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THE KHAKAS LANGUAGE

The Khakas language belongs to Sary-Uighurian subgroup of  the Northern-Eastern branch of Turkic dialects that constitute as well as other relative tongues like Mongolian, Korean, Tunguzian, and etc. Altaian group of Ural-Altai linguistic family. Together with that the Khakas language bears in form of borrowed and transformed words a many traces of Finno-Ugric, Persian, Mongolian and even Arabic languages.

The Khakas nation in history has had a high level of culture the obvious evidence of which is ancient Kyrghyz writing system of V-XIII centuries based on Turkic alphabet. This Kyrghyz alphabet and writing system had been widespread among the population of the ancient Kyrghyz Khanate. Information about that may be met and seen on a lot of steles with Kyrghyz inscriptions throughout the Khakas steppes. In spite of many historical handicaps and difficulties this writing system of the ancestors of Khakas nation had kept and continued even in narrow and limited dimensions as far as XVII century when Russians have come from the West to Khakas (Hongoria) land in order to invade and occupy it and even until the beginning of XVIII century when Khakas state of Khongoria has been destroyed and occupied by the alien invaders.

After Mongolian and then Russian assaults in Kyrghyz state there have decreased both a population and level of ancient Kyrghyz culture. Due to (in result of) these negative historic processes as above-mentioned invasion and occupation the ancient Kyrghyz Turkic alphabet and writing have forever disappeared from cultural life of our nation.

A distinctive honorable place within the rehabilitation process of ancient Kyrghyz alphabet in particular and ancient Turkic one in general has belonged to D.G. Messerschmidt, who in 1721 for the first time discovered the steles of Yenisei Turkic inscriptions (Ancient Kyrghyz inscription steles which in following times  has been named as Yenisei and Orkhon [located in Orkhon River basin in northern Mongolia] inscriptions, and to W. Thomsen and W. Radloff who in the late of XIX century for the first time could decode and decipher these ancient Turkic inscriptions.

A lot of linguists and ethnographers have hardly and self-denying made researches in and worked on general (common) Turkic language and its dialects and henceforth the Khakas one. Among these scientists there are W. Radloff, W. Thomsen, I. Gasprinsky, N.F. Katanoff, and many others.

Prof. Dr. N.F. Katanoff whom origin was a Khakas Turk (or Abakan Turk, a name under which the Khakas people was well-known then) is the most prominent man in the Khakas national science who thanks to his own talent, extraordinary intelligence and hardly exertions has reached to scientific Olympus peak of  Turkology where there are other gigantic stars of this science. A professor of Kazan Imperial University Nikolai Fedorovich Katanov who in Khakas was known as Khyzyl olgy Pora Katan has had a full, honorable and correspondent membership in many Russian and European scientific associations.

His private library consisted of rich collection of approximately 9 thousand books written in 22 language (these languages are Persian, Arabic, German, Russian, Khakas, Turkish, Greek, and many others) is in a building of Turkologic Researches Institute of Istanbul University.  This book collection was brought to Istanbul by an Ottoman Sadrazam (a Prime Minister of Turkish state in Ottoman period) Hilmi Pasha from Kazan (Tatarstan) in 1912.

Unfortunately, a fate of this really giant of science was to extremely extent full of hardships and handicaps most of which was derived from his poverty and non-Russian ethnic origin.  During Czarist Russian Empire there was widespread such hard to understanding and the most evident simple of nationalities policy on state level tradition transformed into state-backed practice as stamp known as ‘Inorodtsy‘ [‘people of alien race‘]. Men belonged to  southern Siberian non-Russian peoples in particular, who has been stamped as Inorodets and forced to bear this shameful Russian label which during Czarist regime has been given to some non-Russian peoples who have generally been looked at as if they (i.e., these men belonged to non-Russian nationalities) have been culturally undeveloped and mentally retarded. In addition to that all scientific works of this noble and proud son of the Khakas nation had not been published since the early years of XX century until the late years of Soviet totalitarian regime and there had untill the 1960‘s been efforts for slandering and dishonor his innocent name.

Khakas-origined ethnographer, turkologist and orientalist of XIXth and XXth centuries, a follower of a well-known scientist W. Radloff, and an explorer of new epoch in Turkology for own followers, a doctor of comparative philology whose scientific heritage has kept actuality till present days,  a professor of Kazan  Imperial  University Nikolai F. Katanoff‘s selected scientific writings and ethnographic, culturologic patterns of Turkic tribles lived in south Siberia was published in Ankara (Turkey) in 2000. This is very important step within a process of rehabilitation of his name and continuation of revitalizing his scientific heritage through publishing and popularizing. A thousand items of this book published by International Organozation of TURKSOY (The Joint Administration of Turkic Culture and Arts) in three language (Khakas, Turkish and Russian) have been sent to the Motherland of this famous man of science Khakas Republic from Turkey where N.F.Katanoff had when he was alive a strong desire to come to.

In the 1920‘s  in Khakas Republic there was the Khakas people has been formed more than 80 percent of population of republic, but in the end of 1990‘s there is the Khakas constitute of only 10 percent within total population. Moreover since 1940‘s Khakas language has been excluded from official correspondence and since 1960‘s its instruction function in the basic, secondary and higher school education also has been finished and transformed to ordinary optional lesson of so-named Native language. Thus, our language like in Czarist Russian period has been punished to edge of total disappearance and been deprived of basic right to develop and to be developed.

While during a period between the first years of 1930‘s and the last years of 1940‘s to Khakas language had been used Roman letters. Interesting fact that Ataturk who is a prominent son of Turkish nation and all Turkic world and who is the founder and the first president of Turkish state also has within the same period made revolution in alphabet by changing Arabic script into Roman (Latin) one. In 1939 then leader of Soviet Union Stalin and totalitarian state represented by him forced many of non-Russian peoples to revert to Russian letters based on Cyrillic script.

In our days Khakas alphabet consists of Russian (33 litters) and Khakas (6 litters ) letters; although the latter, i.e. Khakas letters are distinguished from Russian ones Khakas letters as well as Russian ones are based on Cyrillic graphic.

At present time Khakas language has again acquired official status of state language and in present days Khakas language‘s status equals to status of Russian within Khakas Republic. In spite of this positive progress our language has no equal possibilities and advantages (political, demographic, and etc.) as Russian and more vulnerable to handicaps arrived from economical problems.

Khakas language due to reflection of problematic situation observed in a field related to linguistic existence has been added to Red Book of Endangered Languages of Russia prepared abroad. Every Khakas have to contribute something to process of revitalizing of Khakas language because of if our native Khakas language disappear we as Khakas nation  would came to finish and become merely a mass or population without own language, i.e. then our people would be totally assimilated.   

I believe that every language of 6701 languages existed all around the world and spoken in approximately 227 countries has a right to be spoken and developed, i.e., to be alive.

***And I think that because of all tongues are treasures of cultural diversity our world has really been the Heaven for existence of all cultures and peoples. Of course, on the Earth there has always appeared negative and even dangerous trends directed and conducted against  culturally heterogeneous heritage of humankind which is source of cultural wealth. From this point of view I applaud to every movement like your one which is a real milestone  toward the understanding of inevitability of hegemony through such principle as ‘E Pluribus Unum’ [‘Unity within diversity’] on the world where we live all together.

Timur Bulat DAVLET  [30 Kichker 2001]