Dr. Rysbek Alimov

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow



Project: Turkic-Mongolian Language Contact: The Case of Kyrgyz (TMCKyrgyz)

H2020-MSCA-IF-2020, Project No. 101024434

2021–2023 (24 months)





Context and objectives

The Turkic and Mongolian languages have a great number of similarities in different levels of language. However, these similarities were found to be converging rather than diverging over the centuries, a fact which made many researchers doubt the existence of a genetic relationship between these two language groups and explain all the similarities through language contact.

In order to solve this problem from the perspective of Turkic languages, it is considered the right approach to act from the data of a specific language that has a long and close contact with Mongolian languages. Kyrgyz is such a language. However, Mongolian elements in Kyrgyz have not been analyzed in detail so far. The aim of this project is to identify the Mongolian elements in Kyrgyz, the laws of adaptation of lexical copies, and the determining criteria for borrowings of different chronological layers.

The history and chronology of the contacts of Turkic and Mongolian languages are illuminated through Mongolian borrowings and back-borrowings in Kyrgyz. The phonetic, morphological, semantic, etymological, and other criteria developed for Mongolian borrowings in Kyrgyz can also be used to detect Mongolian borrowings and back-borrowings in other Turkic languages, as well as to clarify which Mongolian language they were borrowed from, and in which period.

The results of this project contribute to the accurate evaluation of the relationships between the linguistic groups of Central Asia, a long-standing area of scholarly debate. Since contact settings correlate with linguistics outcomes, it will also add greater precision to the chronology of interactions of the Central Asian peoples, and given the importance of the Central Asian peoples in medieval history, such precision will be valuable to historians. The linguistic conclusions of this project can be interpreted in a multidisciplinary context as well, integrating insights from the history and ethnography of Turkic and Mongolic nations. The result of the project has an impact on gaining a deeper understanding of the historical identity of Kyrgyzstan. It clearly evidenced that the Mongolian tribes have played a key role in the ethnogenesis of the Kyrgyz people, a role that until now has been underestimated.


Research steps and main results

In the first eight months of my project, I conducted a literature review on the research topic and created a database of Mongolian borrowings in Kyrgyz. In this database, the phonetic, morphological and semantic changes that Mongolian borrowings underwent in their transition to Kyrgyz were also recorded. In addition, I have determined the general criteria of the borrowings in Kyrgyz language that are considered to be of Mongolian origin. I presented the results of my work from this period in three scientific events in Mainz (Germany), Siirt, and Istanbul (Turkey).

In the second stage of my project, I examined the so-called etymologically common words for Turkic and Mongolian languages. During this period, I could show with new examples from Kyrgyz that the lexical units that were considered common to both language groups were actually copied from Turkic to Mongolic at various times, and that most of them were later transferred back into Turkic languages. This situation had also been examined by researchers such as J. G. Ramstedt, G. Clauson, G. Doerfer, A. M. Scherbak, and V. Rassadin. However, within the scope of this project, Mongolian borrowings in Turkic could be listed chronologically according to certain phonetic criteria for the first time. My work from this period was presented at a scientific conference in Warsaw (Poland).

In the final stage of my project, I focused on the borrowings from historical Turkic languages to Mongolian. In the context of Kyrgyz-Mongolian language contacts, I have proven through various criteria, especially phonetics, that numerous lexemes passed from this language to Mongolian during the Yenisey Kyrgyz period. On the other hand, thanks to the project it turned out that the number of Mongolian loans in Kyrgyz is more than 3000. This shows that Kyrgyz has a special place in the context of Turkic-Mongolian language contacts. Kyrgyz speakers have been in very long and close contact with Mongolian-speaking tribes throughout history, so the Mongolian borrowings in Kyrgyz cannot have passed through a single Mongolian language. As a result of the research, I determined that there are four different Mongolian chronological layers in Kyrgyz. In this study, for the first time, decisive and concrete phonetic, morphological, semantic, and other criteria were used to identify Mongolian borrowings from the relevant periods. The results of the work from this period were included in four articles.


Progress beyond the state of art and potential impacts

Mongolian elements in individual Turkic languages have been examined mainly from the perspective of Turkish-Mongolian language kinship until now. However, the issue of genetic relatedness of Turkic and Mongolian languages has not yet been resolved. Moreover, with the increase in lexical data that could be used for analysis of most Turkic and Mongolian languages and the increase in historical linguistic studies and methods on this subject, the issue of the relatedness of the languages in question began to raise doubts. Therefore, the issue needed to be addressed from the perspective of mutual language contact in a specific Turkic language example.

Previously, Mongolian elements in Kyrgyz had not been studied in detail. The aim of my research project was to focus on the results of the Mongolian-based contact-induced change in Kyrgyz. Firstly, I tried to clarify the direction of borrowing using phonetic, semantic and etymological criteria on the basis of the latest reliable lexicographical and etymological sources related to Turkic and Mongolic languages. In addition, I developed linguistic criteria for the identification of the chronological layers of Mongolic lexical copies. Furthermore, I contributed to determining the direction of borrowing in the Turkic-Mongolic parallels, since the extensive Turkic and Mongolian contact has led to much uncertainty about the direction of borrowing for many shared Turkic and Mongolic lexical items. The project has expanded our knowledge about the nature, scope, and mechanisms of linguistic contacts in general and of Turkic and Mongolian languages in particular.

The criteria I developed for identifying different layers of Mongolic lexical copies in Kyrgyz can be applied to other Turkic languages like Kazakh, Altai, Uzbek etc.

This research will have an impact on gaining a deeper understanding of historical identity in Kyrgyzstan. It clearly evidenced that the Mongolian tribes have played a key role in the ethnogenesis of the Kyrgyz people, a role that until now has been underestimated. The results will lead to some answers to complex questions related to the role of various contributing factors, such as cultural, ethnic, and religious ones, for Kyrgyzstan, which is still in process of the nation and state-building.


Publications Emerging from the Project

Alimov, Rysbek (2022). On Some Criteria to Determine the Mongolian Borrowings in Kyrgyz, in: M. Ölmez & T. Karaayak (eds.) Turkish and Mongolian Studies: Sir G. Clauson and Talat Tekin’s Contributions. Türkçe ve Moğolca Çalışmaları Sempozyumu: Sir G. Clauson ve T. Tekin’in Katkıları. 28-29 Kasım 2022 Bildiriler. Ankara: BilgeSu, pp. 283-306.

Alimov, Rysbek (forthcoming). On Mongolic Back Borrowıngs In Kyrgyz, Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Turkology – “Studies on the Turkic World – Multidisciplinary Perspectives” held on 19-21 September 2022 at the Department of Turkic Studies and Central Asian Peoples, University of Warsaw, Poland.

Alimov, Rysbek (forthcoming). Eski Türkçe – Moğolca Dil Temaslarında Yenisey Kırgızcasının Yeri, Hacettepe Üniversitesi Türkiyat Araştırmaları Dergisi, Sayı 40 (Bahar).

Alimov, Rysbek (forthcoming). Western Mongolian (Oirat-Kalmyk) loanwords in Kyrgyz (submitted for review).



Academic Profile Rysbek Alimov


Research Foci
Alt- und mitteltürkische Sprachen, historisch-vergleichende Turkologie mit Schwerpunkt auf Kiptschaksprachen, türkisch-mongolischer Sprachkontakt, historisches Lexikon der Türksprachen im Kontext der altaischen Sprachfamilie

Further Interests
Alttürkische Runeninschriften, Etymologie des türksprachigen Lexikons, Geschichte der Türkvölker im frühen Mittelalter

Teaching Foci
Alttürkisch, Mitteltürkisch, Tschagataisch, zentralasiatische Türksprachen, Türkeitürkisch, Etymologie




Kormushin, İ. & Mozioğlu, E. & Alimov, R. & Yıldırım, F. 2016. Yenisey-Altay-Kırgızistan Yazıtları ve Kağıda Yazılı Runik Belgeler [The Inscriptions of Yenisei, Altay and Kyrgyzstan and Turkic Runic documents on Paper]. Ankara: BilgesSu Press.  (in Turkish).

Reichl, K. & Alimov, R. & Akyüz, Ç. 2016. Manas. In the version of Jüsüp Mamay, Volume 2, 2016. Beijing: China Intercontinental Press. (In English).

Aydın, E. & Alimov, R. & Yıldırım, F. 2013. Yenisey-Kırgızistan Yazıtları ve Irk Bitig [The Inscriptions of Yenisei region and Kyrgyzstan and the Book of Omens]. Ankara: BilgeSu Press. (in Turkish).

2013. Tanrı Dağı Yazıtları. Eski Türk Runik Yazıtları Üzerine Bir İnceleme [The Inscriptions of Tien Shan. A study on the Runic Inscriptions of Ancient Turks]. Konya: Kömen Press 2013 (in Turkish).

Sertkaya, O. F. & Alimov, R. 2007. Eski Türklerde Para [The Money of Old Turks], Istanbul: Ötüken Publishing House (in Turkish).


Translations & Edited Volumes

Şçerbak, A.M. 2019. Eski Dönem Türk-Moğol Dili İlişkileri (8.-14. Yüzyıllar) [Early Turko-Mongolian Linguistic Contacts, (8-14 Centuries]. Ankara: Türk Dil Kurumu Yayınları.

Kormushin, I. 2018. Yenisey Eski Türk Yazıtları [Old Turkic Inscriptions from Yenisei]. Ankara: Türk Dil Kurumu Yayınları.




2019. Aşık Oyununda Kemik Yüzlerinin Adlarının Kökeni Üzerine [On the Origin of the Names of the Astragalus' Sides in the Ašïk (Anklebone Flicking) Game]. Uluslararası İdil - Ural ve Türkistan Araştırmaları Dergisi. International Journal of Volga - Ural and Turkestan Studies, Issue No.2, pp. 158-176 (in Turkish).

2018. Türk dillerinin alfabe sorunları. Düzenden karmaşaya [Alphabet adventures of Turkic languages. From order to chaos]. Yeni Türkiye. Türk Dili Özel Sayısı III, Issue No. 101 (May-June 2018), pp. 365-370 (in Turkish).

2017. 1. Talas yazıtları: İşaret kadrosuyla ilgili bazi düzeltmeler (2. Talas yazıtı örneğinde) [Talas Inscriptions: Some Corrections in Identification of Runiform Letters (On the Example of the Second Inscription)]. Türk Dili Araştırmaları Yıllığı-Belleten 2017. The Yearbook of Turkish Studies 2017, Volume 65, Issue No. 1, pp.129-144 (in Turkish).

2017. Tanrı Dağı Kırgızcasında Yenisey Kırgızcasına ait izler [On the Yenisei Kyrgyz substrate in the Tien Shan Kyrgyz language]. Türk Dilleri Araştırmaları. Researches in Turkic Languages, Volume 27, Issue No.1/2017, pp. 51-65 (in Turkish).

Alimov, R. 2016. On the Yenisei Kirghiz title A-re. Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, Volume 69, Issue No.3/2016, pp. 265-283 (in English).

2015. Kadir Ali Bek ve eserinin yeni (Londra I) nüshası üzerine [Kadir Ali Bek and the first London copy of his work]. Journal of Turkish Studies. Festschift in honor of R. Dankoff, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Volume 40, Issue No. 2/2015, pp. 61-84 (in Turkish).

2015. О двух новых списках сочинения Кадыр Али-бека [On new copies of Qadir Ali Bek’s manuscript]. Российская тюркология, Институт языкознания РАН, Volume 13, Issue No. 2/2015, pp. 40-48 (in Russian).

2015. II. Karabalgasun yazıtı [The II Qarabalgasun Inscription]. Modern Türklük Araştırmaları Dergisi. Journal of Modern Turkic Studies, Volume 12, Issue No. 4 (December 2015), pp. 27-38 (in Turkish).

2014. 1. Sart-Kalmaklar ve dilleri [The Sart-Kalmaks and their language]. Tehlikedeki Diller. Türk Dilleri. Journal of Endangered Languages. Turkic Languages, Volume 2, Issue No. 4-5/2014, pp. 243-252 (in Turkish).

2014. S. G. Klyaştornıy (1928-2014) vefat etti [Necrology for professor Kljashtorny (1928-2014)]. Türklük Bilimi Araştırmaları. Journal of Turkology Researches (TUBAR), Volume XXXVI, Issue No. 2/2014 (Autumn), pp. 393-406 (in Turkish).

Eren, M. & Alimov, R. 2013. Eski Türk tul geleneğinin Orta Asya ve Anadolu’daki yansımaları [Reflections of the Old Turkic Rituals of Tul in the Central Asia and Anatolia]. Hacettepe Üniversitesi Türkiyat Araştırmaları Enstitüsü Dergisi. Journal of Turkish Studies of Hacettepe University, Issue No. 2/2013, pp. 63-78 (in Turkish).

Alimov, R. & Shadyhanov, E. 2013. Teleütçe: Yok olma tehikesi altındaki bir dilin sosyolengüistik durumu [The Teleüt language. The sociolinguistic situation of endangered Turkic language].Tehlikedeki Diller. Türk Dilleri. Journal of Endangered Languages. Turkic Languages, Volume 2, Issue No. 2/2013/2, pp. 49-73. (in Turkish).

2013. Eski Türk runik metinlerdeki esiz [On esiz in Old Turkic Runic texts]. Atatürk Üniversitesi Türkiyat Araştırmaları Enstitüsü Dergisi. Ataturk University Journal of Turkish Research Institute, Volume 49, Issue No. 1/2013, pp. 17-38 (in Turkish).

2012. Türkçe İlk Hece Dışındaki Birincil Uzun Ünlüler Üzerine [Some remarks on Turkic non-first syllable primary vowel length]. Modern Türklük Araştırmaları Dergisi. Journal of Modern Turkic Studies, Volume 9, Issue No. 3 (September 2012) pp. 103-121 (in Turkish).

2011. 1. Eski Türkçe +gArU ve Kırgızcadaki kalıntısı [Old Turkic +GArU and its relic form in Kyrgyz]. Modern Türklük Araştırmaları Dergisi. Journal of Modern Turkic Studies, Volume 8, Issue No. 4 (December 2011), pp. 92-107 (in Turkish).

2011. Kırgızcanın İçkilik Ağızlar Grubu Üzerine [On Ichilik group of dialects of Kyrgyz]. Türklük Bilimi Araştırmaları. Journal of Turkology Researches, 2011, Volume XXX/Autumn, pp. 185-206 (in Turkish).

2010. 1. Kırgızcanın İçkilik Ağızlar Grubunda Birincil Uzun Ünlüler ve İzleri [Turkic Primary Vowel Length and its traces in Ichkilik group of dialects of Kyrgyz]. Modern Türklük Araştırmaları Dergisi. Journal of Modern Turkic Studies, Volume 7, Issue No. 1 (March 2010) pp. 251-268 (in Turkish).

2010. Eski Türk runik metinlerinde geçen bir acınma ünlemi üzerine [On a deplorative interjection in Old Turkic Runic texts]. Türk Dilleri Araştırmaları. Researches in Turkic Languages, Volume 18/2010, pp. 35-48 (in Turkish).

Alimov, R. & Tabaldiyev K. & Belek, K. 2010. A new inscription discovered in the Tian Shan region: The Chiyin Tash rock Inscription. Altai HAKPO Journal of the Altaic Society of Korea, Volume 20/2010, Issue No.2, pp. 177-185, Seoul: Altaic Society of Korea (in English).

2008. Some remarks on the date of T’ien-Shan inscriptions. Central Asiatic Journal, volume 52/2, 2008, pp. 161-172, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag (in English).

2005. A new old Turkic runik inscription on a boulder from Talas. Journal of Turkish Studies. Feschrift on Honour of Orhan Okay I, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Volume 30/I, 2005; pp. 117-125 (co-author with K. Tabaldiev), (in English).

2004. Koçkor’daki Türgeş yazıtları [Turgesh inscriptions from Kochkor]. İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi. Journal of the Institute of Social Sciences of Istanbul University, volume 1/1(2004), Istanbul: Istanbul University Press, pp. 13-43 (in Turkish)

2001. Kırgızistan’da yeni bulunan runik harfli eski Türk yazıtları hakkında ön bilgiler [The preliminary notes on newly found Turkic Runic inscriptions from Kyrgyzstan]. Türk Dili Araştırmaları Yıllığı-Belleten 2000. The Yearbook of Turkish Studies 2000, Ankara: TDK Press, pp. 5-10 (in Turkish)



2018. Nekotoryje zametki otnositel’no Kadir Ali Beka i jego sočinenija “Djami at-tavarikh”, Materialy II-j naučnoj konferentsii srednevekovoj istorii Dešt-i Kipčaka, Astana, TOO Naučno-issledovatel’skij tsentr Dešt-i Kipčaka, pp. 251-257 (in Russian).

2018. Teleütçe: Yok olma tehlikesi altındaki bir Türk lehçesi. Dilin kaybolma sebepleri ve canlandırma stratejileri [Teleut: A Turkic language faced extinction. The causes of its endangerment and strategies for revitalization]. IV. Uluslararası Türk Şöleni. Türk Kültürü Sempozyumu Bildirileri, Erzurum: Güneş Vakfı Yayınları, pp. 723-737 (in Turkish)

2015. Some advancements to the decipherment of the sign [] in Tien Shan Turkic Runic inscriptions”, Proceedings of the Symposium “Interpreting the Turkic Runiform Sources and the Position of the Altai Corpus” (ed. I. Nevskaya & M. Erdal), Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2015, pp. 35-42 (in English).

2015. Kırgızcanın İçkilik (Güneybatı) ağızlar grubunda Oğuzca alt katmana ait izler [On Oghuz substratum in Ichkilik (Southwestern) dialect of Kyrgyz]. Oğuzlar: Dilleri, Tarihleri ve Kültürleri. 5. Uluslararası Türkiyat Araştırmaları Sempozyumu Bildirileri (ed. T. Gündüz, M. Cengiz), Ankara: Hacettepe Üniversitesi Türkiyat Araştırmaları Enstitüsü Yayınları, 2015, pp. 495-509 (in Turkish).

2010. Bir kez daha esiz üzerine [Once more on esiz in Turkic Runic inscriptions]. Proceedings of the First International Symposium ‘From Otuken to Istanbul. 1275 years of Turkish held by Istanbul Municipality together with Yildiz Technical University and The Orient Institute of Berlin, December 3-5, 2010, Istanbul/Turkey. İstanbul: İstanbul BB Kültür ve Sosyal İşler Daire Başkanlığı, Kültür Müdürlüğü Kültür AŞ., pp. 241-248 (in Turkish).

2010. Çağdaş Kırgızcada bir hayalet kelime: aco [A ghost word in contemporary Kyrgyz: Ajo]. Proceedings of the III. International Symposium on Turkic Studies (26-29 May 2010), Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey, Volume 1, Ankara: Hacettepe University Press, pp. 43-50 (in Turkish).

2009. Ak-Ölön’de bulunan yeni Türk runik yazıtı [New discoveries of Turkic Runic inscriptions from Ak-Olon]. Proceedings of International Symposium “from Far East to Western Asia”, November 18-20, 2009, Afyon: Kocatepe University Press, pp. 267-271. (co-author with K. Tabaldiev & K. Belek, in Turkish).

2008. Divanü Lügati’t-Türk’e göre Kıpçakların dili [The language of the Kipchaks according to Diwanu Lugati’t-Turk]. Proceedings of the Internationl Symposium “Mahmut al-Kashgari and his Work on His 1000th Anniversary” held by Istanbul Municipality together with Yildiz Technical University, Marmara University and Kultur University of Istanbul, September 10-14, 2008, Istanbul: Eren Press, pp. 147-158. (in Turkish).

Sertkaya, O. F. & Alimov, R. 2001. 1. N. F. Katanov’un çalışmaları [A Bibliography of works of N. F. Katanov]. The Proceedings of the International N. F. Katanov Conference, Abakan, Hakassia, Russian Federation, 32 p. (with O. F. Sertkaya) (in Turkish).

Sertkaya, A. G. & Duranlı, M. & Alimov, R. 2001. Çağdaş Türk dilleri araştırıcı olarak N. N. Pantusov. Hayatı ve Eserleri [N. N. Pantusov as a researcher of Modern Turkic languages. His life and works]. Proceedings of the Symposium “Uluslarası Türkistan Halk Kültürü Sempozyumu” Mugla: pp. 195-214 (with A. G. Sertkaya & M. Duranlı), (in Turkish).


Edited Volumes

Alimov, R. 2020.Tonyukuk yazıtında hakkak hataları [Engraver errors of the Tonyukuk Inscription]. In: E Yılmaz, N. Tezcan, N. Demir (eds.). Semih Tezcan Kitabı. Ankara: Nobel, pp. 127-134 (in Turkish).

Alimov, R. 2017. Sart-Kalmakların Dili. Alan Araştırmasından Notlar [The Language of Sart-Kalmaks. Notes from the Field]. In: S. Eker et al (eds.). Festschrift in Honor of Prof. Talat Tekin, Volume 1, Istanbul: Çantay, pp. 107-126 (in Turkish).

Alimov, R., Shadyhanov, E. 2017. Bayat Teleütçesi [The language of Bayat Teleüts]. In: S. Eker & Ü. Çelik Şavk (eds.), Handbook of Endangered Turkic Languages, volume IV. Ankara-Astana: Yesevi University Press, pp. 526-546 (in Turkish).

Tabaldiyev, K., Alimov, R. 2004. Bayïrkï türktördün Talas jergesinde tabïlgan jaŋï estelikteri [Newly found monuments of ancient Turks in Talas region]. In: Turk Tsivilizatsiyası cana Mamlekettik Saltı, Bishkek: Manas University Press, pp. 277-294 (in Kyrgyz).



Mongolic Elements in Kyrgyz (28 October 2021, Mainzer Kolloquien zur Turkologie und Orientalistik / Colloquia Philologiae Turcicae et Orientalis Moguntina, Mainz University, Mainz, Germany).

Turkic Inscriptions of Tien-Shan region (17 April 2018, Mainzer Kolloquien zur Turkologie und Orientalistik / Colloquia Philologiae Turcicae et Orientalis Moguntina, Mainz University, Mainz, Germany).

The Teleuts.  A Turkic ethnicity facing extinction (17 December 2015, Anadolu University, Eskişehir, Turkey).

Syro-Turkic Inscriptions in Central and East Asia (19 October 2011, Mardin Artuklu University, Mardin, Turkey).

Old Turkic Runiform Inscriptions of Central Asia (10-15 December 2004, Department of Central Asian Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden).


Mentored Theses

Yaşar, Cahit. Dobruca Tatarcasında Tasvir Fiilleri [Descriptive verbs in Dobruja Tatar dialect]. [Masterarbeit in Türkischer Sprache und Literatur. Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, 2009].

Çelik, Cengiz. Türkiye Türkçesinde Tabu ve Örtmeceler [Taboo and Euphemisms in Turkey Turkish]. [Masterarbeit in Türkischer Sprache und Literatur. Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, 2010].


Academic Career


2016-2021 Professor İzmir Katip Çelebi Üniversitesi (Turkey), Faculty of Humanities, Department of Turkish Language and Literature
2011-2016 Associate Professor Mardin Artuklu Üniversitesi (Turkey), Faculty of Literature, Department of Turkish Language and Literature
2005-2010 Assistant Professor Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta (North Cyprus), Faculty of Art and Sciences, Department of Turkish Language and Literature