Tuvan is a Turkic language written in Cyrillic and spoken by about 250,000 Tuvans and a few scattered expatriates (mainly in Mongolia and China) with a few quirks that intrigue lingusts. For example, there are three kinds of Tuvan vowel pronunciations, depending on how the vowel appears in a particular word — “short,” “long,” or a low-pitched sound that’s neither short or long and is sometimes called “creaky voice” and four kinds classifications of vowel placement: “front vowels” or “back vowels,” determined by where in the mouth they’re pronounced, and “round” or “unrounded,” which depends on how one shapes the lips while saying them. Tuvan has something called “vowel harmony,” which determines which vowels can appear in the same word. All vowels in the word have to be the same type as the vowel in the word’s first syllable. Linguists also find Tuvan throat singing fascinating.

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