Kalmyk is a member of the Kalmyk-Oirat branch of the Mongolian language family. It is spoken in the Kalmykia Republic in the west of the Russian Federation, and in parts of western China and western Mongolia. In Kalmykia it is known as Kalmyk, while in China and Mongolia it is known as Oirat.
Others names for the language include Kalmyk-Oirat, European Oirat, Kalmack, Kalmuck, Kalmuk, Khalli, Qalmaq, Volga Oirat, Western Mongolian, 卫拉特语 (Wèilātè yǔ) or Xinjiang Mongolian.
In 2010 there were about 183,000 speakers of Kalmyk in Kalmykia, mainly in Astrakhan province. In 2007 there were 130,000 speakers of Kalmyk in western parts China, particularly in Gansu and Qinghai provinces, and in Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In 2016 there were about 221,000 speakers of Oirat in Mongolia in the provinces of Bayan-Ölgii, Uvs, Khovd, Khövsgöl, Zavkhan, Govi-Altai and Arkhangai.
Kalmyk was first written with the Uyghur script in the 11th century. Then in 1648 a Kalmyk Buddhist monk called Zaya Pandita Oktorguin Dalai created the Kalmyk alphabet or Todo Bichig (Clear Script) by adapting the Classical Mongolian script. The Clear script is still used by Kalmyks in China. Between 1930 and 1938 Kalmyk was written with a version of the Latin alphabet. Modern written Kalmyk is based on the Torgut dialect.
The Kalmyk-Oirat Clear Script is written in vertical columns running from top to bottom and left to right. Each letter has a different shape depending where it appears in a word, and special symbols are used for combinations of some letters.
In Russia Kalmyk has been written with various versions of the Cyrillic alphabet since the end of the 19th century. A standard way of writing Kalmyk with the Cyrillic alphabet was adopted in 1924. This was revised several times after that, and replaced by the Latin alphabet between 1930 and 1938. A new version of the Cyrillic alphabet was used from 1938, and that was revivsed in the 1941, and again in the 1950s.
Information about Kalmyk pronunciation compiled by Wolfram Siegel.
Мана Теңгрин эцк! Нернтн әрүн болтха! Тана йосн иртхә! Тенгрт бутсн таалтн һазр деер бүттхә! Эркн кергтә өдмг Эндр өдрт илгәһит! Яһҗ бидн күүнә килнц тәвнәвидн, Тиигҗ Та килнцмдн тәвүлит! Сөрдг юмнла бичә харһулыт! Эрлгәс гетлгит!
Mana Teñgrin eck! Nerntn ärün boltxa! Tana josn irtxä! Tengrt butsn taaltn hazr deer büttxä! Erkn kergtä ödmg Endr ödrt ilgähit! Jahǧ bidn küünä kilnc täwnäwidn, Tiigǧ Ta kilncmdn täwülit! Sördg jumnla bičä xarhulyt! Erlgäs getlgit!
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Information about the Kalmyk language
Information about the Kalmyk-Oirat Clear Script
Kalmyk American Society
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Page last modified: 15.03.23
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