Qaraqalpaq tili, Қарақалпақ тили, قاراقالپاق تىلى
Karakalpak in Latin, Cyrillic, and Arabic Nastaliq scripts.
Native toUzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan
Native speakers
583,410 (2010)[1]
Karakalpak alphabet (Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic script)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2kaa
ISO 639-3kaa
Map showing locations of Karakalpak (red) within Uzbekistan
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.

Karakalpak is a Turkic language spoken by Karakalpaks in Karakalpakstan. It is divided into two dialects, Northeastern Karakalpak and Southeastern Karakalpak. It developed alongside Uzbek and neighboring Kazakh languages, being markedly influenced by both. Typologically, Karakalpak belongs to the Kipchak branch of the Turkic languages, thus being closely related to and highly mutually intelligible with Kazakh.[2]


Karakalpak is a member of the Kipchak branch of Turkic languages, which includes Kazakh, Bashkir, Tatar, Kumyk, Karachay, Nogai and Kyrgyz. Due to its proximity to Uzbek, much of Karakalpak's vocabulary and grammar has been influenced by Uzbek. Like the vast majority of Turkic languages, Karakalpak has vowel harmony, is agglutinative and has no grammatical gender. Word order is usually subject–object–verb.

Geographic distribution

Karakalpak is spoken mainly in the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic of Uzbekistan. Approximately 2,000 people in Afghanistan and smaller diaspora in parts of Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and other parts of the world speak Karakalpak.

Official status

Karakalpak has official status in the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic.


Ethnologue identifies two dialects of Karakalpak: Northeastern and Southwestern. Menges mentions a third possible dialect spoken in the Fergana Valley. The Southwestern dialect has /tʃ/ for the Northeastern /ʃ/.


Karakalpak has 25 native consonant phonemes and regularly uses four non-native phonemes in loan words. Non-native sounds are shown in parentheses.

Karakalpak vowels, from Menges (1947:?)
Karakalpak vowels, from Menges (1947:?)


  Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n     ŋ        
Plosive p b t d     k ɡ q      
Affricate     (t͡s)   (t͡ʃ)              
Fricative (f) (v) s z ʃ ʒ x ɣ     h  
Rhotic     r                
Approximant     l j w        


Front Back
spread rounded spread rounded
Close i y ɯ u
Mid e œ o
Open æ a

Vowel harmony

Vowel harmony functions in Karakalpak much as it does[clarification needed] in other Turkic languages. Words borrowed from Russian or other languages may not observe rules of vowel harmony, but the following rules usually apply:[What are the rules for Karakalpak words?]

Vowel May be followed by:
a a, ɯ
æ e, i
e e, i
i e, i
o a, o, u, ɯ
œ e, i, œ, y
u a, o, u
y e, œ, y
ɯ a, ɯ


Personal pronouns

Singular Plural
1st person men 'I' bizler 'we'
2nd person sen 'you' sizler 'you (pl.)'
3rd person ol 'he/she/it' olar 'they'


  1. bir 1
  2. eki 2
  3. úsh 3
  4. tórt 4
  5. bes 5
  6. altı 6
  7. jeti 7
  8. segiz 8
  9. toǵız 9
  10. on 10

Writing system

March 2006. A photo laboratory in Nukus – with the signboard written in Karakalpak language using the Latin alphabet.
March 2006. A photo laboratory in Nukus – with the signboard written in Karakalpak language using the Latin alphabet.

Karakalpak was written in the Arabic and Persian script until 1928, in the Latin script (with additional characters) from 1928 to 1940, after which Cyrillic was introduced. Following Uzbekistan's independence in 1991, the decision was made to drop Cyrillic and revert to the Latin alphabet. Whilst the use of Latin script is now widespread in Tashkent, its introduction into Karakalpakstan remains gradual.

The Cyrillic, Latin, and Arabic alphabets are shown below with their equivalent representations in the IPA. Cyrillic letters with no representation in the Latin alphabet are marked with asterisks. The last changes to the new Karakalpak alphabet were made in 2016: instead of letters with apostrophes, letters with acutes were introduced.[3] Therefore, the new Karakalpak alphabet will act in the same way the new Kazakh and Uzbek alphabets represent – that is, with acutes.

Cyrillic Latin Arabic IPA
Аа Aa ا / ‍ـا /a/
Әә Áá ە / ـە /æ/
Бб Bb ب /b/
Вв Vv ۋ /v/
Гг Gg گ /ɡ/
Ғғ Ǵǵ ع /ɣ/
Дд Dd د /d/
Ее Ee ە / ـە /e/
Ёё* yo یو /jo/
Жж Jj ج /ʒ/
Зз Zz ز /z/
Ии Ii ى / ىـ /i/
Йй Yy ي / يـ /j/
Кк Kk ك /k/
Ққ Qq ق /q/
Лл Ll ل /l/
Мм Mm م /m/
Нн Nn ن /n/
Ңң Ńń ڴ /ŋ/
Оо Oo و /o/
Өө Óó و /œ/
Пп Pp پ /p/
Рр Rr ر /r/
Сс Ss س /s/
Тт Tt ت /t/
Уу Uu وُ /u/
Үү Úú وُ‌‌‌ /y/
Ўў Ww ۋ /w/
Фф Ff ف /f/
Хх Xx ح /x/
Ҳҳ Hh ه / هـ /h/
Цц Cc تس /ts/
Чч Ch;ch چ /tʃ/
Шш Sh;sh ش /ʃ/
Щщ* sch شش /ʃtʃ/
Ыы Íı ى / ىـ /ɯ/
Ээ Ee ە / ـە /e/
Юю* yu يوُ /ju/
Яя ya يا /ja/

Before 2009, C was written as TS; I and Í were written as dotted and dotless I.[4]


See also


  1. ^ Karakalpak at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Karakalpak". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  3. ^ "Латын жазыўына тийкарланған қарақалпақ әлипбеси". Каракалпакский государственный университет им. Бердаха (in Kara-Kalpak). Archived from the original on 2017-12-24. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  4. ^ Karakalpak Cyrillic – (Old / New) Latin transliterator