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.
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.
Abkhaz is generally viewed as having three major dialects:
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 an agglutinative language. Like all other Northwest Caucasian languages, Abkhaz has an extremely complex (polysynthetic) 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.
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.
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.
|Abkhazian edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Abkhaz phrasebook.|