Native toTuoba
RegionNorthern China and Mongolia
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Tuoba (Tabγač or Tabghach; also Taγbač or Taghbach; Chinese: 拓跋) is an extinct language spoken by the Tuoba people in northern China around the 5th century AD during the Northern Wei dynasty.


Alexander Vovin (2007) identifies the Tuoba language as a Mongolic language.[1]

On the other hand, Juha Janhunen proposed that the Tuoba might have spoken an Oghur Turkic language.[2] According to Peter Boodberg, the Tuoba language was essentially Turkic with Mongolic admixture.[3] Chen Sanping noted that the Tuoba language "had both" Turkic and Mongolic elements.[4][5]

Liu Xueyao stated that Tuoba may have had their own language, which should not be assumed to be identical with any other known languages.[6]

Andrew Shimunek (2017) classifies Tuoba (Tabghach) as a "Serbi" (i.e., para-Mongolic) language. Shimunek's Serbi branch also consists of the Tuyuhun and Khitan languages.[7]


Some functional suffixes are:[7]


Further information: Wiktionary:Appendix:Taghbach word list

Selected basic Taghbach words from Shimunek (2017) are listed below. Forms reconstructed using the comparative method are marked with one asterisk (*), while forms reconstructed according to the Chinese fanqie spellings and/or rhymes of the traditional Chinese philological tradition are marked with two asterisks (**) (originally marked as ✩ by Shimunek 2017).[7]

Taghbach (reconstructed form) Taghbach (original Chinese transcription) English meaning Original Chinese gloss
*agyɪl ~ *agɪl 屋引 house
*čʰɪrnɔ 叱奴 wolf
**dɪʁa 地何 writing, book, document
**ɦatśir̃ 阿真 food 飲食
*ɦorbǝl 嗢盆 warmth
*ɪrgɪn 俟懃 above, superior
**kʰɪl- to speak -
**kʰɪr- to kill someone 殺人
**kʰɪrʁayčɪn 契害真 assassins 殺人者
*ñaqañ 若干 dog
*pary-al 拔列 bridge
**pʰatala 破多羅 rice water
*qɔw/*qəw pig, boar
**tʰaʁ dirt, soil, earth
*tʰʊʁnar 土難 mountain
**tʰʊʁay 吐奚 ancient
*uwl/*ʊwl 宥連 cloud
*yirtʊqañ/*yirtʊqan 壹斗眷 bright
*žirpəŋ 是賁 raised earth, embankment
**žiʁlʊ 是樓 high, tall


  1. ^ Vovin, Alexander. "Once Again on the Tabghach Language". ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Juha Janhunen, (1996), Manchuria: An Ethnic History, p. 190
  3. ^ Holcombe, Charles (2001). The Genesis of East Asia: 221 B.C. - A.D. 907. p. 132.
  4. ^ Chen, Sanping 2005. Turkic or Proto-Mongolian? A Note on the Tuoba Language. Central Asiatic Journal 49.2: 161-73.
  5. ^ Holcombe 2001, p. 248
  6. ^ Liu Xueyao p. 83-86
  7. ^ a b c Shimunek, Andrew (2017). Languages of Ancient Southern Mongolia and North China: a Historical-Comparative Study of the Serbi or Xianbei Branch of the Serbi-Mongolic Language Family, with an Analysis of Northeastern Frontier Chinese and Old Tibetan Phonology. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-10855-3. OCLC 993110372.