The Khakas language is spoken by about 60,000 people who live in Khakas in Russia. It is a Turkic language, which falls under the Uighur-Oguz family group. The language has different dialects. These are based on the different tribes of the language. This includes the Beltir, Shor, Sagay, Koybal, Kacha and Kyzyl. These people collectively referred to themselves as the Tardar. Most Khakas are bilingual as they can also speak Russian. This has resulted in some Russian loan words and phrases being incorporated into the language. In fact, the Khakas language does not have a lot of words when it comes to referring to modern technology. Russian words in their original forms are used instead. The language has also been in close contact with the Chinese, Paleo Asiatic and Manchu Tungus languages.
There are no government policies about the use of the Khakas language. The language is generally used in informal situations and it is not used as a language of instruction in schools. During the 19th century, Finnish and Russian linguists began documenting the language. The Cyrillic language was used during this time. Later on, between 1929-1939, the Latin alphabet was used to write the language before switching back to the Cyrillic alphabet. The written language is based on the Sagai dialect. The language is also referred to as Khakass, Khakhass, Khakhas, Yenisei Tatar and Abakan Tatar.
The origin of the Khakas people is disputed. Some scholars argue that they descended from the Yenisei Kirghiz, while other linguists argue that the Yenisei people group migrated to Central Asia. The Khakas are believed to have formed Khakassia in Yenisei Kirghiz. The Russians arrived shortly after that. Most Khakas’ accepted the Russian way of life in the 19th Century and most of them converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity under pressure from Russian soldiers. Shamanism is still commonly practiced as it is mixed together with Christianity. Traditionally, the Khakas practice nomadic herding, hunting, fishing and agriculture. Over time, the people have become more industrialized, though it is still common to find community members herding sheep and cattle.