къумукъ тил
qumuq til • قموق تیل
Kumyk written in Cyrillic script, along with obsolete Latin and Perso-Arabic counterparts.
Native toNorth Caucasus
RegionDagestan, Chechnya, North Ossetia
Native speakers
450,000 (2010 census)[1]
Cyrillic, Latin, Arabic
Official status
Official language in
Dagestan (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-2kum
ISO 639-3kum
Share of the Kumyk population in areas of traditional residence in the Caucasus according to the 2010 census
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.
Linguistic map of the Caucasus region: Kumyk is spoken in the dark blue area, numbered "25."
External videos
YouTube logo
A series of videos about the similarities of languages
video icon Comparison of Kumyk and Tatar languages

Kumyk (къумукъ тил,[2] qumuq til,[3] قموق تیل[4][5]) is a Turkic language spoken by about 426,212 people, mainly by the Kumyks, in the Dagestan, North Ossetia and Chechen republics of the Russian Federation.[6] Until the 20th century Kumyk was the lingua-franca of the Northern Caucasus.


Kumyk language belongs to the Kipchak-Cuman subfamily of the Kipchak family of the Turkic languages. It's a descendant of the Cuman language, with likely influence from the Khazar language,[7] and in addition contains words from the Bulghar and Oghuz substratum.[7] The closest languages to Kumyk are Karachay-Balkar, Crimean Tatar, and Karaim languages.[8]

Nikolay Baskakov, based on a 12th-century scripture named Codex Cumanicus, included modern Kumyk, Karachai-Balkar, Crimean Tatar, Karaim, and the language of Mamluk Kipchaks in the linguistic family of the Cuman-Kipchak language. Samoylovich also considered Cuman-Kipchak close to Kumyk and Karachai-Balkar.[9]

Amongst the dialects of the Kumyk there are Kaitag, Terek (Güçük-yurt and Braguny), Buynaksk (Temir-Khan-Shura) and Xasavyurt. The latter two became basis for the literary language.[10]


Kumyk had been a lingua-franca of the bigger part of the Northern Caucasus, from Dagestan to Kabarda, until the 1930s[11][12][13] and was an official language of communication between the North-Eastern Caucasian nations and the Russian administration.[14]

In 1848, a professor of the "Caucasian Tatar" (Kumyk) Timofey Makarov published the first ever grammatical book in the Russian language for one of the Northern Caucasian languages, which was international Kumyk. Makarov wrote:[15]

From the peoples speaking Tatar language I liked the most Kumyks, as for their language's distinction and precision, so for their closeness to the European civilization, but most importantly, I take in account that they live on the Left Flank of the Caucasian Front, where we're conducting military actions, and where all the peoples, apart from their own language, speak also Kumyk.

More than 90% of the Kumyks, according to 2010 census, also speak Russian, and those in Turkey and the Levant speak Turkish and Arabic.[citation needed]


Kumyk vowels
Front Back
Close i ⟨и⟩ y ⟨уь⟩ ɯ ⟨ы⟩ u ⟨у⟩
Mid e ⟨e⟩ ø ⟨оь⟩ o ⟨o⟩
Open æ ⟨ә⟩ a ⟨a⟩
Kumyk consonants
Labial Dental Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m ⟨м⟩ n ⟨н⟩ ŋ ⟨нг⟩ (ɴ) ⟨нг⟩
voiceless p ⟨п⟩ t ⟨т⟩ ⟨ч⟩ k ⟨к⟩ q ⟨къ⟩[a]
voiced b ⟨б⟩ d ⟨д⟩ ⟨дж⟩ ɡ ⟨г⟩ (ɢ) ⟨къ⟩[a]
Fricative voiceless f ⟨ф⟩ s ⟨c⟩ ʃ ⟨ш⟩ χ ⟨x⟩ h ⟨гь⟩
voiced β ⟨в⟩ z ⟨з⟩ ʒ ⟨ж⟩ ʁ ⟨гъ⟩
Liquid rhotic r ⟨p⟩
lateral l ⟨л⟩
Semivowel j ⟨й⟩
  1. ^ a b къ represents [ɢ] at the beginning of words, and [q] elsewhere (complementary distribution).[16]


Kumyk has been used as a literary language in Dagestan and Caucasus for some time.[when?] During the 20th century the writing system of the language was changed twice: in 1929, the traditional Arabic script (called ajam) was first replaced by a Latin script, which was then replaced in 1938 by a Cyrillic script.

Latin based alphabet (1927–1937)

Kumyk alphabet from newly introduced Latin school book (1935).
A a B b C c Ç ç D d E e F f G g
Ƣ ƣ H h I i J j K k L l M m N n
Ꞑ ꞑ O o Ɵ ɵ P p Q q R r S s Ꞩ ꞩ
T t U u V v X x Y y Z z Ƶ ƶ Ь ь

Cyrillic based alphabet (since 1937)

А а Б б В в Г г Гъ гъ Гь гь Д д Е е
Ё ё Ж ж З з И и Й й К к Къ къ Л л
М м Н н Нг нг О о Оь оь П п Р р С с
Т т У у Уь уь Ф ф Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш
Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я

Comparison Chart

Compiled from:[17][18]

c 1938
project 1991
ا A a А а A a, Ä ä /a/, /æ/
ب B ʙ Б б B b /b/
و, ۋ V v В в V v, W w /v/, /w/
گ G g Г г G g /g/
غ Ƣ ƣ Гъ гъ Ğ ğ /ʁ/
ه H h Гь гь H h /h/
د D d Д д D d /d/
- Je je, e Е е Ye ye, E e
- Ө ө Ё ё Yo yo, Ö ö
ج, ژ Ƶ ƶ, Ç ç Ж ж C c, J j /d͡ʒ/, /ʒ/
ز Z z З з Z z /z/
ى I i И и İ i /i/
ى J j Й й Y y /j/
ک K k К к K k /k/
ق Q q Къ къ Q q /q/
ل L l Л л L l /l/
م M m М м M m /m/
ن N n Н н N n /n/
نگ,ڭ Ꞑ ꞑ Нг нг Ñ ñ /ŋ/
ۉ O o О о O o /o/
ۊ Ө ө Оь оь Ö ö /ø/
پ P p П п P p /p/
ر R r Р р R r /r/
س S s С с S s /s/
ت T t Т т T t /t/
و U u У у U u /u/
ۏ Y y Уь уь Ü ü /y/
ف F f Ф ф F f /f/
خ X x Х х X x /x/
تس S̷ s̷ Ц ц Ts ts
چ C c Ч ч Ç ç /t͡ʃ/
ش Ş ş Ш ш Ş ş /ʃ/
Щ щ Şç şç
ء ' Ъ ъ ' /ʔ/, /ʕ/
ى Ь ь Ы ы I ı /ɯ/
Ь ь
ه E e Э э E e /e/, /æ/
Ju ju Ю ю Yu yu, Ü ü
Ja ja Я я Ya ya, Ä ä /æ/

Literature and media

Irchi Kazak (Ийрчы Къазакъ Yırçı Qazaq; born 1839) is usually considered to be the greatest poet of the Kumyk language. The first regular Kumyk newspapers and magazines appeared in 1917–18 under the editorship of Kumyk poet, writer, translator, and theatre figure Temirbolat Biybolatov (Temirbolat Biybolat). Currently, the newspaper Ёлдаш (Yoldash, "Companion"), the successor of the Soviet-era Ленин ёлу (Lenin yolu, "Lenin's Path"), prints around 5,000 copies 3 times a week.[citation needed]

The Kumyk language was learned by Russian classical authors such as Leo Tolstoy[19] and Mikhail Lermontov,[20] both of whom served in the Caucasus. The language is present in such works of Tolstoy as "The Raid",[21] Cossacks,[22] Hadji Murat, and Lermontov's - "A Hero of Our Time",[23][20] Bestuzhev-Marlinsky's - "Molla-nur" and "Ammalat-bek".



  1. ^ 2010 Russian Census
  2. ^ L. S. Levitskaya, "Kumyk language", in Languages of the world. Turkic languages (1997). (in Russian)
  3. ^ Book review Retrieved 1 March 2023
  4. ^ Ногайские и Кумыкский тексты, 1883, М.-Э. Османов, СпБ
  5. ^ Татарская грамматика кавказского наречия / Сост. Т. Макаровым. - Тифлис : тип. Канцелярии наместника кавк., 1848
  6. ^ "Kumyksky yazyk | Malye yazyki Rossii" Кумыкский язык | Малые языки России [Kumyk language | Minor languages of Russia]. minlang.iling-ran.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2023-05-11.
  7. ^ a b Baskakov, N.A. (1969). Vvedenie v izuchenie tyurkskikh yazykov Введение в изучение тюркских языков [Introduction to the study of Turkic languages]. Moscow: Vyssh. shkola. p. 236. OCLC 642737.
  8. ^ Aliev, K.M.-C., ed. (2012). Kumyksky entsiklopedichesky slovar Кумыкский энциклопедический словарь [Kumyk encyclopedic dictionary] (in Russian). Makhachkala: Delta-press. p. 218. ISBN 9785903454679.
  9. ^ Абибуллаева С. "'Кодекс Куманикус' – ПАМЯТНИК ТЮРКСКИХ ЯЗЫКОВ КОНЦА XIII – НАЧАЛА XIV ВЕКОВ" (PDF) (in Russian).
  10. ^ Кумыкский язык // Большая советская энциклопедия : [в 30 т.] / гл. ред. А. М. Прохоров. — 3-е изд. — Москва: Советская энциклопедия, 1969—1978.
  11. ^ Pieter Muysken. (2008). Studies in language companion series. From linguistic areas to areal linguistics. Vol. 90. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 74. ISBN 9789027231000.
  12. ^ Nansen. Gjennem Kaukasus til Volga (Oslo: Jacob Dybwads Forlag, 1929).
  13. ^ Н.С.Трубецкой (1925). "О народах Кавказа" (статья ed.).
  14. ^ Ярцева В.Н. и др. (ред.) Языки Российской Федерации и соседних государств. Том 2. К-Р, стр. 183
  15. ^ "Kafkaz Lehçeni Tatar Grammatikası, Makarov 1848". caucasian.space (in Kumyk and Russian). Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  16. ^ Levitskaïa. 1997.
  17. ^ З. З. Бамматов (1972). "К вопросу о письменности кумыков" (Вопросы совершенствования алфавитов тюркских языков СССР ed.). М.: «Наука». pp. 108–117.((cite news)): CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  18. ^ Milletlerarası Çağdaş Türk Alfabeleri Sempozyumu, 18-20 Kasım 1991. Istanbul. 1992. p. 67.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  19. ^ "Лев Толстой: Дневник 1847 — 1854 гг. Тетрадь Г. Март - май 1851 г." tolstoy.lit-info.ru. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  20. ^ a b Мугумова, Анна Львовна. "К проблеме ориентального лексического влияния на язык русской художественной литературы 20-30-х годов XIX в.: На материале произведений М. Ю. Лермонтова" (диссертация ed.).
  21. ^ "Набег (Толстой) — Викитека". ru.wikisource.org (in Russian). Retrieved 2024-01-28.
  22. ^ s:Казаки (Толстой)/XL
  23. ^ "Герой нашего времени (Лермонтов)/СО/Предисловие — Викитека". ru.wikisource.org (in Russian). Retrieved 2024-01-28.