Gagauz language

Gagauz dili
Gagauz in Latin and Cyrillic scripts
Native toMoldova, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey
Native speakers
148,720 (total speakers), 115,000 (in Moldova) (2014)[1]
Latin (Gagauz alphabet, current)
Cyrillic (historical)
Greek (historical)[2]
Official status
Official language in
Gagauzia (Moldova)
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3gag
Linguaspherepart of 44-AAB-a
Gagauz is classified as Definitely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2010)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Gagauz (gagauz dili or gagauzça) is a Turkic language spoken by the Gagauz people of Moldova, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey and it is an official language of the Autonomous Region of Gagauzia in Moldova. Gagauz belongs to the Oghuz branch of Turkic languages, alongside Azerbaijani, Turkmen, and Turkish. Gagauz is a distinct language from Balkan Gagauz Turkish to some degree.[3][4]

Though it was established as a written language in 1957, Gagauz was not used in schools until 1959.[5] Gagauz is a language derived from Balkan Gagauz Turkish; Balkan linguistics was the first to view the consequences of language contact as normal rather than corrupt.[6] The term "Gagauz language" and the identification of one's language as "Gagauz" were established concurrently with or even after the creation of national self-awareness.[7] About 150,000 Gagauz resided in Moldova in 1986, where they lived in settlements within the Comrat, Ceadîr-Lunga and Vulcănești Rayons.[8] Along with the majority of the Gagauz living in Moldova, there are four other cities in Bulgaria in which the Gagauz reside.[9]


Between 1750[citation needed] and 1846, ancestors of the Gagauz today emigrated from the current-day Bulgarian Black Sea coast north of Varna to Russia and settled in the region that is now the current-day Republic of Moldova, allowed to do so on the condition that they converted to Orthodox Christianity by Empress Catherine.[10] In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the 1994 law on Special Legal Status of Gagauzia was passed in Moldova, which was put into effect in 1995, granting the Gagauz territorial autonomy.[11][12]



Consonant phonemes of Gagauz
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
voiceless p t t͡s t͡ʃ k
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ
Rhotic ɾ~r
Approximant l j


Vowel phonemes of Gagauz
Front Central Back
Close i y ɯ u
Mid e ø ə o
Open æ ɑ


It appears that the first alphabet to be used for the language was the Greek alphabet[13] in the late 19th century. For example, orientalist Otto Blau claims that plays of Euripides had been translated into the Gagauz language and had been written with Greek letters.[14]

Beginning in 1957, Cyrillic was used until 1993. On May 13, 1993, the parliament of the Republic of Moldova passed a decision providing for the official adoption of the Latin-based alphabet for the Gagauz language.[15] This was subsequently amended in 1996.[16] The Gagauz alphabet adopted is modelled on the modern Turkish alphabet, with the addition of three letters: ⟨ä⟩ to represent the sound of [æ] (as ⟨ə⟩ in Azeri), ⟨ê⟩ to represent the [ə] (schwa) sound, which does not exist in Turkish, and ⟨ţ⟩ to represent the sound [ts] from the Romanian alphabet. On the other hand, unlike Crimean Tatar, Turkish, and some other Turkic languages, Gagauz does not have the letter ⟨ğ⟩, which had become completely silent in the Gagauz language.

Dotted and dotless I are separate letters, each with its own uppercase and lowercase form. I is the capital form of ı, and İ is the capital form of i. The Gagauz alphabet has no q, w or x. Instead, those characters are transliterated into Gagauz as k, v and ks.

Modern Gagauz alphabet:

A a Ä ä B b C c Ç ç D d E e Ê ê
F f G g H h I ı İ i J j K k L l
M m N n O o Ö ö P p R r S s Ş ş
T t Ţ ţ U u Ü ü V v Y y Z z

Current situation

A study in 2012 was conducted on the Gagauz community to assess the current situation and sociocultural context. The findings show that within Gagauzia, official documents, printed publications, and official web sites are only in Russian. The National Passport System in Moldova does not allow the spelling of names in Gagauz. Signposts in Gagauzia are mostly in Romanian, and the names of squares and streets have not changed since the time of the Soviet Union.[17]


Despite various laws that support the rights of citizens to education in their native language, almost all instruction in Gagauzian schools is in Russian. Gagauz, while the native language of all students, is only taught as a "native language" class for a few hours per week.[18] Research has also shown that there are not serious desires or attempts to institute Gagauz as a language of instruction. In a study, 80.6% of respondents preferred Russian as the medium of instruction at schools.[18] There are, however, some notable efforts to increase Gagauz language education.[19] Todur Zanet, editor-in-chief of the Ana Sözü local newspaper, has played an active role in encouraging readers and local authorities to promote instruction in their mother tongue. Zanet has also contributed significantly to efforts to standardize the language and increase its accessibility through print and other mediums.


Ana Sözü is the largest local newspaper in Gagauzia. It is also the only local newspaper still written entirely in Gagauz, and was the first newspaper of any kind published in the Gagauz language. Apart from Ana Sözü, there are various newspapers published in the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia, including Açık Göz, Gagauz Yeri, Gagauz Sesi, Halk Birlii, Novıy Vzgliad, Vesti Gagauzii, and Znamea.

In addition to printed materials, the company Gagauz Radio Televisionu (GRT) produces radio and television broadcasts in Gagauz.


  1. ^ Gagauz at Ethnologue (23rd ed., 2020) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Ciachir, M. (1933). Basarabialâ gagauzlarân istoriassi. Chișinău. p. 133.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ Lewis, M. Paul, ed. (2009). "Language Family Trees: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Turkish". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  4. ^ Higgins, Andrew (2023-10-04). "'Our Language Is Dying'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-10-04.
  5. ^ Menz, Astrid (2000). "Indirectivity in Gagauz". In Johanson, Lars; Utas, Bo (eds.). Evidentials: Turkic, Iranian and Neighbouring Languages. Mouton de Gruyter. p. 103. ISBN 978-3-11-080528-4.
  6. ^ Friedman, Victor A. (2011). "The Balkan Languages and Balkan Linguistics". Annual Review of Anthropology. 40: 275–291. doi:10.1146/annurev-anthro-081309-145932. JSTOR 41287733.
  7. ^ Kvilinkova, E. N. (2013). "The Gagauz Language Through the Prism of Gagauz Ethnic Identity". Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia. 52: 74–94. doi:10.2753/AAE1061-1959520105. S2CID 144122722.
  8. ^ Varsahr, A. M.; Spitsyn, V. A.; Bychcovscaya, L. S.; Kravchuk, O. I. (2001). "To the research of the gene pool of the Gagauz population of Moldavia". Anthropologischer Anzeiger. 59 (1): 11–17. doi:10.1127/anthranz/59/2001/11. JSTOR 29540987. PMID 11360805.
  9. ^ Chinn, Jeff; Roper, Steven D. (1998). "Territorial Autonomy in Gagauzia". Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity. 26 (1): 87–101. doi:10.1080/00905999808408552. S2CID 154359743.
  10. ^ Nasidze, I.; Quinque, D.; Udina, I.; Kunizheva, S.; Stoneking, M. (2007). "The Gagauz, a Linguistic Enclave, are not a genetic isolate". Annals of Human Genetics. 71 (3): 379–389. doi:10.1111/j.1469-1809.2006.00330.x. PMID 17147693. S2CID 21390260.
  11. ^ Protsyk, Oleh (2010). "Gagauz Autonomy in Moldova: The Real and the Virtual in Post-Soviet State Design". In Weller, Marc; Nobbs, Katherine (eds.). Asymmetric Autonomy and the Settlement of Ethnic Conflicts. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 231–251. doi:10.2307/j.ctt3fhcx2.13. ISBN 9780812222388. JSTOR j.ctt3fhcx2.13.
  12. ^ Neukirch, Claus (2002), Autonomy and Conflict Transformation: The Case of the Gagauz Territorial Autonomy In the Republic of Moldova, S2CID 31174219
  13. ^ Ciachir, M. (1933). Basarabialâ gagauzlarân istoriassi. Chișinău. p. 133.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  14. ^ Măcriș, Anatol (2008). Găgăuzii (in Romanian). Bucharest: Editura PACO. p. 71.
  15. ^ Hotărîre Nr. 1421 din 13.05.1993 "pentru trecerea scrisului limbii găgăuze la grafia latină" [Parliament Decision No. 1421 of 13 May 1993 "for the passage of the writing of the Gagauz language in the Latin spelling"] (in Romanian), retrieved 2019-11-03 – via
  16. ^ Hotărîre Nr. 816 din 24.04.1996 "privind modificarea şi completarea Hotărîrii Parlamentului pentru trecerea scrisului limbii găgăuze la grafia latină" [Parliament Decision No. 816 of 24 April 1996 "on amending and supplementing the Parliament's Decision on the transfer of the Gagauzian writing to the Latin spelling"] (in Romanian), retrieved 2019-11-03 – via
  17. ^ Sirkeli, M. & Lisenco, S. (2012). "Policy Brief: Implementation of linguistic rights of the Gagauz of Moldova. Integration of the Gagauz Community into the Society of Moldova."
  18. ^ a b Dağdeviren Kırmızı, Gülin (2015). Emotional and Functional Attitudes of Native Speakers Towards Gagauz as an Endangered Language (PhD thesis). Hacettepe University. hdl:11655/1251.
  19. ^ Kahl, Thede. "Die Gagausen und ihre Autonomie. Eine kritische Betrachtung aus der Perspektive der Mehrsprachigkeit (Moldauisch/Rumänisch, Russisch, Gagausisch/Türkisch)". Wiener Romanistische Landeswissenschaft(en), Bachelor Master Studies. Vienna: Praesens. 1: 147–165.

Further reading

  • Ulutaş, İsmail. 2004. Relative clauses in Gagauz syntax. Istanbul: Isis Press. ISBN 975-428-283-8
  • Shabashov A.V., 2002, Odesa, Astroprint, "Gagauzes: terms of kinship system and origin of the people", (Шабашов А.В., "Гагаузы: система терминов родства и происхождение народа")
  • Kortmann, Bernd; Van der Auwera, Johan. 2011. The Languages and Linguistics of Europe: A Comprehensive Guide. Walter de Gruyter.
  • Pokrovskaja, Ljudmila A. 1964. Grammatika gagauzskogo jazyka: fonetika i morfologija. Moskva: Nauka.
  • Pokrovskaja, Ljudmila A. 1997. Gagauzskij jazyk. Jazyki mira: Tjurkskie jazyki, 224–235. Moscow: Indrik.

External links

  • A Gagauz song "Yaşa, Halkım!" by Andrey İVANOV
  • "A Concise Gagauz-English dictionary with etymologies and Azerbaijani and Turkmen cognates" by Andras Rajki (download)
  • Russian-Gagauz Gagauz-Russian Dictionary Archived 2021-10-21 at the Wayback Machine
  • Gagauz language web site
Retrieved from ""