The Dobrudjan dialect of the Crimean Tatar Language

Eden Kurtasan

The Dobrudjan dialect of the Crimean Tatar Language

(63rd Annual Meeting Ulaanbaatar, 2021)

Dobrudja is a region situated in the middle of the road between Crimea and the Ottoman Empire/Turkey. Therefore it holds a key-position in the modern history of Crimean Tatars.

The first Tatar traces date back to the 13th century and have a continuity throughout time. However we can speak of a massive presence in the 19th century after the fall of the Crimean Khanate in 1783 and especially after the Crimean War (1853-1856). A huge number of Tatars migrated to the Ottoman land briefly becoming the major ethnic group. After the territory was integrated into Romania in 1878 many Tatars migrated further towards Turks but an important number stayed.

Crimea was gradually lost for good by Tatars to Russians and even totally emptied by Stalin in the 1944 Genocide. Also most of the Tatars in Turkey were assimilated. This is why the Tatars in Dobrudja became the main keepers of the native language and identity.

The Crimean Tatar language is a Turkic language derived from the North-Western Kipchak branch. As the Crimean Khanate entered under a privileged Ottoman protectorate from its earliest stages, it also started using the Ottoman language at the official level. Thus the Tatar language is mainly a language of the common people and rather oral than written. There are three main dialects belonging to the three main groups of Tatars: Chongar (Keric), Nogay and Tat. This Crimean structure migrated to Dobrudja along with the people. But in time following the social changes Nogay and Tat dialects merged in the main Chongar one which had the strongest literary heritage. Currently the Dobrudjan Tatar keeps its original status but unfortunately it is under the danger of extinction.