|Native to||Azerbaijan, Russia|
|Native speakers||24,000 (1989 and 2010 censuses)|
|Writing system||Latin in Azerbaijan, Cyrillic in Russia|
Tsakhur (Tsaxur, Caxur) is a language spoken by the Tsakhurs, an ethnic group, which populates northern Azerbaijan and southwestern Dagestan (Russia). It is spoken by about 13,000 people in Azerbaijan and by about 9,770 people in Dagestan. The word Tsakhur derives from the name of a Dagestani village where speakers of this language make up the majority.
While Tsakhur is endangered in communities in closest contact with Azerbaijani, it is vigorous in other communities, gaining prominence in the region, seen in the growth of interest in learning Tsakhur in school and a growing body of Tsakhur-learning materials. Tsakhur is classified as "definitely endangered" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.
In the 1930s, a literary form of Tsakhur was developed. Starting from 1934, the language was taught in primary schools in Azerbaijan and Dagestan. In 1938, the use of literary Tsakhur in Azerbaijan was discontinued but regained its status in 1989.
The Tsakhur alphabet in Azerbaijan is based on the Latin script, while in Dagestan the language uses Cyrillic. In the past (as early as the 11th century) there have been attempts to write Tsakhur in the Arabic script.
Tsakhur is spoken mostly in rural areas of Azerbaijan's Zagatala and Gakh rayons, as well as mountainous parts of Dagestan's Rutul region. There are 15,900 Tsakhurs in Azerbaijan (1999 census) and 10,400 in Russia (2002 census). In 1989, 93% of them reported Tsakhur as their first language.
In Azerbaijan and Russia, Tsakhur is taught as a subject in primary schools (grades 1 to 4) in Tsakhur-populated regions. Newspapers and radio broadcast in Tsakhur are also available. However the language does not have an official status.
Among the languages of the Lezgic group, Rutul appears to be the closest one to Tsakhur. Other than these two, there are eight more languages in the Lezgic group, namely: Lezgian, Tabasaran, Aghul, Budukh, Kryts, Khinalugh, Udi, and Archi.
Similar to many Northeast Caucasian languages, Tsakhur is known for its complex phonology and a large number of vowel phonemes (including 7 simple, 5 pharyngealized and 3 umlauted vowels[clarification needed]). Its first in-depth phonological description was provided by Nikolai Trubetzkoy in 1931.
The consonant inventory, according to Shulze's study of the language, of Tsakhur is shown below. Forms are phonemic unless placed in square brackets, in which case they are suspected to be phonemes but currently with incomplete evidence for this. The inventory shows some asymmetries, but exhibits series of palatalized, labialized, and pharyngealized phonemes.
Tsakhur has 18 grammatical cases and has retained suffixaufnahme. Verbs may have singular and plural forms, and 7 grammatical moods. The tense system is complex. In contrast to the related languages, Tsakhur sentences can be formed by affective construction.
|Ergative||-e(ː)1 / -(V)n2|
|Genitive||-(V)na3, -(V)n4, -(V)ni5|
- Human nouns
- Nonhuman nouns
- Head noun ABS, classes I-III
- Head noun ABS, classes IV
- Head noun OBL
The two major dialects of the Tsakhur language are Tsakh and Gelmets.
- Tsakhur reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Ethnologue entry for Tsakhur
- The Sociolinguistic Situation of the Tsakhur in Azerbaijan by John M. Clifton et al. SIL International, 2005
- UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger
- (Russian) The Tsakhur language. The ETHEO Project. Last updated 11 October 2005. Retrieved 26 December 2006
- Shootings of Facing Back to the Qibla Finished. News Azerbaijan. 1 April 2009.
- Wolfgang Schulze, Tsakhur (Lincom Europa, München, 1997) ISBN 3-89586-150-2
|Tsakhur language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|