Nogai language

Nogai (/nˈɡ/; also Nogay or Nogai Tatar) is a Turkic language spoken in Southwestern European Russia. Three distinct dialects are recognized:

  • Karanogay or Qara-Nogai (literally "Black Nogai"; "Northern Nogai"), spoken in Dagestan,
  • Central Nogai or Nogai Proper, in Stavropol and
  • Aqnogai (White or Western Nogai), by the Kuban River, its tributaries in Karachay–Cherkessia and in the Mineralnye Vody District. Qara-Nogai and Nogai Proper are very close linguistically, whereas Aqnogai is more different.
Ногай тили (Noğay tili)
Native toRussia
Native speakers
87,000 (2010 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2nog
ISO 639-3nog

Nogai is generally classified into the Kipchak–Nogai branch of Kipchak Turkic. The latter also includes Crimean Tatar, Kazakh in Kazakhstan, Kirgiz in Kyrgyzstan and Karakalpak in Uzbekistan.


The Nogai, descended from the peoples of the Golden Horde, take their name and that of their language from the grandson of Genghis Khan, Nogai Khan, who ruled the nomadic people west of the Danube toward the end of the 13th century. They then settled along the Black Sea coast of present-day Ukraine.

Originally, the Nogai alphabet was based on the Arabic script. In 1928, a Latin alphabet was introduced. It was devised by the Nogai academic Abdulkhamid Dzhanibekov (Djanibek), following principles adopted for all Turkic languages.

In 1938, a transition to the Russian alphabet began. The orthography based on the Latin alphabet had allegedly been an impediment to learning Russian.

The expulsion of the Nogai from Ukraine in the nineteenth century separated Nogai speakers into several geographically isolated groups. Some went to Turkey and Romania, while others stayed within the Russian Empire, settling in northern Dagestan and neighbouring areas of Chechnya and Stavropol Kray.

Being a Turkic language, the Nogai language disappeared very rapidly in Turkey. Today it is mostly spoken by the older generation. In the Soviet Union the language of instruction in schools was Russian and the number of speakers declined there also. Recent estimates place the total number of Nogai speakers at about 80,000.

In 1973, two small Nogai-language newspapers were being published, one in Karachay–Cherkessia and another in the Dagestan Autonomous SSR (Ленин йолы), but because of poor communications these papers did not reach Nogai villages.

Nogai is now part of the school curriculum from the 1st to the 10th year in the Nogai District of Dagestan. It is also taught at the Karachayevo-Cherkess Pedagogical School and the national branch of the Pedagogical Institute.


Front Back
Close i, y ɯ, u
Mid e o
Open æ, œ a
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular
Plosive p, b t, d k, ɡ q
Fricative (f, v) s, z ʃ, ʒ [χ], [ʁ]
Affricate (ts) (tʃ), dʒ
Nasal m n ŋ
Liquid l, r
Approximant w j

Phonemes in brackets indicate allophones, parentheses indicate copied lexical sounds.[3]


Arabic alphabet

Before 1928 the alphabet used for the Nogai language was based on the Arabic script. It included all the letters of the Arabic plus the additional symbols for the specific sounds of the Nogai. This alphabet was not widespread.

ڮ ۇ ۋ پ ںُ چ ژ گ

Latin alphabet

In 1928 the Nogai alphabet based on Latin as part of the Soviet-wide Latinization campaign. A. Sh. Dzhanibekov, a high school teacher was the author of this alphabet.

A a B в Ç ç D d E e Ә ә G g Ƣ ƣ
I i K k L l M m N n N̡ ᶇ O o Ө ө
P p Q q R r S s Ş ş T t U u Y y
J j Ь ь Z z V v

The letters C c, I̡ ı̡, F f, H h, X x, Ƶ ƶ were added in 1931, and the letter S̷ s̷ in 1933. In 1936 the letters Ç ç, Ә ә, H h, I̡ ı̡ were excluded from the alphabet.

Cyrillic alphabet

The Nogai alphabet based on Cyrillic was created in 1938. It included all of the Russian alphabet letters except Ё ё, and also the digraphs Гъ гъ, Къ къ, Нъ нъ. The digraphs Оь оь, Уь уь were added in the same year. In 1944 the digraphs Гъ гъ, Къ къ were excluded from the alphabet. The last reform of the Nogai alphabet took place in 1950, when it attained the current form.

А аA aП пP p
Аь аьÄ äР рR r
Б бB bС сS s
В вW wТ тT t
Г гG g, Ğ ğУ уU u
Д дD dУь уьÜ ü
Е еE eФ фF f
Ж ж, Дж джJ j, C cХ хH h
З зZ zЦ цŢ ţ
И иİ iЧ чÇ ç
Й йY yШ шŞ ş
К кK k, Q qЪ ъ-
Л лL lЫ ыI ı
М мM mЬ ь-
Н нN nЭ эE e
Нъ нъÑ ñЮ юYu yu
О оO oЯ яYa ya
Оь оьÖ ö


  1. Nogai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nogai". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Lars Johanson, Éva Ágnes Csató (1998). The Turkic Languages.
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