The
Caucasian Family
of Languages


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The Caucasian Family family is named after the Caucas Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. This is a very linguistically diverse region.

The languages include Georgian (Georgia), Chechen and Ingush (both found in Chechnya in southern Russia), and Avar (9 dialects from a region called Dagetsan). Urartian (extinct language of the Urartu Empire of Eastern Turkey) also belongs to this family.

Georgian

Georgian

Some linguists consider that these languages may actually be three separate familes.

The languages are dominated by difficult consonant clusters. Ubykh (an extinct language whose last speaker died in 1992 in eastern Turkey) had 81 separate consonant sounds. Attempts are being made to revive it.

Karbadian (spoken in southern Russia) has only three vowels which often disappear in speech.

Many of these languages have a large number of noun cases. Tsez (spoken in a small region between Georgia and Chechnya) has 42.

The languages also have a property called ergativity. This means that the subject of a transitive verb is different from the subject of an intransitive verb. Transitive verbs can take an object (see, hear); intransitive verbs cannot take an object (go, walk).

Note that in the USA the word Caucasian is used to mean "white Anglo-Saxon" rather than people from the Caucus mountains. This use should not be used linguistically.


Kartvelian Branch
Georgian : Laz : Svan : Chan : Mingrelian
Abkhaz-Adyghean Branch
Abaza : Abkhaz : Adyghe : Kabardian : Circassian
Ubykh : Urartian
Nakh Branch
Chechen : Ingush : Tsova-Tush
Daghestanian Branch
Tsez : Hunzib : Beshta : Avar : Andi : Chamali : Lak
Dargwa : Lezgian : Tabasaran : Tsakhur

Extinct languages in lighter type.


Books From Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com


External Caucas Language Links

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Georgian
University courses on Georgian.