Äynu language

ئەينۇ, Äynú
Native toChina
Native speakers
6,600 (2000)[1]
Arabic script
Language codes
ISO 639-3aib
ELPAinu (China)
Map showing locations of Äynu (red) within Xinjiang
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Äynu is a Turkic cryptolect spoken in Western China. Some linguists call it a mixed language, having a mostly Turkic grammar, essentially Yugur (close to Uyghur), but a mainly Iranian vocabulary.[2] Other linguists argue that it does not meet the technical requirements of a mixed language.[3] It is spoken by the Äynu, a nomadic people, who use it to keep their communications secret from outsiders.


The language is know by many different spellings, including Abdal,[1] Aini, Ainu, Ayni, Aynu, Eyni, and Eynu.[4] The Abdal (ئابدال) spelling is commonly used in Uyghur sources. Russian sources use Eynu, Aynu, Abdal (Эйну, Айну, Абдал), and Chinese uses the spelling Ainu. The Äynu people call their language Äynú (ئەينۇ, xx [ɛjˈnu]).

Geographic distribution

Äynu is spoken in Western China among Alevi Muslims[5][6][7] in Xinjiang on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert in the Tarim Basin.

Use as a secret language

The only speakers of Äynu are adult men, who are found to speak it outside of their area of settlement in order to communicate without being understood by others. Uyghur is spoken with outsiders who do not speak Äynu, and at home when it is not necessary to disguise one's speech.[8]


Most of basic vocabulary in Aynu comes from the Iranian languages, which might be speculated that the language have been originally an Iranian language, and have been turned into a Turkic language after a long period.[9] There are three vocabulary formation methods in Ainu language: simple words, derived words and compound words. The affixes of derived words have both Uyghur and Persian origin. Old people mostly use Persian affixes, while the young people use Uyghur derived vocabulary and affixes.[10]



Consonant phonemes
  Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Plosive p b t d     k ɡ q      
Affricate         t͡ʃ d͡ʒ            
Fricative   v s z ʃ       χ ʁ   ɦ
Nasal m n     ŋ        
Flap/Tap     r                
Lateral     l                
Approximant       j            


Äynu Vowels


Äynu numerals are borrowed from Persian:[citation needed]

  • 1 - yäk
  • 2 - du
  • 3 - si
  • 4 - čar
  • 5 - pänǰ
  • 6 - šäš
  • 7 - häp(t)
  • 8 - häš(t)
  • 9 - noh
  • 10 - dah
  • 20 - bist
  • 100 - säd
  • 1000 - hazar


  1. ^ a b Äynu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Bakker, Peter (2003). "Mixed Languages as Autonomous Systems". In Matras, Yaron; Bakker, Peter (eds.). The Mixed Language Debate: Theoretical and Empirical Advances. Trends in Linguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 107–150. ISBN 978-3-11-017776-3.
  3. ^ Johansson 2001
  4. ^ Lee-Smith, Mei W. (1996). "The Ejnu language". In Wurm, Stephen A.; Mühlhäusler, Peter; Tyron, Darrell T. (eds.). Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, Volume 2, Part 1. (Volume 13 of Trends in Linguistics, Documentation Series). Walter de Gruyter. p. 851. ISBN 978-3-11-013417-9.
  5. ^ Louie, Kam (2008). The Cambridge Companion to Modern Chinese Culture. Cambridge_University_Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0521863223.
  6. ^ Starr, S. Frederick (2004). Xinjiang: China's Muslim Borderland: China's Muslim Borderland. Routledge. p. 303. ISBN 978-0765613189.
  7. ^ "Mummy dearest : questions of identity in modern and ancient Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region". Alyssa Christine Bader Whitman_College p31. 9 May 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  8. ^ Johansson, pg. 22.
  9. ^ Zhao Xiangru, (2011), Ainu Studies 1st Edition, p. 21
  10. ^ Zhao Xiangru; Asim. The language of the Ainu people in Xinjiang. Linguistic research. 1982, (1): p. 259-279.


  • Hayasi, Tooru (1999). A Šäyxil vocabulary : a preliminary report of linguistic research in Šäyxil Village, southwestern Xinjiang. Kyoto: Faculty of Letters, Kyoto University.
  • Hayasi, Tooru (2000). Lexical copying in Turkic: The case of Eynu. In: Asli Göksel – Celia Kerslake (eds.): Studies on Turkish and Turkic languages. Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Turkish Linguistics, Oxford, 1998. Turcologica 46. pp. 433–439. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  • Lars Johansson. 2001. Discoveries on the Turkic Linguistic Map. Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul Publications 5. Stockholm: Svenska Forskningsinstitutet i Istanbul. Page available online
  • Ladstätter, Otto & Tietze, Andreas (1994). Die Abdal (Äynu) in Xinjiang. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-historische Klasse. Sitzungsberichte 604. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

External links

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