The Digor (Digor dialect: дигорон - digoron, pl.: дигорӕ, дигорӕнттӕ - digoræ, digorænttæ; Iron dialect: дыгурон - dyguron, pl.: дыгур, дыгурæттæ - dygur, dygurættæ) are a subgroup of the Ossetians. They speak the Digor dialect of the Eastern Iranian Ossetian language, which in USSR was considered a separate language until 1937. Starting from 1932 it is considered just a dialect of Ossetian language. The speakers of the other dialect - Iron - do not understand Digor, although the Digor usually understand Iron, as it was the official language of the Ossetian people and officially taught in schools. In the 2002 Russian Census 607 Digors were registered, but in the 2010 Russian Census their number was only 223. It was estimated that there are 100,000 speakers of the dialect, most of whom declared themselves Ossetians. The Digor mainly live in Digorsky, Irafsky, Mozdoksky districts and Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia–Alania, also in Kabardino-Balkaria, Turkey and Syria.
|est. 100,000|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Ossetian: Digor and Iron dialects, Russian|
|Related ethnic groups|
Among the tribal names given in "Ashkharatsuyts" there is an ethnonym ashtigor, which is considered to be the name of the Digors. This fact, and other linguistic considerations, have led experts to believe that Digor dialect became separated from Proto-Ossetian during the Mongol conquests.
In "Ashkharatsuyts" Ashtigors are given separately from Alans - the ancestors of present-day Ossetians. Also starting from the 18th century the ethnonym digor is widely used by travelers and in Russian official documents. Based on these facts, Ossetian Soviet linguist-Iranist Vasily Abaev suppose that the Digors could be an iranized Circassian tribe and the first part of the name - dig- can have the same roots with the Circassian endonym Adyge and -or can be just a prefix for plurality as in many contemporary Caucasian languages.
Digors make the majority of the Ossetians in Digoria - the western part of the North Ossetia–Alania (Digorsky and Irafsky districts) and in Kabardino-Balkaria. In the beginning of the 19th century some families from Digoria resettled in Mozdoksky District and there are 2 large settlements of them.
The Digors were converted to Sunni Islam in the 17-18th centuries under the influence of the neighboring Kabarday people who introduced Islam to them. In the second half of the 19th century large numbers of Muslim Digors emigrated to the Ottoman Empire. (see: Ossetians in Turkey)
During World War II, North Ossetia–Alania was occupied by German armies in 1942. While under Nazi occupation the Ossetians remained unmoved, after the Germans were forced out of the region the Muslim Digors, like other Muslim peoples, were accused of Collaboration with the Germans and deported to Central Asia. Estimates say 50% of the Digors died during deportation. Their reputation was rehabilitated in the mid 1950s, and they were allowed to return to their homelands.
- Wixman. The Peoples of the USSR, p. 58
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