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MAKE TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS TO LIVING TONGUES INSTITUTE - Your 100% tax deductible contribution can help us preserve valuable information for future generations in the specialized knowledge contained in endangered languages. Please consider Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, when planning your charitable giving. We rely solely on the generosity of donors and grants to fund our field expeditions, publications, and assistance to indigenous communities struggling for cultural survival.

Living Tongues Altai-Sayan Language Project

Altai-Sayan Language and Ethnography Project

The Altai-Sayan Language and Ethnography Project [ASLEP] is a multi-media documentation project on the endangered languages and cultures of the Turkic-speaking populations of the Altai-Sayan cultural and geographic complex. The results from this project are housed under the heading ‘Tofa’ under the DoBeS Dokumentation bedrohter Sprachen program funded by Volkswagen Stiftung (through a grant to Dr. K. David Harrison).

Languages investigated and recorded in annotated media include Todzhu, Dukha, Tsengel, Monchak, and Tofa, the latter with fewer than 30 speakers now.

The Altai-Sayan Language and Ethnography Project has several facets. One is the documentation of the endangered languages and traditional knowledge of the Altai-Sayan region, in particular that of the Tofa, and to a lesser extent those of the Todzhu, Dukha, Tsengel Tuvan, and Monchak.

In addition to hours of annotated video sessions in multiple languages housed in the DoBeS archive at Nijmegen, Netherlands, ASLEP has produced a children’s reader, a Talking Online Tuvan Dictionary, numerous papers on a range of topics, and data from ASLEP has figured prominently in books such as When Languages Die by David Harrison, and Auxiliary Verb Constructions by Greg Anderson

Map of Altai-Sayan Languages


Tofa Language Sound Files

Tofa Song 1

Tofa Song 2

Video Files from ASLEP


Hover cursor over video for other video selections
Varvara and Galina Adamova, last speakers of Tofa
Lydia Stepanovna Bolxoeva, last speaker of Tofa
Tofa Story by Konstantin Mukhaev
Spartak on Tofa schooling & reading
Spartak on Tofa discrimination & traditional dress
Tofa speaker Prokopij recites song lyrics 'irgak kuuday'
Elicited Tofa reading with Tatiana Nikolaevna
Lukeria Yakovlevna sings a Tofa song ‬
Todzhu Tuvan Videos
Elizaveta Kenden sings kozhamyk in Todzhu-Tuvan language
Bürbüldei Erzinchievna Kol counts from 1 to 20 in the Todzhu Tuvan dialect.
Lyudmila Baraanovna Mongush sings "Tozhuma", a Tozhu Tuvan song
Alexei Balganovich Nuguurak reads from his published work
in the Todzhu Tuvan dialect
Monchak Tuvan goat color & pattern naming system‬

Photos from ASLEP

Pavel Ungushtaev, Tofa language consultant

Albert Tuleev, Tofa language consultant

Tsengel Tuvan language consultant


Last Tofa reindeer?

Marta Kongaraeva, primary Tofa language consultant


Some Publications from ASLEP


Talking Online Tuvan Dictionary


English-based Tuvan Dictionary

Tuvan-based English Dictionary

Photo credits: David Harrison, Greg Anderson, Thomas Hegenbart



The Kyzyl or Xyzyl are classified as a northern Xakas (Khakas) variety. The speech of the Kyzyl variety is as divergent from Xakas as Chulym Turkic varieties, thus the language must be considered to be a separate tongue of the Northern Altai-Sayan type. It is spoken along the upper reaches of the Ijus [Üüs] River in northern Khakasia and Krasnoyarsk Kray. It is to be considered either as a seriously endangered or moribund language.

Kyzyl Song

Please consider participating in our Adopt-a-Language program
to help us continue our work with endangered languages.

This button allows you to donate specifically for the Tofa language projects

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