Adyghe language

  (Redirected from Lowland Adyghe dialect)

Adyghe (/ˈædɪɡ/ or /ˌɑːdɪˈɡ/;[3] Adyghe: адыгабзэ, romanized: adygabzæ, [aːdəɣaːbza]),[lacks stress] also known as West Circassian (Adyghe: кӀахыбзэ, romanized: k’axybzæ), is a Northwest Caucasian language spoken by various tribes of the western subgroup of Circassians, the Adyghe people: Abzekh,[4] Adamey, Bzhedug,[5] Hatuqwai, Temirgoy, Mamkhegh, Natekuay, Shapsug,[6] Zhaney and Yegerikuay, each with its own dialect.[7] The language is referred to by its speakers as Adygebze or Adəgăbză, and alternatively transliterated in English as Adygean, Adygeyan or Adygei. The literary language is based on the Temirgoy dialect. It is one of two official languages of the Republic of Adygea in the Russian Federation, the other being Russian.

West Circassian
Native toAdygea (Russia), Turkey
Native speakers
575,900 (2005–2015)[1]
Cyrillic (current)
Latin (historical)
Arabic (historical)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2ady
ISO 639-3ady
Adyghe in Adygea (2002).png
Distribution of the Adyghe language in Adygea, Russia (2002)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

There are apparently[clarification needed] around 128,000 speakers of Adyghe in Russia, almost all of them native speakers. In total, some 300,000 speak it worldwide. The largest Adyghe-speaking community is in Turkey, spoken by the post Russian–Circassian War (circa 1763–1864) diaspora; in addition to that, the Adyghe language is spoken by the Cherkesogai in Krasnodar Krai.

Adyghe belongs to the family of Northwest Caucasian languages. Kabardian (also known as East Circassian) is a very close relative, treated by some as a dialect of Adyghe or of an overarching Circassian language. Ubykh, Abkhaz and Abaza are somewhat more distantly related to Adyghe.

The language was standardised after the October Revolution in 1917. Since 1936, the Cyrillic script has been used to write Adyghe. Before that, an Arabic-based alphabet was used together with the Latin. In recent years, a new Latin script has been devised that seeks to include phonemes from all the Adyghe and Kabardian dialects, as well as other Caucasian languages.


The West Circassian (Adyghe) dialects family tree


Adyghe exhibits a large number of consonants: between 50 and 60 consonants in the various Adyghe dialects. All dialects possess a contrast between plain and labialized glottal stops. A very unusual minimal contrast, and possibly unique to the Abzakh dialect of Adyghe, is a three-way contrast between plain, labialized and palatalized glottal stops (although a palatalized glottal stop is also found in Hausa and a labialized one is found in Tlingit). The Black Sea dialect of Adyghe contains a very uncommon sound: a bidental fricative [h̪͆], which corresponds to the voiceless velar fricative [x] found in other varieties of Adyghe.

Labial Alveolar Post-alveolar Alveolo-
Retroflex Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain lab. plain lab. lat. plain lab. plain lab. plain lab. plain lab.
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless p t k1 q ʔ ʔʷ
voiced b d ɡ ɡʷ
ejective pʷʼ tʷʼ kʷʼ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡sʷ t͡ʃ t͡ʂ
voiced d͡z d͡zʷ d͡ʒ
ejective t͡sʼ t͡ʃʼ t͡ʂʼ
Fricative voiceless f s ɬ ʃ ʃʷ ɕ ʂ x χ χʷ ħ
voiced v1 z ɮ ʒ ʒʷ ʑ ʐ ɣ ʁ ʁʷ
ejective ɬʼ ʃʼ ʃʷʼ
Approximant j w
Trill r
  1. Consonants that exist only in borrowed words.
  2. Note: Adyghe has many consonants that appear in dialects, and has a complex system of consonant allophony. More information on those can be found at Adyghe phonology.

In contrast to its large consonant inventory, Adyghe has only three phonemic vowels in a vertical vowel system.

Close-mid ə
Open-mid a


Adyghe, like all Northwest Caucasian languages, has a basic agent–object–verb typology, and is characterised by an ergative construction of the sentence.


Only official alphabet for Adyghe is based on Cyrillic. The other one is one of the transliterations based on the current cyrillic alphabet used in diaspora.[8]


А а
Б б
В в
Г г
[ɣ] or [ɡ]
Гу гу
Гъ гъ
Гъу гъу
Д д
Дж дж
Дз дз
Дзу дзу
Е е
Ё ё
Ж ж
Жъ жъ
Жъу жъу
Жь жь
З з
И и
Й й
К к
Ку ку
Къ къ
Къу къу
Кӏ кӏ
Кӏу кӏу
Л л
[ɮ] or [l]
Лъ лъ
Лӏ лӏ
М м
Н н
О о
П п
Пӏ пӏ
Пӏу пӏу
Р р
С с
Т т
Тӏ тӏ
Тӏу тӏу
У у
Ф ф
Х х
Хъ хъ
Хъу хъу
Хь хь
Ц ц
Цу цу
Цӏ цӏ
Ч ч
Чъ чъ
Ш ш
Шъ шъ
Шъу шъу
[ʂʷ] or [ɕʷ]
Шӏ шӏ
Шӏу шӏу
Щ щ
Ъ ъ
Ы ы
Ь ь
Э э
Ю ю
Я я


A a
B b
V v
G g
[ɣ] or [ɡ]
Gu gu
Ğ ğ
Ğu Ğu
D d
C c
Ź ź
Źu źu
É é
Ё ё
Ɉ ɉ
Ĵ ĵ
Ĵu ĵu
J j
Z z
İ i
K k
Ku ku
Q q
Qu qu
Ḉ ḉ
Ḱu ḱu
L l
[ɮ] or [l]
Ĺ ĺ
Ł ł
M m
N n
O o
P p
Ṕ ṕ
Ṕu ṕu
R r
S s
T t
T́ t́
T́u t́u
U u
F f
X x
Ĥ ĥ
Ĥ ĥ
H h
Ś ś
Ç̌ ç̌
S̋ s̋
Ç ç
Ç̇ ç̇
Ç̂ ç̂
Ṩ ṩ
Ş̂ ş̂
Ş̂u ş̂u
[ʂʷ] or [ɕʷ]
Ş́ ş́
Ş́u ş́u
Ş ş
I ı
E e
Yu yu
Ya ya
U u


Cyrillic Latin IPA Pronunciation Words
А а ā []
ачъэ (goat), апчъы (they count)
Б б b [b]
баджэ (fox), бэ (a lot)
В в v [v]
Г г ɣ [ɣ]
гыны (powder), чъыгы (tree)
Гу гу [ɡʷ]
гу (heart), гущыӏ (word)
Гъ гъ ġ / ǧ [ʁ]
гъатхэ (spring), гъэмаф (summer)
Гъу гъу ġ° / ǧ° [ʁʷ]
гъунэгъу (neighbor), гъунджэ (mirror)
Д д d [d]
дыджы (bitter), дахэ (pretty)
Дж дж ǯʹ [d͡ʒ]
джан (shirt), лъэмыдж (bridge)
Дз дз ʒ [d͡z]
дзыо (bag), дзын (to throw)
Дзу дзу ʒ° [d͡zʷ]
хьандзу (rick), хьандзуачӏ (lower rick)
Е е e [aj] [ja]
ешэн (to catch), еплъын (to look at)
(Ё ё) ë [jo]
ёлк (Christmas tree)
Ж ж ž [ʒ]
жэ (mouth), жакӏэ (beard)
Жъ жъ [ʐ]
жъы (old), жъажъэ (slow)
Жъу жъу ẑ° [ʒʷ]
жъун (to melt), жъуагъо (star)
Жь жь žʹ [ʑ]
жьыбгъэ (wind), жьао (shadow)
З з z [z]
занкӏэ (straight), зандэ (steep)
И и i [əj] []
ихьан (to enter), икӏыпӏ (exit)
Й й j [j]
йод (iodine), бай (rich)
К к k [k]
кнопк (button), команд (team, command)
Ку ку []
кушъэ (cradle), ку (cart)
Къ къ q [q]
къалэ (city), къэкӏон (to come)
Къу къу []
къухьэ (ship), къушъхьэ (mountain)
Кӏ кӏ č̣ʹ [] [tʃʼ]
кӏымаф (winter), кӏыхьэ (long), кӏэ (tail), шкӏэ (calf)
Кӏу кӏу ḳ° [kʷʼ]
кӏон (to walk), кӏуакӏэ (strong)
Л л l [l]
лагъэ (painted), лы (meat)
Лъ лъ ł [ɬ]
лъэбэкъу (step), лъащэ (lame)
Лӏ лӏ [ɬʼ]
лӏы (man), лӏыгъэ (bravery)
М м m [m]
мазэ (moon), мэлы (sheep)
Н н n [n]
нэ (eye), ны (mother)
О о o [aw] [wa]
мощ (that), коны (bin), о (you), осы (snow), ощхы (rain)
П п p [p]
пэ (nose), сапэ (dust)
Пӏ пӏ []
пӏэ (bed), пӏэшъхьагъ (pillow)
Пӏу пӏу ṗ° [pʷʼ]
пӏун (to rise, to adopt), пӏур (pupil, apprentice)
Р р r [r]
рикӏэн (to pour into), риӏон (to tell him)
С с s [s]
сэ (i, me), сэшхо (sabre)
Т т t [t]
тэтэжъ (grandfather), тэ (we)
Тӏ тӏ []
тӏы (ram), ятӏэ (dirt)
Тӏу тӏу ṭ° [tʷʼ]
тӏурыс (old), тӏурытӏу (pair)
У у w [əw] []
ушхун (straighten), убэн (tamp, to make smooth)
Ф ф f [f]
фыжьы (white), фэен (to want)
Х х x [x]
хы (sea, six), хасэ (council)
Хъ хъ χ [χ]
хъыен (to move), пхъэн (to sow)
Хъу хъу χ° [χʷ]
хъун (to happen), хъурай (circle)
Хь хь [ħ]
хьэ (dog), хьаку (oven)
Ц ц c [t͡s]
цагэ (rib), цы (hair on body)
Цу цу [t͡sʷ]
цуакъэ (shoe), цу (ox)
Цӏ цӏ [t͡sʼ]
цӏынэ (wet), цӏыфы (person)
Ч ч č̍ [t͡ʃ]
чэфы (cheerful), чэты (chicken)
Чӏ чӏ č̣ [t͡ʂʼ]
чӏыпӏэ (area), чӏыфэ (debt)
Чъ чъ č [t͡ʂ]
чъыгай (oak), чъыӏэ (cold)
Ш ш š [ʃ]
шы (brother), шыблэ (thunder)
Шъ шъ ŝ [ʂ]
шъэ (hundred), шъабэ (soft)
Шъу шъу ŝ° [ʃʷ]
шъугъуалэ (envious), шъукъакӏу (come – to plural)
Шӏ шӏ ṣ̂ [ʃʼ]
шӏын (to do), шӏэныгъ (knowledge)
Шӏу шӏу ṣ̂° [ʃʷʼ]
шӏуцӏэ (black), шӏуфэс (greetings)
Щ щ šʹ [ɕ]
щагу (yard), щатэ (sour cream)
(Ъ ъ)
Ы ы ə [ə]
ыкӏи (and also), зы (one)
(Ь ь)
Э э ă [a]
ӏэтаж (floor), нэнэжъ (grandmother)
(Ю ю) ju [ju]
Юсыф (Joseph), Юныс (Jonah)
Я я [jaː]
яй (theirs), ябгэ (evil)
ӏ ʾ [ʔ]
ӏэ (hand), кӏасэ (like)
ӏу ՚° [ʔʷ]
ӏукӏэн (to meet), ӏусын (to be near sitting), ӏудан (thread)

Labialised consonantsEdit

Гу [ɡʷ], Гъу [ʁʷ], Дзу [d͡zʷ], Ку [kʷ], Къу [qʷ], КIу [kʷʼ], ПIу [pʷʼ], ТIу [tʷʼ], Хъу [χʷ], Цу [t͡sʷ], Шъу [ʃʷ], ШIу [ʃʷʼ], Iу [ʔʷ].

In some dialects : Кхъу [q͡χʷ], Ху [xʷ], Чъу [t͡ɕʷ].

Writing system rulesEdit

  • The letter ⟨ы⟩ [ə] is not written after a ⟨у⟩ [w], ⟨й⟩ [j] or a labialised consonant. For example, : унэ [wəna] "house" instead of уынэ, илъэс [jəɬas] "year" instead of йылъэс, шӏу [ʃʷʼə] "well" instead of шӏуы, цумпэ [t͡sʷəmpa] "strawberry" instead of цуымпэ.
  • In case the letter ⟨у⟩ is the first letter of a word or when is not related to any other consonant, it is pronounced as [wə] ⟨уы⟩. For example, : унэ [wəna] "house" instead of уынэ, урыс [wərəs] "Russian" instead of уырыс, куу [kʷəwə] "deep" instead of кууы. When it's related to a consonant it becomes a vowel and pronounced as [əw]~[u] ⟨ыу⟩. For example, : чэту [t͡ʃaːtəw] "cat" instead of чэтыу, бзу [bzəw] "bird" instead of бзыу, дуней [dəwnej] "world" instead of дыуней.
  • In case a labialised consonant is followed by a vowel ⟨э⟩ [a], instead of the letter ⟨у⟩ there is a ⟨о⟩. For example, : гъогу [ʁʷaɡʷ] "road" instead of гъуэгу, машӏо [maːʃʷʼa] "fire" instead of машӏуэ, шъо [ʃʷa] "you (plural)" instead of шъуэ.
  • In case a labialised consonant is followed by a vowel ⟨а⟩ [aː] or ⟨и⟩ [i/əj], the labialised consonant letter is written fully. for example : цуакъэ [t͡sʷaːqa] "shoes", гуащэ [ɡʷaɕa] "princes", шъуи [ʃʷəj] "yours (plural).
  • In case the letter ⟨о⟩ is the first letter of a word or when is not related to any other consonant, it is pronounced as [wa] ⟨уэ⟩. For example, о [wa] "you" instead of уэ, орэд [warad] "song" instead of уэрэд, онтэгъу [wantaʁʷ] "heavy" instead of уэнтэгъу, зао [zaːwa] "war" instead of зауэ, ныо [nəwa] "old woman" instead of ныуэ.
  • In case the letter ⟨е⟩ is the first letter of a word or when is not related to any other consonant, it is pronounced as [ja] ⟨йэ⟩. For example, : еӏо [jaʔʷa] "he says" instead of йэӏо, еплъы [japɬə] "he sees" instead of йэплъы, мые [məja] "apple" instead of мыйэ, бае [baːja] "rich" instead of байэ, шъэжъые [ʂaʐəja] "knife" instead of шъэжъыйэ. When it's related to a consonant it becomes a vowel and pronounced as [aj]~[e] ⟨эй⟩. For example, : делэ [dajla] "fool" instead of дэйлэ, къедж [qajd͡ʒ] "read" instead of къэйдж, непэ [najpa] "today" instead of нэйпэ.
  • In case the letter ⟨и⟩ is the first letter of a word or when is not related to any other consonant, it is pronounced as [jə] ⟨йы⟩. For example, : илъэс [jəɬas] "year" instead of йылъэс, иунэ [jəwəna] "his house" instead of йыуын, шӏои [ʃʷʼajə] "dirty" instead of шӏойы, дэи [dajə] "bad" instead of дэйы. When it's related to a consonant it becomes a vowel and pronounced as [əj]~[i] ⟨ый⟩. For example, : сиӏ [səjʔ] "I have" instead of сыйӏ, уиунэ [wəjwəna] "your house" instead of уыйуынэ, къины [qəjnə] "hard" instead of къыйны.


The vowels are written ⟨ы⟩ [ə], ⟨э⟩ [a] and ⟨а⟩ [aː].

Other letters represent diphthongs: ⟨я⟩ represents [jaː], ⟨и⟩ [jə] or [əj], ⟨о⟩ [wa] or [o], ⟨у⟩ represent [u] or [w] or [wə] and ⟨е⟩ represents [aj] or [ja].

Writing systemsEdit

Modern Adyghe uses a Cyrillic alphabet with the addition of the letter ⟨Ӏ⟩ (palochka). Previously, Arabic (before 1927) and Latin (1927–38) alphabets had been used.

Adyghe outside CircassiaEdit

Adyghe is taught outside Circassia in a Jordanian school for the Jordanian Adyghes, Prince Hamza Ibn Al-Hussein Secondary School in the capital Amman. This school, which was established by the Adyghe Jordanians with support from the late king Hussein of Jordan, is one of the first schools for the Adyghe communities outside Circassia. It has around 750 Jordanian Adyghe students, and one of its major goals is to preserve Adyghe among newer Adyghe generations, while also emphasising the traditions of the Adyghes.[9]

Adyghe is spoken by Circassians in Iraq and by Circassians in Israel, where it is taught in schools in their villages. It is also spoken by many Circassians in Syria, although the majority of Syrian Circassians speak Kabardian.


The New Testament and many books of the Old Testament have been published in Adyghe in Cyrillic script by the Institute for Bible Translation in Moscow.

UNESCO 2009 map of endangered languagesEdit

According to the UNESCO 2009 map entitled "UNESCO Map of the World's Languages in Danger", the status of the Adyghe language in 2009, along with all its dialects (Adyghe, Western Circassian tribes) and (Kabard-Cherkess, Eastern Circassian tribes), is classified as vulnerable.[10]

Sample textEdit

Ублапӏэм ыдэжь Гущыӏэр щыӏагъ. Ар Тхьэм ыдэжь щыӏагъ, а Гущыӏэри Тхьэу арыгъэ. Ублапӏэм щегъэжьагъэу а Гущыӏэр Тхьэм ыдэжь щыӏагъ. Тхьэм а Гущыӏэм зэкӏэри къыригъэгъэхъугъ. Тхьэм къыгъэхъугъэ пстэуми ащыщэу а Гущыӏэм къыримыгъгъэхъугъэ зи щыӏэп. Мыкӏодыжьын щыӏэныгъэ а Гущыӏэм хэлъыгъ, а щыӏэныгъэри цӏыфхэм нэфынэ афэхъугъ. Нэфынэр шӏункӏыгъэм щэнэфы, шӏункӏыгъэри нэфынэм текӏуагъэп.
Wıblap’em ıdez̨ Gus̨ıꜧer s̨ıꜧaǵ. Ar Them ıdez̨ s̨ıꜧaǵ, a Gus̨ıꜧeri Thew arıǵe. Wılap’em s̨yaǵez̨aǵew a Gus̨ıꜧer Them ıdez̨ s̨ıꜧaǵ. Them a Gus̨ıꜧer zeç’eri qıriǵeǵex́uǵ. Them qıǵex́uǵe pstewmi as̨ıs̨ew a Gus̨ıꜧem qırimıǵǵex́uǵe zi s̨ıꜧep. Mıku’edız̨ın s̨ıꜧenıǵe a Gus̨ıꜧem xełıǵ, a s̨ıꜧenıǵeri c’ıfxem nefıne afex́uǵ. Nefıner şu’nç’ıǵem s̨enefı, şu’nç’ıǵeri nefınem tyeku’aǵep.

Translation: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning With God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence. What has come into existence by means of him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light is shining in the darkness, but the darkness has not overpowered it.


The following texts are excerpts from the official translations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Adyghe and Kabardian, along with the original declaration in English.

English[11] Adyghe[12] Kabardian[13]
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Цlыф Фэшъуашэхэм Афэгъэхьыгъэ Дунэепстэу Джэпсалъ
C’ıf Feȿuaşexem Afeǵehıǵe Dúneyapstew Jepsał
Цlыху Хуэфащэхэм Теухуа Дунейпсо Джэпсалъэ
C’ıxu Xuefas̨exem Tyewxua Dúnyaýpsew Jepsałe
Article 1 1-нэрэ пычыгъу
1-nere pıçıǵu
1-нэ пычыгъуэ
1-ne pıçıǵue
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. ЦIыф пстэури шъхьэфитэу, ялъытэныгъэрэ яфэшъуашэхэмрэкIэ зэфэдэу къалъфы. Акъылрэ зэхэшIыкI гъуазэрэ яIэшъы, зыр зым зэкъош зэхашІэ азфагу дэлъэу зэфыщытынхэ фае.
C’ıf pstewri ȿhefitew, yałıtenıǵere yafeȿuaşexemreç’e zefedew qalfı. Aqılre zexeş’ıç’ ǵuazere yaꜧeȿı, zır zım zequeş zexaş’e azfagu dełew zefıs̨ıtınxe faye.
ЦIыху псори щхьэхуиту, я щIыхьымрэ я хуэфащэхэмрэкIэ зэхуэдэу къалъхур. Акъылрэ зэхэщIыкI гъуазэрэ яIэщи, зыр зым зэкъуэш зэхащІэ яку дэлъу зэхущытын хуейхэщ.
C’ıxu psweri s̨hexuitu, ya s̨’ıhımre ya xuefas̨exemreç’e zexuedew qałxur. Aqılre zexes̨’ıç’ ǵuazere yaꜧes̨i, zır zım zequeş zexas̨’e yaqu dełu zexus̨ıtın xuyeýxes̨.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Adyghe". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-08-03.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Adyghe". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ "Adyghe". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Abzakh dialect (in French)
  5. ^ Bzhedug dialect (in French)
  6. ^ Shapsoug dialect Archived 2010-12-28 at the Wayback Machine (in French)
  7. ^ Aydın, Şamil Emre (2015), Çerkes Diyalektleri ISBN 9786056569111
  8. ^ "Адыгабзэ". Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  9. ^ Circassians bid to save ancient language. Al Jazeera. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  10. ^ "UNESCO Map of World's language in Danger" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ [3]

External linksEdit