Languages of the World – An Introduction to Tatar

Check out the short video below of Tatar proverbs and continue reading for a brief introduction to the Tatar language and Kazan, Russia.

Zilant, the official symbol of Kazan.

My visit to Kazan
I have spent a lot of time in Russia and have visited numerous times. Each time I go, I try to visit a new place to learn more about the diverse cultures of Russia. A couple of weeks before an upcoming visit to Russia, I called my friend in Moscow to ask her for advice on a city to visit after I finished some work in Nizhny Novgorod. She recommended that I take an overnight train to Kazan. I was not thrilled about the idea of an overnight train, but she worked hard to convince me that it would be worth it and that I would not be disappointed.

My friend had never visited Kazan herself, but the Russian Tatar’s reputation for hospitality and friendliness is famous throughout Russia.  She was sure that it would be an excellent experience for me. She told me to deal with the overnight train and just go there! Well, she had me convinced. I hoped that I would not be disappointed with Kazan.

My friend was right! I had a fabulous time in Kazan. I met many amazing people. I learned so much about the Tatar culture and language during my short stay. Kazan is also a beautiful city!

The Arabic clock at Tukaya Square.

While in Kazan, I met a lovely woman who invited me into the home of her grandparents. She took me to her village to spend a few hours with her family. We had a great time talking, eating, singing, and sharing stories about our lives.

I could go on and on about my fabulous time in Kazan. However, this article is meant to be about the Tartar language.

In the video below, my host’s grandfather shares three Tatar proverbs. He was a little shy about doing this on camera, so I appreciated his willingness to do this for me!

Proverb One
Cyrillic: Соң булса да, уң булсын
Latin: Soh’ bulsa da uh’ bulsyn!
Translation: Better late than never!

Proverb Two
Cyrillic: иртә уң маган кич уң мас кич уң маган һич те уң мас
Latin: Irte’ uh’magan kich uh’mas, kich uh’magan hich te’ uh’mas.
Translation: If it is not done well in the morning, it won’t be good in the evening. If not done in the evening, it won’t be done at all.

Proverb Three
Cyrillic: иртә торсаң ит пешә, соңга калсаң тир пешә
Latin: Irte’ torsah it peshe’, soh’ga kalsah’ tir peshe’.
Translation: If you get up in the morning you can prepare meat, if you are late you will sweat.

Tartar Language
More than 5 million people speak the Tatar language worldwide. Tatar is spoken predominantly in Russia, in the Republic of Tatarstan. The Tatar language is the most widely spoken minority language in Russia. There are also small populations of Tatars living in Turkey, China, and Kazakhstan. However, the dialects are different from the Tatar you will find in Kazan and the rest of Tatarstan. In Kazan, they speak a dialect known as Middle Tatar.

Tatar, like Russian, is written in the Cyrillic script. However, this is about all that the languages share. Tatar is a Turkic language, while Russian is Slavic. The two languages are very different.

The Tatar language is somewhat in decline as Russian is the preferred (by the government) language of communication and study. Tatar is not usually studied extensively in primary schools in Tatarstan.  Many Tatars like my host speak the language at home with family. However, there is a movement amongst Tatar people worldwide to keep their language and culture alive. There are still Tatar radio and television stations, and some institutions of higher education in Tatarstan offer courses in Tatar.

To learn more about the Tatar language visit this website.

I can’t express my gratitude enough to my host and her family for inviting me into their home and sharing their culture with me.

If ever in Russia, a visit to Kazan is a MUST!

Qolşärif Mosque

If you liked this video, check out this Russian tongue twister.


6 Comments

  1. Janaya December 2, 2017
    • VoyageFusion December 18, 2017
  2. Angela December 2, 2017
    • VoyageFusion December 18, 2017
  3. Maggie December 5, 2017
    • VoyageFusion December 18, 2017

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