Abkhaz alphabet

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The original 1862 script by Uslar
1888 script modified by Mikhail Romualdovich Zavadsky [ru]
The 1892 script by Gulia and Machiavariani.
The expanded 1909 alphabet by Andria Chochua.
1925 version of the script by Chochua.
The Abkhaz Latin alphabet used 1926–1928 designed by Nicholas Marr[1]
The Abkhaz Latin alphabet used 1928–1938 with corresponding Cyrillic and IPA transcriptions.
1930 Abkhaz Latin alphabet with corresponding Cyrillic letters.
Abkhaz alphabet which was based on Georgian script and used from 1938 to 1953.
The current Abkhaz alphabet (This includes old ones such as Ҕ which was replaced with Ӷ)

The Abkhaz alphabet is a Cyrillic alphabet used for the Abkhaz language.

Abkhaz did not become a written language until the 19th century. Up until then, Abkhazians, especially princes, had been using Greek (up to c. 9th century), Georgian (9–19th centuries), and partially Turkish (18th century) languages.[2] The Abkhaz word for alphabet is анбан (anban), which was borrowed from Georgian ანბანი (anbani).


The first Abkhaz alphabet was created in 1862 by Peter von Uslar. It had 55 letters and was based on the Cyrillic script. Another version, having 51 letters, was used in 1892 by Dimitry Gulia and K. Machavariani.[3][4] In 1909, the alphabet was again expanded to 55 letters by Andria Tchotchua to adjust to the extensive consonantal inventory of Abkhaz.

In 1926, during the korenizatsiya policy in the Soviet Union, the Cyrillic alphabet was replaced by a Latin alphabet devised by Nikolay Marr. It featured 76 letters and was called the "Abkhaz analytical alphabet". In 1928, this was replaced by another Latin alphabet. (See illustration at right.) From 1938 to 1954 the Abkhaz language was written in Georgian Mkhedruli script.

Since 1954, the Abkhaz language has been written in a new 56-letter (now 62-letter) Cyrillic alphabet (see chart below). Of these, 38 are graphically distinct; the rest are digraphs with ⟨ь⟩ and ⟨ә⟩ which indicate palatalization and labialization, respectively. In 1996, the most recent reform of the alphabet was implemented: while labialization had hitherto been marked with two additional letters, ә and у (у was used in the digraphs гу, ҕу, ку, қу, ҟу, and ху, which were not considered separate letters), since then only ә was retained in this function. Unusually, the Cyrillic plosive letters К П Т represent ejective consonants; the non-ejectives (pulmonic consonants) are derived from these by means of a descender at the bottom of the letter. In the case of the affricates, however, the plain letters are pulmonic, and the derived letters ejective.

The modern Abkhaz orthography gives preference to the letters Г К П Т Х Ч with descender (Ӷ Қ Ԥ Ҭ Ҳ Ҷ). The letters (Ҕ Ҧ) had previously (before 1996) had a hook, which Ҕ still does in Yakut.[5] In pre-Soviet alphabets the hook was also used in Ӄ Ꚋ, see above.

The letters ь and ә are used as parts of digraphs and are not listed separately in the alphabet.[6]

The modern Abkhaz Cyrillic alphabet and transliteration systems
Letter[7] Name ISO[8] TITUS[8] (Chirikba,

where different[9])

IPA Value[10]
А а А a а /ɑ/
Б б Бы b b /b/
В в Вы v v /v/
Г г Гы g g /ɡ/
Гь гь Гьы /ɡʲ/
Гә гә (pre-1996: Гу гу) Гәы ga̋[11] [11] /ɡʷ/
Ӷ ӷ (pre-1996: Ҕ ҕ) Ӷы ğ ɣ /ʁ/
Ӷь ӷь (pre-1996: Ҕь ҕь) Ӷьы ğʹ ɣʹ /ʁʲ/
Ӷә ӷә (pre-1996: Ҕу ҕу) Ӷәы ğa̋ [11] ɣ° [11] /ʁʷ/
Д д Ды d d /d/
Дә дә Дәы da̋ /dʷ/
Е е Е e e /e/
Ж ж Жы ž ž /ʐ/
Жь жь Жьы žʹ žʹ /ʒ/
Жә жә Жәы ža̋ ž° /ʒʷ/
З з Зы z z /z/
Ӡ ӡ Ӡы ź ʒ /d͡z/
Ӡә ӡә Ӡәы źa̋ ʒ° /d͡ʑʷ/
И и Иы i i,j /j(i), i(:)/
К к Кы k ḳ (k’) /kʼ/
Кь кь Кьы ḳʹ (k’ʹ) /kʲʼ/
Кә кә (pre-1996: Ку ку) Кәы ka̋ [11] ḳ°[11] (k’°) /kʷʼ/
Қ қ Қы ķ k /k/
Қь қь Қьы ķʹ /kʲ/
Қә қә (pre-1996: Ӄу ӄу) Қәы ķa̋ [11] [11] /kʷ/
Ҟ ҟ Ҟы q̇ (q’) /qʼ/
Ҟь ҟь Ҟьы k̄ʹ q̇ ʹ (q’ʹ) /qʲʼ/
Ҟә ҟә (pre-1996: Ҟу ҟу) Ҟәы k̄a̋ [11] q̇ °[11] (q’°) /qʷʼ/
Л л Лы l l /l/
М м Мы m m /m/
Н н Ны n n /n/
О о О o o /o/
П п Пы p ṗ (p’) /pʼ/
Ԥ ԥ (pre-1996: Ҧ ҧ) Ԥы p /pʰ/
Р р Ры r r /r/
С с Сы s s /s/
Т т Ты t ṭ (t’) /tʼ/
Тә тә Тәы ta̋ ṭ° (t’°) /tʷʼ/
Ҭ ҭ Ҭы ţ t /tʰ/
Ҭә ҭә Ҭәы ţa̋ /tʰʷ/
У у Уы u w, u[12] /u(:),w(ɵ)/
Ф ф Фы f f /f/
Х х Хы h x /χ/
Хь хь Хьы /χʲ/
Хә хә (pre-1996: Ху ху) Хәы ha̋ /χʷ/
Ҳ ҳ Ҳы ḥ (h) /ħ/
Ҳә ҳә Ҳәы h̦a̋ ḥ° (h°) /ħʷ/
Ц ц Цы c c /t͡sʰ/
Цә цә Цәы ca̋ /t͡ɕʰʷ/
Ҵ ҵ Ҵы c̣ (c’) /t͡sʼ/
Ҵә ҵә Ҵәы c̄a̋ c̣° (c’°) /t͡ɕʷʼ/
Ч ч Чы č čʹ /t͡ʃʰ/
Ҷ ҷ Ҷы č̣ʹ (č’ʹ) /t͡ʃʼ/
Ҽ ҽ Ҽы č /ʈ͡ʂʰ/
Ҿ ҿ Ҿы ̦c̆ [13] č̣ (č’) /ʈ͡ʂʼ/
Ш ш Шы š š /ʂ/
Шь шь Шьы šʹ šʹ /ʃ/
Шә шә Шәы ša̋ š° /ʃʷ/
Ы ы Ы y ə /ɨ/
Ҩ ҩ Ҩы ò ʿ° (j°) /ɥ/
Џ џ Џы [14] ǯ[14] /ɖ͡ʐ/
Џь џь Џьы [14] ǯʹ [14] /d͡ʒ/

Text Comparison[edit]

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[15]

Cyrillic script Georgian script Latin script (ISO 9) IPA English translation
Дарбанзаалак ауаҩы дшоуп ихы дақәиҭны. Ауаа зегь зинлеи патулеи еиҟароуп. Урҭ ирымоуп ахшыҩи аламыси, дара дарагь аешьеи аешьеи реиԥш еизыҟазароуп. დარбანზაალაკ აუაჳჷ დშოუპ იხჷ დაქჿითნჷ. აუაა ზეგჲ ზინლეი პატულეი ეიყაროუპ. ურთ ირჷმოუპ ახშჷჳი ალამჷსი, დარა დარაგჲ აეშჲეი აეშჲეი რეიფშ ეიზჷყაზაროუპ. Dаrbаnzааlаk аuаòy dšoup ihy dаķãiţny. Auаа zegʹ zinlei pаtulei eik̄аroup. Urţ irymoup аhšyòi аlаmysi, dаrа dаrаgʹ аešʹei аešʹei reipš eizyk̄аzаroup. [darbanzaːlakʼ awaɥɨ tʂəʊpʼ jɨχɨ dakʷʰitʰnɨ ǁ awaː zəgʲ zinləɪ pʼatʼwɨləɪ əɪqʼarəʊpʼ ǁ wərtʰ jɨrɨməʊpʼ aχʂɨɥiː alamɨsiː ǀ dara daragʲ ajəʃəɪ rəɪpʰʂ əɪzɨqʼazarəʊpʼ ǁ] All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Марр, Николай Яковлевич (1864–1934): Абхазский аналитический алфавит. (in: Труды яфетического семинария, vol. I, Leningrad 1926), p. 51, table 2
  2. ^ Бгажба Х. С. Из истории письменности в Абхазии. — Тбилиси. 1967. С. 34
  3. ^ Mikaberidze, Alexander (2015-02-06). Historical Dictionary of Georgia. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442241466.
  4. ^ Campbell, George L. (2000). Compendium of the World's Languages: Abaza to Kurdish. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780415202961.
  5. ^ Proposal to encode two Cyrillic characters for Abkhaz (PDF), International Organization for Standardization, 2008-05-10, p. 18, archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-09
  6. ^ Chirikba, Viacheslav A. (2003). Abkhaz. LINCOM GmbH. p. 15. ISBN 3895861367.
  7. ^ The letters are listed per Hewitt, George (1998). The Abkhazians. St. Martin's press. p. 172.. In Chirikba, Viacheslav A. (2003). Abkhaz. LINCOM GmbH. p. 15. ISBN 3895861367. "Ь" and "Ә" are included as separate letters.
  8. ^ a b Pedersen, Thomas T. "Transliteration of Abkhaz" (PDF). Transliteration of Non-Roman Scripts. Institute of the Estonian Language. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-09. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  9. ^ Chirikba, Viacheslav A. (2003). Abkhaz. LINCOM GmbH. pp. 18–21. ISBN 3895861367.
  10. ^ The IPA transcriptions are given per Hewitt, George (2010). Abkhaz. LINCOM. p. 19., but the labialisation is represented by /ʷ/ as in Hewitt, B. G. (1979). "Abkhaz". Lingua Descriptive Studies. 2: 259.. The transcription of vowels is not consistent in the scholarly literature, see Abkhaz phonology#Vowels for details.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Pedersen uses the pre-1996 reform alphabet in which these were not considered separate letters. See the transliterations in note 4.1 on page 3
  12. ^ Prior to the 1996 reform ⟨у⟩ indicated labialisation after certain letters which is transliterated as ⟨°⟩ in the TITUS system
  13. ^ The lower hook is centered
  14. ^ a b c d ISO 9 and TITUS transliteration not provided by T. Pedersen
  15. ^ "Omniglot". Omniglot. Retrieved 2023-08-13.

External links[edit]