Alternative name(s): Tsjagaltai

Language family: Altaic

Language Group: Turkotatar

Geographical use: Krim area (Russia)

Information: Krymchak is only spoken by a few individuals and will soon become extinct.

In the early 20th century the Krymchak people lived in a close community on the Krim peninsula of the Black Sea. They had their own language, script and religion. After the Russian revolution in 1917 the language dissipated as Russian became the norm. In 1926 the Kymchak were 6388 persons in number. Their language was not recognized, as it was thought they spoke Tatar with many mistakes. The confusion is understandable as Krymchak is a Turkic language, as is Tatar.

The Nazi's almost completely annihilated the people as they were seen as Jews. Stalin finally put in an official decree that the Krymchak, i.e. the 2000 souls who survived the genocide, did not exist.

In 1989 the Krymchak received permission for the first time to get together. Several hundreds Krymchak came from all over the Soviet Union. Some brought along handwritten books that had been kept in the family from generation to generation. Nobody could read them as the language and the script were no longer known.

One of these books, written in 1920 by Josif Khalzie, was kept and is now one of the sole remnants of this language. It concists of the alphabet, word lists, grammar and the origin of the language.

Before the Russian revolution Krymchak was written with Hebrew characters, after the revolution a Uniform Turkic Alphabet was used. It is now written in the Cyrillic script.