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Encyclopedia > Northwest Caucasian languages

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 entire group is characterised by paucity of phonemic vowels, rich consonantal systems with many forms of secondary articulation, and high levels of agglutinativity. The Caucasus , a region bordering Asia Minor, is located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea which includes the Caucasus mountains and surrounding lowlands. ... The Kabardino-Balkar Republic or Kabardino-Balkaria (Russian: Кабарди́но-Балка́рская Респу́блика; Kabardian: Къэбэрдей-Балъкъэр Республикэ, Balkar: Къабарты-Малкъар Республика) is a federal subject of the Russian Federation (a republic), located in the northern Caucasus. ... Abkhazia (Abkhaz Аҧсны/Aphsny, Georgian აფხაზეთი/Apkhazeti, Russian Абха́зия/Abkhazia) is a region of 8,600 km² (3,300 sq. ... 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. ... An agglutinative language is a language in which the words are formed by joining morphemes together. ...


Current theory holds that the richness of consonantal phoneme systems in the Northwest Caucasian languages is the result of a process which removes vowel features such as labialisation and palatalisation from the vowels in a root and reassigns them instead to the consonants which surround them. This theory also explains why there are so few vowels in Northwest Caucasian languages. Labialisation is secondary articulatory feature of sounds in a language, most usually used to refer to consonants. ... Palatalization means pronouncing a sound nearer to the hard palate, making it more like a palatal consonant; this is towards the front of the mouth for a velar or uvular consonant, but towards the back of the mouth for a front (e. ...


Northwest Caucasian languages have rather simple noun systems, manifesting only a handful of cases at the most, coupled with a verbal system so complex that virtually the entire syntactic structure of the sentence is repeated in the verb. They do not generally permit more than one finite verb in a sentence, which precludes the existence of subordinate clauses (although Abkhaz appears to be developing limited subordinate clauses, perhaps under the influence of Russian); to get around this, they have impressive arrays of nominal and participial non-finite verb forms. Despite this, most of the Northwest Caucasian languages do not have true infinitives: the basic non-finite verb is a noun called the masdar. A clause is a group of words consisting of a subject (often just a single noun) and a predicate (sometimes just a single verb). ... A noun, or noun substantive, is a word or phrase that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality. ... In linguistics, a participle is an adjective derived from a verb. ...


There are five languages in the Northwest Caucasian family: Abkhaz, Abaza, Kabardian or East Circassian, Adyghe or West Circassian, and Ubykh. The languages in the Northwest Caucasian family are related as follows: Abkhaz is a Northwest Caucasian language spoken in Abkhazia and Turkey. ... The Abaza language (Абаза Бызшва/Abaza Byzšwa) is a language of the Caucasus mountains in the Russian autonomous republic of Turkey, where the Roman alphabet is used. ... The Kabardian language is a Northwest Caucasian language spoken in Russia, Jordan and Turkey. ... Adyghe (Адыгэ) is one of the two official languages of the Federal Republic of Adygeya in the Russian Federation. ... Ubykh is a language of the Northwestern Caucasian group, spoken by the Ubykh people up until the early 1990s. ...


Image:Northwest_Caucasian_languages.png This is a flow chart of Northwest Caucasian languages. ...

Contents


Circassian Group

Adyghe or Adyg

The Adyghe language, also called Circassian, is one of the more widely spoken North-West Caucasian languages. It can be found everywhere from Russia to Turkey. There is even a small community in the United States. Four main dialects are recognised: Kemirgoy, Abdzakh, Bzhedugh and Shapsugh, as well as many minor ones (for instance, the Turkish dialect Hakuchi spoken by the last speakers of Ubykh). Adyghe has three phonemic vowels, and is less consonantally complex than the Abkhaz-Abaza group. Adyghe (Адыгэ) is one of the two official languages of the Federal Republic of Adygeya in the Russian Federation. ... The Kabardian language is a Russia, Jordan and Turkey. ... Hakuchi can refer to: a minority dialect of Adyghe spoken in Turkey. ...


Kabardian

Kabardian is split into two dialects, Kabardian and Cherkess (Circassian). Furthermore, Kabardian proper has several dialects, including Terek, the literary standard, and Besney, which occupies a position intermediate between Terek Kabardian and the Adyghe. It has the least number of consonants of any North-Western Caucasian language, with 48. Kabardian is characterised by ejective fricatives and a small number of acoustic vowels. The Kabardian horse breed is a breed from Caucasus, currently part of Russia. ... Adyghe (Адыгэ) is one of the two official languages of the Federal Republic of Adygeya in the Russian Federation. ... Ejective consonants are a class of consonants which may contrast with aspirated or unaspirated consonants in a language. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ...


Abkhaz-Abazin Group

Abkhaz Language

The Abkhaz language has approximately 100,000 speakers in Abkhazia, with possibly up to 500,000 speakers in Turkey. It has been a literary language from the beginning of the 20th century. Abkhaz is often claimed to be simply a divergent dialect of a larger language, Abkhaz-Abaza. It makes better linguistic sense, however, to separate Abkhaz and Abaza into two separate languages, since Abaza preserves phonemes which Abkhaz lacks, and vice-versa. Abkhaz is generally viewed as having three major dialects, Abzhuy, Bzyp (both spoken in Georgia) and Sadz (spoken in Turkey). Abkhaz is characterised by unusual consonant clusters and a small vowel inventory. It has only two distinctive vowels: an open vowel /a/ and a closed vowel /ı, ǝ/. Depending on the environment the vowels can be realized as [e,i,o,u]. See also Abkhaz alphabet. Abkhaz is a Northwest Caucasian language spoken in Abkhazia and Turkey. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the... A dialect (from the Greek word διάλεκτος, dialektos) is a variety of a language used by people from a particular geographic area. ... Abkhaz alphabet. ...


Abaza Language

The Abaza language shares with Abkhaz the distinction of having just two phonemic vowels in its sound inventory. Abaza is phonologically more complex than Abkhaz, but the two share a great number of linguistic ties. Abaza has two major dialects, Akhchepse and T'ap'anta. Abaza is characterised by large consonant clusters, similar to those that can be found in Georgian. The Abaza language (Абаза Бызшва/Abaza Byzšwa) is a language of the Caucasus mountains in the Russian autonomous republic of Turkey, where the Roman alphabet is used. ...


Ubykh or Ubyx Group

Ubykh

The Ubykh language is more closely related to Abkhaz and Abaza than to Adyghe and Kabardian. It became extinct on October 7, 1992, with the death of Tevfik Esenç, the language's last native speaker. Ubykh has the largest number of consonants of any North-West Caucasian language, with 80. Ubykh is characterised by pharyngealised consonants and a four-way contrast between sibilants. It was the only Northwest Caucasian language never to have a literary form. Ubykh is a language of the Northwestern Caucasian group, spoken by the Ubykh people up until the early 1990s. ... October 7 is the 280th day of the year (281st in leap years). ... 1992 was a leap year starting on Wednesday. ... Tevfik Esenç at age 82 Tevfik Esenç (1904 – October 7, 1992) was a circassian exile in Turkey and the last known speaker of the Ubykh language. ... Pharyngealisation is a secondary feature of phonemes in a language. ... A sibilant is a type of fricative, made by speeding up air through a narrow channel and directing it over the sharp edge of the teeth. ...


Hattic

This ancient religious language used by the Hittites in some of their liturgy was totally unrelated to their secular Nesili, i.e. the Indo-European language known as Hittite. The term Hattic is used by modern linguists to designate this Pre-Indo-European language, although no one knows what the speakers of this language called themselves. The language has been shown to demonstrate some affinity with the Abkhaz-Adyg languages. Relief of Suppiluliuma II, last known king of the Hittite Empire Hittites is the conventional English-language term for an ancient people who spoke an Indo-European language and established a kingdom centered in Hattusa (the modern village of BoÄŸazköy in north-central Turkey), through most of the... The Hittite language is the dead language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who once created an empire centered on ancient Hattusa (modern Boğazköy) in north-central Turkey. ... Proto-Indo-European Indo-European studies Indo-European is originally a linguistic term, referring to the Indo-European language family. ... The Hittite language is the dead language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who once created an empire centered on ancient Hattusa (modern BoÄŸazköy) in north-central Anatolia (modern Turkey). ... Hattic was a non-Indo-European language spoken in Asia Minor between the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC, before the appearance of the Hittites. ... The Pre-Indo-European population of Europe included an unknown number of ethnic groups that dwelt on the continent before the coming of the speakers of Indo-European languages (though some scholars dispute the Indo-European invasion theory: see Paleolithic Continuity Theory). ...


Relationship to other language families

Links to Indo-European

The North-West Caucasian languages are currently undergoing some study as to whether they may share a phyletic link with the Indo-European family, at a time depth of about 12,000 years before the present. The hypothesised protolanguage of this link is called Proto-Pontic. The Indo-European languages include some 443 (SIL estimate) languages and dialects spoken by about three billion people, including most of the major language families of Europe and western Asia, which belong to a single superfamily. ... Proto-Pontic is a postulated proto-language. ...


However, a number of factors mean that the reconstruction of the Northwest Caucasian protolanguage is quite complicated:

  • many Northwest Caucasian roots are monosyllabic;
  • phoneme changes are complex, and a large number of consonants and sibilant contrasts provides further difficulty;
  • ablaut was extensively used prehistorically and plays some part in the modern languages;
  • borrowings and loans between the languages of the family were frequent;
  • widespread homophony occurs in the modern languages.

Proto-Northwest Caucasian is widely accepted as being one of the most difficult protolanguages to deal with.


The Ibero-Caucasian family

Traditionally, the language families spoken only in the Caucasus (Kartvelian, Northwest Caucasian, Dagestanian, and Nakh languages) into a single Ibero-Caucasian or Caucasian family. However, there is no significant evidence that those four families have a common origin, so "Ibero-Caucasian" is basically a geographic label. The South Caucasian languages, also called the Kartvelian languages, are spoken primarily in Georgia, with smaller groups of speakers in Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine and other countries. ... The Northeast Caucasian languages, also called East Caucasian, Caspian, or Dagestan, are a family of languages spoken mostly in Dagestan, Northern Azerbaijan and 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. ... The term Ibero-Caucasian (or Iberian-Caucasian) was proposed by Georgian linguist Arnold Chikobava for the union of the four language families that are specific to the Caucasus area, namely South Caucasian, also called Georgian or Kartvelian; Northwest Caucasian, also called Abkhaz/Adygh or Circassian; North-central Caucasian or Vaynakh. ... The term Caucasian languages is loosely used to refer to a large and extremely varied array of languages spoken by more than 7 million people in the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. ...


The North Caucasian (Caucasic) family

Most linguists today accept that Kartvelian is unrelated to the other families. However, many believe the other three to form a North Caucasian family, sometimes called "Caucasic". Within Caucasic, Dagestanian and Nakh form a particularly well supported Northeast Caucasian (NEC) node. North Caucasian languages is a blanket term for two distinct, but possibly related, phyla of languages spoken in the north Caucasus and in Turkey. ...


External Links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Northwest Caucasian languages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (970 words)
Current theory holds that the richness of consonantal phoneme systems in the Northwest Caucasian languages is the result of a process which removes vowel features such as labialisation and palatalisation from the vowels in a root and reassigns them instead to the consonants which surround them.
Northwest Caucasian languages have rather simple noun systems, manifesting only a handful of cases at the most, coupled with a verbal system so complex that virtually the entire syntactic structure of the sentence is repeated in the verb.
The North-West Caucasian languages are currently undergoing some study as to whether they may share a phyletic link with the Indo-European family, at a time depth of about 12,000 years before the present.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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