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Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Altay


Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights - Russian Federation

Language Profile





Altai Republic, Russia.


 Altay is a language of the Turkic group of languages. It is an official language of Altai Republic, Russia. The language was called Oyrot prior to 1948. There were ca. 67,900 people speaking this language in 2002.


Due to its isolated position in the Altay Mountains and contact with surrounding languages, the classification of Altay within the Turkic languages has often been disputed. Because of its geographic proximity to the Shor and Khakas languages, some classifications place it in a Northern Turkic sub-group. Due to certain similarities with Kyrgyz, it has been grouped with the Kypchak languages. A more recent classification by Talat Tekin places Southern Altay in its own sub-group within Turkic and groups the Northern Altay dialects with Lower Chulym and the Kondoma dialect of Shor.


Altay is spoken primarily in the Altai Republic (Southern Altay) and Altai Krai (Northern Altay).


Along with Russian, Altay is an official language of the Altai Republic. The official language is based on the Southern dialect spoken by the group called the Altay-kiži, however in the few years it has also spread to the Northern Altai Republic.


Altay is usually divided into Northern and Southern dialects, which are then further broken down into a number of sub-dialects. The breakdown of these dialects is as follows:

  • Southern Altay
    ·         Altay proper
    ·         Mayma
    ·         Telengit
    ·         Tölös
    ·         Chuy
    ·        Teleut
  • Northern Altay 
    ·         Tuba
    ·         Kumandy
    ·         Turachak
    ·         Solton
    ·         Starobardinia
    ·        Chalkan (also called Kuu, Lebedin)