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Encyclopedia > North Caucasian languages

North Caucasian languages is a blanket term for two language phyla spoken chiefly in the north Caucasus and Turkey: the Northwest Caucasian (Pontic, Abkhaz-Adyghe, Circassian) family and the Northeast Caucasian (East Caucasian, Caspian, Nakh-Dagestanian) family; the latter including the former North-central Caucasian (Nakh) family. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Caucasus Mountains. ... The Northwest Caucasian languages, also called Pontic or Abkhaz-Adyg/Circassian, are a group of languages spoken in Caucasian Russia, Turkey, Jordan, Kabardino-Balkaria (an autonomous republic in Russia) and Abkhazia ( de facto independent formally an autonomous republic in Georgia). ... The Northeast Caucasian languages, also called East Caucasian, Caspian, Nakh-Dagestanian, or Dagestanian, are a family of languages spoken mostly in the Dagestan, Chechnya, and Ingushetia regions of Russia, in Northern Azerbaijan, and in Georgia. ... The North Central Caucasian languages (also Nakh languages or Vaynakh languages) are a family of languages spoken mostly in Russia (Chechnya and Ingushetia) and Georgia. ...


Many linguists, notably Sergei Starostin and Sergei Nikolayev, believe that the two groups sprang from a common ancestor about five thousand years ago[1]. However, due to the nature of the languages in question, this proposal is difficult to evaluate, and remains controversial. Dr. Sergei Anatolyevich Starostin (b. ...

Contents

Comparison of the two phyla

The main perceived similarities between the two phyla lie in their phonological systems. However, their grammars are quite different.


Main similarities

Both phyla are characterised by high levels of phonetic complexity, including the widespread usage of secondary articulation. Ubykh (Northwest) has 88 consonants, and Archi (Northeast) is thought to have less than 60. Phonetics (from the Greek word φωνή, phone meaning sound, voice) is the study of the sounds of human speech. ... Secondary articulation refers to co-articulated consonants (consonants produced simultaneously at two places of articulation) where the two articulations are not of the same manner. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ... Archi is a Caucasian language spoken by the 1,000 Archis in the village of Archi, southern Dagestan, Russia. ...


A list of possible cognates has been proposed. However, most of them may be loanwords or simply coincidences, since most of the morphemes in both phyla are quite short (often just a single consonant). Cognates are words that have a common origin. ... A loanword (or loan word) is a word directly taken into one language from another with little or no translation. ... In morpheme-based morphology, a morpheme is the smallest lingual unit that carries a semantic interpretation. ...


Main differences

The Northeast Caucasian languages are characterised by great syntactic complexity in the noun. For example, in Tabasaran, a series of locative cases intersect with a series of suffixes designating motion with regard to the location, producing an array of some 48 locative suffixes (often incorrectly described as noun cases). In linguistics, a noun or noun substantive is a lexical category which is defined in terms of how its members combine with other grammatical kinds of expressions. ... Tabasaran (or Tabassaran) is a member of the Lezgi subfamily of the Northeast Caucasian languages. ... Locative is a case which indicates a location. ... It has been suggested that Ending (linguistics) be merged into this article or section. ... In linguistics, declension is a feature of inflected languages: generally, the alteration of a noun to indicate its grammatical role. ...


By contrast, the Northwest Caucasian noun systems are extremely poor in nominal morphology, usually distinguishing just two or three cases. However, they make up with a very complex verbal structure: the subject, the direct object, the indirect object, benefactive objects, and most local functions are expressed in the verb. It has been suggested that Verbal agreement be merged into this article or section. ... According to a tradition that can be tracked back to Aristotle, every sentence can be divided in two main constituents, one being the subject of the sentence and the other being its predicate. ... The accusative case of a noun is, generally, the case used to mark the direct object of a verb. ... The dative case is a grammatical case for nouns and/or pronouns. ... The benefactive is a noun case or an adposition which indicates movement towards or for someone. ...


Criticism

Not all scholars accept the unity of the North Caucasian languages as proposed by Nikolayev and Starostin, and some who do believe that the two are, or may be, related do not accept the methodology they use. A notable critic of Nikolayev and Starostin's hypothesis is Johanna Nichols[2]. Linguist Johanna Nichols is a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at University of California, Berkeley. ...


See also

The Dené-Caucasian (also called Sino-Dené) language family is a conjectural language superfamily containing the Sino-Tibetan, North Caucasian, Yenisseian, Burushaski, Basque and Na-Dené languages. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

References

  1. ^ Nikolayev, S., and S. Starostin. 1994 North Caucasian Etymological Dictionary. Moscow: Asterisk Press. Available online.
  2. ^ Nichols, J. 1997 Nikolaev and Starostin's North Caucasian Etymological Dictionary and the Methodology of Long-Range Comparison: an assessment. Paper presented at the 10th Biennial Non-Slavic Languages (NSL) Conference, Chicago, 8-10 May 1997.

  Results from FactBites:
 
North Caucasian languages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (295 words)
North Caucasian languages is a blanket term for two language phyla spoken chiefly in the north Caucasus and Turkey: the Northwest Caucasian (Pontic, Abkhaz-Adyghe, Circassian) family and the Northeast Caucasian (East Caucasian, Caspian, Nakh-Dagestanian) family; the latter including the former North-central Caucasian (Nakh) family.
However, due to the nature of the languages in question, this proposal is difficult to evaluate, and remains controversial.
The Northeast Caucasian languages are characterised by great syntactic complexity in the noun.
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