Abkhaz language

From Academic Kids

Abkhaz (Аҧсуа / Aṗsua)
Spoken in: Georgia, Turkey
Total speakers: 600,000
Ranking: Not in top 100
Genetic classification: North Caucasian

 Northwest Caucasian

Official status
Official language of: Abkhazia
Regulated by: -
Language codes
ISO 639-1ab
ISO 639-2abk
See also: LanguageList of languages

Abkhaz is a Northwest Caucasian language spoken in Georgia and Turkey. Abkhaz has about 100,000 speakers in Georgia, 80,000 of these in the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic, with up to 500,000 more living in northeastern Turkey.



Abkhaz is a Northwest Caucasian language, indicating it originated in the northwest Caucasus. Northwest Caucasian languages have been suggested as being related to the Northeast Caucasian languages and both are often merged under the blanket term "North Caucasian languages." Sometimes North Caucasian languages and South Caucasian languages are grouped into the Caucasian languages, but these have not been shown conclusively to be related and are widely considered to be a geographically based convention.

Abkhaz is often united with Abaza into one language, Abkhaz-Abaza, of which the literary dialects of Abkhaz and Abaza are simply the most divergent forms. Grammatically, the two are very similar; however, the differences in phonology are substantial, and are the main reason why many other linguists prefer to keep the two separate.

Geographical distribution

Abkhaz is spoken primarily in Georgia and Turkey.

Official status

Abkhaz is the official language of Abkhazian Autonomous Republic (currently part of Georgia), along with Georgian.


Abkhaz is generally viewed as having three major dialects, Abzhuy, Bzyp (the Caucasian dialects) and Sadz (in Turkey).


Template:IPA notice Like the other Northwest Caucasian languages, Abkhaz is very rich in consonants, with 58, but has only a few vowels (either two or three, depending upon the analysis). Below is the IPA phoneme chart for the standard dialect (Abzhuy); the Bzyp dialect has nine additional consonants, and the Sadz dialect has a few less.

  • Labials:
  • Dentals:
  • Labialized dentals:
  • Alveolar sibilants:
  • Labialized alveolar sibilants:
  • Palatalized alveolar sibilants:
  • Postalveolar sibilants:
  • Labialized postalveolar sibilants:
  • Lateral:
  • Rhotic trill:
  • Palatals:
  • Velars:
  • Uvulars:
  • Palatized uvulars:
  • Labialized uvulars:
  • Pharyngeals:
  • Labiopalatal semivowel: (< , a labialized voiced pharyngeal fricative)
  • Vowels: (with allophones and next to palatals, and next to labials)


Abkhaz has only two distinctive vowels: an open vowel and a close vowel . Depending on the environment both of the vowels can be realized as .


Abkhaz is typologically classified as an agglutinative language. Like all other Northwest Caucasian languages, Abkhaz has an extremely complex verbal system coupled with a very simple noun system; Abkhaz distinguishes just two cases, the nominative and the adverbial.

Writing system

Abkhaz has had its own adaptation of the Cyrillic alphabet, the Abkhaz alphabet, 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 Georgian linguist Nikolai (Niko) Marr lasted from 1926 to 1928, when another Latin script was used. The Georgian script was imposed in 1937, but after the death of Stalin, an Abkhaz desire to remain separate from Georgians led to the development of the current Cyrillic alphabet in 1954 by Dimitri Gulya who was, ironically, an ethnic Georgian (Mingrelian).


The earliest extant written records of the Abkhazian language are in the Arabic alphabet, recorded by the Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi in the 17th century. Abkhaz has only been used as a literary language for about 100 years. During the Stalinist Russian years Abkhaz was banned as a literary language..

External links


Example of Abkhaz language: [1] (http://www.kapba.de/A-Abtsara.html)ab:Аҧсуа бызшәа de:Abchasische Sprache eo:Abĥaza lingvo fr:Langue abkhaze gl:Abxasio nl:Abchazisch ja:アブハズ語 pl:Język abchaski ru:Абхазский язык fi:Abhaasin kieli sv:Abchaziska zh:阿布哈茲語


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