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Introduction to the Kazakh Languаge

1. The Kazakh language belongs to the Turkic language family, which includes Azeri, Kirghiz. Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Uighur and Uzbek, among others. These languages
share much common vocabulary and grammatical features. A fluent Kazakh speaker can also understand Kirghiz, Tatar, Uzbek, or Uighur.

2. The Kazakh Alphаbet
The Kazakh alphabet is based on the Cyrillic script, which is the alphabet used for Russian and many other languages. In addition, Kazakh has speciаl letters such as і, ұ and ғ for sounds that do not exist in Russian.

The Kazakh alphabet has 42 letters:
A a Ә ә Б б В в Г г Ғ ғ Д д
Е е ¨ Ж ж З з И и Й й К к
Қ қ Л л М м Н н Ң ң О о Ө ө
П п Р р С с Т т У у Ұ ұ Ү ү
Ф ф Х х Һ һ Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш Щ щ
Ъъ Ы ы I і Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я

The pronunciation of the alphabet is as follows:
a [a] much like "a" in English "father"
examples: ана "mother," ата "father"
ә [а] much like "а" in English "man," "apple"
examples: әке "father," әдет "custom"
б [b] much like "b" in English "bed," "bad"
examples: бала "child," бес "five"
в [v] much like "v" in English "very," "vast"
examples: виза "visa,' валюта "currency"
г [g] much like "g" in English "go," "gas"
examples: гүл "flower," грамматика "grammar"
ғ [gh] No equivalent in English. This sound is an uvular (post-velar)
voiced fricative. It is pronounced farther back in the mouth than the second [g] in English "garage".
examples: ғасыр "century," ғылым "science"
д [d] much like "d" in English "dad," "desk"
examples: дәм "tastе," дала "field"
е [e] somewhat like "e" in English "get," "end"
examples: демалыс "rest"
¨ [yo] much like "yo" in English "yon," used only in Russian loan words
ж [zh] much like "zh" in English "vision," "pleasure"
examples: жаз "'summer," жер "land"
з [z] much like "z" in English "zonе," "was"
examples: зор "huge," жаз "'summer"
и [iy] much like "iy" in English "bee," "see"
examples: иек "chin," ине "needle"
й [y] functions much like "y" in English "boy," "toy"
examples: ой "thought," ай "moon"
к [k] much like "k" in English "key," "king"
examples: кез "time," кім "who"
қ [kh] Also transliterated as "q." No equivalent in English. This sound is a uvular (post-velar), voicеless fricative. It is pronounced farther back in the mouth than [k] in English "dark"
examples: қазақ "Kazakh," қар "snow"
л [l] somewhat like "l" in English "like," "land"
examples: лақ "young goat," дала "field"
м [m] much like "m" in English "mother," "come"
examples: мен "I," алма "apple"
н [n] much like "n" in English "now," "pen"
examples: нан "bread," сен "you"
ң [ng] much like "ng" in English "thing," "tongue"
examples: оң "right," кең "wide"
о [o] somewhat like "o" in English "for," "or" with an initial glide
examples: он "ten," олар "they"
ө [ ] No equivalent in English. This sound is а rounded, tense, mid-front
vowel.
examples: өте "very," өмір "life"
п [p] much like "p" in English "party," "pen"
examples: пікір "idea," пайда "profit"
р [r] No equivalent in English.
examples: рахмет "thanks," қар "snow"
с [s] much like "s" in English "sea," "sad"
examples: сан "number," ас "food"
т [t] somewhat like "t" in English "time"
examples: тас "stone," ат "name"
у [uw] somewhat like "uw" in English "tool," "boot"
examples: уақыт "time," тау "mountain
ұ [u] somewhat like English "foot"
examples: ұл "son," ұлт "nationality"
ү [ ] No equivalent in English. This sound is a rounded, high,
semi-tense front vowel.
examples: үлкен "big," үй "home"
ф [f] much like "f" in English "film," "five"; occurs only in foreign words
examples: физика "physics," Франция "France"
х [kh] somewhat like "kh" in "khan"
examples: хабар "news, information" халық "people"
һ [h] much like "h" in English "hat," "hot"
examples: қаһарман "hero"
ц [ts] somewhat like the 'ts' in 'tsar'; оccurs in Russian loan words
example: царизм "tsarism"
ч [ch] like "ch" in English "chat," "church;" occurs only
in foreign loan words
examples: чек "check," чех "Czech"
ш [sh] like "sh" in English "she," "ship"
examples: шәй "tea," шет "edge"
щ [shsh] occurs in Russian loan words
example: кеще "ignorant person"
ъ hard sign: occurs only in Russian loan words
ы [i] back [i]
examples: ыс "smoke," жұмыс "work"
і [i] front [i]
examples: іш "inside," ірі "great, big"
ь soft sign: occurs only in Russian loan words
э [е] much like "e" in English "end," occurs only in initial position
of Russian loan words
examples: экран "screen",
ю [yu] much like [yu] in English "yule"
examples: юбка "skirt," қою "putting"
я [ya] much like [ya] in English 'yard'
examples: яғни "in other words," ядро "nucleus"


3. Basic Phonological Rules and the Spelling
There are 12 Kazakh vowels and they are divided into two categories, depending on whether they are pronounced in the back or the front of the mouth.
back (velar) vowels: а о ұ у ы
front (palatal) vowels: ә ө ү і е и э
However, the vowels у and и can be pronounced as back or front vowels depending on the neighbouring vowels, such as in the following examples:
қуан (to be happy) у pronounced back
беру (giving) у pronounced front
қиын (difficult) и pronounced back
киін (to dress) и pronounced front

3а. Vowel Harmony
There is a rule in Kazakh that certain vowels must be followed by certain other vowels. This rule is called vowel harmony. Vowel harmony means that words with front vowels take suffixes with a front vowel, and words with back vowels take suffixes with a back vowel. If the word has both front and back vowels, use the vowel closest to the end to determine whether to use a suffix with a front or back vowel. According to this rule, every suffix has two versions: one with a front vowel, the other with a back vowel.
For example, the plural suffixes are added to a noun according to this rule:
Words with back vowels will add +лар, +дар, or +тар: қалам+дар 'pencils'
Words with front vowels will add +лер, +дер, or +тер: дәптер+лер 'notebooks'

3b. Consonants
The consonants are divided into several groups according to the quality of their sound. The most basic division is between 'voiced' consonants, which are produced while vibrating the vocal chords, and 'voiceless' consonants, which are produced without vibrating the vocal chords.
The consonants:
(1) Voiced consonants:
(a) sonorants: л, м, н, ң, р, й, у
(b) non-sonorants: б, в, з, ж, ғ, г, д
(2) Voicеless consonants: п, ф, с, ш, к, қ, т, ч, щ, ц, х, һ

3c. Consonant Assimilation
Whenever a suffix is added to a stem, the first consonant in a suffix will often change to match the last consonant of the stem. Therefore, most suffixes will have two or three variаnts. For example, the plural suffix has three variants:

1. If the word ends in a voiceless consonant or in б, в, г, or д (the last four are pronounced voiceless at the end of Russian loan words and thus take voiceless endings), use the suffix +тар/тер
(choose the vowel depending on vowel harmony, of course!) кітап+тар books
мектеп+тер schools

2. After vowels and р, л, у use +лер/+ лер
дәптер+лер notebooks
алма+лар apples
3. After з, ж, л, м, н use +дар/дер
қалам+дар pencils

4. The Morphological Structure of Kazakh
Kazakh words may be analyzed into roots and suffixes. The fundamental principle of morphological structure in Kazakh is the affixing of suffixes after roots. Languages that use this kind of morphological post-fixing are called "agglutinative." Agglutinative suffixes come in two types, "lexical" or "derivational" and "syntactic" or "inflectional." Lexical suffixes create new words based on previously existing ones. For example, if the lexical suffix +шы is added after the word-root бас + 'head,' a new word басшы 'leader' is formed.

Most of the suffixes you will learn in beginning Kazakh will be syntactic suffixes, which indicate grammatical relationships. Ideas such as plurality, possession, verb tense and verb negation are all expressed by syntactic suffixes in Kazakh. Several suffixes can be attached to one word to describe various relationships. For example, the concept 'in your house" can be expressed by one word in Kazakh:
үйіңізде = үй 'house' + іңіз 'your' + де 'located at'
In Kazakh, all words can be categorized into two groups: verbs and nominals (nouns, pronouns, adjectives). Verbal stems are designated by a minus sign (-) and nominal stems by a plus sign (+), for example:
nominal stem: тас+ (stone)
ата+ (father)
verbal stem: іш- (drink)
кел- (come)


5. Word Order
The basic word order in a Kazakh sentence:
Subject Object Predicate
In Kazakh the verb is always placed at the end of the sentence:
'I went to your house': Мен сіздің үйіңізгe бардым (I your to house went)

MAP OF KAZAKHSTAN1 MAP OF KAZAKHSTAN

Click outside of this box to return to the lesson

KAZAKHSTAN AND ITS NEIGHBORS2 KAZAKHSTAN AND ITS NEIGHBORS

Click outside of this box to return to the lesson

INTERNET LINKS
The Official Homepage of the Republic of Kazakhstan http://www.president.kz



We welcome your feedback on these lessons. If you would like to use exercises for each lesson such as Multiple Choice, Fill in the Blank, and Listening Dictation that keep track of your score and progress ad-free, subscribe to this course today!
Follow us on: Facebook Twitter

Copyright 1995-2017 Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona. Used under license, see https://languagecanvas.com

 

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  1. MAP OF KAZAKHSTAN

  2. KAZAKHSTAN AND ITS NEIGHBORS

Kazakh: Word View, click below to listen


Introduction to the Kazakh Languаge

1. The Kazakh language belongs to the Turkic language family, which includes Azeri, Kirghiz. Tatar, Turkish, Turkmen, Uighur and Uzbek, among others. These languages
share much common vocabulary and grammatical features. A fluent Kazakh speaker can also understand Kirghiz, Tatar, Uzbek, or Uighur.

2. The Kazakh Alphаbet
The Kazakh alphabet is based on the Cyrillic script, which is the alphabet used for Russian and many other languages. In addition, Kazakh has speciаl letters such as і, ұ and ғ for sounds that do not exist in Russian.

The Kazakh alphabet has 42 letters:
A a Ә ә Б б В в Г г Ғ ғ Д д
Е е ¨ Ж ж З з И и Й й К к
Қ қ Л л М м Н н Ң ң О о Ө ө
П п Р р С с Т т У у Ұ ұ Ү ү
Ф ф Х х Һ һ Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш Щ щ
Ъъ Ы ы I і Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я

The pronunciation of the alphabet is as follows:
a [a] much like "a" in English "father"
examples: ана "mother," ата "father"
ә [а] much like "а" in English "man," "apple"
examples: әке "father," әдет "custom"
б [b] much like "b" in English "bed," "bad"
examples: бала "child," бес "five"
в [v] much like "v" in English "very," "vast"
examples: виза "visa,' валюта "currency"
г [g] much like "g" in English "go," "gas"
examples: гүл "flower," грамматика "grammar"
ғ [gh] No equivalent in English. This sound is an uvular (post-velar)
voiced fricative. It is pronounced farther back in the mouth than the second [g] in English "garage".
examples: ғасыр "century," ғылым "science"
д [d] much like "d" in English "dad," "desk"
examples: дәм "tastе," дала "field"
е [e] somewhat like "e" in English "get," "end"
examples: демалыс "rest"
¨ [yo] much like "yo" in English "yon," used only in Russian loan words
ж [zh] much like "zh" in English "vision," "pleasure"
examples: жаз "'summer," жер "land"
з [z] much like "z" in English "zonе," "was"
examples: зор "huge," жаз "'summer"
и [iy] much like "iy" in English "bee," "see"
examples: иек "chin," ине "needle"
й [y] functions much like "y" in English "boy," "toy"
examples: ой "thought," ай "moon"
к [k] much like "k" in English "key," "king"
examples: кез "time," кім "who"
қ [kh] Also transliterated as "q." No equivalent in English. This sound is a uvular (post-velar), voicеless fricative. It is pronounced farther back in the mouth than [k] in English "dark"
examples: қазақ "Kazakh," қар "snow"
л [l] somewhat like "l" in English "like," "land"
examples: лақ "young goat," дала "field"
м [m] much like "m" in English "mother," "come"
examples: мен "I," алма "apple"
н [n] much like "n" in English "now," "pen"
examples: нан "bread," сен "you"
ң [ng] much like "ng" in English "thing," "tongue"
examples: оң "right," кең "wide"
о [o] somewhat like "o" in English "for," "or" with an initial glide
examples: он "ten," олар "they"
ө [ ] No equivalent in English. This sound is а rounded, tense, mid-front
vowel.
examples: өте "very," өмір "life"
п [p] much like "p" in English "party," "pen"
examples: пікір "idea," пайда "profit"
р [r] No equivalent in English.
examples: рахмет "thanks," қар "snow"
с [s] much like "s" in English "sea," "sad"
examples: сан "number," ас "food"
т [t] somewhat like "t" in English "time"
examples: тас "stone," ат "name"
у [uw] somewhat like "uw" in English "tool," "boot"
examples: уақыт "time," тау "mountain
ұ [u] somewhat like English "foot"
examples: ұл "son," ұлт "nationality"
ү [ ] No equivalent in English. This sound is a rounded, high,
semi-tense front vowel.
examples: үлкен "big," үй "home"
ф [f] much like "f" in English "film," "five"; occurs only in foreign words
examples: физика "physics," Франция "France"
х [kh] somewhat like "kh" in "khan"
examples: хабар "news, information" халық "people"
һ [h] much like "h" in English "hat," "hot"
examples: қаһарман "hero"
ц [ts] somewhat like the 'ts' in 'tsar'; оccurs in Russian loan words
example: царизм "tsarism"
ч [ch] like "ch" in English "chat," "church;" occurs only
in foreign loan words
examples: чек "check," чех "Czech"
ш [sh] like "sh" in English "she," "ship"
examples: шәй "tea," шет "edge"
щ [shsh] occurs in Russian loan words
example: кеще "ignorant person"
ъ hard sign: occurs only in Russian loan words
ы [i] back [i]
examples: ыс "smoke," жұмыс "work"
і [i] front [i]
examples: іш "inside," ірі "great, big"
ь soft sign: occurs only in Russian loan words
э [е] much like "e" in English "end," occurs only in initial position
of Russian loan words
examples: экран "screen",
ю [yu] much like [yu] in English "yule"
examples: юбка "skirt," қою "putting"
я [ya] much like [ya] in English 'yard'
examples: яғни "in other words," ядро "nucleus"


3. Basic Phonological Rules and the Spelling
There are 12 Kazakh vowels and they are divided into two categories, depending on whether they are pronounced in the back or the front of the mouth.
back (velar) vowels: а о ұ у ы
front (palatal) vowels: ә ө ү і е и э
However, the vowels у and и can be pronounced as back or front vowels depending on the neighbouring vowels, such as in the following examples:
қуан (to be happy) у pronounced back
беру (giving) у pronounced front
қиын (difficult) и pronounced back
киін (to dress) и pronounced front

3а. Vowel Harmony
There is a rule in Kazakh that certain vowels must be followed by certain other vowels. This rule is called vowel harmony. Vowel harmony means that words with front vowels take suffixes with a front vowel, and words with back vowels take suffixes with a back vowel. If the word has both front and back vowels, use the vowel closest to the end to determine whether to use a suffix with a front or back vowel. According to this rule, every suffix has two versions: one with a front vowel, the other with a back vowel.
For example, the plural suffixes are added to a noun according to this rule:
Words with back vowels will add +лар, +дар, or +тар: қалам+дар 'pencils'
Words with front vowels will add +лер, +дер, or +тер: дәптер+лер 'notebooks'

3b. Consonants
The consonants are divided into several groups according to the quality of their sound. The most basic division is between 'voiced' consonants, which are produced while vibrating the vocal chords, and 'voiceless' consonants, which are produced without vibrating the vocal chords.
The consonants:
(1) Voiced consonants:
(a) sonorants: л, м, н, ң, р, й, у
(b) non-sonorants: б, в, з, ж, ғ, г, д
(2) Voicеless consonants: п, ф, с, ш, к, қ, т, ч, щ, ц, х, һ

3c. Consonant Assimilation
Whenever a suffix is added to a stem, the first consonant in a suffix will often change to match the last consonant of the stem. Therefore, most suffixes will have two or three variаnts. For example, the plural suffix has three variants:

1. If the word ends in a voiceless consonant or in б, в, г, or д (the last four are pronounced voiceless at the end of Russian loan words and thus take voiceless endings), use the suffix +тар/тер
(choose the vowel depending on vowel harmony, of course!) кітап+тар books
мектеп+тер schools

2. After vowels and р, л, у use +лер/+ лер
дәптер+лер notebooks
алма+лар apples
3. After з, ж, л, м, н use +дар/дер
қалам+дар pencils

4. The Morphological Structure of Kazakh
Kazakh words may be analyzed into roots and suffixes. The fundamental principle of morphological structure in Kazakh is the affixing of suffixes after roots. Languages that use this kind of morphological post-fixing are called "agglutinative." Agglutinative suffixes come in two types, "lexical" or "derivational" and "syntactic" or "inflectional." Lexical suffixes create new words based on previously existing ones. For example, if the lexical suffix +шы is added after the word-root бас + 'head,' a new word басшы 'leader' is formed.

Most of the suffixes you will learn in beginning Kazakh will be syntactic suffixes, which indicate grammatical relationships. Ideas such as plurality, possession, verb tense and verb negation are all expressed by syntactic suffixes in Kazakh. Several suffixes can be attached to one word to describe various relationships. For example, the concept 'in your house" can be expressed by one word in Kazakh:
үйіңізде = үй 'house' + іңіз 'your' + де 'located at'
In Kazakh, all words can be categorized into two groups: verbs and nominals (nouns, pronouns, adjectives). Verbal stems are designated by a minus sign (-) and nominal stems by a plus sign (+), for example:
nominal stem: тас+ (stone)
ата+ (father)
verbal stem: іш- (drink)
кел- (come)


5. Word Order
The basic word order in a Kazakh sentence:
Subject Object Predicate
In Kazakh the verb is always placed at the end of the sentence:
'I went to your house': Мен сіздің үйіңізгe бардым (I your to house went)

MAP OF KAZAKHSTAN
KAZAKHSTAN AND ITS NEIGHBORS
INTERNET LINKS
The Official Homepage of the Republic of Kazakhstan http://www.president.kz



We welcome your feedback on these lessons. If you would like to use exercises for each lesson such as Multiple Choice, Fill in the Blank, and Listening Dictation that keep track of your score and progress ad-free, subscribe to this course today!
Follow us on: Facebook Twitter

Copyright 1995-2017 Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona. Used under license, see https://languagecanvas.com