The Shor Language

General Information on the Language

Self-ethnonym of the ethnic group

Bibliography on the Shor language

The most used names are Shor and Tadar Kizhiler (тадар кижилер) in Shor language (adopted from Russians, literally, Tatars) and Shor Kizhiler (шор кижилер) (Shor is a largest clan of Shor people);

Names and self-names of the language

Shor (Russian: шорский) is name of the language used by other peoples; Tadar til (тадар тил), Shor (шор тил) are names of the language used by Shors themselves.

Photo © Rashid Salikhov, 2004. Archive of Tomaskaya Pisanitsa Natural preserve and Museum

Generic affiliation

The Shor language belongs to Khakass subgroup of Uighur-Oguz group of Turkic language family.

Geographical Spread of the Language

The Shors live in the south of Kemerovskaya Province (Gornaya Shoria), downstream of Kondoma, Mrassu and Tom Rivers.

Language contacts

In prehistoric period the Shor language had contacts with Ket and Ob Ugric languages; in the early ancient Turkic period, contacts with Iranian languages, in later periods – with Mongolian, and at present – with Russian and Turkic languages of Gorniy Altai and Khakassiya.

Number of Native Speakers

The total number of native speakers equals to 15900 Shors (census of 1989); less than 10% of them are fluent in their language.

Dialects and subdialects

There are two main dialects: Mrassu and Kondoma; each of them has a well-developed network of subdialects: the main subdialects of Kondoma dialect are Lower Mrassu, including Abashevo vernacular, Mundybash (Kalar), Antropovo, Upper Kondoma, Pyzas; the main subdialects of Mrassu dialect are Lower Mrassu, Tom, Middle Mrassu, Kobyrza, Upper Mrassu, including Orton vernacular; at present, due to mobility of Shor population, blending of subdialects and leveling of dialectal distinctions are in progress.

Linguistic Characteristic of the Language

Photo © Rashid Salikhov, 2004. Archive of Tomaskaya Pisanitsa Natural preserve and Museum


Vocalism: 8 short and 8 long vowel phonemes (а, о, ы, у, е, ö, и, ÿ). Long vowels appeared as a result of omission of a number of intervocalic vowels. Palatal and labial vowel harmony is characteristic in the frameworks of multisyllabic root and affixal wordform. Palatal vowel harmony is broken in subdialects of Kondoma dialect; labial harmony is rather characteristic of Mrassu dialect and is broken in Kondoma dialect. There is aspiratory musical stress.

Consonantism is expressed in full or partial regressive assimilation and palatalization of consonants л, с, к in soft row words.


Postaffixal agglutination with elements of analytism, fusion processes at the junction of morphemes. Nouns are characterized by morphological categories of the number, case, possessiveness, predication; the verbs – by categories of mood, tense, person/number, modality, aspect, actionsart, voice, negation. There is a well-developed system of infinite verbal forms: participles as polyfunctional forms, combining the finite function with various infinite ones, adverbial participles, infinitives.

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 (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, which is presently enriched in the result of the synthesis of postpositions, the presence of продольного и направительного падежей in addition to common Turkic locative, ablative and dative cases.

Verb: the expression of actionsart, modal and aspect/tense meanings, primarily, in the frameworks of analytical verbal constructions with postverbs, the presence of categorical markers of indirectness of action.

Syntactic data

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 (монофитное сложное предложение) with an infinite form of the verb in a subordinate clause.

Socio-Linguistic Description of the Language

  • Legal status, the present day situation of the language: a language of a numerically small indigenous people of the North;
  • Writing and orthography: created by Altai missionaries in the XIX century; in the years of cultural revolution the literary form was rapidly developing and Shor was used as a language of instruction in schools; non-literate period (1942-1988) followed; Shor written language has been revived since the end of the 80s of the XX century; contemporary Shor orthography was developed by E.F. Chispiyakov;
  • Social functions of the language: family communication, the language of communication in production teams, in traditional economic spheres in the localities with compact Shor communities; teachers of Shor language and literature are prepared in KSPA, original works are published in Shor language, Shor department of the Union of writers of Russia is working, periodical Shor supplement is published in local press;
  • The degree and history of studies of the language with reference to archives (with a link and copyright information): substantial materials on Shor folklore (for instance, the archive of N.P. Dyrenkova) were collected, many phonological and grammatical subsystems were described; there is no either academic grammar or academic Shor-Russian dictionary.

The beginning of Shor epic tale Qan Mergen in Latin transcription. In: Шорский фольклор / Сост. Н.П. Дыренкова. М.-Л., 1940. С. 82.

Sample of Shor folklore text

The beginnig of the Shor epic story Qara-Qan

Recorded by D.A. Funk from storyteller V.E. Tannagashev in Myski town, Kemerovskaya Province, 2002. [mp3 (36 s / 282 Kb) listen]

Амдыг(ы) тöлдиң алында полча,
Earlier, than the present generation it was,

Пурун(гу) тöлдиң соонда полча.
Later, than the past generation it was.

Чер пÿдерде,
When the land was created,

Чер-суг кабыжарда полча.
When the land and the water were struggling, it was.

Калакпа чер пöлÿшкан темнер полтур,
In those times when the land was divided with a stirrer,

Камышпа суг пöлÿшчиткан темнер полтур.
In those times when the water was divided by cane.

Кöгериш келип кöк öлең öс чаттыр,
Turning green, young grass grew, as it turns out.

Алтын пÿрлÿ ак казынның паштарында
At the top of a white birch with golden leaves

Кырык кушка какыш чöрча,
Forty birds are twitting,

Кöк öлең паштарында
On the green grass

Кöк торчуктар кöглеп чиган полтур.
Young nightingales were singing, as it turns out.

Часкы тем полтур.
It was spring time, as it turns out.


Photo © Rashid Salikhov, 2004. Archive of Tomaskaya Pisanitsa Natural preserve and Museum

Photo © Rashid Salikhov, 2004. Archive of Tomaskaya Pisanitsa Natural preserve and Museum

Specialists and Academic Centers Conducting Studies of the Language

  • Kuzbass State Pedagogical Academy (Novokuznetsk)
  • Institute of Philology, Siberian Branch, RAS
  • Institute of Turkic Studies of the University of Frankfurt

Projects of Studies of the Language

Project “Shorika”: DFG and RFFR, 1989-2002. [details]

© IEA RAS, 2005
This website was created with support from UNESCO Moscow Office