Old Turkic language

Not to be confused with Proto-Turkic language or Turkic languages.
"Old Turkish" redirects here. For the form of Turkish spoken in what is now modern Turkey during the 11th-15th centuries, see Old Anatolian Turkish.
Old Turkic
Old Uyghur
Region Central Asia and Mongolia
Era evolved into other Turkic languages
Old Turkic, Uyghur alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
otk  Old Turkish
oui  Old Uighur
Linguist list
otk Old Turkish
  oui Old Uighur
Glottolog oldu1238[1]

Old Turkic (also East Old Turkic, Orkhon Turkic, Old Uyghur) is the earliest attested form of Turkic, found in Göktürk and Uyghur inscriptions dating from about the 7th century to the 13th century. It is the oldest attested member of the Orkhon branch of Turkic, which is extant in the modern Western Yugur language. However, it is not the ancestor of the language now called Uighur; the contemporaneous ancestor of Uighur to the west is called Middle Turkic.

Old Turkic is attested in a number of scripts, including the Orkhon-Yenisei runiform script, the Old Uyghur alphabet (a form of the Sogdian alphabet), the Brāhmī script, the Manichean alphabet, and the Perso-Arabic script.


Sources of Old Turkic are divided into three corpora:


Old Turkic has nine vowel qualities;

Front Back
Unr. Rnd. Unr. Rnd.
Close i y ɯ u
Open e ø ɑ o

Rounded vowels only occur at the first syllable

The consonantal system;

Labial Dental Post-
Velar Uvular
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop pb td kg qb
Fricative sz ʃ
Trill ɾ
Approximant kl j

Old Turkic is highly restrictive in consonants that words begin with. In the consonant inventory of Old Turkic; d, g, b, l, n, ɲ, ŋ p, ɾ, ʃ, z and m are not tolerated in word initial position. The only counter examples would be 𐰤𐰀 (ne, “what, which”) and its derivatives, and some early assimilations of word initial /b/ to /m/ following a nasal in a word such as 𐰢𐰤 (men, “I”).

See also


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Old Uighur". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Further Reading

Old Turkic language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
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