Types of Vowels

Cyrillic: а, ә, е, о, ө, ұ, ү, ы, і

Latin:    a, ä, e, o, ö, u, ü, ı, i

There are 2 types of vowels in Kazakh language – hard and soft (literally translated as “thick” and “thin”):

Lip involvement No lip involvement Lip involvement
Broad Narrow Broad Narrow

а | a

ы | ı

о | o

ұ | u


ә | ä, e | e

і | i

ө | ö

ү | ü

The following vowels are neither hard nor soft: и, у (when it’s vowel), э, ю, я / ï, w (when it’s vowel), [Russian] e, yu, ya.

Peculiar thing about Kazakh language is that generally (in most of the cases) vowels of any word are either all hard or all soft. For example,

жазушы | jazwşı (writer) vs. күнделік | kündelik (diary)


б, г, ғ, д, ж, з, й, к, қ, л, м, н, ң, п, р, с, т, х, һ, ш

b, g, ğ, d, j,  z, y,  k, q, l, m, n, ñ, p, r, s, t, x, h, ş

(*note: x is kh sound)

Voiceless к, қ, п, с, т, х, һ, ш   /  k. q. p. s. t. x. h. ş
Voiced б, г, ғ, д, ж, з  /  b, g, ğ, d, j, z
Resonant nasal м, н, ң / m, n, ñ
smooth л, р, й, у / l, r, y, w