Gagauz language

Gagauz dili, Gagauzca
Pronunciation [ɡaɡaˈuzd͡ʒa]
Native to Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey
Region Gagauzia
Native speakers
590,000 (2009)[1]
Latin (Gagauz alphabet)
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 gag
Glottolog gaga1249[2]
Linguasphere part of 44-AAB-a

The Gagauz language (Gagauz: Gagauz dili, Gagauzca) is a Turkic language spoken by the ethnic Gagauz people of Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey, and it is the official language of the Autonomous Region of Gagauzia in Moldova. Gagauz belongs to the Oghuz branch of Turkic languages, alongside Azeri, Turkmen, Crimean Tatar, and Turkish. Gagauz has two dialects, Bulgar Gagauzi and Maritime Gagauzi. Gagauz is a distinct language from Balkan Gagauz Turkish.[3]



Consonant phonemes of Gagauz
Labial Dental Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p b t d (c) (ɟ) k ɡ
Affricate t͡s t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ x h
Approximant (k) l j ʎ
Flap ɾ


It appears that the first alphabet to be used for the language was the Greek alphabet[4] 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.[5]

Beginning in 1957, Cyrillic was used up until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Gagauz currently uses a Latin-based alphabet, modelled after 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 ț or ţ to represent the sound [ts] as in Romanian. On the other hand, Gagauz lacks the Turkish letter ğ, which had become completely silent in the Gagauz language.

Latin alphabet

A a Ä ä B b C c Ç ç D d E e Ê ê
[ɑ] [æ~ɛ] [b] [dʒ] [tʃ] [d] [e] [ə]
F f G g H h I ı İ i J j K k L l
[f] [g, ɟ] [x, h~ħ] [ɯ~ɨ] [i] [ʒ] [k, c] [l, ʎ]
M m N n O o Ö ö P p R r S s Ş ş
[m] [n, ɲ] [o] [ø] [p] [r] [s] [ʃ]
T t Ţ ţ U u Ü ü V v Y y Z z
[t] [ts] [u] [y] [w, vʲ] [j] [z]

Cyrillic alphabet (historical)

А а Ә ә Б б В в Г г Д д Е е Ё ё
Ж ж Җ җ З з И и Й й К к Л л М м
Н н О о Ө ө П п Р р С с Т т У у
Ү ү Ф ф Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ
Ы ы Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я

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.[6]


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.[7] 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 instructions at schools.[8] There are, however, some notable efforts to increase Gagauz language education. Todor 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 Birliği, Novıy Vzgled, Vesti, Gagauzii, and Znamea.

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

See also

Gagauzia Flag


  1. Gagauz at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Gagauz". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Lewis, M. Paul (ed.) (2009). "Language Family Trees: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Turkish". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Dallas, TX: SIL International. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  4. M. Ciachir. Basarabialâ gagauzlarân istoriassi / Chișinău: 1933, p. 133
  5. Măcriș, Anatol. Găgăuzii / Bucharest: Editura PACO, 2008, p. 71.
  6. 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.
  7. Dağdeviren Kırmızı, Gülin. "Emotional and Functional Attitudes of Native Speakers Towards Gagauz as an Endangered Language." (2015).
  8. Dağdeviren Kırmızı, Gülin. "Emotional and Functional Attitudes of Native Speakers Towards Gagauz as an Endangered Language." (2015).

Further reading

External links

Gagauz edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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