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Northeast Caucasian languages

From Academic Kids

The Northeast Caucasian languages, also called East Caucasian, Caspian, or Dagestan, are a family of languages spoken mostly in Dagestan, Northern Azerbaijan and Georgia. This family is known for the complex phonology (up to 60 consonants or up to 30 vowels in some languages), stop consonants, noun classes, ergative sentence structure, and large number of noun cases, including several locative cases.

Contents

Language classification

Traditional Classification

The Dagestan languages can be divided into three main groups, roughly West to East: Avar-Andi-Dido, Lak-Dargwa, and Lezgian. All figures below are approximate.

Avar-Andi-Dido group

This group is spoken in the western part of Dagestan.

None of the Andi or Dido languages are written; Avar is used as the literary language.

Lak-Dargwa group

These languages are spoken in the Central Dagestan highlands.

  • Lak or Lakk — 90,000 speakers
  • Dargwa or Dargin — 320,000 speakers

Both Lak and Dargwa are written languages.

Lezgian group

These languages are spoken in the Southeast Dagestan highlands and in Northern Azerbaijan.

  • Aghul or Agul — 14,000 speakers.
  • Archi — 1,000 speakers.
  • Budukh — 2,000 speakers.
  • Khinalugh or Khinalug — 1,500 speakers.
  • Kryts or Kryz — 6,000 speakers.
  • Lezgi — 200,000 speakers.
  • Rutul — 15,000 speakers.
  • Tabassaran — 77,000 speakers.
  • Tsakhur — 5,000 speakers.
  • Udi — 4,000 speakers.

Among this group, only Lezgi and Tabassaran are written.

Recent Classifications

More recently, linguists such as Bernard Comrie have suggested that (1) the Nakh languages are not as divergent as previously thought, and (2) several of the subgroups of Dagestanian are not valid genealogical nodes. A typical proposal is,

Nakh

Chechen, Ingush, Batsbi

Avar-Andi

Avar, Andi languages (as above)

Dido

Dido languages (as above)

Dargwa

Dargin dialect continuum

Lak

Lak

Lezgian

Includes the extinct Alghanian language, but not:

Khinalugh

Khinalugh (in Azerbaijan)

Language connections

This family has long been joined with the Northwest Caucasian languages into a putative North Caucasian family. However, this hypothesis is not well demonstrated. It is very difficult to connect anything to the Northwest Caucasian family, because its morphemes are so short (often just a single consonant) that many similarities could be due to simple chance. One linguist attempting to substantiate the relationship is Sergei Starostin.

Some scholars see affinities between the Northeast Caucasian and the Hurro-Urartian languages, an extinct language family of the Ancient Near East. The combined family is called Alarodian.

External links

fi:Dagestanilaiset kielet

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