessive suffixes:

singular plural
1st person хам хамӑр
2nd person ху хӑвӑр
3rd person хӑй хӑйсем

Interrogatives are кам 'who', мӗн 'what', хаш/хӑшӗ 'which'. Negative pronouns are formed by adding the prefix ни- to the interrogatives: никам, ним(ӗн), etc. Indefinite pronouns use the prefix та-: такам etc. Totality is expressed by пур 'all', пӗтӗм 'whole', харпӑр 'every'.

Among the pronominal adverbs that are not productively formed from the demonstratives, notable ones are the interrogatives хăçан 'when' and ăçта 'where'.


Chuvash verbs exhibit person and can be made negative or impotential; they can also be made potential. Finally, Chuvash verbs exhibit various distinctions of tense, mood and aspect: a verb can be progressive, necessitative, aorist, future, inferential, present, past, conditional, imperative or optative.

The sequence of verbal suffixes is as follows: voice - iterativity - potentiality - negation - tense/gerund/participle - personal suffix.[56]

Chuvash English
кил- (to) come
килме- not (to) come
килейме- not (to) be able to come
килеймен He/she was apparently unable to come.
килеймерӗ He/she had not been able to come.
килеймерӗр You (plural) had not been able to come.
килеймерӗр-и? Have you (plural) not been able to come?

Finite verb forms

The personal endings of the verb are mostly as follows (abstracting from vowel harmony):[57]

singular plural
1st person -(ӑ)п/(ӑ)м -(ӑ)пӑр/(ӑ)мӑр
2nd person -(ӑ)н -(ӑ)р
3rd person -(ӗ) -(ӗ)ҫ(ӗ)

The 1st person allomorph containing -п- is found in the present and future tenses, the one containing -м- is found in other forms. The 3rd singular is absent in the future and in the present tenses, but causes palatalisation of the preceding consonant in the latter. The vowel-final allomorph of the 3rd plural -ҫӗ is used in the present.[58] The imperative has somewhat more deviant endings in some of its forms:

singular plural
1st person -ам -ар
2nd person -∅ -ӑр
3rd person -тӑр -ч(ч)ӑр

To these imperative verb forms, one may add particles expressing insistence (-сам) or, conversely, softness (-ччӗ) and politeness (-ах).

The main tense markers are:[59]

present -(a)т-
future -∅-
past -р/т-
pluperfect -ӑс(с)ӑtt-
iterative past -атт-[60]

The consonant -т of the present tense marker assimilates to the 3rd plural personal ending: -ҫҫĕ. The past tense allomorph -р- is used after vowels, while -т- is used after consonants. The simple past tense is used only for witnesses events, whereas retold events are expressed using the past participle suffix -н(ӑ) (see below). In addition to the iterative past, there is also an aspectual iterative suffix -кала- expressing repetitive action.

There are also modal markers,[61] which do not combine with tense markers and hence have sometimes been described as tenses of their own:[62]

conditional[63]/optative[64] -ӑттӑ-
concessive -ин

The concessive suffix -ин is added after the personal endings, but in the 2nd singular and plural, a -с- suffix is added before them: кур-ӑ-сӑн(-ин) 'alright, see it'.[65] If the particle -ччӗ is added, the meaning becomes optative.[66]

Potentiality is expressed with the suffix -(а)й 'be able to'.

The negative is expressed by a suffix inserted before the tense and modal markers. It contains -м- and mostly has the form -м(а)-, but -мас- in the present and -мӑ- in the future.[63] The imperative uses the proclitic particle ан instead (or, optionally, an enclitic мар in the 1st person).

A change of valency to a passive-reflexive 'voice' may be effected by the addition of the suffixes -ӑл- and -ӑн-, but the process is not productive and the choice of suffix is not predictable. Still, if both occur with the same stem, -ӑл- is passive and -ӑн- is reflexive.[67] A 'reciprocal voice' form is produced by the suffixes -ӑш and -ӑҫ.[68] There are two causative suffixes - a non-productive -ат/ар/ӑт and a productive -(т)тар (the single consonant allomorph occurring after monosyllabic stems).[69]

Voice suffixes




reciprocal -ӑш,


causative -(т)тар, (-ат/ар/ӑт)

There are, furthermore, various periphrastic constructions using the non-finite verb forms, mostly featuring predicative use of the participles (see below).

Non-finite verb forms

Some of the non-finite verb forms are:[70]

I. Attributive participles

  1. Present participle: -акан (вӗренекен 'studying' or 'being studied'); the negative form is the same as that of the past participle (see below);
  2. Past participle: -н(ӑ) (курнӑ 'which has seen' or 'which has been seen'); the final vowel disappears in the negative (курман)
  3. Future participle: -ас (каяс 'who will go')
  4. Present participle expressing a permanent characteristic: -ан (вӗҫен 'flying')
  5. Present participle expressing pretence: -анҫи, -иш
  6. Necessitative participle: -малла (пулмалла 'who must become'); the negative is formed by adding the enclitic мар
  7. Satisfaction participle: -малӑх (вуламалӑх 'which is enough to be read')
  8. Potentiality participle: -и (ути 'which can go')[71]

The suffix -и may be added to participles to form a verbal noun: ҫыр-нӑ ;'written' > ҫыр-н-и 'writing'.

II. Adverbial participles (converbs)[56]

  1. -са (default: doing, having done, while about to do')[71] (-сар after a negative suffix)
  2. -а 'doing Y' (the verb form is usually reduplicated)
  3. -нӑҫем(-ен) 'the more the subject does Y':
  4. -уҫӑн 'while doing Y'
  5. -сан 'having done Y', 'if the subject does Y'
  6. -нӑранпа 'after/since having done Y'
  7. -массерен 'whenever the subject does Y'
  8. -иччен 'before/until doing Y'

III. Infinitives

The suffixes -ма and -машкӑн form infinitives.

There are many verbal periphrastic constructions using the non-finite forms, including:

  1. a habitual past using the present participle and expressing periodicity (эпĕ вулакан-ччĕ, lit. 'I was [a] reading [one]');
  2. an alternative pluperfect using the past participle (эпĕ чĕннĕ-ччĕ, lit. 'I [was] one that had called'; negated by using the negatively conjugated participle эпĕ чĕнмен-ччĕ);
  3. a general present equal to the present participle (эпĕ ҫыракан, lit. 'I [am a] writing [one]'; negated with the enclitic мар),
  4. an alternative future expressing certainty and equal to the future participle (эпĕ илес 'I [am] one who will get'; negated with an encliticised ҫук),
  5. a necessitative future using the necessitative participle (ман/эпĕ тарант(ар)малла 'I [am] one who must feed'; negated with мар),
  6. a second desiderative future expressing a wish and using the converb in -сан (эпĕ ҫĕнтерсен-ччĕ, 'I wish I'd win'),
  7. another desiderative form expressing a wish for the future and using the future participle followed by -чĕ (эпĕ пĕлес-чĕ 'I wish/hope I know', negated by мар with an encliticised -ччĕ).[72]

Word order

Word order in Chuvash is generally subject–object–verb. Modifiers (adjectives and genitives) precede their heads in nominal phrases, too. The language uses postpositions,[73] often originating from case-declined nouns, but the governed noun is usually in the nominative, e.g. tĕп çи-не 'onto (the surface of) the ground' (even though a governed pronoun tends to be in the genitive).[74] Yes/no-questions are formed with an encliticised interrogative particle -и.[75] The language often uses verb phrases that are formed by combining the adverbial participle in -са and certain common verbs such as пыр 'go', çÿре 'be going', кай 'go (away from the speaker)', кил 'go (towards the speaker)', ил 'take', кала 'say', тăр 'stand', юл 'stay', яр 'let go'; e.g. кĕрсe кай 'go entering > enter', тухса кай 'go exiting > leave'.[76]


The number system is decimal. The numbers from one to ten are:

The teens are formed by juxtaposing the word 'ten' and the corresponding single digit:

The tens are formed in somewhat different ways: from 20 to 50, they exhibit suppletion; 60 and 70 have a suffix -мӑл together with stem changes; while 80 and 90 juxtapose the corresponding single digit and the word 'ten'.

Further multiples of ten are:

Ordinal numerals are formed with the suffix -mĕš (-мӗш), e.g. pĕrremĕš (пӗррӗмӗш) 'first', ikkĕmĕš (иккӗмӗш) 'second'. There are also alternate ordinal numerals formed with the suffix -ӑм/-ĕм, which are used only for days, nights and years and only for the numbers from three to seven, e.g. wişĕm (виҫӗм) 'third', tvatăm (тватăм), pilĕm (пилĕм), ultăm (ултăм), şiçĕm (çичĕм), wunăm (вунăм).[77]

Word formation

Some notable suffixes are: -ҫӑ for agent nouns, -лӑх for abstract and instrumental nouns, -ӑш, less commonly, for abstract nouns from certain adjectives, -у (after consonants) or -v (after vowels) for action nouns, -ла, -ал, -ар, and -н for denominal verbs.[78] The valency changing suffixes and the gerunds were mentioned in the verbal morphology section above. Diminutives may be formed with multiple suffixes such as -ашка, -(к)ка, -лчӑ, -ак/ӑк, -ача.[79]

Sample text

1. Хĕвелĕн икĕ арăм: Ирхи Шуçăмпа Каçхи Шуçăм.[80]
1. The Sun has two wives: Dawn and Afterglow (lit. "the Morning Glow" and "the Evening Glow").
2. Ир пулсан Хĕвел Ирхи Шуçăмран уйрăлса каять
2. When it is morning, the Sun leaves Dawn
3. те яра кун тăршшĕпе Каçхи Шуçăм патнелле сулăнать.
3. and during the whole day (he) moves towards Afterglow.
4. Çак икĕ мăшăрĕнчен унăн ачасем:
4. From these two spouses of his, he has children:
5. Этем ятлă ывăл тата Сывлăм ятлă хĕр пур.
5. a son named Etem (Human) and a daughter named Syvlăm (Dew).
6. Этемпе Сывлăм пĕррехинче Çĕр чăмăрĕ çинче тĕл пулнă та,
6. Etem and Syvlăm once met on the globe of the Earth,
7. пĕр-пĕрне юратса çемье чăмăртанă.
7. fell in love with each other and started a family.
8. Халь пурăнакан этемсем çав мăшăрăн тăхăмĕсем.
8. The humans who live today are the descendants of this couple.

See also


  1. ^ Also known as Chăvash, Chuwash, Chovash, Chavash, Çovaş, Çuvaş or Çuwaş.


  1. ^ [Перепись-2010 "Population of the Russian Federation by Languages (in Russian)"]. Russian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 1 November 2017. ((cite web)): Check |url= value (help)
  2. ^ "Chuvash". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. n.d.
  3. ^ "Chuvash". Lexico US English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. n.d.
  4. ^ [1] Chuvash is the sole living representative of the Bulgharic branch, one of the two principal branches of the Turkic family.
  5. ^ Алос-и-Фонт, Эктор. Оценка языковой политики в Чувашии
  6. ^ Оценка языковой политики в Чувашии
  7. ^ "Chuvash". Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  8. ^ Russian Census 2002. 6. Владение языками (кроме русского) населением отдельных национальностей по республикам, автономной области и автономным округам Российской Федерации Archived 4 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine(Knowledge of languages other than Russian by the population of republics, autonomous oblast and autonomous districts)(in Russian)
  9. ^ "Zheltov, Pavel. An Attribute-Sample Database System for Describing Chuvash Affixes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  10. ^ Tapani Salminen (22 September 1999). "UNESCO red book on endangered languages: Europe".
  11. ^ Index Translationum: translations from Chuvash - shows 202 titles, as of 2013-01-06. The index has data since ca. 1979.
  12. ^ Index Translationum: translations from Chuvash, published in the USSR - shows 170 titles
  13. ^ Index Translationum: translations from Chuvash, published in Russia - shows 17 titles
  14. ^ Index Translationum: translations into Chuvash
  15. ^ Johanson (1998); cf. Johanson (2000, 2007) and the articles pertaining to the subject in Johanson & Csató (ed., 1998).
  16. ^ Korhonen, Mikko (1986). Finno-Ugrian Language Studies in Finland 1828-1918. Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica. p. 80. ISBN 951-653-135-0.
  17. ^ Chuvash language, Encyclopædia Britannica (1997)
  18. ^ Matti Miestamo; Anne Tamm; Beáta Wagner-Nagy (24 June 2015). Negation in Uralic Languages. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 646. ISBN 978-90-272-6864-8.
  19. ^ Johanson (1998: 89-197).
  20. ^ Agyagási (2019: passim)
  21. ^ Agyagási (2019: passim)
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Егоров (Egorov), Василий Георгиевич (1964). Чăваш чĕлхин этимологи словарĕ [Этимологический словарь чувашского языка] (PDF) (in Russian). Cheboksary: Чувашское книжное издательство.
  23. ^ Transliteration of Chuvash writing system (19 October 2006). "Wayback Machine" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 October 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  24. ^ "KNAB: kohanimeandmebaasi avaleht". Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  25. ^ "ALA-LC Romanization Tables". Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  26. ^ Allworth, Edward (31 December 1971). Nationalities of the Soviet East Publications and Writing Systems. doi:10.7312/allw92088. ISBN 9780231886963.
  27. ^ "cvlat2 - СVLat". Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  28. ^ "Chuvash Latin Script".
  29. ^ "Telegram to the Chairman of the Simbirsk Soviet". Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  30. ^ "Древнечувашская руническая письменность". Трофимов А.А. Национальная библиотека Чувашской Республики.
  31. ^ "Язык – основа национальной культуры". Национальная библиотека Чувашской Республики.
  32. ^ András Róna-Tas. "Nutshell Chuvash" (PDF). Erasmus Mundus Intensive Program Turkic languages and cultures in Europe (TLCE). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  33. ^ Dobrovolsky (1999), p. 539.
  34. ^ Dobrovolsky (1999), p. 541.
  35. ^ Rona-Tas 1997: 3
  36. ^ Róna-Tas (1997: 4)
  37. ^ Róna-Tas (1997: 4)
  38. ^ Rona-Tas 1997: 4
  39. ^ Chuvash manual, Unit 3
  40. ^ Павлов 2017: 84
  41. ^ Chuvash manual, Unit 2
  42. ^ Павлов 2017: 62-64
  43. ^ "UNIT TWO". Chuvash People's Website. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  44. ^ Róna-Tas (1997: 4)
  45. ^ Róna-Tas 1997: 3
  46. ^ "UNIT FIVE". Chuvash People's Website. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  47. ^ Chuvash Manual, Unit 6
  48. ^ Павлов 2017: 142-145
  49. ^ Павлов 2017: 126-127
  50. ^ Павлов 2017: 128-129
  51. ^ Павлов 2017: 150-151
  52. ^ Павлов 2017: 130
  53. ^ Павлов 2017: 146-150
  54. ^ Павлов 2017: 110-117
  55. ^ Róna-Tas (1997: 4)
  56. ^ a b Павлов (2017: 251)
  57. ^ Павлов (2017: 229), Rona-Tas (1997: 5)
  58. ^ Róna-Tas (1997: 5)
  59. ^ Róna-Tas (1997: 5); Павлов (2017: 269) about the present tense
  60. ^ Павлов (2017: 255)
  61. ^ Róna-Tas (1997: 5)
  62. ^ Павлов 2017: passim, e.g. p. 296
  63. ^ a b Róna-Tas (1997: 5)
  64. ^ Павлов (2017: 295-296)
  65. ^ Павлов (2017: 275)
  66. ^ Павлов (2017: 300)
  67. ^ Павлов (2017: 207)
  68. ^ Павлов (2017: 208-209)
  69. ^ Павлов (2017: 211-212)
  70. ^ Павлов (2017: 250)
  71. ^ a b Róna-Tas (1997: 5)
  72. ^ Павлов 2017: 261-307
  73. ^ Róna-Tas 1997: 5
  74. ^ Павлов 2017: 352
  75. ^ Павлов 2017: 386
  76. ^ Chuvash manual, Unit 13
  77. ^ Павлов 2017: 164-165
  78. ^ Chuvash manual, Unit 16
  79. ^ Павлов 2017: 142-144
  80. ^ Сатур, Улатимĕр. 2011. Çăлтăр çӳлти тӳпере / Звезда на небе. Шупашкар (a book on Chuvash myths, legends and customs)


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