Esenç was raised by his Ubykh-speaking grandparents for a time in the village of Hacı Osman in Turkey, and he served a term as the muhtar (mayor) of that village, before receiving a post in the civil service of Istanbul. There, he was able to do a great deal of work with the French linguist Georges Dumézil and his associate Georges Charachidzé to help record his language.
Having an excellent memory, and understanding quickly the goals of Dumézil and the other linguists who came to visit him, he was the primary source of not only the Ubykh language, but also of the mythology, culture and customs of the Ubykh people. He spoke not only Ubykh, but also the Hakuchi dialect of Adyghe, allowing some comparative work to be done between these two members of the Northwest Caucasian family. He was also a fluent speaker of Turkish. He was a purist, and his idiolect of Ubykh was considered by Dumézil as the closest thing to a standard "literary" Ubykh language that existed.
Esenç died in 1992 at the age of 88. The inscription that he wanted on his gravestone read as follows:
This is the grave of Tevfik Esenç. He was the last person able to speak the language they called Ubykh.