Today’s post is about the Tuvan language, for the letter T.
Tuvan is a Turkic language spoken by approximately 250,000 people in the Republic of Tuva and its surrounding areas in the Russian Federation, China and Mongolia. UNESCO has the language classed as vulnerable, and according to Ethnologue, Tuvan is considered to be one of the vital minority languages in Siberia due to its geographic isolation.
Although not officially recognised, Tuvan is used by its speakers in the home, at work, and in government. However, Mongolian and Russian are also widely used in border areas and as a result, there could be fears that the people who speak Tuvan may one day assimilate into one of these languages.
Whereas the dawn of technology has perhaps promoted languages with more speakers, such as English, or Mandarin Chinese, in the face of some minority languages, people who wish to promote and save the Tuvan language have also found a way to use these resources to their advantage. A Tuvan talking dictionary has been set up online; this was launched in 2006 and contains almost 7,500 entries. There are also cultural and language exchanges set up at certain universities, to encourage outsiders to learn – and to be interested in – the Tuvan language. With these modern approaches, Tuvan will hopefully improve its endangered status in the future.
Resources for learning Tuvan
Wikipedia: Tuvan language
Center for Circumpolar Studies, Inc.: The Mongolian Tuvan Survival Project
The Siberian Times: Time to speak Tuvan. The Southern Siberia language is featured in National Geographic’s project