Abkhaz (//; //; sometimes spelled Abxaz; Аԥсуа бызшәа /apʰswa bɨzʃʷa/), also known as Abkhazian, is a Northwest Caucasian language most closely related to Abaza. It is spoken mostly by the Abkhaz people. It is one of the official languages of Abkhazia[a], where around 100,000 people speak it. Furthermore, it is spoken by thousands of members of the Abkhazian diaspora in Turkey, Georgia's autonomous republic of Adjara, Syria, Jordan and several Western countries. The Russian census of 2010 reported 6,786 speakers of Abkhazian in Russia.
|Аҧсуа бызшәа; аҧсшәа|
Apsua byzshwa; apsshwa
|Native to||Abkhazia and Abkhaz diaspora|
|Cyrillic (Abkhaz alphabet) Historically: Latin, Georgian|
Official language in
|Republic of Abkhazia;[a] Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, Georgia|
Abkhaz is a Northwest Caucasian language and is therefore related to Adyghe. It is especially close to Abaza, and they are sometimes considered dialects of the same language, Abazgi, of which the literary dialects of Abkhaz and Abaza are simply two ends of a dialect continuum. Grammatically, the two are very similar; however, the differences in phonology are substantial and are the main reason for many other linguists preferring to keep the two separate. Most linguists (instance, Chirikba 2003) believe that Ubykh is the closest relative to the Abkhaz–Abaza dialect continuum.
Abkhaz is spoken primarily in Abkhazia. Abkhaz is also spoken by members of the large Abkhaz Muhajir diaspora, mainly located in Turkey, with smaller groups living in Syria, Iraq, and Jordan; the Georgian autonomous republic of Adjara; throughout the former Soviet Union (e.g. Armenia and Ukraine); and – through more recent emigration – in Western countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. However, the exact number of Abkhaz speakers in these countries remains unknown due to a lack of official records.
The earliest extant written records of the Abkhaz language are in the Arabic script, recorded by the Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi in the 17th century. Abkhaz has been used as a literary language for only about 100 years.
Abkhaz is generally viewed as having three major dialects:
- Abzhywa, spoken in the Caucasus, and named after the historical area of Abzhywa (Абжьыуа), sometimes referred to as Abzhui, the Russified form of the name (Abzhuiski dialekt, derived from the Russian form of the name for the area, Абжуа).
- Bzyb or Bzyp, spoken in the Caucasus and in Turkey, and named after the Bzyb (Abkhazian: Бзыԥ) area.
- Sadz, nowadays spoken only in Turkey, formerly also spoken between the rivers Bzyp and Khosta.
The literary language is based on the Abzhywa dialect.
Abkhaz has a very large number of consonants (58 in the literary dialect), with three-way voiced/voiceless/ejective and palatalized/labialized/plain distinctions. By contrast, the language has only two phonemically distinct vowels—which, however, have several allophones depending on the palatal and/or labial quality of adjacent consonants.
Phonemes in green are found in the Bzyp and Sadz dialects of Abkhaz, but not in Abzhywa; phonemes in blue are unique to the Bzyp dialect.
|plain||lab.||plain||lab.||plain||lab.||pal.||plain||lab.||pal.||plain||lab.||phar.||lab. + phar.||plain||lab.|
Abkhaz is typologically classified as a polysynthetic and agglutinative language. Like all other Northwest Caucasian languages, Abkhaz has an extremely complex verbal system coupled with a very simple noun system. Viacheslav Chirikba has characterized Abkhaz as a "verbcentric language", as the verb occupies the central place in Abkhaz morphology.
Abkhaz has used the Cyrillic script since 1862. The first alphabet was a 37-character Cyrillic alphabet invented by Baron Peter von Uslar. In 1909 a 55-letter Cyrillic alphabet was used. A 75-letter Latin script devised by a Russian/Georgian linguist Nikolai Marr lasted for 2 years 1926–1928 (during the Latinization campaign). The Georgian script was adopted and used in 1938–54 years after was restored the initial Cyrillic alphabet designed in 1892 by Dmitry Gulia together with Konstantin Machavariani and modified in 1909 by Aleksey Chochua.
|Ӷь ӷь |
|З з |
|Қь қь |
|О о |
|Ҭә ҭә |
|Ц ц |
|Ш ш |
|Ә ә |
The Latin alphabet in Abkhaz is currently not in Unicode. Its inclusion was proposed in 2011. See also:
Both Georgian and Abkhaz law enshrines an official status of the Abkhaz language in Abkhazia.
In November 2007, the de facto authorities of Abkhazia adopted a new law "on the state language of the Republic of Abkhazia" that mandates Abkhaz as the language of official communication. According to the law, all meetings held by the president, parliament, and government must be conducted in Abkhaz (instead of Russian, which is currently a de facto administrative language) from 2010, and all state officials will be obliged to use Abkhaz as their language of everyday business from 2015. Some, however, have considered the implementation of this law unrealistic and concerns have been made that it will drive people away from Abkhazia and hurt the independent press due to a significant share of non-Abkhaz speakers among ethnic minorities as well as Abkhaz themselves, and a shortage of teachers of Abkhaz. The law is an attempt to amend a situation where up to a third of the ethnic Abkhaz population are no longer capable of speaking their ethnic language, and even more are unable to read or write it; instead, Russian is the language most commonly used in public life at present.
Abkhazian: Дарбанзаалак ауаҩы дшоуп ихы дақәиҭны. Ауаа зегь зинлеи патулеи еиҟароуп. Урҭ ирымоуп ахшыҩи аламыси, дара дарагь аешьеи аешьеи реиԥш еизыҟазароуп.
- Darbanzaalak auaɥy dshoup ihy daqwithny. Auaa zegj zinlei patulei eiqaroup. Urth irymoup ahshyɥi alamysi, dara daragj aesjei aesjei reiphsh eizyqazaroup.
- "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
- Abkhazia is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Abkhazia and Georgia. The Republic of Abkhazia unilaterally declared independence on 23 July 1992, but Georgia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Abkhazia has received formal recognition as an independent state from 7 out of 193 United Nations member states, 2 of which have subsequently withdrawn their recognition.
- "Abkhaz". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Abkhazian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- "abkhaz". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
- "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: abk". ISO 639-2 Registration Authority - Library of Congress. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: abk". ISO 639-3 Registration Authority - SIL International. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- Row 7 in Приложение 6: Население Российской Федерации по владению языками [Appendix 6: Population of the Russian Federation by languages used] (XLS) (in Russian). Федерадьная служба государственной статистики [Federal State Statistics Service].
- Anahid Gogorian (December 20, 2007), Abkhaz Worried by Language Law. Institute for War and Peace Reporting Caucasus Reporting Service No. 424.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2009-05-17.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Chirikba, V. A. (1996) A Dictionary of Common Abkhaz. Leiden.
- Chirikba, V. A. (2003) "Abkhaz". Languages of the World/Materials 119. Muenchen: Lincom Europa.
- Hewitt, B. George (2010) Abkhaz: A Comprehensive Self Tutor Muenchen, Lincom Europa ISBN 978-3-89586-670-8
- Hewitt, B. George (1979) Abkhaz: A descriptive Grammar. Amsterdam: North Holland.
- Hewitt, B. George (1989) Abkhaz. In John Greppin (ed.), The Indigenous Languages of the Caucasus Vol. 2. Caravan Books, New York. 39-88.
- Vaux, Bert and Zihni Psiypa (1997) "The Cwyzhy Dialect of Abkhaz". Harvard Working Papers in Linguistics 6, Susumu Kuno, Bert Vaux, and Steve Peter, eds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Linguistics Department.
|Abkhazian edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Abkhaz phrasebook.|
- Introduction, basic phrases and grammar and texts
- Abkhaz alphabet and pronunciation (Omniglot)
- Abkhaz entry in LanguageServer (University of Graz)
- Abkhaz at Language Museum
- Example of Abkhaz language
- Abkhaz-Russian On-Line Dictionary
- Ancient Adyghe Abkhaz–Abaza Ubykh alphabet
- Abkhaz basic lexicon at the Global Lexicostatistical Database
- Abkhaz text corpus
- Recordings of Abkhaz
- World Atlas of Language Structures information on Abkhaz