Urum language

Pronunciation [uˈrum]
Native to Georgia, Ukraine
Ethnicity Urums (Turkic-speaking Greeks)
Native speakers
190,000 (2000)[1]
  • Tsalka
  • North Azovian
Cyrillic, Greek
Language codes
ISO 639-3 uum
Glottolog urum1249[2]

Urum is a Turkic language spoken by several thousand ethnic Greeks who inhabit a few villages in Georgia and Southeastern Ukraine. The Urum language is often considered a variant of Crimean Tatar.

The name Urum is derived from Rûm ("Rome"), the term for the Byzantine Empire in the Muslim world. The Ottoman Empire used it to describe non-Muslims within the empire. The initial vowel in Urum is prosthetic. Turkic languages originally did not have /ɾ/ in the word-initial position and so in borrowed words, it used to add a vowel before it. The common use of the term Urum appears to have led to some confusion, as most Turkish-speaking Greeks were called Urum. The Turkish-speaking population in Georgia is often confused with the distinct community in Ukraine.[3][4]



Consonant phonemes
  Labial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p b t d c ɟ k ɡ    
Affricate         ts¹              
Fricative f v θ ð ² s z ʃ ʒ     x c h  
Nasal m n             ŋ    
Flap/Tap     ɾ                    
Lateral     l                    
Approximant                 j        

(1) /ts/ is found only in loanwords.

(2) /θ/ and /ð/ are found only in loanwords from Greek.

Writing system

A few manuscripts are known to be written in Urum using Greek characters.[5] During the period between 1927 and 1937, the Urum language was written in reformed Latin characters, the New Turkic Alphabet, and used in local schools; at least one primer is known to have been printed. In 1937 the use of written Urum stopped. Alexander Garkavets uses the following alphabet:[6]

А а Б б В в Г г Ғ ғ Д д (Δ δ) Д′ д′
(Ђ ђ) Е е Ж ж Җ җ З з И и Й й К к
Л л М м Н н Ң ң О о Ӧ ӧ П п Р р
С с Т т Т′ т′ (Ћ ћ) У у Ӱ ӱ Υ υ Ф ф
Х х Һ һ Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы
Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я Ѳ ѳ

In an Urum primer issued in Kiev in 2008 the following alphabet is suggested: [7]

А а Б б В в Г г Ґ ґ Д д Д' д' Дж дж
Е е З з И и Й й К к Л л М м Н н
О о Ӧ ӧ П п Р р С с Т т Т' т' У у
Ӱ ӱ Ф ф Х х Ч ч Ш ш Ы ы Э э


Very little has been published on the Urum language. There exists a very small lexicon,[8] and a small description of the language.[9] For Caucasian Urum, there is a language documentation project that collected a dictionary,[10] a set of grammatically relevant clausal constructions,[11] and a text corpus.[12] The website of the project contains issues about language and history.[13]


Urum language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
  1. Urum at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Urum". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Казаков, Алексей (December 2000). Понтийские греки (in Russian).
  4. Gordon, Raymond G. (ed.) (2005). "Ethnologue Report for Urum". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. SIL International.
  5. "Urum". Language Museum. Archived from the original on July 5, 2015.
  6. Гаркавець, Олександр (2000). Урумський словник (pdf, html) (in Ukrainian and Urum). p. 632.
  7. Смолина, Мария (2008). Урумский язык. Урум дили (приазовский вариант). Учебное пособие для начинающих с аудиоприложением (in Russian and Urum). p. 168. ISBN 966-8535-15-4.
  8. Podolsky, Baruch (1985). A Tatar - English Glossary. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-00299-9.
  9. Podolsky, Baruch (1986). "Notes on the Urum Language". Mediterranean Language Review. 2: 99–112.
  10. Skopeteas, Moisidi, Sella-Mazi, and Yordanoglu (2010). "Urum basic lexicon. Ms." (Pdf). University of Bielefeld.
  11. Verhoeven, Moisidi, and Yordanoglu (2010). "Urum basic grammatical structures. Ms." (PDF). University of Bremen.
  12. Skopeteas and Moisidi (2010). "Urum text collection. Ms." (PDF). University of Bielefeld.
  13. "Urum documentation project".
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