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Tyvan or Tuvan (тыва дыл) is a Turkic language spoken by more than 210,000 people worldwide. Most Tyvan speakers live in the Tyva region of Russia, where the language holds official status. There are also some Tyvan ethnic groups in China and Mongolia.


Pronunciation guide[edit]

Russian print and cursive

The Tyvan alphabet is based on the extended Cyrillic alphabet, like Russian.

Like the Russia cursive alphabet, the cursive Tyvan alphabet looks very different from the printed alphabet. As with other languages written in Cyrillic letters, the Tyvan printed alphabet is rarely used when writing by hand.

Vowels[edit]

a ah
like father if stressed; if not, pronounced like 'u' as in hut
e yeh
like yesterday if stressed, before a stressed syllable pronounced as "ee" as in eel, or if after a stressed syllable and in only one syllable, pronounced like "eh" as in "tell"
ё yoh
like yore; always stressed; pronounced "o" only after ч, ш, щ and ж.
и ee
like seen or the i in Machine
o oh
like score when stressed; when unstressed, it is a hard a in Hakeem (syllable before stress) or the o in Gibson (elsewhere).
ө ö
sounds like bird
у oo
like cartoon, lips rounded as with French ou
ү ü
like French fut
ы yh
like sit, hit, but pronounced far further down the throat, as if being punched in the stomach
э eh
like end (also pronounced further down the throat, as if being punched in the stomach)
ю yoo
like you or Yugoslavia if stressed; if not, pronounced "oo" like cartoon
я yah
like Yacht when stressed; before a stressed syllable pronounced as "ee" as in eel, or if after a stressed syllable and in only one syllable, pronounced like "eh" as in "tell"

The vowels are listed in alphabetical order. Please notice that these vowels also occur in hard/soft pairs: a/я, э/e, o/ё, ы/и, y/ю.

Unfortunately, vowel ё is very often written as е, which can cause problems for non-native speakers, since some Tyvan/Russian words have a different meaning depending on е or ё usage. Fortunately special books (like dictionaries, grammar books, literature for foreigners, etc.) always include ё.

Consonants[edit]

б b
like boy
в v
like very
г g
like go; e.g., "have fun" = хөглээр
д d
like do
ж zh
like measure; always hard
з z
like zoo
й y
like boy
к k
like keep
л l
like leak or look
м m
like seem
н n
like noodle; pronounced ny (palatalized, like a Spanish ñ) before ь, и, e, я, and ю.
ң  ng
like sing
п p
like spigot
р r
heavily rolled as in Spanish rr in perro
с s
like seem
т t
like tattoo
ф f
like French
х kh
voiceless velar fricative as in the Scottish loch or German Bach
ц ts
like boots; always hard
ч ch
like cheap; always soft
ш sh
like shot; always hard (pronounced with the tip of the tongue further back in the mouth, almost a retroflex)
щ sh
similar to sheet; always soft: unlike ш, щ is palatalized, meaning that the tip of the tongue rests on the back of the lower teeth, and the sh sound is pronounced with the middle of the tongue. Don't worry about this too much, as you'll be understood in context. (Note that though щ is often transliterated as shch, it is not pronounced similar to "harsh choice"—there is no ch sound in this Tyvan consonant)

Basics[edit]

Common signs


OPEN
Ажык / Ажылдап турар
CLOSED
Хааглыг / Ажылдавайн турар
ENTRANCE
Кирер тала
EXIT
Үнер тала
PUSH
Бодундан
PULL
Бодунче / Тырттар
TOILET
Арыгланыр чер
MEN
М / Эр
WOMEN
Ж / Кыс / Херээжен
NO ENTRANCE
Кирбес / Кирим чок
[ENTRY] FORBIDDEN
Эртип болбас / Эртпес
PLEASE KNOCK BEFORE ENTERING
Соктап, кириңер
NO SMOKING
Таакпылавас
DANGER - NO ENTRY!
Үнмес - өлүмге чедер!

How many names!

Tyvan (as Russians names) take three names, a first name (ат), patronymic (адазының ады), and last name (фамилиязы азы аймаа). Here are some of the most common ones that might give you trouble:

Male names

  • Azhykai (Ажыкай)
  • Aleksei (Алексей) → Alyosha (Алёша), Lyosha (Лёша), Lyokha (Лёха)
  • Saryg (Сарыг) → Sarygbai (Сарыгбай)
  • Alash (Алаш) → Alashpai (Алашпай)



Female names

  • Cheinesh (Чейнеш) → Neshka (Нешка)
  • Chinchi (Чинчи) → Chinchikei (Чинчикей)
  • SHonchalai (Шончалай) → Shonya (Шоня)
Hello. (formal)
Амыр-менди.
Hello. (informal)
Экии.
Hi.
Экии, Кээ-эки.
How are you?
Кайы хире тур сен? Кандыг-дыр че? Чүү-дүр че?
Fine, thank you.
Эки, четтирдим. Ажырбас.
What is your name?
Адыңар кымыл?
My name is ______ .
Мээң адым ______ .
Nice to meet you.
Өөрүнчүг-дүр. Амыранчыг-дыр.
Please.
Ажырбас.
Thank you.
Четтирдим.
You're welcome.
Ажырбас.
Yes.
Ийе.
No.
Чок.
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Буруулуг болдум.
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Буруулуг болдум.
I'm sorry.
Буруулуг болдум.
Goodbye
Байырлыг.
Goodbye (informal)
Байырлыг. Чаа.
I can't speak Tyvan [well].
(Шоолуг) тывалап билбес мен.
Do you speak English?
Англилеп чугаалажыыр силер бе?
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Мында англилеп кым билир ирги?
Help!
Дузалаңарам!
Look out!
Оваарымчалыг бол!
Good morning.
Эртенгиниң мендизи-биле!
Good evening.
Кежээкиниң мендизи-биле!
Good night (to sleep)
Эки хонар силер.
I don't understand.
Билбейн тур мен.
I don't know.
Билбес мен.
I can't.
Шыдавас мен.
Where is the toilet?
Туалет кайдал? Арыгланыр чер кайдал?
Good
Эки.
Bad
Багай.
Big
Улуг.
Small
Бичии.
Hot
Изиг.
Cold
Соок.
Fast
Дүрген.
Slow
Оожум.
Expensive
Өртээ аар. Аар өртектиг.
Cheap
Чиик өртектиг. Өртээ чиик.
Rich
Бай. Байлак. Бай-шыырак.
Poor
Ядыы. Ядаңгы. Чединмес.

Problems[edit]

Emergency numbers

In most areas, emergency telephone numbers are as follows:

  • 101 : Fire department
  • 102 : Police
  • 103 : Ambulance
  • 104 : Gas leaks

It is essential to be able to provide emergency responders with your correct street address. Depending on how busy they are, and how serious the medical emergency appears, it may take from a few minutes to an hour for an ambulance to arrive.

Leave me alone.
Анчыын.
Don't touch me!
Меңээ дегбеңер.
I'll call the police!
Полиция долгаптар мен.
Police!
Шагдаа! Полиция!
Stop! Thief!
Ооржуну тудуңар!
I need your help.
Меңээ силерниң дузаңар херек.
It's an emergency.
Дүрген херек.
I'm lost.
Азып калдым.

In the examples below, the extra suffix (а) is for the feminine gender:

I lost my bag.
Барбам чидирип алдым. Сумкам чидирип алдым.
I lost my wallet.
Акшам чидирип алдым.
My things have been stolen.
Оорладып алдым. Мени оорлап каапты.
I'm sick.
Аарый бердим.
I've been injured.
Балыгланы бердим.
I've been bitten by a dog.
Мени ыт ызырыпты.
I need a doctor.
Меңээ эмчи херек.
Please call an ambulance.
Дүрген дузадан долгаптыңарам. "Скорая помощьтан" кыйгыртыптыңарам.
Can I use your phone?
Силерден долгаптайн бе?
(this can be used only for stationary phone, not for mobile. Asking a mobile phone from unknown person is generally not polite, as this is commonly done by con artists. In some cases a person may allow you to make a call from his cell phone to another cell phone number in the same province, but not to a landline phone number or to a non-local cell phone number.)



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