Кыргыз тили
قىرعىز تىلى
Kyrgyz written in Cyrillic and Perso-Arabic scripts
Native toKyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, China
RegionCentral Asia
Native speakers
5.15 million (2009 census)[1]
Kyrgyz alphabets (Cyrillic script, Perso-Arabic script, Kyrgyz Braille)
Official status
Official language in


Language codes
ISO 639-1ky
ISO 639-2kir
ISO 639-3kir
Places where Kyrgyz is spoken
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.
A speaker of the Kyrgyz language in traditional dress, recorded on the Chunkurchak pasture on the outskirts of Bishkek during an interview
Azim, a speaker of the Kyrgyz language, recorded in Taiwan

Kyrgyz[2][i] is a Turkic language of the Kipchak branch spoken in Central Asia. Kyrgyz is the official language of Kyrgyzstan and a significant minority language in the Kizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang, China and in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan. There is a very high level of mutual intelligibility between Kyrgyz, Kazakh, and Altay. A dialect of Kyrgyz known as Pamiri Kyrgyz is spoken in north-eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Kyrgyz is also spoken by many ethnic Kyrgyz through the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Turkey, parts of northern Pakistan, and Russia.

Kyrgyz was originally written in Göktürk script,[3] gradually replaced by the Perso-Arabic alphabet (in use until 1928 in the USSR, still in use in China). Between 1928 and 1940, a Latin-script alphabet, the Uniform Turkic Alphabet, was used. In 1940, Soviet authorities replaced the Latin script with the Cyrillic alphabet for all Turkic languages on its territory. When Kyrgyzstan became independent following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, a plan to adopt the Latin alphabet became popular. Although the plan has not been implemented, it remains in occasional discussion.[4]


Kyrgyz is a Common Turkic language belonging to the Kipchak branch of the family. It is considered to be an East Kipchak language, forming a subfamily with the Southern Altai language within the greater Kipchak branch. Internally, Kyrgyz has three distinct varieties; Northern and Southern Kyrgyz.[5]

Language should not be confused with Old Kyrgyz (Yenisei Kyrgyz) language which classified as a member of the South Siberian branch of Turkic languages. The successor of the Yenisei Kyrgyz language today are the Khakas in Russian Federation and Fuyu Kyrgyz in Northeastern China.[6][7][8]


In 925, when the Liao dynasty defeated the Yenisei Kyrgyz and expelled them from the Mongolian steppes, some Ancient Kyrgyz elites settled in Altai and Xinjiang where they mixed with the local Kipchaks, resulting in a language shift.

After the Mongol conquest in 1207 and a series of revolts against the Yuan dynasty, Kyrgyz-speaking tribes started to migrate to Tian Shan, which was already populated by various Turco-Mongol tribes. As Chaghatai Ulus subjects, the Kyrgyz converted to Islam. Persian and Arabic vocabulary loaned to the Kyrgyz language, but to a much lesser extent than Kazakh, Uzbek and Uighur.


Main article: Kyrgyz phonology

Kyrgyz vowel phonemes[9]
Front Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
Close i y ɯ u
Mid e ø o
Open (a) ɑ

/a/ appears only in borrowings from Persian or when followed by a front vowel later in the word (regressive assimilation), e.g. /ajdøʃ/ 'sloping' instead of */ɑjdøʃ/.[10] In most dialects, its status as a vowel distinct from /ɑ/ is questionable.[11]

Vowel Harmony (Peace Corps Method)
Left Shift (<) Right Shift (>) Shift Direction
а ы Straight Across Left-Right Shift
о у ("y" Left-shifts up-diagonally to "a")
е (э) и Straight Across Left-Right Shift
ө ү Straight Across Left-Right Shift

The United States Peace Corps trains its volunteers using a "Left-Right Shift" method when carrying out language training in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz consonant phonemes[12]
Labial Dental/
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s[a] t͡ʃ
voiced d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless f[a] s ʃ x[a]
voiced v[a] z
Approximant l j
Trill r
  1. ^ a b c d /f, v, t͡s, x/ occur only in foreign borrowings from Russian, Arabic and English.[12]

Writing system

Main article: Kyrgyz alphabets

The Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan use a Cyrillic alphabet, which uses all the Russian letters plus ң, ө and ү.

In the Xinjiang region of China, an Arabic alphabet is used.

Between 1928 and 1940, a Latin alphabet was used for many minority languages in the USSR, including Kyrgyz. There have been attempts after 1990 to introduce other Latin alphabets which are closer to the Turkish alphabet, e.g. the Common Turkic Alphabet. There are political shades to the Cyrillic-Latin debate. In April 2023, Russia suspended dairy exports to Kyrgyzstan after a proposal by the chairman of Kyrgyzstan's National Commission for the State Language and Language Policies, Kanybek Osmonaliev, to change the alphabet from Cyrillic to Latin to bring the country in line with other Turkic nations. Osmonaliev was reprimanded by President Sadyr Japarov, who later clarified that Kyrgyzstan had no plans to replace the Cyrillic alphabet.[13]

Cyrillic script Perso-Arabic script Latin script IPA transcription English translation
Бардык адамдар өз беделинде жана укуктарында эркин жана тең укуктуу болуп жаралат. Алардын аң-сезими менен абийири бар жана бири-бирине бир туугандык мамиле кылууга тийиш. باردىق ادامدار ۅز بەدەلينده جانا وُقوُقتارىندا ەرکین جانا تەڭ ۇقۇقتۇۇ بولۇپ جارالات. الاردىن اڭ-سەزیمی مەنەن ابئییری بار جانا بئرى-بئرینه بئر توُوُعاندىق مامئلە قىلوُوُعا تئییش. Bardık adamdar öz bedelinde jana ukuktarında erkin jana teñ ukuktuu bolup jaralat. Alardın añ-sezimi menen abiyiri bar jana biri-birine bir tuugandık mamile kıluuga tiyiş. [bɑr.ˈdɯq ɑ.dɑm.ˈdɑr øzɪn.ˈde d͡ʑɑ.nɑ ʊ.ˌqʊχ.tɑ.rɯn.ˈdɑ er.ˈkɪn d͡ʑɑ.ˈnɑ teŋ ʊ.qʊχ.ˈtuː bɔ.ˈɫʊp d͡ʑɑ.rɑ.ˈɫɑt ‖ ɑ.ɫɑr.ˈdɯn ɑŋ se.zɪ.ˈmɪ me.ˈnen ɑ.bɪ.ʝɪ.ˈrɪ bɑr d͡ʑɑ.ˈnɑ bɪ.ˈrɪ bɪ.rɪ.ˈne bɪr tuː.ʁɑn.ˈdɯq mɑ.mɪ.ˈle qɯ.ɫuː.ˈʁɑ tɪ.ˈʝɪɕ ‖] All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Morphology and syntax

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Nouns in Kyrgyz take a number of case endings that change based on vowel harmony and the sort of consonant they follow (see the section on phonology).

Case Underlying form Possible forms "boat" "air" "bucket" "hand" "head" "salt" "eye"
Nominative кеме аба челек кол баш туз көз
Genitive -NIn -нын, -нин, -дын, -дин, -тын, -тин, -нун, -нүн, -дун, -дүн, -тун, -түн кеменин абанын челектин колдун баштын туздун көздүн
Dative -GA -га, -ка, -ге, -ке, -го, -ко, -гө, -кө кемеге абага челекке колго башка тузга көзгө
Accusative -NI -ны, -ни, -ды, -ди, -ты, -ти, -ну, -нү, -ду, -дү, -ту, -тү кемени абаны челекти колду башты тузду көздү
Locative -DA -да, -де, -та, -те, -до, -дө, -то, -тө кемеде абада челекте колдо башта тузда көздө
Ablative -DAn -дан, -ден, -тан, -тен, -дон, -дөн, -тон, -төн кемеден абадан челектен колдон баштан туздан көздөн

Normally the decision between the velar ( ~ ɣ], [k]) and uvular ( ~ ʁ] and ~ q]) pronunciation of ⟨г⟩ and ⟨к⟩ is based on the backness of the following vowel—i.e. back vowels imply a uvular rendering and front vowels imply a velar rendering—and the vowel in suffixes is decided based on the preceding vowel in the word. However, with the dative suffix in Kyrgyz, the vowel is decided normally, but the decision between velars and uvulars can be decided based on a contacting consonant, for example банк /bank/ 'bank' + GA yields банкка /bankka/, not /bankqa/ as predicted by the following vowel.


Kyrgyz has eight personal pronouns:

Personal pronouns
singular plural
1st person Мен (Men) Биз (Biz)
2nd person informal Сен (Sen) Силер (Siler)
formal Сиз (Siz) Сиздер (Sizder)
3rd person Ал (Al) Алар (Alar)

The declension of the pronouns is outlined in the following chart. Singular pronouns (with the exception of сиз, which used to be plural) exhibit irregularities, while plural pronouns don't. Irregular forms are highlighted in bold.

Declension of pronouns
Singular Plural
1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
informal formal informal formal
Nom мен сен сиз ал биз силер сиздер алар
Acc мени сени сизди аны бизди силерди сиздерди аларды
Gen менин сенин сиздин анын биздин силердин сиздердин алардын
Dat мага сага сизге ага бизге силерге сиздерге аларга
Loc менде сенде сизде анда бизде силерде сиздерде аларда
Abl менден сенден сизден андан бизден силерден сиздерден алардан

In addition to the pronouns, there are several more sets of morphemes dealing with person.

Morphemes indicating person
pronouns copulas present tense possessive endings past/conditional imperative
1st sg мен -mIn -mIn -(I)m -(I)m -AyIN
2nd sg informal сен -sIŋ -sIŋ -(I)ŋ -(I)ŋ —, -GIn
formal сиз -sIz -sIz -(I)ŋIz -(I)ŋIz -GIlA
3rd sg ал -t -(s)I(n) -sIn
1st pl биз -BIz -BIz -(I)bIz -(I)K -AyIK
2nd pl informal силер -sIŋAr -sIŋAr -(I)ŋAr -(I)ŋAr
formal сиздер -sIzdAr -sIzdAr -(I)ŋIzdAr -(I)nIzdAr
3rd pl алар -(I)şAt -(s)I(n) -sIn, -IşsIn


Verbs are conjugated by analyzing the root verb: 1) determine whether the end letter is a vowel or consonant 2) add appropriate suffix while following vowel-harmony/shift rules.

Simple present tense conjugations (Peace Corps)
Per. Pronoun Vowel Consonant
1st sg Мен
2nd pl informal Сен -йс<ң -йс<ң
formal Сиз -йс<з -йс<з
3rd sg Ал -йт -йт
1st pl Биз -йб>з -<б>з
2nd pl informal Силер
formal Сиздер
3rd pl Алар

Subordinate clauses

To form complement clauses, Kyrgyz nominalises verb phrases. For example, "I don't know what I saw" would be:













Мен эмнени көргөнүмдү билбейм

Men emneni körgönümdü bilbeym

I what-ACC.DEF see-ing-1SG-ACC.DEF know-NEG-1SG

roughly "I don't know my having seen what," where the verb phrase "I saw what" is treated as a nominal object of the verb "to know."

The sentence above is also an excellent example of Kyrgyz vowel harmony; notice that all the vowel sounds are front vowels.

Several nominalisation strategies are used depending on the temporal properties of the relativised verb phrase: -GAn(dIK) for general past tense, -AAr for future/potential unrealised events, and -A turgan(dɯq) for non-perfective events are the most common. The copula has an irregular relativised form экен(дик) which may be used equivalently to forms of the verb бол- be (болгон(дук), болор). Relativised verb forms may, and often do, take nominal possessive endings as well as case endings.

See also


  1. ^
    • English: /ˈkɪərɡɪz, kərˈɡz/
    • Cyrillic: Кыргыз тили / Кыргызча
    • Latin: Kyrgyz tili / Kyrgyzcha
    • Arabic: قىرعىز تئلى / قىرعىزچا
    • pronounced [qɯrˈʁɯz tɪˈlɪ]


  1. ^ Kyrgyz at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "Kyrgyz".
  3. ^ Кызласов И. Л., Рунические письменности евразийских степей (Kyzlasov I.L. Runic scripts of Eurasian steppes), Восточная литература (Eastern Literature), Moscow, 1994, pp. 80 on, ISBN 978-5-02-017741-3, with further bibliography.
  4. ^ Altynbayev, Kanat. "Kyrgyzstan considers switch to Latin alphabet from Cyrillic". Caravanserai. Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  5. ^ "Glottolog 4.3 - Kirghiz". Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  6. ^ Tchoroev (Chorotegin) 2003, p. 110.
  7. ^ Pozzi & Janhunen & Weiers 2006, p. 113.
  8. ^ Giovanni Stary; Alessandra Pozzi; Juha Antero Janhunen; Michael Weiers (2006). Tumen Jalafun Jecen Aku: Manchu Studies in Honour of Giovanni Stary. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 112–. ISBN 978-3-447-05378-5.
  9. ^ Kara (2003:10)
  10. ^ Washington (2007:11)
  11. ^ Washington (2006b:2)
  12. ^ a b Kara (2003:11)
  13. ^ Russia Suspends Dairy Products From Kyrgyzstan After Calls In Bishkek To Drop Cyrillic Script. Radio Free Europe, 21 April 2023. Retrieved 22 June 2023