Circassian language

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Circassian
Cherkess
Адыгэ псалъэ
Region Historical Circassia in Eastern Europe, now worldwide due to the Circassian diaspora
Ethnicity Circassians
Abazgi–Adyghe (isolate)
Early forms
Proto-Abazgi–Adyghe (North Pontic)
Dialects
Cyrillic script
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Caucasic languages.svg
  Modern-day area where the remaining Circassian-speaking people mainly live (scarcely populated due to the majority's expulsion in the 19th century)

The Circassian language /sərˈkæsiən/ (Circassian: Адыгэ псалъэ), also known as Cherkess /ərˈkɛs/, is the language ancestral to the Circassians. Circassian constitutes the Adyghe branch of the isolate Abazgi–Adyghe dialectic continuum native to Eastern Europe. There are two written standard Circassian dialects, Lowland Adyghe (Circassian: КӀах адыгабзэ), with half a million speakers, and Kabardian Adyghe (Circassian: Къэбэрдей адыгэбзэ), with over one and a half million.[1][2][3] The oral varieties, however, merge with intermediate dialects intelligible to both standards. Circassian is written using the Cyrillic script. The earliest extant written records of the modern Circassian language are in are in the Runic script, dating back to the 8th century.[4]

The Circassian people call themselves "Адыгэ" Adygè (English: Adyghe) in their native language. In the southwestern part of European Russia, there is also a federal subject called Adygea (Russian: Адыгея Adygeja), enclaved within Krasnodar Krai, which is named after the Circassian endonym. In the Russian language, Circassian is called "Адыгский" Adygskij (meaning the Adyghe language), whereas the Lowland Adyghe dialect spoken in Adygea is called "Адыгейский" Adygejskij (meaning the language of those in [the Republic of] Adygea). In English terminology, on the other hand, many foreigners fail to distinguish between these Russian-specific administrative (latter) and ethnolinguistic (former) terms, and misuse[2] the word Adyghe to refer only to the Adyghe variety spoken in the Republic of Adygea (only a small part of the historical Adyghe lands). However, the majority of the Adyghe in Russia today do not reside in Adygea, but in the neighbouring regions.

The terms "Circassian" and "Cherkess" are sometimes used as synonyms for the Abazgi–Adyghe language family (Northwest Caucasian or North Pontic) in general.

Medieval Circassian Runes[edit]

Circassian language is located in Southern Federal District
Kabardian Inscriptions
Kabardian Inscriptions
Ukraine
Ukraine
Abkhazia
Abkhazia
Location of Medieval Kabardian inscriptions in western Pontic steppe of southwestern Russia, ancestral land of the Circassians

The inscriptions of a Kabardian warrior from modern-day Rostov Oblast was found during excavations of the Saltovo-Mayatskaya Culture.[5] The Circassian Runic inscriptions are displayed at the Novocherkassk Museum of Russia.[5]

The Circassians had developed a runic alphabet in the 6–7th centuries.[5] Runic inscriptions similar to the Kabardian (Kassogian) inscriptions were also discovered in Bessarabia.[6]

Circassian dialects[edit]

Circassian language is located in Krasnodar Krai
Adamey
Adamey
Makhosh
Makhosh
Adele
Adele
Circassian language
Circassian language
Circassian language
Circassian language
Shegak
Shegak
Tapanta
Tapanta
Anapa-----
Anapa-----
Novorossisk-
Novorossisk-
Gelendzhik-
Gelendzhik-
Tuapse-----
Tuapse-----
Sochi-----
Sochi-----
Gagra-----
Gagra-----
Approximate location of the Circassian tribes in the early 19th century. Note that the upper half which is shown empty was also inhabited by the Circassians until the late 18th century.

The Circassian language has two literary dialects.

  • Lowland Adyghe dialect (Circassian: КӀах Адыгабзэ)
  • Highland Adyghe dialect (Circassian: Къэбэрдей Адыгэбзэ)
    • Besleney sub-dialect (Circassian: Бэслъыныйбзэ)
    • Kabardian sub-dialect (literary)
      • Central Kabardian
        • Baksan (literary form)
        • Malka
      • Eastern Kabardian
        • Terek
        • Mozdok
      • North Kabardian
        • Mulka
        • Zabardiqa (from 1925 until 1991 Soviet Zaparika)
      • West Kabardian
        • Kuban
        • Zelenchuk

Circassian Cyrillic alphabet[edit]

  • Lowland Adyghe (Circassian: КӀах адыгабзэ; Russian: Адыгейский), spoken by the Temirgoy, Shapsug, Natukhai, Bzhedug, and Abzakh tribes, amongst others. The alphabet is based on the Temirgoy dialect because the Temirgoy formed the majority in the Republic of Adygea following the expulsion of Circassians. The Circassian alphabet was created in 1918 by the Kabardian linguist Naguma Shora.

Lowland Adyghe alphabet

А а
[]
Б б
[b]
В в
[v]
Г г
[ɣ] or [ɡ]
Гу гу
[ɡʷ]
Гъ гъ
[ʁ]
Гъу гъу
[ʁʷ]
Д д
[d]
Дж дж
[d͡ʒ]
Дз дз
[d͡z]
Дзу дзу
[d͡zʷ]
Е е
[ja/aj]
Ё ё
[jo]
Ж ж
[ʒ]
Жъ жъ
[ʐ]
Жъу жъу
[ʒʷ] or [ʐʷ]
Жь жь
[ʑ]
З з
[z]
И и
[jə/əj]
Й й
[j]
К к
[k]
Ку ку
[]
Къ къ
[q]
Къу къу
[]
Кӏ кӏ
[t͡ʃʼ/kʼ]
Кӏу кӏу
[kʷʼ]
Л л
[ɮ] or [l]
Лъ лъ
[ɬ]
Лӏ лӏ
[ɬʼ]
М м
[m]
Н н
[n]
О о
[aw/wa]
П п
[p]
Пӏ пӏ
[]
Пӏу пӏу
[pʷʼ]
Р р
[r]
С с
[s]
Т т
[t]
Тӏ тӏ
[]
Тӏу тӏу
[tʷʼ]
У у
[w/əw]
Ф ф
[f]
Х х
[x]
Ху ху
[]
Хъ хъ
[χ]
Хъу хъу
[χʷ]
Хь хь
[ħ]
Ц ц
[t͡s]
Цу цу
[t͡sʷ]
Цӏ цӏ
[t͡sʼ]
Ч ч
[t͡ʃ]
ЧI чI
[t͡ʂʼ]
Чъ чъ
[t͡ʂ]
Ш ш
[ʃ]
Шъ шъ
[ʂ]
Шъу шъу
[ʃʷ] or [ʂʷ]
Шӏ шӏ
[ʃʼ]
Шӏу шӏу
[ʃʷʼ]
Щ щ
[ɕ]
Ъ ъ
[ˠ]
Ы ы
[ə]
Ь ь
[ʲ]
Э э
[a]
Ю ю
[ju]
Я я
[jaː]
ӏ
[ʔ]
ӏу
[ʔʷ]

Kabardian Adyghe alphabet

А а
[]
Э э
[a]
Б б
[b]
В в
[v]
Г г
[ɣ]
Гу гу
[ɡʷ]
Гъ гъ
[ʁ]
Гъу гъу
[ʁʷ]
Д д
[d]
Дж дж
[d͡ʒ] or [ɡʲ]
Дз дз
[d͡z]
Е е
[ja/aj]
Ё ё
[jo]
Ж ж
[ʒ]
Жь жь
[ʑ]
З з
[z]
И и
[jə/əj]
Й й
[j]
К к
[k]
Ку ку
[]
Къ къ
[q]
Къу къу
[]
Кхъ кхъ
[q͡χ]
Кхъу кхъу
[q͡χʷ]
Кӏ кӏ
[t͡ʃʼ] or [kʲʼ]
Кӏу кӏу
[kʷʼ]
Л л
[ɮ] or [l]
Лъ лъ
[ɬ]
Лӏ лӏ
[ɬʼ]
М м
[m]
Н н
[n]
О о
[aw/wa]
П п
[p]
Пӏ пӏ
[]
Р р
[r]
С с
[s]
Т т
[t]
Тӏ тӏ
[]
У у
[w/əw]
Ф ф
[f]
Фӏ фӏ
[]
Х х
[x]
Ху ху
[]
Хъ хъ
[χ]
Хъу хъу
[χʷ]
Хь хь
[ħ]
Ц ц
[t͡s]
Цӏ цӏ
[t͡sʼ]
Ч ч
[t͡ʃ]
Ш ш
[ʃ]
Щ щ
[ɕ]
Щӏ щӏ
[ɕʼ]
Ъ ъ
[ˠ]
Ы ы
[ə]
Ь ь
[ʲ]
Ю ю
[ju]
Я я
[jaː]
ӏ
[ʔ]
ӏу
[ʔʷ]

Dialectal letters

Гь гь
[ɡʲ]
Кь кь
[]
Кӏь кӏь
[kʲʼ]
Сӏ сӏ
[]
Чу чу
[t͡ʃʷ]
ӏь
[ʔʲ]

Unified literary language[edit]

In 2016, Yury Kokov proposed to create a common writing script which would unite the two Adyghe dialects.[7]

Sound changes[edit]

The major differences in the Circassian dialects

Sound changes between Lowland Circassian (Temirgoy) and Highland Circassian (Kabardian):

  • Lowland a ↔ э Highland: адыгабзэ ↔ aдыгэбзэ (Adyghe); бае ↔ бей (rich); аслъан ↔ аслъэн (lion); къэплъан ↔ къаплъэн (tiger); дунай ↔ дуней (world); тхьакӀумэ ↔ тхьэкӀумэ (ear); хьарыф ↔ хьэрф (letter); тхьаркъо ↔ тхьэрыкъуэ (pigeon); Ӏае ↔ Ӏей (ugly); хьамлыу ↔ хьэмбылу (worm); хьау ↔ хьэуэ (no)
  • Lowland ы ↔ э Highland: ны ↔ анэ (mother)
  • Lowland э ↔ ы Highland: хъэдэн ↔ хъыдан (lilac)
  • Lowland а ↔ ы Highland: Ӏахьыл ↔ Ӏыхьлы (cloth)
  • Lowland и ↔ ы Highland: мэлэӀич ↔ мэлэӀыч (angel)
  • Lowland ы ↔ и Highland: сабый ↔ сабий (child)
  • Lowland ы ↔ е Highland: жъэжъый ↔ жьэжьей (kidney); дэжъый ↔ дэжьей (hazelnut)
  • Lowland ц ↔ дз Highland: цэ ↔ дзэ (tooth); цыгъо ↔ дзыгъуэ (mouse); пцэжъый ↔ бдзэжьей (fish); уцы ↔ удзы (grass)
  • Lowland цу ↔ в Highland: цу ↔ вы (ox); цуакъэ ↔ вакъэ (shoe); цунды ↔ вынд (raven); цунды ↔ вынд (raven); цуабзэ ↔ вабдзэ (ploughshare)
  • Lowland ч ↔ ж Highland: чэмы ↔ жэм (cow); чъыгы ↔ жыг (tree); чэщы ↔ жэщ (night); чылэ ↔ жылэ (village, settlement); пчъын ↔ бжын (to count); чъэн ↔ жэн (to run)
  • Lowland ч ↔ дж Highland: чэтыу ↔ джэду (cat); чэты ↔ джэд (chicken); апч ↔ абдж (glass)
  • Lowland ч ↔ щ Highland: пачъыхь ↔ пащтыхь (king); гъучӏы ↔ гъущӏ (iron); упчӏэ ↔ упщӏэ (question); чыӏу ↔ щӏыӏу (button); чъыӏэ ↔ щӏыӏэ (cold); пчэдыжьы ↔ пщэдджыжь (morning)
  • Lowland дз ↔ з Highland: хъырбыдз ↔ хъарбыз (watermelon)
  • Lowland дж ↔ ж Highland: баджэ ↔ бажэ (fox); лъэмыдж ↔ лъэмыж (arch, bridge); аджал ↔ ажал (death); хьаджыгъэ ↔ хьэжыгъэ (flour); лъэгуанджэ ↔ лъэгуажьэ (knee); къуаджэ ↔ къуажэ (village)
  • Lowland жь ↔ з Highland: ежь ↔ езы (him, itself)
  • Lowland жъ ↔ жь Highland: жъы ↔ жьы (old); бжъэ ↔ бжьэ (bowl, horn, slander); жъэн ↔ жьэн (to fry, to grill)
  • Lowland ж ↔ жь Highland: бжыхьэ ↔ бжьыхьэ (autumn); жакӀэ ↔ жьакӀэ (beard); бжыдзэ ↔ бжьыдзэ (flea); жэ ↔ жьэ (mouth)
  • Lowland жъу ↔ в Highland: жъуагъо ↔ вагъо (star); зэжъу ↔ зэвы (narrow); ӏужъу ↔ ӏувы (wide); гъэжъон ↔ гъэвэн (to boil)
  • Lowland ш ↔ щ Highland: нашэ ↔ нащэ (melon)
  • Lowland щ ↔ ш Highland: щэ ↔ шэ (milk); щай ↔ шай (tea); щыгъу ↔ шыгъу (salt); ахъщэ ↔ ахъшэ (fund, money); щэбзащ ↔ шабзэ (arrow); щыды ↔ шыд (donkey); щынагъо ↔ шынагъуэ (fear); щыбжьый ↔ шыбжий (black pepper); щэджагъо ↔ шэджагъуэ (noon)
  • Lowland шъ ↔ щ Highland: шъабэ ↔ щабэ; шъхьэ ↔ щхьэ (head); шъынэ ↔ щынэ (lamp); дышъэ ↔ дыщэ (gold); пшъашъэ ↔ пщащэ (girl); мышъэ ↔ мыщэ (bear); псэушъхь ↔ псэущхьэ (animal); шъэ ↔ ща (100)
  • Lowland шӀ ↔ щӀ Highland: шӀын ↔ щӀын (to do); шӀэн ↔ щӀэн (to know); гъашӀэ ↔ гъащӀэ (life); пшӀы ↔ пщӀы (ten)
  • Lowland кӀ ↔ щӀ Highland: кӀэ ↔ щӀэ (new); кӀалэ ↔ щӀалэ (young-man); мэгыкӀэ ↔ мэгыщӀэ (to launder, to wash); тӀэкӀын ↔ тӀэщӀын (to go off on); икӀыӀу ↔ ищӀыӀу (above); макӀэ ↔ мащӀэ (few); хьакӀэ ↔ хьэщӀэ (guest); ӀункӀыбзэ ↔ ӀунщӀыбз (key)
  • Lowland шъу ↔ ф Highland: шъоу ↔ фо (honey); шъуз ↔ фыз (wife); ешъон ↔ ефэн (to drink); уашъо ↔ уафэ (sky); уцышъо ↔ удзыфэ (green); къашъо ↔ къафэ (dance); шъо ↔ фэ (color, skin, you (plural)); шъо ↔ фэ (color, skin, you (plural)); нэшъу ↔ нэф (blind)
  • Lowland шӀу ↔ фӀ Highland: шӀу ↔ фӀы (well, good); машӀо ↔ мафӀэ (fire); шӀуцӀэ ↔ фӀыцӀэ (black); шӀомыкӀы ↔ фӀамыщӀ (coal); ошӀу ↔ уэфӀ (weather); ӏэшӀу ↔ ӏэфӀ (sweet); шӀошӏын ↔ фӀэщын (sweet)
  • Lowland ф ↔ ху Highland: фыжьы ↔ хужьы (white); Ӏофы ↔ Ӏуэху (work, job); мафэ ↔ махуэ (day); гъэмафэ ↔ гъэмахуэ (summer); цӀыфы ↔ цӀыху (person); фабэ ↔ хуабэ (hot); фае ↔ хуей (want, need); фэд ↔ хуэд (like); нэфы ↔ нэху (light); нартыф ↔ нартыху (corn); фэгъэгъун ↔ хуэгъэгъун (to forgive); фэгъэгъун ↔ хуэгъэгъун (to forgive); бжьыныф ↔ бжьыныху (garlic); бзылъфыгъэ ↔ бзылъхугъэ (woman)
  • Lowland хь ↔ хъ Highland: нахь ↔ нэхъ (more); шынахьыкӏ ↔ шынэхъыщӏ (younger brother); шынахьыжъ ↔ шынэхъыжь (older brother)
  • Lowland къ ↔ кхъ Highland: къэ ↔ кхъэ (grave)
  • Lowland къу ↔ кхъу Highland: къуае ↔ кхъуей (cheese); къужъы ↔ кхъужь (pear); къухьэ ↔ кхъухь (ship)
  • Lowland т ↔ д Highland: тэ ↔ дэ (we); тамэ ↔ дамэ (shoulder); тамыгь ↔ дамыгъэ (stamp, letter); тыгъужъы ↔ дыгъужь (wolf); тыгъуас ↔ дыгъуасэ (yesterday); ты ↔ адэ (father); тыжьыны ↔ дыжьын (silver); ''такъикъ ↔ дакъикъэ (minute); атакъэ ↔ адакъэ (rooster, cock); хатэ ↔ хадэ (garden); псычэт ↔ псыджэд (duck); тхьаматэ ↔ тхьэмадэ (leader, boss)
  • Lowland п ↔ б Highland: панэ ↔ банэ (thorn); пытэ ↔ быдэ (hard); пчэны ↔ бжэн (goat); пыи ↔ бий (enemy); непэ ↔ нобэ (today); пчъын ↔ бжын (to count)
  • Lowland м ↔ н Highland: мамун ↔ номин (monkey)
  • Lowland н ↔ Ø Highland: гъунджэ ↔ гъуджэ (mirror)
  • Lowland -Ø ↔ -р Highland: Ӏехы ↔ Ӏехыр; сӀехы ↔ сӀехыр; тӀехы ↔ тӀехыр
  • Lowland -Ø ↔ -щ Highland: тӀыгъ ↔ тӀыгъщ
  • Lowland Ø- ↔ и- Highland: джыри ↔ иджыри (yet)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Calorusso, John (1989). "East Circassian (Kabardian dialect)". Caravan Books.
  2. ^ a b Papşu, Murat (2006)."Çerkes-Adığe yazısının tarihçesi Archived 14 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine.". Nart, İki Aylık Düşün ve Kültür Dergisi, No. 51, September–October 2006. (Turkish)
  3. ^ Voynikov, Zhivko. Алано-древнобългарското писмо (в памет на проф. Г. Ф. Турчанинов) ["Alano-Bulgar Inscriptions"], "Адигски (кабардински) език" ("Adyghe (Kabardian) language"). 2009.
  4. ^ Открытие и дешифровка древнейшей письменности Кавказа ["Discovery and Decipherment of the Ancient Written Languages of the Caucasus"], Мoscow, 1999.
  5. ^ a b c Jaimoukha, Amjad. Mediæval Kabardian (Kassogian) Alphabet: Interpreting a Runic Kabardian Inscription on a Mediæval Wine Vessel. 10 January 2015.
  6. ^ Turchaninov, G. F. (Г. Ф. Турчанинов), Письменные памятники средневековой Кабарды ["Writing Monuments of Mediæval Kabarda"], in Kabardian Truth (Newspaper), 19 May 1946.
  7. ^ Dzutsati, Valery. Governor of Kabardino-Balkaria Calls for Unified Alphabet for All Circassians. Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume: 13. Issue: 162". 11 October 2016.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Кумахов М. А. Адыгские языки // Языки мира. Кавказские языки. М., 1999. (in Russian)