A scene from Yhyakh, 2019. Yhyakh is a traditional Sakha (Yakut) festival that celebrates the arrival of summer and, by the local calendar, the New Year. Photo shared by @NewsYktRu on Twitter.

The Talking Yakut (Sakha) Phrasebook

Published: November 9, 2020

The Talking Phrasebook Series presents useful phrases and words in side-by-side translation and with audio files specifically geared to help students work on listening skills and pronunciation. Each entry below, divided by category, features an English word or phrase in the left column and its Russian translation in the right. The Russian is presented in in English transliteration on top and in the original Cyrillic below that.

In the center column for each row is a play button. The recorded file will feature first English, then the Yakut in three versions: one slow, one with each syllable broken out, and a last version that will be spoken as it might be overheard in a conversation between native speakers. (In “Counting,” the audio files have been grouped into four quicker sets.)

 

Table of Contents
1. Survival Basics
2. Introductions
3. Directions
4. Shopping
5. Counting

 

Interesting Facts about Yakut (Sakha)

 

  1. Sakha and Yakut are used interchangeably to refer to people, language, and culture. The exact linguistic origins of the terms are disputed, but it’s widely accepted that both originated as names of smaller tribal groups in the area. Prior to the Russian conquest of Siberia beginning in the early 1600s, these small groups lived separately, self-identifying by clan and kinship system rather than as a collective ethnic group. The Russian language has historically favored the term “Yakut,” imbuing it with political significance. Today, “Sakha” is now more commonly used by the people inside the region and “Yakut” more commonly used by the people outside.
  2. There are many Sakha dialects that developed primarily due to the vast geography of the region and its history. The most district dialect “borders” are delineated by the Lena, Amga, and Aldan Rivers, which divide the Republic into four parts.
  3. The following talking phrasebook uses the Central Dialect, which is commonly spoken in Yakutsk, the region’s capital city. However, Yakutsk attracts people from other regions and even countries. Thus, it is not uncommon to hear various Sakha dialects as well as Russian, Kyrgyz, Ukrainian, Armenian, and Mandarin in Yakutsk.
  4. Sakha is a Turkic language, in the same family as Tatar and Uzbek. Like other Turkic languages, Sakha is agglutinative (words are formed by a stem and the addition of affixes) and uses vowel harmony. However, Sakha is unique in that it has many borrowings from Mongolian and Tungus as well as vocabulary from another, currently debated, source (possibly Paleo-Asian).
  5. Long part of Russia, Sakha has borrowed heavily from Russian. Many common phrases have both traditional and Russian-borrowed versions. The Russian borrowings have generally changed somewhat in sound to match Sakha phonemic preferences, but can most often still be recognized.
  6. In recent years as the Sakha language is being revitalized, there’s been a growing push for (reformist) linguistic purism and the replacement of heretofore more common Russian loanwords with “pure” Sakha words. For example, эмчит (ėmchit; “doctor”, “healer”) instead of быраас (byraas; from the Russian врач); and мэндиэмэн (mėndiėmėn; “floor”, “story”) instead of этээс (ėtėės; from the Russian этаж)
  7. Sakha is an ungendered language. Nouns have no gender and there is a single pronoun (кини) for both he and she.
  8. Sakha has an exceptionally rich sense of time, featuring numerous tenses that can show, for instance, how long ago something happened, if it happened once or repeatedly, if the act was finished, and more. However, verbs have no infinitive.
  9. Sakha has seven cases: nominative, instrumental, ablative, comitative, dative, accusative, comparative, and partitive. Partitive is a case that denotes something without specific identity or which is part of something else. This can include, for instance, when “some of” a particular group is referred to.

 

Yakut (Sakha) Unique Characters

Sakha is written in a Cyrillic-based alphabet, but has five sounds not found in Russian. These are represented by the following unique characters:

Sakha letter: Pronunciation: IPA:
Ҕ gh ɣ, ʁ
Ҥ ng ŋ
Ө ö ø
Һ һ h
Ү ü y

Survival Basics for Yakut (Sakha) back to top

 

Greetings!
Tuox sonun baar?
(Туох сонун баар?)
*literally “What news is there?” This is the traditional Sakha greeting.
Hello!
Doroobo!
(Дорообо!)
*Borrowed from the Russian “здоро́во,” a more colloquial “hello”
Hello!
Biribiet!
(Бирибиэт!)
*Borrowed from the Russian “привет”
Yes
Söp
(Сөп)
Yes
Onnuk
(Оннук)*used interchangeably to broadly mean “yes” or indicate agreement
No
Suokh
(Суох)
Good morning!
Ütüö sarsyardanan!
(Үтүө сарсыарданан!)
Good afternoon!
Ütüö kününėn!
(Үтүө күнүнэн!)
Good evening!
Ütüö kiėhėnėn!
(Үтүө киэһэнэн!)
How’s life?
Khaĭdakh oloroghun?
(Хайдах олороҕун?)
What’s up?
D’yala xaĭdaghyĭ?
(Дьыала хайдаҕый?)
*this is a direct translation from the Russian “Kak dela?” (Как дела?)
How are you?
Ėn kaĭdakhkhyn?
(Эн хайдаххын?)
Good/well, thanks, and you?
Baryta üchügėĭ/ėtėngngė, bahyyba, onton ėĭėkhė?
(Барыта үчүгэй/этэҥҥэ, баhыыба, онтон эйэхэ?)
Good bye!
Körsüökhkhė diėri!
(Көрсүөххэ диэри!)
*lit. “See you later!” this is the traditional Sakha farewell
Good bye!
Bakaa!
(Бакаа!)
*from the Russian “Poka” (Пока)
Sorry!
Alghas!
(Aлҕас!)
Sorry!
Byrastyy gyn!
(Бырастыы гын!)
*from the Russian “prosti” (прости)
Open/closed
Ahaghas/sabyylaakh
(Aһаҕас/сабыылаах)
*The majority of signs in Sakha are in Russian. Therefore, it’s common to see “otkryto” (открыто) and “zakryto” (закрыто) in print. The Sakha version is often used in common speech.
Pull/push
Aany bėĭėghėr tart/aany bėĭėghėttėn üt
(Ааны бэйэҕэр тарт/ааны бэйэҕэттэн үт)
*Signs are often in Russian and read “Na sebya” (на себя) and “ot sebya” (от себя). The Sakha version is used in common speech.
Small/big
Kyra/ulakhan
(Кыра/улахан)
Do you speak English?
Ėn angliĭskaĭdyy sangaraghyn duo?(Эн английскайдыы саҥараҕын дуо?)
I don’t speak English.
Min angliĭskaĭdyy sangarbappyn.
(Мин английскайдыы саҥарбаппын)
I only speak a little Sakha.
Min sakhalyy kyratyk ėrė sangarabyn.
(Мин сахалыы кыратык эрэ саҥарабын)
I understand
Min öĭdüübün.
(Мин өйдүүбүн)
I don’t understand.
Min öĭdööböppün
(Min өйдөөбөппүн.)
Thank you!
Makhtanabyn!
(Махтанабын!)
Thank you very much!
Ulakhan makhtal!
(Улахан махтал!)
Thank you!
Bahyyba!
(Баhыыба!)
*from the Russian “spasibo” (спасибо)
Very well, thanks!
Naha üchügėĭdik, makhtal!
(Наhа үчүгэйдик, махтал!)
Good/Well
üchügėĭ (adj.) / Üchügėĭdik (adv.)
(үчүгэй / үчүгэйдик)
Bad/Badly
kuhaghan (adj.) / Kuhaghannyk (adv.)
(куhаҕан / куhаҕаннык)
Please
Kördöhöbün
(Көрдөhөбүн)
*lit. “I ask (for) something”
Please
Bahaalysta
(Баhаалыста)
*from Russian pozhaluĭsta (пожалуйста)
You’re welcome!
Bahaalysta
(Баhаалыста)
Excuse me!
Buka diėn, byrastyy gyn!
(Бука диэн, бырастыы гын!)
A little
Kyratyk
(Кыратык)
Could you speak more slowly?
Ėn bytaannyk sataan sangaryang duo?
(Эн бытааннык сатаан саҥарыаҥ дуо?)
Could you repeat, please?
Bahaalysta tuhugar, khatylaan ėting.
(Баһаалыста туһугар, хатылаан этиҥ.)
Could you write that down?
Ėn many sataan suruĭuong duo?
(Эн маны сатаан суруйуоҥ дуо?)
My bag/wallet/passport was stolen
Min suumkabyn/köhülüökpün/paaspartpyn uorbuttar.
(Мин суумкабын/көһүлүөкпүн/пааспартпын уорбуттар.)
I need a doctor!
Miėkhė byraas naada!
(Миэхэ быраас наада!)
Call the police!
Politsiyany yngyr!
(Полицияны ыҥыр!)

 

Introductions in Yakut (Sakha) back to top

What is your name?
Ėn aatyng kimiĭ?
(Эн аатыҥ кимий?)
Pleased to meet you!
Bilsėrbit üchügėĭ!
(Билсэрбит үчүгэй!)
I am 25 years old.
Min süürbė biės saastaakhpyn.
(Мин сүүрбэ биэс саастаахпын)
How old are you?
Ėn saahyng khahyĭ?
(Эн сааhыҥ хаhый?)
Where are you from?
Ėn khantan syld’aghyn?
(Эн хантан сылдьаҕын?)
I am American.
Min Amerikattan syld’abyn.
(Мин Америкаттан сылдьабын.)
No, I am from Canada.
Suokh, min Kanadattan syld’abyn.
(Суох, мин Канадaттан сылдьабын.)
She is Australian.
Kini avstraliĭka.
(Кини австралийка.)
He is Irish.
Kini irlandets.
(Кини ирландец.)
We are from New Zealand.
Bihigi Novaĭ Zelandiyattаn syld’abyt.
(Биhиги Новай Зеландияттан сылдьабыт.)
They are from Wales.
Kinilėr Uėl’sattan syld’allar.
(Кинилэр Уэльсаттан сылдьаллар.)
How do you like Russia?
Ėĭiėkhė Rossiya üchügėĭ duo?
(Эйиэхэ Россия үчүгэй дуо?)
I like Russia very much.
Min Rossiyagha olus söbülüübün.
(Мин Россияҕа олус сөбүлүүбүн.)
Have you ever been to Mirny?
Ėn Мirnėĭgc khahan ėmit syld’ybytyng duo?
(Эн Мирнэйгэ хаhан эмит сылдьыбытыҥ дуо?)
I have never been to Oymyakon before.
Min Öĭmökööngngö khahan da syld’ybataghym.
(Мин Өймөкөөҥҥө хаhан да сылдьыбатаҕым.)
This is my second time in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia).
Min Sakha Öröspüblikatygar khaĭa sakh ikkis kėlė syld’yym.
(Мин Саха Өрөспубликатыгар хайа сах иккис кэлэ сылдьыым.)
What do you do?
Ėn tuokh idėlėėkhkhin?
(Эн туох идэлээххин?)
*lit. “What is your profession?”
I am a student/ businessman/ teacher/ doctor.
Min studenmyn/biznesmenmin/uchuutalbyn/byraaspyn.
(Мин студенмын/бизнесменмин/учууталбын/бырааспын.)
I am on vacation.
Min uoppuskagha syld’abyn,
(Мин уоппускаҕа сылдьабын).
*for non-students
I am on vacation.
Min kanikulga syld’abyn,
(Мин каникулга сылдьабын).
*for students
I am here on business.
Min manna ülėbinėn baarbyn.
(Мин манна үлэбинэн баарбын).

 

Asking Directions back to top

 

Where are the toilets?
Tualet khanna baаr?
(Туалет ханна баар?)
Men
Ėr d’onnor
(Эр дьоннор)
Women
D’akhtallar
(Дьахталлар)
Where is the nearest bank?
Manna chugas bank khanna baar?
(Манна чугас банк ханна баар?)
Where is the nearest post office?
Manna chugas pochta d’iėtė khanna baar?
(Манна чугас почта дьиэтэ ханна баар?)
Where is the nearest train station?
Manna chugas vokzal khanna baar?
(Манна чугас вокзал ханна баар?
Where can I find Wi-Fi?
Ėn manna internet (vaĭ-faĭ) sibėėhė khanna baaryn bilėghin duo?
(Эн манна интернет (вай-фай) сибээhэ ханна баарын билэҕин дуо?)
Do you know the Wi-Fi password?
Ėn internet kistėlėng tylyn bilėghin duo?
(Эн интернет кистэлэҥ тылын билэҕин дуо?)
How can I order a taxi?
Min taksiny khaĭdakh sakaastuakhpyn?
(Мин таксины хайдах сакаастыаxпын?)
Straight ahead!
Inning diėkki könö bar.
(Инниҥ диэкки көнө бар).
Take a right/ left.
Unga/khangas diėkki bar
(Уҥа/хаҥас диэкки бар.)
Take a right/ left.
Unga/khangas salaĭ.
(Уҥа/хаҥас салай.)
*specifically for transportation in a vehicle
After the stoplight
Svetofor kėnnittėn.
Светофор кэнниттэн.
Next/First/Last
Anygy/bastaky/kėnniki
(Аныгы/бастакы/кэнники)

 

Shopping back to top

How much does that cost?
Bu syanata töhönüĭ?
(Бу сыаната төhөнүй?)
*if the person you’re talking to already knows exactly what you’re interested in, or if you’re pointing to it, you may omit “bu syanata”.
The menu, please!
Bahaalysta, menyuta kördör duu.
(Баһаалыста, менюта көрдөр дуу).
*lit. “Please show me the menu”
I’d like a beer, please
Min piibė sakaastyakhpyn baghardym,
(Мин пиибэ сакаастыахпын баҕарaбын).
I’d like the bill, please.
Töhönü tölüür buolbut schëtpun kördüüdün duo?
(Төһөнү төлүүр буолбут счётпун көрдүүбүн дуо?)
*lit. “May I ask for my bill, please?”
Do you accept credit cards?
Kreditnėĭ kaartannan tölööhünü ėhigi ylaghyt duo?
(Кредитнэй каартаннан төлөөһүнү эһиги ылаҕыт дуо?)

 

Counting back to top

 

0 nol’
(ноль)
1 biir
(биир)
2 ikki
(икки)
3 üs
(үс)
4 tüört
(түөрт)
5 biės
(биэс)
6 alta
(алта)
7 sėttė
(сэттэ)
8 aghys
(аҕыс)
9 toghus
(тоҕус)
10 (0-10)
uon
(уон)
11 uon biir
(уон биир)
12 uon ikki
(уон икки)
13 uon üs
(уон үс)
14 uon tüört
(уон түөрт)
15 uon biės
(уон биэс)
16 uon alta
(уон алта
17 uon sėttė
(уон сэттэ)
18 uon aghys
(уон аҕыс)
19 (11-19)
uon toghus
(уон тоҕус)
20 süürbė
(сүүрбэ)
21 süürbė biir
(сүүрбэ биир)
22 süürbė ikki
(сүүрбэ икки)
30 otut
(отут)
40 tüört uon
(түөрт уон)
50 biės uon
(биэс уон)
60 alta uon
(алта уон)
70 sėttė uon
(сэттэ уон)
80 aghys uon
(аҕыс уон)
90 (20-90)
toghus uon
(тоҕус уон)
100 süüs
(сүүс)
111 süüs uon biir
(сүүс уон биир)
125 süüs süürbė biės
(сүүс сүүрбэ биэс)
200 ikki süüs
(икки сүүс)
300 üs süüs
(үс сүүс)
400 tüört süüs
(түөрт сүүс)
500 biės süüs
(биэс сүүс)
600 alta süüs
(алта сүүс)
700 sėttė süüs
(сэттэ сүүс)
800 aghys süüs
(аҕыс сүүс)
900 toghus süüs
(тоҕус сүүс)
1000 (100-1000)
tyhyyncha
(тыһыынча)

 

More on Sakha Dialects

 

Different Sakha dialects developed primarily due to geographical landscape and regions’ historical pasts. Often, dialect “borders” are delineated by rivers, e.g. the Lena, Amga, and Aldan Rivers, which divide the Republic into four parts. Modern dialectologists separate the uluses of the Sakha Republic into four major groups: Central, North-Eastern, Vilyui, and North-Western. Each group has a corresponding dialect with words and intonation features unique to it. (ulus = district/administrative units that function similarly to states in the U.S.).

  • The Central dialect most closely adheres to the norms of literary Sakha in its speech and writing as the Central region is the historical wellspring of Sakha literature and high culture. The Central region includes the Amginsky, Gorny, Khangalassky, Megino-Kangalassky, Namsky, Tattinsky, Tomponsky, Ust-Aldan, and Ust-Maysky districts.
  • The North-Eastern dialect is heavily influenced by neighboring peoples of the north, the Even, Yukaghir, and Chukchi, and by the Russian language. The North-Eastern dialect is spoken in the Abyysky, Allaikhovsky, Kolyma, Oymyakonsky, Verkhoyansk, and Ust-Yansky districts.
  • The Vilyui dialect is distinguished in two main ways. Firstly, the speech of Vilyui inhabitants is characteristically melodic, often inserting -yi/-ui to the ends of words for a more canorous effect. Secondly, the Vilyui dialect uses unique vernacular describing agriculture and cattle and horse breeding long-established in the area. The Vilyui dialect is spoken in Lensky, Nyurbinsky, Olekminsky, Suntarsky, Verkhnevilyuysku, and Vilyuysky disctricts.
  • The North-Western dialect is also greatly influenced by languages of Northern peoples, the most noticeable of which are the Tungus. In contrast to the Vilyui dialect, consonant assimilation is less developed, and there are a greater number of archaisms in the North-Western vocabulary. The North-Western dialect is spoken in the Anabar, Bulun, Olenek, and Zhigansky districts; and the Yessey region in the Krasnoyarsk Krai, a federal subject west of the Sakha Republic.

Sakha dialects are also divided, based on phonetic and lexical differences, into the Western (Vilyui and North-Western) and Eastern (Central, North-Eastern) systems of vocalism. This is most apparent in distinction of vowel labializing and non-labializing. Take for instance the word for “quiet”. In the Western system, “quiet” is written and read оргууй (orguuĭ), the o and уу (uu) are both back labialized vowels. In the Eastern system, “quiet” is written and read аргыый (argyyĭ), the a and ыы (yy) are both back non-labialized vowels. Quiet” oргууй (orguuĭ) – аргыый (argyyĭ); “spider” ооҕуй (ooghuĭ) and ааҕый (aaghyĭ); “reed” хомус (khomus) and хамыс (khamys); “dusk” борук-сорук (boruk-soruk) and барык-сарык (baryk-saryk).

About the author

Kathryn Yegorov-Crate

Kathryn Yegorov-Crate is a Sakha heritage speaker and a Master’s candidate in the Department of Slavic & Eurasian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Kathryn holds a B.A. in International Studies and a B.A. in Slavic Languages & Literatures from Indiana University Bloomington. Her current research examines pan-Turkism and Turanism in contemporary Sakha identity formation, Central Asian migrant positionalities, and anti-immigrant populism in the Russian Federation.

Program attended: All Programs

View all posts by: Kathryn Yegorov-Crate