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Map showing location of Khalaj (red) within Iran
Spoken in: Iran
Region: Northeast of Arak in Markazi Province of Iran
Total speakers: 42,107 (2000)
Language family: Altaic (disputed)
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: tut
ISO/FDIS 639-3: klj
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. See IPA chart for English for an English-based pronunciation key.
Khalaj is a language spoken primarily in Iran and Afghanistan. It belongs to the Turkic family of languages. There were approximately 42,000 speakers of this language as of 2000.
2 Geographic Distribution
Khalaj has traditionally been classified with Turkoman or Azerbaijani dialects, primarily because of its proximity to those languages. However, features such as preservation of three vowel lengths, preservation of word-initial Proto-Turkic *h, and lack of the sound change *d > y has led to a non-Oghuz classification of Khalaj. An example of these archaisms is present in the word hadaq, which has preserved the initial *h and medial *d. The equivalent form in nearby Oghuz dialects is ayaq. Because of the preservation of these archaic features, some scholars have speculated that the Khalaj are the decendants of the Arghu Turks.
Khalaj is spoken mainly in Markazi Province in Iran. Doerfer cites the number of speakers as approximately 17,000 in 1968; the Ethnologue reports that the population of speakers grew to 42,107 by 2000.
The main dialects of Khalaj are Northern and Southern. Within these dialect groupings, individual villages and groupings of speakers have distinct speech patterns.
Labial- Alveolar- Palatal- Velar- Uvular- Glottal
Plosive p b- t d- ø -k g- q ɢ - ø
Affricate ø- ø - ç c -ø -ø - ø
Fricative f v- s z- ş j- x ğ- ø - h
Nasal m- n- ø - ñ- ø - ø -ø
Flap/Tap ø - r- ø - ø - ø - ø
Lateral ø -l - ø - ø - ø - ø
Approximant ø - ø- y - ø -ø - ø
Vowels in Khalaj occur in three lengths: long (qân "blood"), half-long (báş "head"), and short (hat "horse"). Additionally, some vowels are realized as falling dipthongs, as in quôl "arm, sleeve".
Nouns in Khalaj may receive a plural marker or possessive marker. Cases in Khalaj include genitive, accusative, dative, locative, ablative, instrumental, and equative.
Forms of case suffixes change based on vowel harmony and the consonants they follow. Case endings also interact with possessive suffixes. A table of basic case endings is provided below:
Dative -A, -KA
Accusative -I, -NI
Instrumental -lAn, -lA, -nA
Verbs in Khalaj are inflected for voice, tense, aspect, and negation. Verbs consist of long strings of morphemes in the following array:
Stem + Voice + Negation + Tense/Aspect + Agreement
Khalaj employs Subject Object Verb word order. Adjectives precede nouns.
The core of Khalaj vocabulary is Turkic, but many words have been borrowed from Persian. Words from neighboring Turkic dialects, namely, Azerbaijani have also made their way into Khalaj.
Khalaj numbers are Turkic in form, but some speakers replace the forms for "80" and "90" with Persian terms:
1 - bî
2 - əkki
3 - üş
4 - töört
5 - biêş
6 - alta
7 - yətti
8 - səkkiz
9 - toqquz
10 - uôn
20 - yiirmi
30 - hottuz
40 - qirq
50 - əlli
60 - altmiş
70 - yətmiş
80 - saysan (Turkic), haştâd (Persian)
90 - toqxsan (Turkic), navad (Persian)
100 - yüːz
1000 - min, miñk
Excerpt from Dorfer & Tezcan (1994) p. 158-9
Once, Mullah Nasreddin had a son. bî kinî Mollâ Nasrəddînîn oğlu vâr-arti
He said, "Oh Father, I want a wife." haüdı ki "əy bâba, mən kişi şəyyorum"
He said, "My dear, we have a cow; take this cow and sell it. Come, with the proceeds, we will buy you a wife! haüdı ki "bâba bizüm bî sığırımüz vâr, yetib̥ bo sığırı sâtı, nağd şəyi pûlîn, yək biz sə̃ kişi alduq
Doerfer, Gerhard (1971). Khalaj Materials. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Doerfer, Gerhard (1998). Grammatik des Chaladsch. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Doerfer, Gerhard & Tezcan, Semih (1994). Folklore-Texte der Chaladsch. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Johanson, Lars & Csató, Éva Ágnes (1998). The Turkic Languages. London: Routledge.