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Avar language

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ماعارۇل ماض, магӏарул мацӏ, maⱨarul maⱬ
, اوار ماض, авар мацӏ, avar maⱬ
Pronunciation[maʕarul mat͡sʼ]
[awar mat͡sʼ]
Native toNorth Caucasus, Azerbaijan
Native speakers
1,200,000 (2021)[1]
Cyrillic (current)
Arabic, Latin (formerly)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1av – Avaric
ISO 639-2ava – Avaric
ISO 639-3Either:
ava – Avaric
oav – Old Avar
oav – Old Avar
Avar is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger[2]
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.

Avar (магӏарул мацӏ, maǥarul macʼ [maʕarul mat͡sʼ], "language of the mountains" or авар мацӏ, awar macʼ [awar mat͡sʼ], "Avar language"), also known as Avaric,[3][4] is a Northeast Caucasian language of the Avar–Andic subgroup that is spoken by Avars, primarily in Dagestan. In 2010, there were approximately 1 million speakers in Dagestan and elsewhere in Russia.

Geographic distribution[edit]

It is spoken mainly in the western and southern parts of the Russian Caucasus republic of Dagestan, and the Balaken, Zaqatala regions of north-western Azerbaijan.[1] Some Avars live in other regions of Russia. There are also small communities of speakers living in the Russian republics of Chechnya and Kalmykia; in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Jordan, and the Marmara Sea region of Turkey. It is spoken by about 1,200,000 people worldwide. UNESCO classifies Avar as vulnerable to extinction.[5]


It is one of six literary languages of Dagestan, where it is spoken not only by the Avar, but also serves as the language of communication between different ethnic and linguistic groups.


Glottolog lists 14 dialects of Avar, some of which correspond to the villages where they are spoken. The dialects are listed in alphabetical order based on their name in Glottolog:


Consonant phonemes of Avar[6]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
central lateral
lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis
Nasal m n
Plosive voiced b d ɡ
voiceless p t k ʔ
ejective kːʼ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡sː t͡ʃ t͡ʃː t͡ɬː q͡χː
ejective t͡sʼ t͡sːʼ t͡ʃʼ t͡ʃːʼ (t͡ɬːʼ) q͡χːʼ
Fricative voiceless s ʃ ʃː ɬ ɬː x χ χː ʜ
voiced z ʒ ʁ ʕ ɦ
Trill r
Approximant w l j

There are competing analyses of the distinction transcribed in the table with the length sign ⟨ː⟩. Length is part of the distinction, but so is articulatory strength, so they have been analyzed as fortis and lenis.[citation needed] The fortis affricates are long in the fricative part of the contour, e.g. [tsː] (tss), not in the stop part as in geminate affricates in languages such as Japanese and Italian [tːs] (tts). Laver (1994) analyzes e.g. [t͡ɬː] as a two-segment affricate–fricative sequence [t͡ɬɬ] (/t𐞛ɬ/ = /tɬɬ/).[7]

Avar Vowels
Front Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a

Avar has five phonemic vowels: /a e i o u/.

Lexical accent[edit]

In Avar, accent is contrastive, free and mobile, independent of the number of syllables in the word. Changes in lexical accent placement indicate different semantic meaning and grammatical meanings of a word:

  • ра́гӏи 'word' ~ рагӏи́ 'fodder'
  • ру́гънал 'wound.nom.pl' ~ ругъна́л 'wound.gen.sg'


Avar is an agglutinative language, of SOV order.

Adverbs do not inflect, outside of inflection for noun class in some adverbs of place: e.g. the /b/ in /ʒani-b/ "inside" and /t͡se-b-e/ "in front". Adverbs of place also distinguish locative, allative, and ablative forms suffixally, such as /ʒani-b/ "inside", /ʒani-b-e/ "to the inside", and /ʒani-sa/ "from the inside". /-go/ is an emphatic suffix taken by underived adjectives.

Writing systems[edit]

There were some attempts to write the Avar language in the Georgian alphabet as early as the 14th century.[8][9] The use of Arabic script for representing Avar in marginal glosses began in the 15th century. The use of Arabic, which is known as ajam, is still known today.[9]

Peter von Uslar developed a Cyrillic-based alphabet, published in 1889, that also used some Georgian-based letters. Many of its letters have not been encoded in Unicode. The alphabet takes the following form:[10] а б в г ӷ д е ж һ і ј к қ л м н о п ԛ р с ҫ т ҭ у х х̓ хّ ц ц̓ ꚑ ч ч̍ чّ /ч̓ ш ƞ ƞ̓ ɳّ ດ

As part of Soviet language re-education policies in 1928 the Ajam was replaced by a Latin alphabet, which in 1938 was in turn replaced by the current Cyrillic script. Essentially, it is the Russian alphabet plus one additional letter called palochka (stick, Ӏ). As that letter cannot be typed with common keyboard layouts, it is often replaced with a capital Latin letter i ( I ), small Latin letter L ( l ), or the numerical digit 1.

Current orthography[edit]

The Avar language is usually written in the Cyrillic script. The letters of the alphabet are (with their pronunciation given below in IPA transcription):[6][11]

А а
Б б
В в
Г г
Гъ гъ
Гь гь
ГӀ гӏ
Д д
Е е
/e/, /je/
Ё ё
Ж ж
З з
И и
Й й
К к
Къ къ
Кь кь
КӀ кӏ
КӀкӏ кӏкӏ
Кк кк
Л л
ЛӀ лӏ
Лъ лъ
Лълъ лълъ
М м
Н н
О о
П п
Р р
С с
Сс сс
Т т
ТӀ тӏ
У у
Ф ф
Х х
Хх хх
Хъ хъ
Хь хь
Хьхь хьхь
ХӀ хӏ
Ц ц
Цц цц
ЦӀ цӏ
ЦӀцӏ цӏцӏ
Ч ч
Чч чч
ЧӀ чӏ
ЧӀчӏ чӏчӏ
Ш ш
Щ щ
Ъ ъ
Ы ы
Ь ь
Э э
Ю ю
Я я

Comparison chart[edit]

Compiled according to:[12][13][14][15][16]

Arabic writing conventions[edit]

One feature of Avar Arabic script is that similar to alphabets such as Uyghyr and Kurdish, the script does not omit vowels and does not rely on diacritics to represent vowels when need be. Instead, modified letters with dot placement and accents have been standardized to represent vowels. Thus, Avar Arabic script is no longer an "impure abjad" unlike its parent systems (Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman), it now resembles a proper "alphabet".

While this was not the case for most of the several centuries during which Arabic alphabet has been used for Avar, this has become the case in the latest and most common conventions. This was indeed not the case at the time of writing of a linguistic article for the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1881.[15]

As an example, in Avar Arabic Script, four varieties of the letter yāʼ ("ی") have been developed, each with a distinct function.

Varieties of "ی"
Leter Cyrillic Equivalent IPA Functionn
ئ - / ъ /ʔ/ Used at the beginning of words starting with vowels "О о" [o], "У у" [u], "Э э" [e], and "И и" [i]. Has no sound of its own, but acts as "vowel carrier". Similar to writing conventions of Uyghyr and Kurdish
ئې، ې Э э / Е е /e/ Similar letter exists in Pashto, Uzbek, and Uyghyr orthographies.
ئێ، ێ И и / Ы ы /i~ɨ/ Similar letter exists in Kurdish orthography, but for the vowel [e].
ي Й й /j/ Equivalent to English "y" sound.

Nevertheless, Avar Arabic script does retain two diacritics.

First is "shadda" (ـّـ), used for gemination. While in Cyrillic, two back to back letters, including digraphs are written, in Arabic script, shadda is used.

Second diacritic in use in Avar Arabic script is ḍammah (ـُـ). In Arabic, Persian, and historically in Ottoman Turkish, this diacritic is used to represent [o] or [u]. But in Avar, this diacritic is used for labialization [◌ʷ] and not for any sort of vowel. So, it is the case that this diacritic is used in conjunction with a follow-up vowel. For example, the sound "зва" [zʷa] is written as "زُا".

This diacritic can optionally be used in conjunction with shadda. For example, the sound "ссвa" [sːʷa] is written as "سُّا".

If a word starts with a vowel, if it's an [a] sound, it is written with alif "ا". Otherwise, the vowel needs to be preceded by a "vowel carrier", which is hamza-ya' (ئـ). No need for such a carrier in the middle of words. Below table demonstrates vowels in Avar Arabic Script.

Vowel Table
А а О о У у Э э / Е е И и
[a] [o] [u] [e] [i]
Vowel at the beginning of a word
ا ئۈ ئۇ ئېـ ئێـ
Vowel in the middle or end of a word
ـا، ا ـۈ، ۈ ـۇ، ۇ ېـ، ـېـ، ـې ێـ، ـێـ، ـێ

Sample comparison[edit]

Arabic Alphabet (2007)[17] Cyrillic Alphabet (2007) Latin Alphabet

نۈڸ ماڨێڸ وێڮانا، ڨالدا ڸۇق - ڸۇقۇن،
ڨۇردا كُېر ڃُان ئۇنېو، بێدا وېضّۇن دۇن؛
ڨۇرۇڬێ باطاڸۇن صېوې ئۇناڬۈ،
صۈ ڸارال راعالدا عۈدۈو كّۈلېو دۇن.
ڸار چُاخّۇلېب بۇڬۈ چابخێل گّالاڅان،
ڸێن گانضۇلېب بۇڬۈ ڬانڃازدا طاسان؛
طاراماغادێسېب قُال بالېب بۇڬۈ،
قۈ ڸێگێلان دێصا سۈعاب راڨالدا

Нолъ макьилъ вихьана, кьалда лъукъ-лъукъун,
Кьурда квер чIван унев, бида вецIцIун дун;
Кьуруги батIалъун цеве унаго,
Цо лъарал рагIалда гIодов кколев дун.
Лъар чваххулеб буго чабхил кIкIалахъан,
Лъин кIанцIулеб буго ганчIазда тIасан;
ТIарамагъадисеб къвал балеб буго,
Къо лъикIилан дица согIаб ракьалда.

Noļ maꝗiļ viҳana, ꝗalda ļuq-ļuqun,
Ꝗurda кvеr çvan unеv, bida vеⱬⱬun dun;
Ꝗuruⱨ baţaļun s̶еvе unago,
Co ļaral raⱨalda ⱨodov ккolеv dun.
Łar cvaxxulеb bugo cabxil ⱪⱪalax̶an,
Łin ⱪanⱬulеb bugo gançazda ţaсan;
Ţaramaƣadiсеb qval balеb bugo,
Qo ļiⱪilan dis̶a сoⱨab raꝗalda.


The literary language is based on the болмацӏ (bolmacʼ)[citation needed]bo = "army" or "country", and macʼ = "language"—the common language used between speakers of different dialects and languages. The bolmacʼ in turn was mainly derived from the dialect of Khunzakh, the capital and cultural centre of the Avar region, with some influence from the southern dialects. Nowadays the literary language is influencing the dialects, levelling out their differences.[citation needed]

The most famous figure of modern Avar literature is Rasul Gamzatov (died November 3, 2003), the People's Poet of Dagestan. Translations of his works into Russian have gained him a wide audience all over the former Soviet Union.[citation needed]

Sample sentences[edit]

English Avar Transliteration IPA
Hello! Ворчӏами! Worch’ami! /wort͡ʃ’ami/
How are you doing? Щиб хӏaл бугеб? Shchib hal bugeb? /ʃːib ʜal bugeb/
How are you? Иш кин бугеб? Ish kin bugeb? /iʃ kin bugeb/
What is your name? Дуда цӏар щиб? Duda c’ar shchib? /duda t͡s’ar ʃːib/
How old are you? Дур чан сон бугеб? Dur chan son bugeb? /dur t͡ʃan son bugeb/
Where are you going? Mун киве ина вугев? Mun kiwe ina wugew? /mun kiwe ina wugew/
Sorry! Тӏаса лъугьа! T’asa łuḩa! /t’asa ɬuha/
Where is the little boy going? Киве гьитӏинав вас унев вугев? Kiwe ḩit’inaw was unew wugew? /kiwe hit’inaw was unew wugew/
The boy broke a bottle. Васас шиша бекана. Wasas shisha bekana. /wasas ʃiʃa bekana/
They are building the road. Гьез нух бале (гьабулеб) буго. Ḩez nux́ bale (ḩabuleb) bugo. /hez nuχ bale (habuleb) bugo/

Sample text[edit]

Avar Translation
Cyrillic Latin Arabic
Я, зобалазда вугев нижер Эмен, дур цӀар гӀадамаз мукъадасаблъун рикӀкӀаги, дур ПарччахӀлъи тӀаде щваги. Зобалаздаго гӀадин ракьалдаги дур амру билълъанхъаги. Жакъа нижер бетӀербахъиялъе хинкӀ-чед кье нижее. Нижер налъи-хӀакъалда тӀасаги лъугьа, нижерго налъулазда тӀаса нижги лъугьарал ругин. Нижер хӀалбихьизеги биччаге, Квешалдаса цӀуне ниж. Ja, zobalazda wugew niƶer Emen, dur ⱬar ⱨadamaz muqadasabļun, riⱪⱪagi, dur Parccaħļi ţade şşvagi. Zobalazdago ⱨadin raꝗaldagi dur amru biļļanӿijaļe. Ƶaqa niƶer beţerbaӿijaļe xinⱪ-ced ꝗe niƶeje. Niƶer naļi-ħaqalda ţasagi ļuha, niƶergo naļulazda, ţasa niƶgi ļuharal rugin.niƶer ħalbiҳizegi biccage, Kveşaldasa ⱬune niƶ.
يا، زۈبالازدا وۇڬېو نێجېر ئېمېن، دۇر ضار عاداماز مۇقاداسابڸۇن رێگّاڬێ، دۇر پارچّاحڸێ طادې شُّاڬێ. زۈبالازداڬۈ عادێن راڨالداڬێ دۇر امرۇ بێڸّانڅاڬێ. جاقا نێجېر بېطېرباڅێياڸې جێنگ-چېدڨ ڨې نێجېيې. نێجېر ناڸێ-حاقالدا طاساڬێ ڸۇﻫا، نێجېرڬۈ ناڸۇلازدا طاسا نێجرێ ڸۇﻫارال رۇڬێن. نێجېر حالبێڮێزېڬێ بێچّارێ، کُێشالداسا ضۇنې نێج.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Avar at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
    Old Avar at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "Avar in Russian Federation". UNESCO WAL. Retrieved 22 June 2024.
  3. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ava". ISO 639-2 Registration Authority - Library of Congress. Retrieved 2017-07-05. Name: Avaric
  4. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ava". ISO 639-3 Registration Authority - SIL International. Retrieved 2017-07-05. Name: Avaric
  5. ^ "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger". UNESCO. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b Consonant Systems of the North-East Caucasian Languages on TITUS DIDACTICA
  7. ^ Laver (1994) Principles of Phonetics p. 371.
  8. ^ Simon Crisp, "Language Planning and the Orthography of Avar", Folia Slavica 7, 1–2 (1984): 91–104.
  9. ^ a b Simon Crisp, "The Formation and Development of Literary Avar", pp. 143–62, in Isabelle T. Kreindler, ed., Sociolinguistic Perspectives on Soviet National Languages: Their Past, Present and Future, Contributions to the Sociology of Language, 40 (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1985).
  10. ^ Услар, Баронъ П. К. (1889). Аварскій языкъ (PDF). Тифлисъ.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  11. ^ Omniglot on the Avar alphabet, language and pronunciation
  12. ^ Саидов М. Д. (1948). "Возникновение письменности у аварцев" (Языки Дагестана ed.). Махач-Кала. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ "Новый алфавит для народностей Дагестана" (II) (Культура и письменность Востока ed.). Б. 1928: 176–177. Archived from the original on 2022-04-02. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ Алексеев М. Е. (2001). "Аварский язык. — Языки Российской Федерации и соседних государств. — М.: Наука". М.: 24–34. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ a b Graham, C. (1881). "The Avâr Language". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland. 13 (3) XI: 291–352. doi:10.1017/s0035869x00017858. S2CID 164107540.
  16. ^ http://avar.me/
  17. ^ "Avar (Магӏарул мацӏ / Авар мацӏ)". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 2023-08-14.

External links[edit]