Morphology of Tatar language

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Vowel harmony

See Vowel harmony and Wikipedia
Backness harmony

There are two classes of vowels in Tatar — front and back. Backness harmony states that words may not contain both front and back vowels.

Rounding harmony

Rounding harmony isn't represented in writing and is therefore not discussed here.


  • икътисад-ы-на, сәркатиб-е-нә
    • suffix harmonizes with the last syllable
  • табигать-кә, җәмгыять-кә, секретар(ь)-енә, табигат(ь)-е
    • -ь denotes that -а- and -я- are pronunced as [ә] and [jә] respectively (at least similar to them)
    • -ь is deleted before suffixes starting with a vowel
Letters 'е' 'ю' 'я'
  • ел+ы but егет+кә, гаеп+ле
    • having 'е' in stem is not enough to decide which variant of suffix (back-vowel or front-vowel) to choose[1]

Twol rules needed for this

  • "Soft sign deletion before suffix starting with a vowel"
    • ь:0 <=> _ %>: :Vowel ;


{L}{A}р           Plural
Rules surface forms of -/{L}{A}р/ Examples Gloss
Ends with nasal consonants (м, н, ң) -нар/-нәр урам+нар, дошман+нар,таң+нар streets,enemies,dawns
Ends with anything else -лар/-ләр бала+лар,кыз+лар,китап+лар,юләр+ләр children,girls,books,fools

Twol rules needed for this

  • "Plural alternation after nasal"
    • %{L%}:н <=> :NasalCns %>: _ %{A%}: р ;


() = deleted after vowel, [] = deleted after consonant, {} = archivowel/consonant

({I})м,                  1sg
({I})ң,                  2sg
[с]{I},                  3sg 
({I})б{I}з,              1pl
({I})г{I}з,              2pl
[с]{I} or {L}{A}р{I}     3pl

Note: -лары/-ләре, -нары/-нәре can have several meanings:

  • Әниләре өйдә юк. - Their mother is not at home.
  • Аның малайлары да үзенә охшаган. - His sons are just like him. (In this case {L}{A}р{I} is a combination of the plural suffix {L}{A}р and the 3 person singular possessive suffix [с]{I})
  • аларның сүзләре - their words

1st Person Possessives

Singular/Plural Suffix Example Gloss
Singular -ым becomes -м if ends with vowel ат+ым,бала+м my horse, my son
Plural -ыбыз becomes -быз if ends with vowel ат+ыбыз,бала+быз our horse, our son

2nd Person Possessive

Singular/Plural Suffix Example Gloss
Singular -ың becomes -ң if ends with vowel ат+ың,бала+ң your horse, your son
Plural -ыгыз becomes -гыз if ends with vowel ат+ыгыз,бала+гыз your horse,your son

3rd Person Possessive

Singular/Plural Suffix Example Gloss
-- -ы becomes -сы when following vowel[2] ат+ы,бала+сы his horse, his son

General Possessive

Singular/Plural Suffix Example Gloss
-- -ныкы/-неке бала+ныкы,дәүләтнеке child's,state's, (as their own NPs)


Case Name Suffixes
absolute ---
genitive -ның/-нең
dative -га/-гә, -ка/-кә
definite-accusative -ны/-не
ablative -дан/-дән, -тан/-тән, -нан/-нән
locative -да/-дә, -та/-тә


  1. It seems that in one-syllable words beginning with 'е' it always stands for [йы]. In two-or-more-syllable words decisive are the next to the end vowel. E.g. ел-ы ("his/its year") and егыл-ган ("falled down"), егет-кә ("to the guy"). That means that 'е' should be treated as a front vowel (which is the case) with an exception when it is in initial position in a one syllable word. The same is true for 'ю' and 'я' with vice versa statement about the default backness
  2. Or -сы becomes -ы when following consonant, in other words

See also