Volga Tatar language

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This article is about the Volga Tatar language. For other uses of the term Tatar language, please see Tatar language.

Volga Tatar or Kazan Tatar—or simply Tatar—is a Turkic language spoken mainly in Tatarstan and nearby Russian republics and oblasts, by the approximately seven million Volga Tatar people, as well as some others. It is the most widely-spoken minority language in Russia.[1] Variants are spoken from Finland and across Russia and former Soviet republics. There are three dialects: Western, Central, and Eastern. Crimean Tatar is considered to be not a dialect but a different language.

Kazan lies along the Volga River and is the capital of Tatarstan, and is also therefore the cultural center of the Tatar language. In Tatarstan and in some areas and villages outside of this autonomous republic, Tatar is the language spoken at home and in daily life, and the first language taught in schools. Most Tatars are, however, also Russian citizens and speak Russian well, sometimes better than they speak Tatar.

Written Tatar may use either the Cyrillic or Latin alphabets. In 2001 the Tatarstan government started to implement a Latin alphabet officially (as it was scheduled since 1999) but in 2002 the Russian Duma decided that the Cyrillic script was compulsory for all the languages in Russia.[2][3] The Arabic alphabet was also used until the 9th century.[4]


  1. Agnes Kefeli, "Tatar: The Language of the Largest Minority in Russia," website of the American Association of Teachers of Turkic (accessed November 5, 2008).
  2. BBC News
  3. For example, see the official website of Tatarstan, in Tatar and Cyrillic script.
  4. Omniglot - Tatar Language, [1] accessed November 5, 2008)