Karakalpak language

Qaraqalpaq tili, Қарақалпақ тили
Native to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan
Region Karakalpakstan
Native speakers
583,410 (2010)[1]
Official status
Official language in


Language codes
ISO 639-2 kaa
ISO 639-3 kaa
Glottolog kara1467[2]

Map showing locations of Karakalpak (red) within Uzbekistan

Karakalpak is a Turkic language spoken by Karakalpaks in Karakalpakstan. It is divided into two dialects: Northeastern Karakalpak, Southeastern Karakalpak. The language is closely related to Kazakh.[3]


Karakalpak is a member of the Kypchak branch of Turkic languages, which includes Tatar, Kumyk, Nogai, and Kazakh. Due to its proximity to Uzbek, much of Karakalpak's vocabulary and grammar has been influenced by Uzbek. Like Turkish, Karakalpak has vowel harmony, is agglutinative and has no grammatical gender. Word order is usually subject–object–verb.

Geographic distribution

Karakalpak is spoken mainly in the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic of Uzbekistan. Approximately 2,000 people in Afghanistan and smaller diaspora in parts of Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and other parts of the world speak Karakalpak.

Official status

Karakalpak has official status in the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic.


The Ethnologue identifies two dialects of Karakalpak: Northeastern and Southwestern. Menges mentions a third possible dialect spoken in the Fergana Valley. The Southwestern dialect has /tʃ/ for the Northeastern /ʃ/.


Karakalpak has 21 native consonant phonemes and regularly uses four non-native phonemes in loan words. Non-native sounds are shown in parentheses.

Karakalpak vowels, from Menges (1947:?)
Consonant phonemes
  Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n     ŋ        
Plosive p b t d     k ɡ q      
Affricate     (t͡s)   (t͡ʃ)              
Fricative (f) (v) s z ʃ ʒ x ɣ     h  
Rhotic     r                
Approximant     l j w        

Vowel harmony

Vowel harmony functions in Karakalpak much as it does in other Turkic languages. Words borrowed from Russian or other languages may not observe rules of vowel harmony, but the following rules usually apply:

Vowel May be followed by:
ɡ a, ɯ
æ e, i
e e, i
i e, i
o a, o, u, ɯ
œ e, i, œ, y
u a, o, u
y e, œ, y
o a, ɯ


Personal pronouns

men I, sen you (singular), ol he, she, it, that, biz we, siz you (plural), olar they


bir 1, eki 2, uʻsh 3, toʻrt 4, bes 5, altiʻ 6, jeti 7, segiz 8, togʻiʻs 9, on 10, juʻz 100, miʻnʻ 1000

Writing system

Bashkir Arabic script
March 2006. A photo laboratory in Nukus – with the signboard written in Karakalpak language using Latin letters

Karakalpak was written in the Arabic and Persian script until 1928, in the Latin script (with additional characters) from 1928 to 1940, after which Cyrillic was introduced. Following Uzbekistan's independence in 1991, the decision was made to drop Cyrillic and revert to the Latin alphabet. Whilst the use of Latin script is now widespread in Tashkent, its introduction into Karakalpakstan remains gradual. The Cyrillic and Latin alphabets are shown below with their equivalent representations in the IPA. Cyrillic letters with no representation in the Latin alphabet are marked with asterisks.

CyrillicLatinIPA   CyrillicLatinIPA   CyrillicLatinIPA
АаAa/a/   ҚқQq/q/   ФфFf/f/
ӘәAʻaʻ/æ/   ЛлLl/l/   ХхXx/x/
БбBb/b/   МмMm/m/   ҲҳHh/h/
ВвVv/v/   НнNn/n/   ЦцCc/ts/
ГгGg/a/   ҢңNʻnʻ/ŋ/   ЧчCHch/tʃ/
ҒғGʻgʻ/ɣ/   ОоOo/o/   ШшSHsh/ʃ/
ДдDd/d/   ӨөOʻoʻ/œ/   Щщ*sh/ʃ/
ЕеEe/e/   ПпPp/p/   Ъъ*  
Ёё*yo/jo/   РрRr/r/   ЫыIʻiʻ/o/
ЖжJj/ʒ/   СсSs/s/   Ьь*  
ЗзZz/z/   ТтTt/t/   ЭэEe/e/
ИиIi/i/   УуUu/u/   Юю*yu/ju/
ЙйYy/j/   ҮүUʻuʻ/y/   Яяya/ja/
КкKk/k/   ЎўWw/w/      

Before 2009, C was written as TS; I and Iʻ were written as dotted and dotless I.[4]



  1. Karakalpak at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. 1 2 Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Kara-Kalpak". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. "Karakalpak". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  4. Karakalpak Cyrillic – (Old / New) Latin transliterator


Kara-Kalpak edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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