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     The Kipchak language is a Turkic language; in western Asia of the 1930s it is made up of five groups:


  • Kipchak-Bulgar:  mostly spoken around the Caspian Sea.

  • Kipchak-Cuman:  found in the Crimea and on the north coast of the Black Sea; easiest for a modern Turkish speaker to understand.

  • Kipchak-Nogai:  found around the Aral and Caspian Sea, and in the Kazakh SSR. Pronunciation difficult for a modern Turkish speaker to understand, as this language split off from Qypcaq much earlier on.

  • Kipchak-Kyrgz:  found mostly in the Kirghiz ASSR. Pronunciation difficult for a modern Turkish speaker to understand.

  • South Kipchak:  formerly spoken in the Fergana Valley of the Tuzbek SSR. The last native speakers died in the 1920s, which makes understanding pronunciation difficult. The Soviet Union didn't encourage its survival.


     There was an older common Kipchak language, often spelled Qypcaq in Latin letters; all of the above languages are descended from it. This was the language of the Golden Horde. Qypcaq has been "extinct" as a separate language since the 17th Century, having divided into the above groups (plus a couple of groups much further east: Siberian Kipchak, for example.

     Only very basic conversation between a modern Turkish speaker and a Siberian Kipchak speaker is possible -- counting from one to ten, body parts, lots of adjectives, common animal names ...).

     Each of these groups has at least a couple of dialects. Intelligibility within a group is high; between modern Turkish and the Kipchak language, they are difficult to understand when spoken, but easier to read (presuming you know the script form being used -- Latin or Arabic). Many of the differences between the Kipchak languages and modern Turkish are due to more influence by Arabic and Persian on the Kipchak languages -- so if you know Arabic or Farsi, and modern Turkic, you can read most Kipchak writings. Kipchak-Cuman is heavily influenced by Turkish, and is very easy for a speaker of modern Turkish to understand.

     Here's an example of written Qypcaq. It might be written in the Armenian, Syraic or Arabic alphabet ... the use of the Armenian alphabet was also common in the Ottoman Empire, as an alternative to the Arabic or Greek alphabets, before the Great War.

     The majority of modern printed materials in the Kipchak languages have been religious works -- both Christian and Islamic. Contacting a missionary group or Bible society might be useful. It's unlikely any Qypcaq texts were every "printed", in the sense of movable type, except for the Bible and the Koran.


The Golden Horde

     The name of a body of Tatars who in the middle of the 13th century overran a great portion of eastern Europe and founded in Russia the Tatar empire or khanate known as the Empire of the Golden Horde or Western Kipchaks.

     They invaded Europe about 1237 under the leadership of Batu Khan, a younger son of Juji (or Jochi), eldest son of Jenghiz Khan, passed over Russia with slaughter and destruction, and penetrated into Silesia, Poland and Hungary, finally defeating Henry II, duke of Silesia, at Liegnitz in the battle known as the Wahlstatt on the 9th of April 1241. So costly was this victory, however, that Batu, finding he could not reduce Neustadt, retraced his steps and established himself in his magnificent tent (whence the name "golden") on the Volga. The new settlement was known as Sir Orda (" Golden Camp," whence "Golden Horde").

     Very rapidly the powers of Batu extended over the Russian princes, and so long as the khanate remained in the direct descent from Batu nothing occurred to check the growth of the empire. The names of Bata's successors are Sartak (1256), Bereke (Baraka) (1256-1266), Mangu-Timur (1266-1280), Tuda-Mengu. (1280-1287), (?) Tula Bugha (1287-1290), Toktu (1290-1312), Uzbeg (1312-1340) who converted the Horde to Islam, Tin-Beg (1340), and Jani-Beg (1340-1357). The death of Jani-Beg, however, threw the empire into confusion. Birth-Beg (Berdibek) only reigned for two years, after which two rulers, calling themselves sons of Jani-Beg occupied the throne during one year. From that time (1359) till 1378 no single ruler held the whole empire under control, various members of the other branches of the old house assuming the title. At last in 1378 Toktamish, of the Eastern Kipchaks, succeeded in ousting all rivals, and establishing himself as ruler of eastern and western Kipchak. For a short time the glory of the Golden Horde was renewed, until it was finally crushed by Timur in 1395.

     See Sir Henry Howorth's History of the Mongols; S. Lane-Poole's Mohammadan Dynasties (1894), pp. 222-231; for the relations of the various descendants of Jenghiz, see Stockvis, Manuel d'histoire, vol. i. chap. ix. table 7.


-- from the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 edition


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