|Region||Volga region (esp. Chuvashia)|
|1,042,989 (2010 census)|
Official language in
Chuvash (UK: // CHOO-vahsh, US: // chuu-VAHSH; Чӑвашла, translit. Çăvašla, 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.
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.
Chuvash is the native language of the Chuvash people and an official language of Chuvashia. There are contradictory numbers regarding the number of people able to speak Chuvash nowadays; some sources claim it is spoken by 1,640,000 persons in Russia and another 34,000 in other countries and that 86% of ethnic Chuvash and 8% of the people of other ethnicities living in Chuvashia claimed knowledge of Chuvash language during the 2002 census. However, other sources claim that the number of Chuvash speakers is on the decline, with a drop from 1 million speakers in 2010 to 700,000 in 2021; observers suggest this is due to Moscow having a lack of interest in preserving the language diversity in Russia. Although Chuvash is taught at schools and sometimes used in the media, it is considered endangered by the UNESCO, 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. 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 and just 17, in the post-1991 Russia (mostly, in the 1990s). 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).
Chuvash is the sole surviving descendant of West Old Turkic and it 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.
Italian historian and philologist Igor de Rachewiltz noted a significant distinction of the Chuvash language from other Turkic languages. According to him, the Chuvash language does not share certain common characteristics with Turkic languages to such a degree that some scholars consider it an independent Onoguric (Bulgharic) family similiar to Uralic and Turkic languages. Turkic classification of Chuvash was seen as a compromise solution for the classification purposes.
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. The first scientific fieldwork description of Chuvash, by August Ahlqvist in 1856, allowed researchers to establish its proper affiliation.
Some scholars suggest Hunnic had strong ties with Chuvash and classify Chuvash as separate Hunno-Bulgar. Chuvash is so divergent from the main body of Turkic languages that some scholars formerly considered Chuvash to be a Uralic language. Conversely, other scholars regard it as Oghuric language significantly influenced by Finnic languages.
The following sound changes and resulting sound correspondences are typical:
|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||ура (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 (tiv) : Turkish değ 'touch',
вӗрен (vĕren) : Turkish öğren 'learn',
аллӑ (allă) : Turkish elli (< Proto-Turkic *ellig, ellüg)
|*s > š occasionally (due to a following *y?)||шыв (šyv) : Old Turkic sub, Turkish su 'water'|
|*b- > p-||пӗр (pĕr) : Turkish bir 'one'|
|*-b > *-w > -v||шыв (šyv) : 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 > ja
*ō > *wo > vu
*ȫ, ǖ > *üwä > ăva
|ят (jat) : Turkmen at, Turkish ad 'name' (< Proto-Turkic *āt)
вут (vut) : Turkmen ot, Turkish od 'fire' (< Proto-Turkic *ōt)
тӑват (tăvat): 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: *ẹ > i, *o > u, *ö > ü||кил (kil) : Turkish gel 'come', утӑ (utӑ) : 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 > -ð > -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.
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): ura, hor- 
|English word||Oguz / Kipchak||Chuvash|
Dudaq - Tuta - Lips instead of Tutah
Ayaq - Ura - Leg instead of Urah
Balyq - Pulă - Fish instead of Pulăh
Ineq - Ĕne - Cow instead of Ĕneh 
Words in Turkic languages: egg, snake, rain, house, earth
Oguz: jumurta, jylan, jagmur, jurt, jer (turk., azerb., tat.,)
Kipchaks: žumurtka, žylan, žamgyr, žort, žer (kyrgyz., kazakh.)
Chuvash: şămarta, şĕlen, şămăr, şurt, şĕr 
|English word||Oguz / Kipchak||Chuvash|
|English word||Oguz / Kipchak||Chuvash|
In modern times, in Chuvash [a] remains, Tatar "kapka" ~ Chuvash "hapha" (gate), when there should be a "hupha" from the root "hup - close".
|English word||Oguz||Chuvash (Upper)||Kipchak||Chuvash (Lower)|
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.
Letters in bold with light-yellow background are solely used in loanwords.
|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|
Latin alphabet used by Chuvash people living in the USA and Europe, used for the convenience of writing Chuvash words
Examples of written text:
|Latin alphabet||Chuvash alphabet||Meaning|
Transliteration of the Chuvash alphabet 
|Name||IPA||KNAB  1995||ALA-LC 1997||Edward Allworth 1971||ISO
|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||w|
|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|
|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'|
|Н н||нӑ||/n/, /nʲ/ (ɲ)||n||n||n||n||n||n||n||n, nĭ/n'||n'|
|П п||пӑ||/p/, /p̬/ (b)||p||p||p||p||p||p||p||p|
|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|
|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||/tɕ/, /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)|
|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 iotated: 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/||yŭ||͡iu||ju||û||yu||yu||ju||ju/yu, ‘u|
|Я я||я||/ja/ or /ʲa/||yă||͡ia||ja||â||ya||ya||ja||ja/ya, ‘a|
The modern Chuvash alphabet was devised in 1873 by school inspector Ivan Yakovlevich Yakovlev.
In 1938, the alphabet underwent significant modification which brought it to its current form.
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.
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: lʲ ⟨ль⟩, nʲ ⟨нь⟩, tʲ ⟨ть⟩.
|Stop||p ⟨п⟩||t ⟨т⟩||tɕ ⟨ч⟩||k ⟨к⟩|
|Fricative||s ⟨c⟩||ʃ ⟨ш⟩||ɕ ⟨ҫ⟩||x ⟨x⟩|
|Nasal||m ⟨м⟩||n ⟨н⟩|
|Approximant||ʋ ⟨в⟩||l ⟨л⟩||j ⟨й⟩|
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).
|High||i ⟨и⟩||y ⟨ӳ⟩||ɯ ⟨ы⟩||u ⟨у⟩|
|Low||e ⟨е⟩||ø̆ ⟨ӗ⟩||a ⟨а⟩||ŏ ⟨ӑ⟩|
András Róna-Tas (1997) 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.
|High||i ⟨и⟩||y ⟨ӳ⟩||ɯ ⟨ы⟩||u ⟨у⟩|
|Close-mid||ӗ ⟨ĕ⟩||ɤ̆ ⟨ӑ⟩|
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.
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. 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.
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. 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).
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.
Voiceless consonant sounds, if they stand in the middle and end of words become voiced:
|English word||Written Chuvash||Pronunciation|
Geminated voiceless consonants are not voiced:
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. There are six noun cases in the Chuvash declension system:
|Locative (in, on)||-ра/-ре, -та/-те||-сенче|
|Ablative (from)||-ран/-рен, -тан/-тен||-сенчен|
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. 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.
The nominative is used instead of the dative-accusative to express indefinite or general objects, e.g. утӑ типӗт 'to dry hay'. 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).
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).
There are also some rarer cases, such as:
Taking кун (day) as an example:
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":
which literally translates as "cat-of foot-cover(of)-plural-his non-existent-was."
The possessive suffixes are as follows (ignoring vowel harmony):
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. Furthermore, the noun атте 'father' is irregularly declined in possessive forms:
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'.
Adjectives do not agree with the nouns they modify, but may receive nominal case endings when standing alone, without a noun. The comparative suffix is -рах/-рех, or -тарах/терех after stems ending in -р or, optionally, other sonorant consonants. The superlative is formed by encliticising or procliticising the particles чи or чӑн to the adjective in the positive degree. A special past tense form meaning '(subject) was A' is formed by adding the suffix -(ч)чӗ. Another notable feature is the formation of intensive forms via complete or partial reduplication: кǎтра 'curly' - кǎп-кǎтра 'completely curly'.
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'. 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').
The personal pronouns exhibit partly suppletive allomorphy between the nominative and oblique stems; case endings are added to the latter:
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:
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.
|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?|
The personal endings of the verb are mostly as follows (abstracting from vowel harmony):
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. The imperative has somewhat more deviant endings in some of its forms:
To these imperative verb forms, one may add particles expressing insistence (-сам) or, conversely, softness (-ччӗ) and politeness (-ах).
The main tense markers are:
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, which do not combine with tense markers and hence have sometimes been described as tenses of their own:
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'. If the particle -ччӗ is added, the meaning becomes optative.
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. 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. A 'reciprocal voice' form is produced by the suffixes -ӑш and -ӑҫ. There are two causative suffixes - a non-productive -ат/ар/ӑт and a productive -(т)тар (the single consonant allomorph occurring after monosyllabic stems).
There are, furthermore, various periphrastic constructions using the non-finite verb forms, mostly featuring predicative use of the participles (see below).
Some of the non-finite verb forms are:
I. Attributive participles
The suffix -и may be added to participles to form a verbal noun: ҫыр-нӑ ;'written' > ҫыр-н-и 'writing'.
II. Adverbial participles (converbs)
The suffixes -ма and -машкӑн form infinitives.
There are many verbal periphrastic constructions using the non-finite forms, including:
Word order in Chuvash is generally subject–object–verb. Modifiers (adjectives and genitives) precede their heads in nominal phrases, too. The language uses postpositions, often originating from case-declined nouns, but the governed noun is usually in the nominative, e.g. тĕп çи-не 'onto (the surface of) the ground' (even though a governed pronoun tends to be in the genitive). Yes/no-questions are formed with an encliticised interrogative particle -и. The language often uses verb phrases that are formed by combining the adverbial participle in -са and certain common verbs such as пыр 'go', çӳре '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'.
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).
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. 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.
1. Хĕвелĕн икĕ арăм: Ирхи Шуçăмпа Каçхи Шуçăм.
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.
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The language had strong ties to Bulgar language and to modern Chuvash, but also had some important connections, especially lexical and morphological, to Ottoman Turkish and Yakut
Early scholarship from the 18th century associated Chuvash with the Uralic languages, being unable to disentangle complicated areal phenomena in the Volga-Kama region (see, e.g., language groupings in Pallas 1787–1789). The Turkic origin of Chuvash was proposed no later than by Klaproth in 1828 and convincingly proved by Schott in 1841. In 1863, Feizkhanov managed to read three grave epitaphs in the Volga Bulghar language based on his knowledge of the contemporary Chuvash. Strong arguments relating Chuvash to Volga Bulghar were summarized by Ašmarin in 1902; since then, the Volga Bulghar → Chuvash linguistic continuity has gained general acceptance in the field. Together with its extinct relatives, Chuvash forms the separate Bulgharic branch of the Turkic family, which exhibits many differences from the so-called Common Turkic languages
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