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Tatar study



Mirazim Khaydarov,
     economist, Tashkent city


The modern globalizing world is characterized firstly by increasing amount of international relationships and interdependency, and secondly by sharp increase of magnitude of information and its exchange in this relationships. This, in turn makes the problems of communication means, including linguistic problem, more topical.

As a result of need in international communication means the English language has spread worldwide. English has already formed as a language of international intercourse, and as per intensification of above mentioned trends is penetrating deeper into various spheres. If, for example before World War II, French held a solid position in the sphere of international diplomacy, and German in scientific-technical sphere, nowadays English predominates in these spheres also.

Besides English that has already formed as a universal language, there are also regional languages which serve to many countries or population of many millions, such as Chinese, Hindi-Urdu, Spanish, Arabic, French, bahasa Indonesia-Malayan, German, Farsi and others.

There are several ethnic groups in the world whose settling in vast territories greatly increased the number of speakers of their languages, which provided formation of these languages as regional ones. Let us see some of these groups.

Russians and English-speaking nations have colonized predominantly sparsely populated regions and mixed few with indigenous population, thats why there is a few difference in language and culture between different groups of Russians and English-speaking nations. In contrast to them Arabs, Spanish-speaking nations, and Chinese have settled in the territories that had been densely populated before their settling.

Arabic nations have formed by superimposition of Arabic prides onto various, mainly Semitic peoples, and nowadays Arabic dialects actually are separate languages markedly differing from each other (mainly because of the influence of local substratum). Classical Arabic language, in which the Koran was written, had served as a common literary language for Arabic peoples over the centuries. At present too availability of this language let Arabs from different countries communicate with each other, have common Arabian literature, common informational, educational and media space etc.

Spanish-speaking nations of Latin America have formed as a result of mixture of Spanish with different Indian peoples (as well as African and other European peoples) in different proportions. Spanish-speaking nations speak differing dialects too, but they also have common literary language.

Chinese nation is in fact a group of peoples which differ in language, culture and have some racial differences. Southern groups of Chinese were formed by the mixture of Chinese with various local peoples. Dialects of local groups of Chinese differ so much that are considered to be mutually unintelligible. The situation is eased with that the words pronounced differently in different dialects are indicated by identical hieroglyphs at script. In many experts opinion if China didnt have common script it would disintegrate long ago.

The availability of common standardized language creates huge advantages to the close ethnic groups. Literary languages of above mentioned ethnic groups are UN official languages.

Turkic peoples are settled at the vast territory from Arctic and Pacific Oceans to Mediterranean sea and Balkans. All Turkic languages except Chuvash and Yakut languages are considered by scientists to be mutually intelligible. It is explained with that in the past Turkic peoples were a single people and then a group of geographically and ethnically close peoples, which later settled in the vast areas of Eurasia.

Till 20th century Turkic peoples had several above-dialect languages, i.e. literary languages used at vast territories that had differing oral dialects, Turki language can be referred to them.

In 20th century division of Turkic world to more than 30 literary languages took place as a result of creation of Turkic literary languages for each area on the basis of local dialects.

According to British researcher Mark Dickens, Bolsheviks could have created common-Turkic language in USSR in 1920-s in the frame of the policy of merging of peoples. But this contradicted the interests of Bolsheviks to disunite the Turkic community, thats why they carried out policy of not simply creation of separate Turkic languages but emphasizing the differences between them ( http://www.oxuscom.com/lang-policy.htm ).

Turkic peoples whose languages are probably closer to each other than the languages of local groups of above mentioned peoples, in contrast to them do not have common literary language.

Negative trend is that the Turkic languages developed and continue to develop independently from each other, and that influenced on their estrangement from each other.

Here is the numbers of above mentioned languages speakers in the world:

Language Number of speakers
1 Chinese dialects 1 136 million
2 Spanish dialects 322-400 million
3 English 309-400 million
4 Arabic dialects 186-422 million
5 Russian 164-170 million
6 Turkic languages 180-185 million

Source: Wikipedia

If Turkic peoples created common literary language and practice it in Turkic community, this language in accordance with its potential could be rated as regional one.

But at present due to the absence of the sole standardized language Turkic peoples are divided beyond the bounds of national level to the incidences of the other regional languages Russian, English, Farsi, and Chinese etc. For official intercourse, for example between Turkic countries of CIS Russian language is used, between Turkey and Turkic countries of CIS English language is used, a Turk from Iran and a Turk from Afghanistan will probably use Farsi to communicate with each other, etc.

Here is approximate number of Turkic-speakers settled in regions with certain language domination within region or above national level (particularly in inter-Turkic communication):

Language dominated Region Number of Turkic Population Share in total Turkic Population
1 English Turkey ≈ 75 million ≈ 41%
2 Russian CIS ≈ 66 million ≈ 36%
3 Farsi Iran and Afghanistan ≈ 23 million ≈ 12,5%
4 Chinese China ≈ 15 million ≈ 8,2%

Source: Wikipedia

Many small Turkic peoples, especially in Russia, are under the process of physical and linguistic assimilation. Even such large Turkic nations as Kazakhs, Tatars and Kyrgyz face a big problem with the knowledge of native language by its people. Situation is worsened with that Russian, Chinese and Farsi languages are the languages which have large geography and number of speakers, rich cultural, scientific background and importance, international significance, official usage and government support, so it is too hard for small Turkic languages to compete with them.

To avoid linguistic assimilation it is necessary to increase importance of Turkic languages by creation and practicing a common-Turkic language close to all Turkic languages and widening cooperation between Turkic nations in language and cultural spheres, including approximation of Turkic languages to each other.

Practicing the common-Turkic language is not only the issue of Turkic nationalism, because not only Turkic world but the humanity will benefit from its adoption. The main part of rural population in Turkic countries does not know any of regional languages and does not have means to learn them, and implementation of a regional language close to spoken one in a region will lead to educational and cultural improvement, will ease communication problem not only within a certain region, but between region and outer world, will be a step to globalization via regionalization.

Importance of a language is determined by which opportunities it gives. Nowadays a Turkic-speaker needs to study other regional languages to get a better education and information. Creation of common language enabling to keep information sources of not one but all Turkic nations, would let to manage to a greater extent with this language, which in addition would have been native for all Turkic-speakers.

Proximity of Turkic languages creates huge opportunities for Turkic nations, which not only is not being benefited but is getting lost with time. Creation and practicing of common-Turkic literary language would give to Turkic peoples the following advantages:

  1. Enlargement of opportunities for inter-Turkic intercourse.
  2. Keeping and utilization of the information sources of all Turkic peoples.
  3. Increase of importance of every Turkic language.
  4. This language in contrast to other regional languages would be native for Turkic peoples.
  5. Studying of this language would be much easier than studying of other regional languages.
  6. Resource saving would be achieved both on account of solution of communication and information problem and on account of small expenditure required for studying of this language.

It is very crucial to create common-Turkic language for the tasks like intercourse, study, and information storage, because the worth of this issue is that either Turkic community will realize its unused potential and achieve the above-mentioned advantages or it will continue to lose most of its potential provided by the kinship of Turkic languages.

Turkic literary languages are above-dialect standardized languages created on the basis of standard of a chosen district in appropriate Turkic regions where dialects differing from each other exist. Taking into account proximity of Turkic languages that allows considering them as dialects, it is very realistic to create standardize Turkic language that would serve as above-dialect language for the whole Turkic community.

For that it is necessary to determine on the basis of which standard it is expedient to create the above-dialect Turkic language, so that it could be acceptable for the whole Turkic-speaking community.

Practicing the standardized literary common-Turkic language will depend on the following factors:

  1. Subjective interest, i.e. the will of Turkic peoples to instill as a lingua franca the very common-Turkic language.
  2. Neutrality of the language.
  3. Maximal perfection and richness of the language, its ability to become a language of government, science, technique etc.
  4. Taking into account in the language of the peculiarities of all Turkic languages.

Implementation of the language in Turkic community will depend mostly on objective factors not depending on the will of those who will form this language, such as the will of Turkic community to take some losses before and so that this language could be widely implemented. But linguists job will be to do their best to make this language as attractive, convenient and demanded for usage as possible.

Common-Turkic language should be created on the basis of the existing Turkic languages so as to provide its proximity to all Turkic languages. This will ensure its coming-to-be the language of all Turkic nations. Thereby a very important advantage neutrality and equality will be attained, i.e. this language will not be rejected due to psychological and political reasons. As an example we can mention Swahili language in case of which such an advantage as neutrality contributed its spreading in East African countries.

Inasmuch as common-Turkic literary language will be created artificially, and at the same time on basis of Turkic languages, elements of naturalness and artificiality will be harmonized in it. This on the one hand will provide maximum perfection and richness of the language and on the other hand the language will not be taken out of nowhere, but from the really existing Turkic languages.

The most optimal from the point of view of the above-mentioned factors # 2, 3, and 4 is the methodic of creation of averaged-Turkic language suggested by Uzbek scientist Bakhtiyar Karimov.

Professor Karimov is the author of mathematic linguistics method. He is suggesting creation of the common-Turkic language by means of computer averaging. The language suggested by professor Karimov was called ortaturk, i.e. averaged Turkic language.

Professor Karimov is suggesting using as criteria for creation of ortaturk language the availability of a word or a grammatical form used:

  • in the most of Turkic languages.
  • by the most of Turkic persons.
  • with the most semantic proximity.
  • during the longest period of time.

Currently professor Karimov is working on creation of ortaturk language at the Ortaturk Institute under the World Assembly of Turkic Peoples( http://dta1.org/index_page1.6.htm ).

Thus the main advantage of this methodic is the principle of averaging. This principle is optimal for solution of the basic problem of common-Turkic language lexical part.

Also the following principles in creation of the averaged-Turkic language can be suggested:

1) Turkism principle. The priority in words selection should be given to aboriginal Turkic words, then to Arabian-Persian words (which have been traditionally used in Turkic languages), and then to European words. For example, in Uzbek such a simple word as left" is of Persian origin chap" (though Uzbeks use sol" also), so the variant sol" will be chosen, so are simple words as black" and white" in Turkish siyah" and beyaz", the words kara" and ak" will be chosen accordingly.

Applying purism principle is contradictory. On the one hand it enables to realize the desires of nationalists to purify the languages. On the other hand as we see in the example of Turkish language, it became much farther from other Turkic languages because of its purification from Arabic-Farsi words. Following to purism too much will also estrange Turkic languages from world languages. Because, say Arabic-Farsi words bring together Turkic languages not only with Arabic and Farsi, but also with many other world languages, including the most spread ones, for example Hindi (http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers7/paper681.html ).

In this connection firstly, purism principle should be used in reasonable limits, concerning predominantly the simplest words, and secondly, during replacement of words by Turkic variant it is necessary to use the variant already implemented in Turkish.

This principle implementation should also include reestablishment of Old Turkic words.

The main sense of Turkism principle is not purism, but restoration of some aboriginal Turkic phonemes lost in some Turkic languages. For example in Uzbek because of loss of aboriginal Turkic phonemes the words like "ün" - "sound" and "un" - "flour", the words "böl" - "divide" and "bol" - "be" became homonyms. In Turkish because of loss of velar "ñ" phoneme the words "añ" - "mind" and "an" - "moment" became homonyms. Other Turkic languages also were influenced with local substratum that led to their distancing from aboriginal Turkic pronunciation. Elimination of such defects is in the context of the following principle also.

2) Richness principle. Maximal enrichment of common-Turkic language should be carried out owing to usage of words, virtues and word-formation means available in all Turkic languages. For example in Turkish there is separate form of Future tense expressed with "acak"-"ecek", whereas in Uzbek Future tense is similar to Simple Present tense. In Uzbek and Kazakh there are dual verbs making meanings richer, and they dont exist in Turkish. In common-Turkic language all forms should be used. If there are several variants of a word aboriginal Turkic one should be chosen, if several variant are aboriginal Turkic, then they could be used simultaneously, for example, both emas"-yemes" and değil"-tügül" (not").

One more example: in Kazakh ch" is changed into sh", and sh" is changed into s". So the word ach" (hungry") is changed into ash", the word ash" (food") is changed into as", and the word as" (hang") is also spelled as as". In other word because of absence of one phoneme (ch") the language has in some way became penurious. Then in selection of consonants for common-Turkic language it is inexpedient to choose Kazakh-Nogay variant of consonants.

3) Simplicity principle. In contrast to richness principle simplicity principle stipulates abolition of unnecessary virtues and non-admission of language complication. For example in Kypchak languages in genitive case tı"-ti", dı"-di", nı"-ni" suffices are used, whereas it could be sufficient to use only nı"-ni" in genitive case in order not to complicate the language. Or in plural tense instead of lar, dar, tar, ler, der, ter it could be sufficient to use only lar, ler. But on the other hand this consonant harmony in Kypchak languages is convenient for pronunciation, so this suggestion on suffices is disputable.

Another example: in adopted words in Uzbek for some reasons sonants are used like in original kitab", talab"; also kelib", ketdi". If we use dull sounds in words kind of this it will fit the Simplicity principle, because literal language would approximate to the spoken language, and as a result of approximation to the aboriginal Turkic pronunciation principle of Turkism would also be realized in this case.

Turkic languages in many cases differ from each other only with the variants of consonant sounds used in certain regularity. For example: dağ"-tağ"-taw" (mountain"). For such cases as a simplified example the following variants of phonemes which can be accepted as a standard in averaged-Turkic language can be offered:

1) For the vowel sounds the vowel sounds of Oguz and Kypchak languages should be chosen, because the vowel sounds of Karluk languages have lost aboriginal Turkic characteristics.

2) For the consonant sounds the consonant sounds of Karluk languages should be chosen, because the consonant sounds of Karluk languages hold intermediate position between Oguz and Kypchak languages: k" and t" in the beginning of words (instead of g" and d") similar with Kypchak languages, y" in the beginning of words (instead of j") similar with Oguz languages, ğ" in the middle and endings of words (instead of w") similar with Oguz languages, not missing of n" in the affixes similar with Kypchak languages.

3) Also the consonant sounds in the affixes can be used of Karluk languages due to the following reasons:

  • The consonant sounds in the affixes in Kypchak languages are in the variance with the Simplicity principle. See the example given in the Simplicity principle.
  • The consonant sounds in the affixes in Oguz languages are in the variance with the Richness principle. Because of missing of n" sound in the affixes in Oguz languages kitabnıñ (sayfası)" and (seniñ) kitabıñ" kitabın" become homonyms, kitabnı (oku)" and (onıñ) kitabı" kitabı" also become homonyms.

This is not the compulsory variant of consonants and vowel sounds to be used, actually the usage of phonemes can be very free. If words differ not only with the variant of consonant used, but are totally different, several variants can be used like it was mentioned before.

Averaged-Turkic language can be for some extend variable.

I think Karluk and Kypchak languages are very close to each other, and Oguz languages are a little bit farther. Common-Turkic language can be implemented in two branches: Oguz for Turkish, Azeri, Turkmens, Iran Turks, Gagauzs and Karluk-Kypchak for other Turkic peoples. Then within these groups these variants would be very close to all.

One more advantage is that these two branches of averaged-Turkic language will be created on the principle of mutual approximation. For example, in Turkish there is no yahshi" word, it exists in Azeri. In Azeri Past tense is expressed with ib", while in Turkish with ti-di" as in Karluk-Kypchak languages. Therefore in Oguz branch yahshi" word and ti-di" for Past tense will be used, i.e. the variant identical with Karluk-Kypchak will be used. In Karluk-Kypchak branch also the variant identical with Oguz will be used. The maximal proximity between Karluk-Kypchak and Oguz branches will provide their consideration as k-t" (keldi-tağ") and g-d" (geldi-dağ") dialects of common-Turkic language.

Applying the abovementioned principles the following variants of phonemes can be offered (taking into account that its a simplified approach):

1) In Karluk-Kypchak branch the following phonemes can be instilled

  • Vowel phonemes of Kypchak languages Turkism principle.
  • Consonant phonemes of Karluk languages, because of the examples shown in 2 and 3 principles.

2) In Oguz branch q" and ñ" phonemes will be reestablished. So both Turkism and richness principles will be realized, and proximity to Karluk-Kypchak branch will be achieved.

Big disadvantage of letting bilingual variability exist in the common-Turkic language is that instead of the sole language there will be two dialects for Turkic world (though its not more than 30 languages existing now). But advantage will be that each branch will be closer to languages within referring groups rather than common-Turkic language, so it will be easier to practice them.

Several widespread languages also exist in local variants like Farsi in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Hindi-Urdu in India and Pakistan etc.

Actually common-Turkic language could be created not artificially but by the free intercourse of Turkic-speakers, each of who could use his own language and thus after a while averaged language could occur. It could be realistic because of proximity of Turkic languages.

But nowadays because of the wide usage of regional languages like Russian it is improbable that Turkic-speakers will use their own Turkic dialects facing problems in mutual understanding.

Secondly, forming averaged language by free intercourse may require many decades.

Thirdly, an unofficial intercourse language can be more likely created in this way.

Fourthly, inter-Turkic communication is not now so intensive so that a Koine language could be formed.

Fifthly, artificial creation of averaged-Turkic language creates one more important advantage. Each language has certain disadvantages. Creation of common-Turkic language artificially, could allow elimination of some disadvantages and to create a language as perfect as possible.

The most well-known example of artificial language is Esperanto. About 2 million ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto ) people in different countries use it, there is a lot of literature, including original, in it, books and magazines are published in it. Esperanto failed to become universal language as it was proposed, because it could not compete with English. But still Esperanto is in relatively wide for artificial language usage because of enthusiasts efforts; despite it is close only to European languages. Compared to the Esperanto common-Turkic language, which will be close to all Turkic languages has much more chances to be realized in Turkic community.

The main disadvantage of averaged-Turkic language is that it will sound artificial, because it will not coincide fully with any of Turkic languages. But I believe that after its usage for some time firstly in written and then in oral forms, because of its proximity to Turkic languages, simplicity, richness and perfection it will be convenient and acceptable for usage in Turkic community.

For example for Tashkent inhabitants literary Uzbek language used on TV and radio also sounds very artificial, because it differs very much from Tashkent dialect, but Tashkent inhabitants accept it as a standardized variant, taken as for official usage.

In Indonesia bahasa Indonesia language was accepted as a government language which had been created on the basis of Malayan ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_language), while Malayan people make only 3.4% ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Indonesia )of Indonesian population and because of proximity of Indonesian peoples languages to Malayan language bahasa Indonesia could be spread as national language of Indonesia.

Several other examples can be pointed when a language gained a wide ground (further expansion) within geography because of its acceptance as an official or national language, say Hindi in India, Tagalog in Philippines.

Thus the success of spreading of a language in many respects depends on giving it a status, if not legal, then moral.

The common-Turkic language could become a part of ideology of Turkic peoples. In 20-century the national project of Jewish people Israel was realized. Restoration and implementation of Hebrew language played an important role in this process. It has to be emphasized that Hebrew language was literally restored from the status of dead language. This example is a good argument for skeptics of the common-Turkic language.

In the beginning the common-Turkic language can be learned and used by enthusiasts whose number may make about several thousand people. Primarily it is supposed to use the language for internet-communication and creation of internet resources including Wikipedia in the common-Turkic language.

Further propagation of the language will depend firstly on its ability to face communication and information challenges and secondly on necessity of its implementation, which is directly connected with how much the Turkic peoples will succeed in creation of common cultural space.

Minimum Program

As in Arab countries, where literal Arab is used in inter-Arabic formal and informal intercourse and partly in formal national level, common-Turkic language also can be used in inter-Turkic formal and informal intercourse, while Turkic languages will remain at national levels. So, special attention should be paid to the approximation of Turkic languages to each other and to common-Turkic language.

Independently of how successful the common-Turkic language project will turn out, in order to utilize advantages and potential of Turkic languages kinship, Turkic peoples should follow the minimum program as follows:

    1) Transition of all Turkic peoples to a uniform (or maximum possible close) script. Only Latin script can be uniform script for Turkic peoples due to the next reasons:

    • Two other script variants Cyrillic and Arabic are the scripts used in countries where Turkic peoples are under the greatest threat of assimilation Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan. Latin script could be the facility of overcoming this factor.
    • Latin script is the most spread in the world and it is the means of maximum access to the global information system.
    • Latin script is the means of connection of Turkic languages with Turkish language which is the most advanced and possessing the richest information sources among Turkic languages. .

    2) Putting in order coordination in development of Turkic languages, which should provide maximum identity of implemented terms, up to abolition of the earlier inculcated terms and transition to common ones.

    Each Turkic language is a key to other Turkic languages. I mean if one learns for example Tatar language it will take him another only 2-3 months to learn Kazakh etc.

    History provided Turkic peoples with relatively close languages. It is the duty of Turkic people to deepen this great chance. The closer are Turkic languages to each other:

    • The more it enables utilization of information resources and literature available in one Turkic language by other Turkic peoples.
    • The more importance has each of Turkic language separately.

    Important thing is that none of the languages stands still; all languages are in the stage of development. Turkic languages are also permanently moving in some direction and it is necessary to give the desirable direction to this process, i.e. coordinately promote their motion towards each other.

    Averaged-Turkic language could be the standard for mutual approximation of Turkic languages.

    3) Inculcation into Turkic languages of words and word-formation means available in other Turkic languages.

    It is desirable to follow the principle of Turkism, i.e. implementing new terms of Turkic origin, restoration of old Turkic words etc. in development and coordination of Turkic languages.

    One of the main disadvantages of Turkic languages is their relatively less developed vocabulary, word-formation means and partly expression means. So the words available in one Turkic language need to be implemented in another Turkic language also in order to enrich them. Enrichment of Turkic languages will increase their seductiveness, ability to be used in high spheres; enrichment of them owing to each other will also mutually approximate them.

    May 2009.



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