The Teleut Language
General Information on the Language
Bibliography on the Teleut Language
Self-ethnonyms of the ethnic group: Telenget (тэлэңэт), Telengut (тэлэңут).
Names and self-names of the language: name of the language – Teleut; it has been considered one of the dialects of Altai language until recently.
Photo © L.A. Moskalenko, 1991, Bekovo settlement
The Teleut Language belongs Altai subgroup of Kirgiz-Kypchak group of eastern branch of Turkic language family.
Geographical Spread Of The Language
Shebalinskiy District of Altai Republic, Chumyshskiy District of Altaiskiy Region, downstream Sem River, as well as Novosibirskaya Province and the south of Kemerovskaya Province (Gornaya Shoriya), downstream Bolshoy Bachat and Malyy Bachat Rivers (Bachat Teleut).
In prehistoric period the Teleut language had contacts with Ket and Ob Ugric languages; in early ancient Turkic period, contacts with Iranian languages, later - with Mongolian, at present – with Russian and Turkic languages of Gorniy Altai and Khakassiya; among the latter the influence of Altai literary language is quite strong.
Number Of Native Speakers
Total number of native speakers approximates 2500 Teleut (census of 1989), however, only small part of them are fluent in the language.
Linguistic Characteristic of the Language
Vocalism: 8 brief and 8 long phonemes (а, о, ы, у, е, ц, и, я). Long vowels are used as a result of omission of a number of intervocalic consonants. Labial consonant harmony is broken within multisyllabic root and affixal word-form. Consonantism is characterized by full of partial regressive assimilation, presence of unvoiced consonants in intervocalic position.
Postaffixal agglutination with elements of analytism, fusion processes at the juncture of morphemes. Nouns are characterized by morphological categories of the number, case, possessiveness, predication; verbs – by categories of mood, tense, person/number, modality, aspect, actionsart, voice, negation. There is a well developed network of infinitive forms of the verb: participles as polyfunctional forms, combining finite function with various infinite ones, adverbial participle and infinitive.
The structure of nominal and verbal wordforms can be described in terms of the grammar of order: a maximal nominal wordform consists of a lexical morpheme (left), an affix of plural number, an affix of possessiveness, an affix of the case (right); a maximal verbal wordform consists of a lexical morpheme (root or a derivative, probably, with actionsart indices) (left), an affix of negation, mood/tense, person/number (right).
Semantic and grammatical data
Noun: a well-developed network of spatial cases.
Verb: Verb: the expression of actionsart, modal and aspect/tense meanings, primarily, in the frameworks of analytical verbal constructions with postverbs.
The language has a nominative structure, unmarked word order in the sentence: “subject-object-predicate”, with subordinate syntactic members (predicative and non-predicative) preceding their “master” and syntactic relations between situations are expressed, mostly, in the frameworks of a monofit complex sentence with an infinite form of the verb in a subordinate clause.
Socio-Linguistic Description of the Language
Sound Sample of the Language
Feeding of somdor (ritual birch trees)
The beginning of Myrat-Piy’s song
Recorded by D.A. Funk on 30 August, 1992 in Shanda village from A.K. Alagyzova [mp3 (33 s / 256 Kb) listen]
Кöбöк, Кöбöк, кöл кечет,
Кöмÿр аласы суу кечет.
Кöбöктең артык эр туулса,
Теңис кечире мост салсын.
Эки ташты колтыктанып,
Теңисти кечкен, Мырат мен!
Йаңыс ташты колтыктанып,
Йайыкты кечкен, Мырат мен!
Photo © D.A. Funk, 1999, Chelukhoevo village
Photo © E.P. Batianova, 2002, Shanda village
Specialists and Academic Centers Conducting Studies of the Language
© IEA RAS, 2005
This website was created with support from UNESCO Moscow Office