Chuvash – The extinct language of the Republic of Chuvashia

Muslim scholars in the Republic of Chuvashia want the Quran translated into Chuvash. In a meeting held at the capital city, Cheboksary, the scholars approved a plan to translate the holy book to Chuvash, so that the local population can read the Quran in their own language. They called upon the government to support this endeavor that will benefit the densely populated republic. Even though Chuvashia is taught in schools and is also used in the mass media, it is still classified as an endangered language, as Russian is predominantly used and most people do not actively use the Chuvash in day to day life. Russia is home to over 100 minority languages, some of which have already become extinct.

Chuvash is the official language of Chuvashia, in central Russia. It is also spelled as Chuvashiya, Chuwash , Chavash and Chovash. Approximately 2 million people speak the language in Russia, there are other speakers in other parts of the world. Chuvash is a Turkic language but it is so distinct that it cannot be understood by speakers of other Turkic languages. Chuvash is the only surviving member of the Oghur branch of Turkic languages. It is classified together with Bulgar, Hunnic, Khazar and Turkic Avar. The language has 2 major dialects: the Viryal or upper and Anatri or Lower dialect. The literary language has elements of both dialects. The language has loan words from Russian, Mongol, Arabic, Persian and Tartar.

Chuvash has been written using a variety of scripts, including Arabic, Latin, Cyrillic, and the Runic alphabet. The Orkhon script was used in ancient times but it disappeared after most of the people converted to Islam, and Arabic script became popular. The alphabet that is currently used was devised in 1873 by Ivan Yakovlevich, a school inspector. This alphabet has undergone revisions a number of times, with the most recent revision being carried out in 1983. There are a number of literature that are available in the Chuvash, including dictionaries, religious texts and texts that highlight the folklore of the Chuvash people. These literature were written using Runic script during 18th and 19th century.

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