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Tyvan phrasebook

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Tyvan or Tuvan (тыва дыл) is a Turkic language spoken by more than 210,000 people worldwide. Most Tyvan speakers live in the Tyva region of Russia, where the language holds official status. There are also some Tyvan ethnic groups in China and Mongolia.

Pronunciation guide

Russian print and cursive

The Tyvan alphabet is based on the extended Cyrillic alphabet, like Russian.

Like the Russia cursive alphabet, the cursive Tyvan alphabet looks very different from the printed alphabet. As with other languages written in Cyrillic letters, the Tyvan printed alphabet is rarely used when writing by hand.


a ah 
like father if stressed; if not, pronounced like 'u' as in hut
e yeh 
like yesterday if stressed, before a stressed syllable pronounced as "ee" as in eel, or if after a stressed syllable and in only one syllable, pronounced like "eh" as in "tell"
ё yoh 
like yore; always stressed; pronounced "o" only after ч, ш, щ and ж.
и ee 
like seen or the i in Machine
o oh 
like score when stressed; when unstressed, it is a hard a in Hakeem (syllable before stress) or the o in Gibson (elsewhere).
ө ö 
sounds like bird
у oo 
like cartoon, lips rounded as with French ou
ү ü 
like French fut
ы yh 
like sit, hit, but pronounced far further down the throat, as if being punched in the stomach
э eh 
like end (also pronounced further down the throat, as if being punched in the stomach)
ю yoo 
like you or Yugoslavia if stressed; if not, pronounced "oo" like cartoon
я yah 
like Yacht when stressed; before a stressed syllable pronounced as "ee" as in eel, or if after a stressed syllable and in only one syllable, pronounced like "eh" as in "tell"

The vowels are listed in alphabetical order. Please notice that these vowels also occur in hard/soft pairs: a/я, э/e, o/ё, ы/и, y/ю.

Unfortunately, vowel ё is very often written as е, which can cause problems for non-native speakers, since some Tyvan/Russian words have a different meaning depending on е or ё usage. Fortunately special books (like dictionaries, grammar books, literature for foreigners, etc.) always include ё.


б b 
like boy
в v 
like very
г g 
like go; e.g., "have fun" = хөглээр
д d 
like do
ж zh 
like measure; always hard
з z 
like zoo
й y 
like boy
к k 
like keep
л l 
like leak or look
м m 
like seem
н n 
like noodle; pronounced ny (palatalized, like a Spanish ñ) before ь, и, e, я, and ю.
ң  ng 
like sing
п p 
like spigot
р r 
heavily rolled as in Spanish rr in perro
с s 
like seem
т t 
like tattoo
ф f 
like French
х kh 
voiceless velar fricative as in the Scottish loch or German Bach
ц ts 
like boots; always hard
ч ch 
like cheap; always soft
ш sh 
like shot; always hard (pronounced with the tip of the tongue further back in the mouth, almost a retroflex)
щ sh 
similar to sheet; always soft: unlike ш, щ is palatalized, meaning that the tip of the tongue rests on the back of the lower teeth, and the sh sound is pronounced with the middle of the tongue. Don't worry about this too much, as you'll be understood in context. (Note that though щ is often transliterated as shch, it is not pronounced similar to "harsh choice"—there is no ch sound in this Tyvan consonant)


Hello. (formal
Hello. (informal
Экии, Кээ-эки.
How are you? 
Кайы хире тур сен? Кандыг-дыр че? Чүү-дүр че?
Fine, thank you. 
Эки, четтирдим. Ажырбас.
What is your name? 
Адыңар кымыл?
My name is ______ . 
Мээң адым ______ .
Nice to meet you. 
Өөрүнчүг-дүр. Амыранчыг-дыр.
Thank you. 
You're welcome. 
Excuse me. (getting attention
Буруулуг болдум.
Excuse me. (begging pardon
Буруулуг болдум.
I'm sorry. 
Буруулуг болдум.
Goodbye (informal
Байырлыг. Чаа.
I can't speak Tyvan [well]. 
(Шоолуг) тывалап билбес мен.
Do you speak English? 
Англилеп чугаалажыыр силер бе?
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Мында англилеп кым билир ирги?
Look out! 
Оваарымчалыг бол!
Good morning. 
Эртенгиниң мендизи-биле!
Good evening. 
Кежээкиниң мендизи-биле!
Good night (to sleep
Эки хонар силер.
I don't understand. 
Билбейн тур мен.
I don't know. 
Билбес мен.
I can't. 
Шыдавас мен.
Where is the toilet? 
Туалет кайдал? Арыгланыр чер кайдал?
Өртээ аар. Аар өртектиг.
Чиик өртектиг. Өртээ чиик.
Бай. Байлак. Бай-шыырак.
Ядыы. Ядаңгы. Чединмес.


Leave me alone. 
Don't touch me! 
Меңээ дегбеңер.
I'll call the police! 
Полиция долгаптар мен.
Шагдаа! Полиция!
Stop! Thief! 
Ооржуну тудуңар!
I need your help. 
Меңээ силерниң дузаңар херек.
It's an emergency. 
Дүрген херек.
I'm lost. 
Азып калдым.

In the examples below, the extra suffix (а) is for the feminine gender:

I lost my bag. 
Барбам чидирип алдым. Сумкам чидирип алдым.
I lost my wallet. 
Акшам чидирип алдым.
My things have been stolen. 
Оорладып алдым. Мени оорлап каапты.
I'm sick. 
Аарый бердим.
I've been injured. 
Балыгланы бердим.
I've been bitten by a dog. 
Мени ыт ызырыпты.
I need a doctor. 
Меңээ эмчи херек.
Please call an ambulance. 
Дүрген дузадан долгаптыңарам. "Скорая помощьтан" кыйгыртыптыңарам.
Can I use your phone? 
Силерден долгаптайн бе?
(this can be used only for stationary phone, not for mobile. Asking a mobile phone from unknown person is generally not polite, as this is commonly done by con artists. In some cases a person may allow you to make a call from his cell phone to another cell phone number in the same province, but not to a landline phone number or to a non-local cell phone number.)