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History of the Tatar Alphabet

Before 1928, the Tatar language was usually written using the Arabic alphabet. The Tatar Arabic alphabet used some letters such as چ and پ also found in the Persian modification of the Arabic alphabet, and in addition used ﯓ which is called nef or sağır kef. The writing system was inherited from Bolgar.

The most ancient of Tatar literature (in Bolgar) was created in the beginning of the 13th century. (Qíssai Yosıf by Qol-Ğäli). Until 1905 all literature was in Old Tatar, which was evolved from the Bolgar, which differed from modern Tatar. Since 1905 gazettes came to use modern Tatar in publishing. In 1918 the alphabet was revised (see Yaña imlâ alphabet; some letters for Tatar sounds were added, some Arabic letters were deleted). The Latin-based Jaꞑalif was used from 1928 but superseded by the Cyrillic script in 1939. The Republic of Tatarstan passed a law in 1999 and coming into force in 2001 establishing an official Tatar Latin alphabet.

It includes some special letters:.

äÄ ğĞ çÇ cC ıI iİ ñÑ öÖ şŞ üÜ

The Tatar Alphabet


Tatar does not allow two vowels to occur together,

There are exceptions, but mostly in foreign imported words.

Whenever two vowels occur together they are each pronounced as a separate sound.

The letter -Y- is considered as a consonant in Tatar.

It is used as a buffer consonant to keep vowels apart during word building.

  • The Tatar Alphabet consists of twenty-five consonants and nine vowels.
  • The alphabet is phonetic.
  • Each letter retains its individual pronunciation at all times.
  • There are no diphthongs except in a few foreign loan words.
  • The Letters included in the Tatar alphabet are:
  • ä Ä (ä dieresis)
  • ı I (UnDotted I)
  •  (Dotted İ)
  • ç Ç (C-cedilla)
  • ş Ş (S cedilla)
  • ö Ö (Ö dieresis)
  • ü Ü(Ü dieresis)
  • ñ Ñ(n wıth tilde)
  • ğ Ğ(ğ wıth breve)

  • The letter n N has a nasal form ñ Ñ
  • [as in English "song, sıng, long"]
  • The letter g G also has a soft form ğ Ğ
  • [as in English "fight, weight, sought"]

There are nine pairs of two similar but different letters. There is a difference in the pronunciation of each letter.

Ä - A   I - İ   O - Ö   U - Ü   C - Ç   G - Ğ   N - Ñ   K - Q   S - Ş

Pronunciation Differences between Tatar and English

Example sound files for Tatar Pronunciation.

Tatar Vowel Pronunciation

The Nine Vowels are divided into two groups for Vowel Harmony purposes.

The A-UnDotted Vowel Group

  • A pronounced as U in English lucky or mutter.
  • Listen to Tatar A
    aşa ulım alma diyep

    • Ä pronounced as A in English have or thatr.
    • Listen to Tatar A
      anda min räsemnär küräm
  • I - UnDotted I pronounced as ER sound in porter or water - without any r sound.
  • Listen to Tatar I
    sır, kış, sıyırçık
  • O pronounced as the O sound in lottery or bottom.
  • Listen to Tatar O
    monda bötenese ber bersen belälär
  • U pronounced as the OO sound in loot or boot
  • Listen to Tatar U
    urman, kuyan

The E-Dotted Vowel Group

  • E pronounced is as e in letter or set or met
  • Listen to Tatar E
    gel, berençe, serle, ike
  • İ - Dotted İ pronounced is as ee in meet or ea in seat.
  • Listen to Tatar İ
    kiçke säğät cidedä oşraşırga söyläştek
  • Ö pronounced is as ir in bird or shirt - without any r sound.
  • Listen to Tatar Ö
    köz köne
  • Ü pronounced as ew sound few or stew
  • Listen to Tatar Ü
    ürdäk küp aşarga yarata

Tatar Consonant Pronunciation

The Pronunciation of these Consonants differs from English Pronunciation:

  • C pronounced as j sound as in jam jar.
  • Listen to Tatar C
    käcä xucalıgında sarık xuca bulmıy
  • Ç pronounced as ch sound as in church
  • Listen to Tatar Ç
    min çäçäk büläk itäm
  • is always hard as in gate. It is never soft as in general.
  • Listen to Tatar hard G
    iglan, komgan, gına
  • Ğ (soft G) lengthens the preceding vowel.
  • Listen to Tatar soft Ğ
  • H is always aspirated as in Henry. It is never silent as in Heir.
  • Listen to Tatar H
    här egetneñ yaxşı hönäre bulırga tiyeş

      • OrH is the English kh or Scottish and German ch sound as in Loch Ness or Bach. Someone uses letter Xinstead ofH, but it would be better to avoid using X letter, because letter H is much easier to read in texts.
      • Listen to Tatar H
        hatınım da avırırga tora, hälsezlänep yöri

  • J pronounced as the French jolıe and in English closure, pleasure
  • J is used in foreign imported words
    jezl, jeton 

  • R is always strongly rolled even on the end of words.
  • Listen to Tatar R
    Tatarstannıñ tabiğate ayıruça matur
  • S is always hissed as in safe. - It is never a z sound as in these or those.
  • Listen to Tatar S
    sälämätlekne saklarga kiräk
  • Ş is the sh sound as in sharp or bash.
  • Listen to Tatar Ş
    bu yaxşı uram

            • Q is the q sound as in queen or quick, but the sound is more nasal. It is possible to use K instead of Q.
            • Listen to Tatar Q
              ul Qazannan (ul Kazannan)
                • Ñ is the ng sound as in going or song, but the sound is more nasal.
                • Listen to Tatar Ñ
                  tatar cırınıñ nindiyder ber moñı bar
                • Tatar language don't have sound V as in "vegetable", maybe there are only in a few foreign words. Letter V pronounced as in "w" sound, for example as in "wall". Someone uses W letter, but it would be better to avoid using W letter, because letter V is much easier to read in texts.