Chechen language

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Нохчийн мотт
Noxçiyn mott
Pronunciation[ˈnɔxt͡ʃĩː muɔt]
Native toNorth Caucasus
RegionChechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and Georgia
Native speakers
1.8 million (2020)[1]
  • Akkin
  • Shatoi
  • Melkhin
  • Kistin
  • Cheberloi
  • Ploskost
Cyrillic script (present, official)
Latin script (historically)
Arabic script (historically)
Georgian script (historically)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1ce
ISO 639-2che
ISO 639-3che
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Chechen (/ˈɛɛn/ CHETCH-en,[3] /əˈɛn/ chə-CHEN[4]) (Нохчийн мотт, Noxçiyn mott,[5] [ˈnɔxt͡ʃĩː muɔt]) is a Northeast Caucasian language spoken by approximately 1.8 million people, mostly in the Chechen Republic and by members of the Chechen diaspora throughout Russia and the rest of Europe, Jordan, Austria, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Central Asia (mainly Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) and Georgia.


Chechen is a Northeast Caucasian language. Together with the closely related Ingush, with which there exists a large degree of mutual intelligibility and shared vocabulary, it forms the Vainakh branch.


There are a number of Chechen dialects: Aukh, Chebarloish, Malkhish, Nokhchmakhkakhoish, Orstkhoish, Sharoish, Shuotoish, Terloish, Itum-Qalish and Himoish.

Dialects of Chechen can be classified by their geographic position within the Chechen Republic. The dialects of the northern lowlands are often referred to as "Oharoy muott" (literally "lowlander's language") and the dialect of the southern mountain tribes is known as "Laamaroy muott" (lit. "mountainer's language"). Oharoy muott forms the basis for much of the standard and literary Chechen language, which can largely be traced to the regional dialects of Urus-Martan and contemporary Grozny. Laamaroy dialects include Chebarloish, Sharoish, Itum-Qalish, Kisti, and Himoish. Until recently, however, Himoy was undocumented and was considered a branch of Sharoish, as many dialects are also used as the basis of intertribal (teip) communication within a larger Chechen "tukkhum". Laamaroy dialects such as Sharoish, Himoish and Chebarloish are more conservative and retain many features from Proto-Chechen. For instance, many of these dialects lack a number of vowels found in the standard language which were a result of long-distance assimilation between vowel sounds. Additionally, the Himoy dialect preserves word-final, post-tonic vowels as a schwa [ə].

Geographic distribution[edit]

According to the Russian Census of 2020, 1,490,000 people reported being able to speak Chechen in Russia.[1]

Official status[edit]

Chechen is an official language of Chechnya.[6]


Chechens in Jordan have good relations with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and are able to practice their own culture and language. Chechen language usage is strong among the Chechen community in Jordan. Jordanian Chechens are bilingual in both Chechen and Arabic, but do not speak Arabic among themselves, only speaking Chechen to other Chechens. Some Jordanians are literate in Chechen as well, having managed to read and write to people visiting Jordan from Chechnya.[7]


Some phonological characteristics of Chechen include its wealth of consonants and sounds similar to Arabic and the Salishan languages of North America, as well as a large vowel system resembling those of Swedish and German.


The Chechen language has, like most indigenous languages of the Caucasus, a large number of consonants: about 40 to 60 (depending on the dialect and the analysis), far more than most European languages. Typical of the region, a four-way distinction between voiced, voiceless, ejective and geminate fortis stops is found.[8] Furthermore, all variants except the ejective are subject to phonemic pharyngealization.

Labial Alveolar Postalveolar Velar Uvular Epiglottal Glottal
plain phar. plain phar. plain phar. plain phar.
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless lenis ʡ ʔ (ʔˤ)
fortis pːˤ tːˤ
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless lenis tsʰ tsˤ tʃʰ tʃˤ
fortis tsː tsːˤ tʃː tʃːˤ
voiced dz dzˤ dʒˤ
ejective tsʼ tʃʼ
Fricative voiceless (f) s ʃ ʃˤ x ʜ h
voiced (v) z ʒ ʒˤ ʁ
Rhotic voiceless
voiced r
Approximant w (ɥ) l j

Nearly any consonant may be fortis because of focus gemination, but only the ones above are found in roots. The consonants of the t cell and /l/ are denti-alveolar; the others of that column are alveolar. /x/ is a back velar, but not quite uvular. The lateral /l/ may be velarized, unless it is followed by a front vowel. The trill /r/ is usually articulated with a single contact, and therefore sometimes described as a tap [ɾ]. Except in the literary register, and even then only for some speakers, the voiced affricates /dz/, // have merged into the fricatives /z/, /ʒ/. A voiceless labial fricative /f/ is found only in European loanwords. /w/ appears both in diphthongs and as a consonant; as a consonant, it has an allophone [v] before front vowels.

Approximately twenty pharyngealized consonants (marked with superscript ˤ) also appear in the table above. Labial, alveolar and postalveolar consonants may be pharyngealized, except for ejectives.

Except when following a consonant, /ʢ/ is phonetically [ʔˤ], and can be argued to be a glottal stop before a "pharyngealized" (actually epiglottalized) vowel. However, it does not have the distribution constraints characteristic of the anterior pharyngealized (epiglottalized) consonants. Although these may be analyzed as an anterior consonant plus /ʢ/ (they surface for example as [dʢ] when voiced and [pʰʜ] when voiceless), Nichols argues that given the severe constraints against consonant clusters in Chechen, it is more useful to analyze them as single consonants.


Unlike most other languages of the Caucasus, Chechen has an extensive inventory of vowel sounds, putting its range higher than most languages of Europe (most vowels being the product of environmentally conditioned allophonic variation, which varies by both dialect and method of analysis). Many of the vowels are due to umlaut, which is highly productive in the standard dialect. None of the spelling systems used so far have distinguished the vowels with complete accuracy.

Front Back~
unrounded rounded
High ɪ y ʊ
Mid e̞ː ø øː o̞ː
Low (æ) (æː) ə ɑː
Diphthong je ie ɥø wo uo

All vowels may be nasalized. Nasalization is imposed by the genitive, infinitive, and for some speakers the nominative case of adjectives. Nasalization is not strong, but it is audible even in final vowels, which are devoiced.

Some of the diphthongs have significant allophony: /ɥø/ = [ɥø], [ɥe], [we]; /yø/ = [yø], [ye]; /uo/ = [woː], [uə].

In closed syllables, long vowels become short in most dialects (not Kisti), but are often still distinct from short vowels (shortened [i], [u], [ɔ] and [ɑ̈] vs. short [ɪ], [ʊ], [o], and [ə], for example), although which ones remain distinct depends on the dialect.

/æ/, /æː/ and /e/, /eː/ are in complementary distribution (/æ/ occurs after pharyngealized consonants, whereas /e/ does not and /æː/—identical with /æ/ for most speakers—occurs in closed syllables, while /eː/ does not) but speakers strongly feel that they are distinct sounds.

Pharyngealization appears to be a feature of the consonants, though some analyses treat it as a feature of the vowels. However, Nichols argues that this does not capture the situation in Chechen well, whereas it is more clearly a feature of the vowel in Ingush: Chechen [tsʜaʔ] "one", Ingush [tsaʔˤ], which she analyzes as /tsˤaʔ/ and /tsaˤʔ/. Vowels have a delayed murmured onset after pharyngealized voiced consonants and a noisy aspirated onset after pharyngealized voiceless consonants. The high vowels /i/, /y/, /u/ are diphthongized, [əi], [əy], [əu], whereas the diphthongs /je/, /wo/ undergo metathesis, [ej], [ow].


Chechen permits syllable-initial clusters /st px tx/ and non-initially also allows /x r l/ plus any consonant, and any obstruent plus a uvular of the same manner of articulation. The only cluster of three consonants permitted is /rst/.[9]


Chechen is an agglutinative language with an ergative–absolutive morphosyntactic alignment. Chechen nouns belong to one of several genders or classes (6), each with a specific prefix with which the verb or an accompanying adjective agrees. The verb does not agree with person or number, having only tense forms and participles. Among these are an optative and an antipassive. Some verbs, however, do not take these prefixes.[10]

Chechen is an ergative, dependent-marking language using eight cases (absolutive, genitive, dative, ergative, allative, instrumental, locative and comparative) and a large number of postpositions to indicate the role of nouns in sentences.

Word order is consistently left-branching (like in Japanese or Turkish), so that adjectives, demonstratives and relative clauses precede the nouns they modify. Complementizers and adverbial subordinators, as in other Northeast and in Northwest Caucasian languages, are affixes rather than independent words.

Chechen also presents interesting challenges for lexicography, as creating new words in the language relies on fixation of whole phrases rather than adding to the end of existing words or combining existing words. It can be difficult to decide which phrases belong in the dictionary, because the language's grammar does not permit the borrowing of new verbal morphemes to express new concepts.[11] Instead, the verb dan (to do) is combined with nominal phrases to correspond with new concepts imported from other languages.

Noun classes[edit]

Chechen nouns are divided into six lexically arbitrary noun classes.[12] Morphologically, noun classes may be indexed by changes in the prefix of the accompanying verb and, in many cases, the adjective too. The first two of these classes apply to human beings, although some grammarians count these as two and some as a single class; the other classes however are much more lexically arbitrary. Chechen noun classes are named according to the prefix that indexes them:

Noun class Noun example Singular prefix Plural prefix Singular agreement Plural agreement
1. v-class k'ant 'boy' v- b-/d- k'ant v-eza v-u 'the boy is heavy' k'entii d-eza d-u 'the boys are heavy'
2. y-class zuda 'woman' y- zuda y-eza y-u 'the woman is heavy' zudari b-eza b-u 'the women are heavy'
3. y-class II ph'āgal 'rabbit' y- ph'āgal y-eza y-u 'the rabbit is heavy' ph'āgalash y-eza y-u 'the rabbits are heavy'
4. d-class naž 'oak' d- naž d-eza d-u 'the oak is heavy' niežnash d-eza d-u 'the oaks are heavy'
5. b-class mangal 'scythe' b- b-/Ø- mangal b-eza b-u 'the scythe is heavy' mangalash b-eza b-u 'the scythes are heavy'
6. b-class II ˤaž 'apple' d- ˤaž b-eza b-u 'the apple is heavy' ˤežash d-eza d-u 'the apples are heavy'

When a noun denotes a human being, it usually falls into v- or y-Classes (1 or 2). Most nouns referring to male entities fall into the v-class, whereas Class 2 contains words related to female entities. Thus lūlaxuo 'a neighbour' is normally considered class 1, but it takes v- if referring to a male neighbour and y- if a female. This is similar to the Spanish word estudiante 'student', where el estudiante refers to a male student, and la estudiante refers to a female student.[13]

In a few words, changing the prefixes before the nouns indicates grammatical gender; thus: vоsha 'brother'yisha 'sister'. Some nouns denoting human beings, however, are not in Classes 1 or 2: bēr 'child', for example, is in class 3.

Classed adjectives[edit]

Only a few of Chechen's adjectives index noun class agreement, termed classed adjectives in the literature. Classed adjectives are listed with the d-class prefix in the romanizations below:[14]

  • деза (d-eza): 'heavy'
  • довха (d-ouxa): 'hot'
  • деха (d-iexa): 'long'
  • дуькъа (d-yq’a): 'thick'
  • дораха (d-oraxa): 'cheap'
  • дерстана (d-erstana): 'fat'
  • дуьткъа (d-ytq’a): 'thin'
  • доца (d-oca): 'short'
  • дайн (d-ain): 'light'
  • дуьзна (d-yzna): 'full'
  • даьржана (d-aerzhana): 'spread'
  • доккха (d-oqqa): 'large/big/old'


Whereas Indo-European languages code noun class and case conflated in the same morphemes, Chechen nouns show no gender marking but decline in eight grammatical cases, four of which are core cases (i.e. absolutive, ergative, genitive, and dative) in singular and plural. Below the paradigm for "говр" (horse).

Case singular plural
absolutive говр gour говраш gourash
genitive говран gouran говрийн gouriin
dative говрана gour(a)na говрашна gourashna
ergative говро gouruo говраша gourasha
allative говре gourie говрашка gourashka
instrumental говраца gouratsa говрашца gourashtsa
locative говрах gourax говрех gouriäx
comparative говрал goural говрел gouriäl


Case 1SG IPA 2SG IPA 3SG IPA 1PL Inclusive IPA 1PL Exclusive IPA 2PL IPA 3PL IPA
absolutive со /sʷɔ/ хьо /ʜʷɔ/ и, иза /ɪ/, /ɪzə/ вай /vəɪ/ тхо /txʷʰo/ шу /ʃu/ уьш, уьзаш /yʃ/, /yzəʃ/
genitive сан /sən/ хьан /ʜən/ цуьнан /tsʰynən/ вайн /vəɪn/ тхан /txʰən/ шун /ʃun/ церан /tsʰierən/
dative суна /suːnə/ хьуна /ʜuːnə/ цунна /tsʰunːə/ вайна /vaɪnə/ тхуна /txʰunə/ шуна /ʃunə/ царна /tsʰarnə/
ergative ас /ʔəs/ ахь /əʜ/ цо /tsʰuo/ вай /vəɪ/ оха /ʔɔxə/ аша /ʔaʃə/ цара /tsʰarə/
allative соьга /sɥœgə/ хьоьга /ʜɥœgə/ цуьнга /tsʰyngə/ вайга /vaɪgə/ тхоьга /txʰɥœgə/ шуьга /ʃygə/ цаьрга /tsʰærgə/
instrumental соьца /sɥœtsʰə/ хьоьца /ʜɥœtsʰə/ цуьнца /tsʰyntsʰə/ вайца /vaɪtsʰə/ тхоьца /txʰɥœtsʰə/ шуьца /ʃytsʰə/ цаьрца /tsʰærtsʰə/
locative сох /sʷɔx/ хьох /ʜʷɔx/ цунах /tsʰunəx/ вайх /vəɪx/ тхох /txʰʷɔx/ шух /ʃux/ царах /tsʰarəx/
comparative сол /sʷɔl/ хьол /ʜʷɔl/ цул /tsʰul/ вайл /vəɪl/ тхол /txʰʷɔl/ шул /ʃul/ царел /tsʰarɛl/
reflexive possessive pronouns сайн /səɪn/ хьайн /ʜəɪn/ шен /ʃɛn/ вешан /vieʃən/ тхайн /txəɪn/ шайн /ʃəɪn/ шайн /ʃəɪn/
substantives (mine, yours) сайниг /səɪnɪg/ хьайниг /ʜəɪnɪg/ шениг /ʃɛnɪg/ вешаниг /vieʃənɪg/ тхайниг /txəɪnɪg/ шайниг /ʃəɪnɪg/ шайниг /ʃəɪnɪg/

The locative has still a few further forms for specific positions.


Verbs do not inflect for person (except for the special d- prefix for the 1st and 2nd persons plural), only for number and tense, aspect, mood. A minority of verbs exhibit agreement prefixes, and these agree with the noun in the absolutive case (what in English translation would the subject, for intransitive verbs, or the object, with transitive verbs).

Example of verbal agreement in intransitive clause with a composite verb:

  • Со цхьан сахьтехь вогІур ву (so tsHan saHteH voghur vu) = I (male) will come in one hour
  • Со цхьан сахьтехь йогІур ю (so tsHan saHteH yoghur yu) = I (female) will come in one hour

Here, both the verb's future stem -oghur (will come) and the auxiliary -u (present tense of 'be') receive the prefix v- for masculine agreement and y- for feminine agreement.

In transitive clauses in compound continuous tenses formed with the auxiliary verb -u 'to be', both agent and object are in absolutive case. In this special case of a biabsolutive construction, the main verb in participial form agrees with the object, while the auxiliary agrees with the agent.

  • Cо бепиг деш ву (so bepig diesh vu) = I (male) am making bread.

Here, the participle d-iesh agree with the object, whereas the auxiliary v-u agrees with the agent.[14]

Verbal tenses are formed by ablaut or suffixes, or both (there are five conjugations in total, below is one). Derived stems can be formed by suffixation as well (causative, etc.):

Tense Example
Imperative (=infinitive) д*ига
simple present д*уьгу
present composite д*уьгуш д*у
near preterite д*игу
witnessed past д*игира
perfect д*игна
plusquamperfect д*игнера
repeated preterite д*уьгура
possible future д*уьгур
real future д*уьгур д*у
Tempus Basic form ("drink") Causative ("make drink, drench") Permissive ("allow to drink") Permissive causative ("allow to make drink") Potential ("be able to drink") Inceptive ("start drinking")
Imperative (=infinitive) мала мало малийта мала д*айта мала д*ала мала д*āла
simple present молу мала д*о молуьйто мала д*ойту малало мала д*олу
near preterite малу малий малийти мала д*айти мала д*ели мала д*ēли
witnessed past мелира малийра малийтира мала д*айтира мала д*елира мала д*ēлира
perfect мелла малийна малийтина мала д*айтина мала д*елла мала д*аьлла
plusquamperfect меллера малийнер малийтинера мала д*айтинера мала д*елера мала д*аьллера
repeated past молура мала д*ора молуьйтура мала д*ойтура малалора
possible future молур мала д*ер молуьйтур мала д*ойтур малалур мала д*олур
real future молур д*у мала д*ийр д*у молуьйтур д*у мала д*ойтур д*у малалур д*у мала д*олур д*у


Uslar and Kedi's 1862 alphabet
Uslar's 1888 alphabet
Uslar's 1911 Chechen alphabet
Chechen language Arabic script alphabet from 1925 ABC book
Banknote of the North Caucasian Emirate
Chechen-Soviet newspaper Serlo (Light), written in the Chechen Latin script during the era of Korenizatsiya
Chechen Cyrillic on a plate in Grozny, using the digit 1 for palochka.

Numerous inscriptions in the Georgian script are found in mountainous Chechnya, but they are not necessarily in Chechen. Later, the Arabic script was introduced for Chechen, along with Islam. The Chechen Arabic alphabet was first reformed during the reign of Imam Shamil, and then again in 1910, 1920 and 1922.

At the same time, the alphabet devised by Peter von Uslar, consisting of Cyrillic, Latin, and Georgian letters, was used for academic purposes. In 1911 it too was reformed but never gained popularity among the Chechens themselves.

Cyrillic alphabet[edit]

The current official script for Chechen language is the Cyrillic alphabet. This script was created and adopted in 1938, replacing the Latin script prior to it. Up until 1992, only the Cyrillic script was used for Chechen. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the de facto secession of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria from Russia, a new Latin script was devised and was used parallel to Cyrillic until the dissolution of the separatist state.

А а Аь аь Б б В в Г г Гӏ гӏ Д д
Е е Ё ё Ж ж З з И и Й й К к
Кх кх Къ къ Кӏ кӏ Л л М м Н н О о
Оь оь П п Пӏ пӏ Р р С с Т т Тӏ тӏ
У у Уь уь Ф ф Х х Хь хь Хӏ хӏ Ц ц
Цӏ цӏ Ч ч Чӏ чӏ Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы
Ь ь Э э Ю ю Юь юь Я я Яь яь Ӏ ӏ

Lower-case palochka, ⟨ӏ⟩, is found in handwriting. Usually, palochka uppercase and lowercase forms consistent in print or upright, but only upper-case ⟨Ӏ⟩ is normally used in computers.[15]

1992 Latin alphabet[edit]

In 1992, with the de facto secession of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria from Russia, a new Latin Chechen alphabet was introduced and used in parallel with the Cyrillic alphabet. This was the second time a Latin-based orthography was created for Chechen. But after the defeat of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria government by the Russian Armed Forces, the Cyrillic alphabet was restored.[citation needed][5]

A a Ä ä B b C c Ċ ċ Ç ç Ç̇ ç̇
D d E e F f G g Ġ ġ H h X x
Ẋ ẋ I i J j K k Kh kh L l M m
N n Ꞑ ꞑ
(Ŋ ŋ)
O o Ö ö P p Ph ph Q q
Q̇ q̇ R r S s Ş ş T t Th th U u
Ü ü V v Y y Z z Ƶ ƶ Ə ə

1925 Latin alphabet[edit]

The first time that the Latin alphabet was introduced, was in 1925, replacing Arabic alphabet. Further minor modifications in 1934, unified Chechen orthography with Ingush. But the Latin alphabet was abolished in 1938, being replaced with Cyrillic.

A a Ä ä B b C c Č č Ch ch Čh čh D d
E e F f G g Gh gh H h I i J j K k
Kh kh L l M m N n Ņ ņ O o Ö ö P p
Ph ph Q q Qh qh R r S s Š š T t Th th
U u Ü ü V v X x Ẋ ẋ Y y Z z Ž ž

Arabic alphabet[edit]

The first most widespread modern orthography for Chechen was the Arabic script, adopted in the 19th century. [16] Chechen was not a traditionally written language. But due to the public's familiarity with the Arabic script, as the script of instruction in the region's Islamic and Quranic schools, Arabic alphabet was first standardized and adopted for Chechen during the reign of Imam Shamil. Islam has been the dominant religion in Chechnya since the 16th century, and there were 200 religious schools as well as more than 3000 pupils in Chechnya and Ingushetia. Thus the Arabic script was well established among the speakers of Chechen.[17]

However, the Arabic alphabet, without modifications, would not be suitable for Chechen, and modifications would be needed. Arabic alphabet underwent various iterations of improvements and modifications. Within Chechen society, these modifications were not without controversy. The Muslim clergy and the more conservative segments of Chechen society initially resisted any changes to the Arabic script, with the belief that this script sacred due to its association with Islam, and was not to be changed. The clergy and Islamic educational institutions opposed each and every iteration of proposed reforms in the Arabic script.[18] While modifications to the Arabic script to match local languages had been common practice for centuries, for languages such as Persian and Ottoman Turkish, the modifications in Chechen were done independently from these two nearby and influential literary traditions and were focused on needs of Chechen language. Initially, the Chechen Arabic alphabet looked like this.

ي ﻻ ه و ن م ل ك ق ڮ ڨ ف غ ع ظ ط ض ص ش س ز ر ذ د خ ح ج ث ت ب ا

In this alphabet, two additional letters were added to the base Arabic script:[18]

  1. The letter ڨ ‎, equivalent to Cyrillic digraph "Кх" and representing the sound /q/;
  2. The letter ڮ ‎ equivalent to Cyrillic letter "Кӏ" and representing the sound /kʼ/.
    • This letter was later revised to

In 1910, Sugaip Gaisunov proposed additional reforms that brought Arabic alphabet closer to Chechen's phonetic requirements. Sugaip Gaisunov introduced four additional consonants:[18]

  1. The letter ڥ ‎, equivalent to Cyrillic letter "Пӏ" and representing the sound /pʼ/;
    • This letter was later revised to ڢ
  2. The letter ر̤ ‎ () , equivalent to Cyrillic letters "Ц" and "Цӏ" and representing the sounds /ts/ and /tsʼ/;
  3. The letter چ ‎, equivalent to Cyrillic letters "Ч" and "Чӏ", representing the sounds /tʃ/ and /t͡ʃʼ/;
  4. The letter گ ‎, equivalent to Cyrillic letter "Г" and representing the sound /g/;

In Sugaip Gaisunov's reforms, the letters ص ‎ (ṣād/sād) and ض ‎ (zād/ḍād) had their usage limited to Arabic loanwords but were not eliminated due to opposition from Clergy and conservative segments of Chechen society. In another short-lasting modification, Sugaip Gaisunov proposed adding a overline (◌̅) (U+0305) over letters that can be read as either a consonant or a vowel, namely the letters و ‎ (waw) (equivalent to Cyrillic letter "В" or to letters "О, Оь, У, Уь") and ی ‎ (yāʼ) (equivalent to Cyrillic letter "Й" or to letter "И"). The overbar signified a vowel use when needed to avoid confusions. This modification did not persist in Chechen Alphabet. otherwise, the 1910 iteration of the Arabic script continued being used until 1920.[18]

In 1920, two Chechen literaturists, A. Tugaev and T. Eldarkhanov, published a document. In this document they proposed new modifications, which were the addition of two new consonants:[18]

  1. The letter څ ‎, equivalent to Cyrillic letter "Чӏ" and representing the sound /t͡ʃʼ/.
    • This letter was later revised to ڃ
    • Thus the letter چ ‎ was reduced to only representing the sound /tʃ/, equivalent to Cyrillic letter "Ч";
  2. The letter ڗ ‎, equivalent to Cyrillic letter "Цӏ" and representing the sound /tsʼ/;
    • Thus the letter ر̤ ‎ () was reduced to only representing the sound /ts/, equivalent to Cyrillic letter "Ц";

These modifications by A. Tugaev and T. Eldarkhanov were a great final step in creating a modified Arabic script that represents Chechen consonants. However, the Arabic alphabet still was not suitable in representing Chechen vowel sounds. Arabic script itself is an impure abjad, meaning that most but not all vowels are shown with diacritics, which are in most cases left unwritten. The process of transforming Arabic script into a full alphabet for use by a non-Arabic language has been a common occurrence, and has been done in Uyghur, Kazakh, Kurdish and several more Arabic-derived scripts.

Thus a final revision on Chechen Arabic script occurred, in which vowel sounds were standardized.

Vowel as first sound of word
А а Аь аь Е е
Э э
И и О о
Оь оь
У у
Уь уь
آ اە ایـ / ای اوٓ او
Vowel as middle and final sound of word
ـا / ا / ـآ / آ ـا / ا ـە / ە ـیـ / یـ / ـی / ی ـوٓ / وٓ ـو / و
A a
Ə ə
Ä ä E e I i O o
Ö ö
U u
Ü ü

Table below lists the 41 letters of the final iteration of Chechen Arabic Alphabet, as published by Chechen Authorities at the time, prior to 1925, their IPA values, and their Cyrillic equivalents.

Chechen Arabic alphabet (Pre-1925)[19]
‌ ا / آ‎ ب ت ث ج ح خ چ ڃ د ذ ر ز ر̤ ڗ س ‌ ش ص ض ط
IPA value
ɑ, ɑː, æ, æː b t s ʒ, d͡ʒ ħ x t͡ʃ t͡ʃʼ d z r z t͡s t͡sʼ s ʃ s z
Cyrillic Equivalent
‌ А а
Аь аь
Б б Т т С с Ж ж Хь хь Х х Ч ч ЧӀ чӀ Д д З з Р р З з Ц ц ЦӀ цӀ С с Ш ш С с З з ТӀ тӀ
Chechen Arabic alphabet (Pre-1925)
ظ ع ‌ غ ف ڢ ق ڨ ک گ ‌ ࢰ ل م ن و او اوٓ ھ اە ی ‌ ای ئ
IPA value
z ʡ ɣ p, f q k g l m n v u, y o, ɔː, ø h e, ɛː j i ʔ
Cyrillic Equivalent
З з Ӏ ӏ ГӀ гӀ П п
Ф ф
ПӀ пӀ Кх кх Къ къ К к Г г КӀ кӀ Л л М м Н н В в У у
Уь уь
О о
Оь оь
ХӀ хӀ Е е
Э э
Й й И и Ъ ъ

Comparison chart[edit]

The single letters and digraphs that count as separate letters of the alphabet, along with their correspondences, are as follows. Those in parentheses are optional or only found in Russian words:

Cyrillic Latin
А а A a, Ə ə A a آ /ɑ/, /ɑː/
Аь аь Ä ä Ä ä ا /æ/, /æː/
Б б B b B b ب /b/
В в V v V v و /v/
Г г G g G g گ /g/
Гӏ гӏ Ġ ġ Gh gh غ /ɣ/
Д д D d D d د /d/
Е е E e, Ie ie, Ye ye E e, Je je ە /e/, /ɛː/, /je/, /ie/
Ё ё Yo yo /jo/
Ж ж Ƶ ƶ Ž ž ج /ʒ/, /dʒ/
З з Z z Z z ز /z/, /dz/
И и I i I i ای /i/
Й й Y y J j ی /j/
К к K k K k ک /k/
Кх кх Q q Q q ق /q/
Къ къ Q̇ q̇ Qh qh ڨ /qʼ/
Кӏ кӏ Kh kh Kh kh /kʼ/
Л л L l L l ل /l/
М м M m M m م /m/
Н н N n, Ŋ ŋ N n, Ŋ ŋ ن /n/, /ŋ/
О о O o, Uo uo O o اوٓ /o/, /ɔː/, /wo/, /uo/
Оь оь Ö ö Ö ö اوٓ /ø/, /yø/
П п P p P p ف /p/
Пӏ пӏ Ph ph Ph ph ڢ /pʼ/
Р р R r R r ر /r/
С с S s S s س /s/
Т т T t T t ت /t/
Тӏ тӏ Th th Th th ط /tʼ/
У у U u U u او /u/
Уь уь Ü ü Ü ü او /y/
Ф ф F f F f ف /f/
Х х X x X x خ /x/
Хь хь Ẋ ẋ X̌ x̌ (Ꜧ ꜧ) ح /ħ/
Хӏ хӏ H h H h ھ /h/
Ц ц C c C c ر̤ /ts/
Цӏ цӏ Ċ ċ Ch ch ڗ /tsʼ/
Ч ч Ç ç Č č چ /t͡ʃ/
Чӏ чӏ Ç̇ ç̇ Čh čh ڃ /t͡ʃʼ/
Ш ш Ş ş Š š ش /ʃ/
(Щ щ) Şç şç Šč šč
(Ъ ъ) ' /ʔ/
(Ы ы) i
(Ь ь)
Э э E e E e اە /e/
Ю ю Yu yu Ju ju /ju/
Юь юь Yü yü Jü jü /jy/
Я я Ya ya Ja ja /ja/
Яь яь Yä yä Jä jä /jæ/
Ӏ ӏ J j Y y ع /ʡ/, /ˤ/

In addition, several sequences of letters for long vowels and consonants, while not counted as separate letters in their own right, are presented here to clarify their correspondences:

Cyrillic Name Arabic
(before 1925)
Name IPA
Ий ий یی Iy iy /iː/
Кк кк کک Kk kk /kː/
Ккх ккх قق Qq qq /qː/
Ов ов ов وٓو Ov ov ov /ɔʊ/
Пп пп فف Pp pp /pː/
Рхӏ рхӏ رھ Rh rh /r̥/
Сс сс سس Ss ss /sː/
Тт тт تت Tt tt /tː/
Ув ув وو Uv uv /uː/
Уьй уьй уьй و Üy üy üy /yː/



Most Chechen vocabulary is derived from the Nakh branch of the Northeast Caucasian language family, although there are significant minorities of words derived from Arabic (Islamic terms, like "Iman", "Ilma", "Do'a") and a smaller amount from Turkic (like "kuzga", "shish", belonging to the universal Caucasian stratum of borrowings) and most recently Russian (modern terms, like computer – "kamputar", television – "telvideni", televisor – "telvizar", metro – "metro" etc.).


Before the Russian conquest, most writings in Chechnya consisted of Islamic texts and clan histories, written usually in Arabic but sometimes also in Chechen using Arabic script. The Chechen literary language was created after the October Revolution, and the Latin script began to be used instead of Arabic for Chechen writing in the mid-1920s. The Cyrillic script was adopted in 1938. Almost the entire library of Chechen medieval writing in Arabic and Georgian script about the land of Chechnya and its people was destroyed by Soviet authorities in 1944, leaving the modern Chechens and modern historians with a destroyed and no longer existent historical treasury of writings.[20]

The Chechen diaspora in Jordan, Turkey, and Syria is fluent but generally not literate in Chechen except for individuals who have made efforts to learn the writing system. The Cyrillic alphabet is not generally known in these countries, and thus for Jordan and Syria, they most use the Arabic alphabet, while in Turkey they use the Latin alphabet.


  1. ^ a b Chechen at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Glottopedia article on Chechen language.
  3. ^ Longman, J.C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3 ed.). Pearson Education ESL. ISBN 978-1405881173.
  4. ^ "Chechnya". Dictionary.
  5. ^ a b c "Chechen table of correspondence Cyrillic-Roman (BGN/PCGN 2008 Agreement)" (PDF). National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2022-02-04.
  6. ^ Constitution, Article 10.1
  7. ^ Moshe Maʻoz, Gabriel Sheffer (2002). Middle Eastern minorities and diasporas. Sussex Academic Press. p. 255. ISBN 1-902210-84-0. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  8. ^ Johanna Nichols, Chechen, The Indigenous languages of the Caucasus (Caravan Books, Delmar NY, 1994) ISBN 0-88206-068-6.
  9. ^ "Indigenous Language of the Caucasus (Chechen)". pp. 10–11. Archived from the original (GIF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  10. ^ Awde, Nicholas and Galäv, Muhammad, Chechen; p. 11. ISBN 0-7818-0446-9
  11. ^ Awde and Galäv; Chechen; p. 11
  12. ^ Awde, Nicholas; Galaev, Muhammad (22 May 2014). Chechen-English English-Chechen Dictionary and Phrasebook. Routledge. ISBN 9781136802331 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ "estudiante". Diccionario de la lengua española (in Spanish) (23.7 ed.). Real Academia Española. November 2023. Retrieved 2024-05-10.
  14. ^ a b Dotton, Zura; Wagner, John Doyle. "A Grammar of Chechen" (PDF). Duke University, Slavic Centers. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  15. ^ Алиева, С. А.; Касумова, Б. С.-А.; Серганова, З. З.; Хамраева, Е. А. (2012). Нохчийн мотт. Абат: йоза-дешар Ӏаморан Ӏамат. 1 класс (in Chechen).
  16. ^ Aliroev, I. Y. (1999). Чеченский язык (Chechen Language) (pp. 24–31). ISBN 587444-105-0
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c d e Chentieva, M. D. (1958). History of Checheno-Ingush writing (История чечено-ингушской письменности). Checheno-Ingush Publishing House (Чечено-Ингушское кн. изд-во).
  19. ^ Чеченская азбука - نوٓخچیی آلفبٰا (Нохчий алфба) (1925)
  20. ^ Jaimoukha. Chechens. Page 212


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