Adyghe language

Adyghe language

nativename=адыгэбзэ "adygabze", "adəgăbză"
states=Russia, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Israel, United States, Republic of Macedonia, Iraq
region=Russia: Republic of Adygea
fam1=Caucasian "(disputed)"
fam2=North Caucasian "(disputed)"
fam3=Northwest Caucasian
nation=Republic of Adygea

Adyghe language ( _ad. адыгaбзэ, "adygabze", "adəgăbză") is one of the two official languages of the Republic of Adygea in the Russian Federation, the other being Russian. It is spoken by various tribes of the Adyghe people: Abzekh, Adamey, Bzhedugh; Hatukuay, Kemirgoy, Makhosh; Natekuay, Shapsigh; Zhane, Yegerikuay, each with its own dialect. The language referred to by its speakers as "Adygebze" or "Adəgăbză", and alternatively spelled in English as "Adygean", "Adygeyan" or "Adygei". It is also known as "Circassian".

There are apparently around 128,000 speakers of the language on the native territory in Russia, almost all of them are mother-tongue speakers. In the whole world, some 300,000 speak the language. The largest Adyghe-speaking community is in Turkey, spoken by the post Russo-Caucasian war diaspora.

Adyghe belongs to the family of Northwest Caucasian languages. Kabardian is a very close relative, treated by some as a dialect of Adyghe or of an overarching Circassian language. The Ubykh, Abkhaz, and Abaza languages are also close relatives thereof.

The language was standardized after the October Revolution. Since 1938, Adyghe has used the Cyrillic alphabet. Before that, an Arabic-based alphabet was used together with the Latin.


Adyghe exhibits a large number of consonants: between fifty and sixty consonants in the various Adyghe dialects. All dialects possess a contrast between plain and labialised glottal stops; a very unusual minimal contrast, and possibly unique to the Abdzakh dialect of Adyghe, is a three-way contrast between plain, labialised and palatalised glottal stops (although palatalised glottal stop is also found in Hausa). The Black Sea dialect of Adyghe contains a highly unusual sound: a bidental fricative IPA| [h̪͆] which corresponds to the voiceless velar fricative IPA| [x] found in other varieties of Adyghe.


Adyghe, like all Northwest Caucasian languages, has a basic Subject Object Verb typology, and is characterized by an ergative construction of the sentence.


Note: In the table above the appearances of the letter "I" render the specific character, "palochka".

ee also

*Hakuchi Adyghe

External links

* [ Adyghe alphabet]
* [ Adyghe Sample at Language Museum]
* [ Ethnologue: Adyghe]
* [ Learning Adyghe resource]
* [ Rferl North Caucasus Radio]

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