Kalmyk language

From Academic Kids

The Kalmyk (Kalmuck) language of the Kalmyks is spoken mainly in Kalmykia in the Russian Federation. There are 160,000 speakers.

Kalmyk belongs to the Western subgroup of the Mongolian languages and reflects the characteristic Mongolian vowel harmony, and its script is based on the Mongolian alphabet. It also has some elements in common with the Uralic and Turkic languages, sometimes speculated to be a member of the disputed Altaic or Ural-Altaic language family. This reflects Kalmyks origin as the common language of the Oyirads, a union of four western Mongolian tribes that absorbed some Ugric and Turkic tribes during their migration westward.

The literary tradition of Kalmyk reaches back into the 17th century, when it was first furnished with an adapted Mongolian script called todo bichig (clear letters). In 1924 this script was replaced by a Cyrillic script, which was abandoned in 1930 in favor of a Latin script. The Latin script in turn was replaced by another Cyrillic script in 1938. These script reforms effectively disrupted the literary tradition.

In 1943, the Kalmyks were one of the ethnic groups deported as collaborator nations. Not until 1957 were they allowed to return to their republic.

Kalmyk suffered greatly during the Soviet period. Half of all Kalmyk speakers died during Stalins ethnic cleansings. Russian was made Kalmykias primary official language. In 1963, the last Kalmyk-language classes were closed and Russian became the language of education for Kalmyk children.

As a result of these policies, many Kalmyks do not speak their own language. Kalmyk linguists, in collaboration with the Kalmyk government, are working to improve the situation. Starting in 1993, school education in Kalmyk has been restored. Still, there remains much work to do.

See also: Languages of the Caucasus


External links

ko:칼미크어 ja:カルムイク語

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