Udi language

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This article is about the Udi language. For other uses, see Udi.
удин муз, udin muz[needs IPA]
Native to Azerbaijan, Russia, Georgia
Region Azerbaijan (Qabala and Oguz), Russia (North Caucasus), Georgia (Kvareli), and Armenia (Tavush)
Native speakers
8,000  (1995?)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 udi
Glottolog udii1243[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

The Udi language, spoken by the Udi people, is a member of the Lezgic branch of the Northeast Caucasian language family.[3] It is believed an earlier form of it was the main language of Caucasian Albania, which stretched from south Dagestan to current day Azerbaijan.[4] The Old Udi language is also called the Caucasian Albanian language[5] and possibly corresponds to the "Gargarian" language identified by medieval Armenian historians,[4] while modern Udi is known merely as the Udi language.

The language is spoken by about 5,000 people in the Azerbaijani village of Nij in Qabala rayon, in Oghuz rayon, as well as in parts of the North Caucasus in Russia. It is also spoken by ethnic Udis living in the villages of Debetavan, Bagratashen, Ptghavan, and Haghtanak in Tavush Province of northeastern Armenia and in the village of Zinobiani (Oktomberi) in the Kvareli District of the Kakheti province of Georgia.

Udi is endangered,[6] classified as "severely endangered" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.[7]


The Udi language can most appropriately be broken up into five historical stages:[8]

Early Udi around 2000 B.C. - 300 A.D.
Old Udi 300 - 900
Middle Udi 900 - 1800
Early Modern Udi 1800 - 1920
Modern Udi 1920 - present

Soon after the year 700, the Old Udi language had probably ceased to be used for any purpose other than as the liturgical language of the Church of Caucasian Albania.[9]

The Old Udi language was spoken in an area stretching from Tavush province and eastern Artsakh in the west to the city of Qəbələ in the east, centered around the province of Utik and the city of Partaw (known now as Barda).[10]


Old Udi was an ergative–absolutive language.[11]


Udi is agglutinating with a tendency towards being fusional. Udi affixes are mostly suffixes or infixes, but there exist a few prefixes. Old Udi used mostly suffixes.[3] Most affixes are restricted to specific parts of speech. Some affixes behave as clitics. The word order is SOV.[12]

Udi does not have gender, but has declension classes.[13] Old Udi, however, did reflect grammatical gender within anaphoric pronouns.[14]




Front Central Back
i (y) u
ɛ ɛˤ (œ) ə ɔ ɔˤ
(æ) ɑ ɑˤ


Consonant phonemes of Udi[16]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
lenis fortis
Nasal m n
Plosive voiced b d ɡ
voiceless p t k q
Affricate voiced d͡z d͡ʒ d͡ʒː
voiceless t͡s t͡ʃ t͡ʃː
ejective t͡sʼ t͡ʃʼ t͡ʃːʼ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ ʃː x h
voiced v z ʒ ʒː ɣ
Trill r
Approximant l j

Old Udi, unlike modern Udi, did not have the front rounded vowel ö.[17] Old Udi contained an additional series of palatalized consonants.[5][17]


The Old Udi language used the Caucasian Albanian alphabet. As evidenced by Old Udi documents discovered at Saint Catherine's Monastery in Egypt dating from the 7th century, the Old Udi language used 50 of the 52 letters identified by Armenian scholars in later centuries as having been used in Udi language texts.[17]

See also[edit]


Harris, Alice C. (2002). Endoclitics and the Origins of Udi Morphosyntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924633-5. 

  1. ^ The Sociolinguistic Situation of the Udi in Azerbaijan – John M. Clifton, Deborah A. Clifton, Peter Kirk, and Roar Ljøkjell
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Udi". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ a b Gippert, Jost; Wolfgang Schulze (2007). "Some Remarks on the Caucasian Albanian Palimsest". Iran and the Caucasus (Leiden, Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV) 11: 208, 201–212. doi:10.1163/157338407X265441. 
  4. ^ a b Gippert; Schulze. p. 210.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b Gippert; Schulze. p. 201.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Published in: Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages. Edited by Christopher Moseley. London & New York: Routledge, 2007. 211–280.
  7. ^ UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
  8. ^ Schulze, Wolfgang (2005). "Towards a History of Udi". International Journal of Diachronic Linguistics: 7, 1–27. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  9. ^ Schulze (2005). p. 23.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Schulze (2005). p. 22.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Gippert; Schulze. p. 206.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Schulze, Wolfgang (2002): The Udi language http://www.lrz-muenchen.de/~wschulze/The%20Udi%20language.htm
  13. ^ Harris, Alice (1990): History in Support of Synchrony, Department of Linguistics, SUNY Stony Brook, p. 7 http://elanguage.net/journals/index.php/bls/article/viewFile/787/678
  14. ^ Gippert; Schulze. p. 202.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Hewitt, George (2004): Introduction to the Study of the Languages of the Caucasus. LINCOM, Munich. Page 57.
  16. ^ Consonant Systems of the Northeast Caucasian Languages on TITUS DIDACTICA
  17. ^ a b c Gippert; Schulze. p. 207.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]