Bats language

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Batsba Moṭṭ
ბაცბა მოტტ
Native toNorth Caucasus
RegionZemo-Alvani in Kakheti
Native speakers
(500 cited 1997)[1]
far fewer than 3,000 active (2007)
Georgian script[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bbl
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.

Bats (Batsbur Mott' or Batsba Moṭṭ, also Batsi, Batsbi, Batsb, Batsaw, or Tsova-Tush) is the endangered language of the Bats people, a North Caucasian minority group. It is part of the Nakh family of Northeast Caucasian languages. It had 2,500 to 3,000 speakers in 1975.

There is only one dialect. It exists only as a spoken language, as Bats people use Georgian as their written language. The language is not mutually intelligible with either Chechen or Ingush, the other two members of the Nakh family.


Tusheti, the northeastern mountainous region of Georgia, is home to four tribes that consider themselves Tushetians: the Batsbi (also known as Tsovatush), the Gometsari, the Piriqiti, and the Chagma-Tush. Tsovatush people make up 50% of Tushetians. Only several hundred Tsovatush people speak Bats, whereas the other tribes (Gometsari, Piriqiti and Chagma-Tush) have lost the language. Evidence from toponymics indicates that the other three Tushetian tribes formerly spoke Bats, suggesting that all Tushetians once did and over time the Georgian language replaced Bats.

The mountainous terrain preserved the culture and traditions of Tushetians, but the history of isolation makes it more difficult to document them as only a few records exist.


Bats belongs to the Nakh family of Northeast Caucasian languages.

Geographic distribution[edit]

Most speakers of Bats live in the village of Zemo-Alvani, on the Kakhetia Plain, in the Akhmeta Municipality of Georgia. There are some families of Bats in Tbilisi and other bigger towns in Georgia.



Bats has a typical triangular five-vowel system with short–long contrast (except for /u/, which has no long form).

Front Back
High i     u
Mid ɛ     ɔ    
Low a    

Bats also has a number of diphthongs: /ei/, /ui/, /oi/, /ai/, /ou/, and /au/.[3]

All vowels and diphthongs have nasalized allophones that are the result of phonetic and morphophonemic processes; this is represented by a superscript n, as in kʼnateⁿ 'boy-GEN'.


Bats has a relatively typical consonant inventory for a Northeast Caucasian language. Unlike its close relatives, Chechen and Ingush, Bats has retained the lateral fricative /ɬ/. Also notable is the presence of two geminate ejectives, tːʼ and qːʼ, which are cross-linguistically rare.[4]

Consonant Phonemes of Bats[5]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal(ized) Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive aspirated lenis t͜sʰ t͡ʃʰ ʔ
voiceless fortis
voiced b d d͜z d͡ʒ g
ejective lenis t͜sʼ t͡ʃʼ
fortis tːʼ qːʼ
Fricative voiceless lenis s ʃ x ħ h
lateral ɬ
voiced v z ʒ ɣ ʕ
Approximant lenis l j
Flap ɾ


Writing comparison table[edit]

Schiefner, 1856[6] Imnaishvili, 1977 Kadagidze, 1984 Mikeladze, 2012 Desheriev, 1953 Chrelashvili, 1999 IPA
a a a ა, A a, a а а IPA: [a]
Ǎ ǎ, â а͏̆ а͏̆ IPA: [ă]
ā ā Ā ā а̄ а̄ IPA: [aː]
ā̄ IPA: [aː]
აჼ aⁿ აჼ aⁿ აჼ, აჼ à ã, àã а̃ а̃ IPA: [ã]
Ā̃ ā̃ IPA: [ãː]
b b b B b б б IPA: [b]
g g g G g г г IPA: [ɡ]
d d d D d д д IPA: [d]
e e e E e е, э е IPA: [e]
Ē ē, Ē ē е̄ IPA: [eː]
ĕ ĕ ě, ê е͏̆ е͏̆ IPA: [ĕ]
ეჼ eⁿ ეჼ eⁿ ეჼ Ẽ ẽ е̃ е̃ IPA: [ẽ]
Ē̃ ē̃ IPA: [ẽː]
w v v V v в в IPA: [v]
z z z Z z з з IPA: [z]
t t T t т т IPA: [tʰ]
თთ tt თჾ tჾ თჾ tჾ тт тт IPA: [tː]
i i i ი, I i, Ii и и IPA: [i]
Ī ī ӣ ӣ IPA: [iː]
ĭ ĭ î и͏̆ и͏̆ IPA: [ĭ]
იჼ iⁿ იჼ iⁿ იჼ Ĩ ĩ и̃ и̃ IPA: [ĩ]
Ī̃ ī̃ IPA: [ĩː]
k Ḳ ḳ кӀ кӀ IPA: [kʼ]
l l l L l л л IPA: [l]
ლლ ll ლჾ lჾ ლჾ lჾ лл лл IPA: [lː]
ლʻ ლʻ ლʻ лъ лъ IPA: [ɬ]
m m m M m м м IPA: [m]
n n n N n н н IPA: [n]
j j j J j й й IPA: [j]
ჲჼ j̇̃ IPA: [j̃]
o o o ო, O o, o о о IPA: [o]
Ō ō о̄ о̄ IPA: [oː]
ō̄ IPA: [oː]
ŏ ŏ ǒ, ô о͏̆ о͏̆ IPA: [ŏ]
ოჼ oⁿ ოჼ oⁿ ოჼ Õ õ о̃ о̃ IPA: [õ]
Ō̃ ō̃ IPA: [õː]
p P̣ p̣ пӀ пӀ IPA: [pʼ]
ž ž Ž ž ж ж IPA: [ʒ]
r r r R r р р IPA: [ɾ]
რʻ რʻ IPA: [ɾ̥]
s s s S s с с IPA: [s]
სს ss სჾ sჾ სჾ sჾ сс сс IPA: [sː]
t Ṭ ṭ тӀ тӀ IPA: [tʼ]
ტტ ṭṭ ტჾ ṭჾ ტჾ ṭჾ тӀтӀ тӀтӀ IPA: [tʼː]
u u u უ, U u, u у у IPA: [u]
Ū ū ӯ IPA: [uː]
ŭ ŭ Ǔ ǔ, û у͏̆ у͏̆ IPA: [ŭ]
უჼ uⁿ უჼ uⁿ უჼ, უჼ Ũ ũ, Ũ ũ у̃ у̃ IPA: [ũ]
p p P p п п IPA: [pʰ]
k k K k к к IPA: [kʰ]
ɣ ɣ Ɣ ɣ гӀ гӀ IPA: [ɣ]
q Q̣ q̣ къ къ IPA: [qʼ]
ყყ q̣q̣ ყჾ q̣ჾ ყჾ q̣ჾ къкъ къкъ IPA: [qʼː]
š š Š š ш ш IPA: [ʃ]
შჾ šჾ IPA: [ʃː]
č č Č č ч ч IPA: [t͡ʃʰ]
c c c C c ц ц IPA: [t͡sʰ]
ʒ ʒ ʒ Ʒ ʒ дз дз IPA: [d͡z]
C̣ c̣ цӀ цӀ IPA: [t͡sʼ]
c̣̔ č̣ č̣ Č̣ č̣ чӀ чӀ IPA: [t͡ʃʼ]
x x x X x х х IPA: [x]
ხხ xx ხჾ xჾ ხჾ xჾ хх хх IPA: [xː]
q q q Q q кх кх IPA: [qʰ]
ჴჴ qq ჴჾ qჾ ჴჾ qჾ ккх кхкх IPA: [qː]
ʒ̔ ǯ ǯ Ǯ ǯ дж дж IPA: [d͡ʒ]
h h H h хӀ хӀ IPA: [h]
ჰჾ hჾ ჰ⁊[citation needed] h⁊[citation needed] ჰ⁊ H⁊ h⁊/Ⱨ ⱨ хь хь IPA: [ħ]
Ӏъ Ӏъ IPA: [ʡ]
ʼ ʻ ʻ ʻ ჺ/ع ʻ Ӏ Ӏ IPA: [ʕ]
ʼ ʼ ʼ ʼ ʼ ъ IPA: [ʔ]
ф IPA: [f]
w IPA: [w]


The first grammar of Bats, Über die Thusch-Sprache, was compiled by the German orientalist Anton Schiefner (1817–1879), making it into the first grammar of an indigenous Caucasian language based on sound scientific principles.[7]

Noun classes[edit]

Traditional analyses posit that Bats has eight noun classes, the highest number among the Northeast Caucasian languages; however, a more recent analysis gives only five classes.[5] This analysis (not unlike analyses of Lak) yields the grouping shown below:

Label Singular Plural Description Members
M v b male humans
  • mar "husband"
  • ʕuv "shepherd"
  • voħ "son"
F j d female humans
  • nan "mother"
  • pstʼu "wife"
  • joħ "daughter"
D d d various
  • bader "child"
  • kʼuit’ĭ "cat"
  • dokʼ "heart"
  • ditx "meat"
Bd b d animals
  • carkʼ "tooth"
  • maiqĭ "bread"
  • qʼar "rain"
J j j various
  • pħu "dog"
  • ča "bear"
  • matx "sun"
*Bd/J b j body parts (15 nouns)
  • bak "fist"
  • bʕarkʼ "eye"
  • čʼqʼempʼŏ "throat"
*D/J d j body parts (4 nouns)
  • batʼr "lip"
  • larkʼ "ear"
  • tʼotʼ "hand"
  • čʼamaǧ "cheek"
*B/B b b only 3 nouns
  • borag "knit slipper"
  • čekam "boot"
  • kakam "autumn wool"

Under this analysis, the additional three classes are examples of inquorate gender, where the number of items displaying this behavior are insufficient to constitute an independent grouping. Furthermore, they can be explained as inflecting one class in the singular, and another in the plural, e.g. the B/B group agrees as if it belonged to the Bd class in the singular but the male human class in the plural.

Noun cases[edit]

Batsbi makes use of nine noun cases total. In the majority of nouns, the ergative and instrumental cases have a common form.

Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative nekʼ nekʼi cokʼal cokʼli
Genitive nekʼen nekʼan cokʼlen cokʼlan
Dative nekʼen nekʼin cokʼlen cokʼlin
Ergative/Instrumental nekʼev nekʼiv cokʼlev cokʼliv
Contacting nek’ex nekʼax cokʼlex cokʼlax
Allative nekʼegŏ nekʼigŏ cokʼlegŏ cokʼligŏ
Adverbial nekʼeǧ nekʼiǧ cokʼleǧ cokʼliǧ
Comitative nekʼcin, nekʼecin nekʼicin cokʼlecin cokʼlicin


Like most of its relatives, Bats' numerals are vigesimal, using 20 as a common base. This is mainly evident in the construction of higher decads, so:

40 (šauztʼqʼ) is formed from 2  ×  20
200 (icʼatʼqʼ) formed from is 10  ×  20[5]

When modifying nominals, the numeral precedes the noun it modifies.

Basic numbers
1 cħa 11 cħajtʼː 1+10
2 ši 12 šiitʼː 2+10
3 qo 13 qoitʼː 3+10
4 Dʕivʔ 14 Dʕevajtʼː 4+10
5 pxi 15 pxiitʼː 5+10
6 jetx 16 jetxajtʼː 6+10
7 vorɬ 17 vorɬajtʼː 7+10
8 barɬ 18 barɬajtʼː 8+10
9 isː 19 tʼqʼexc’ 20–1
10 itʼː 20 tʼqʼa
Higher decads
21 tʼqʼacħa 20+1
22 tʼqʼaš 20+2
30 tʼqʼaitʼː 20+10
31 tʼqʼacħaitʼː (20+1)+10
32 tʼqʼašiitʼː (20+2)+10
40 šauztʼqʼ 2×20
50 šauztʼqʼaitʼː (2×20)+10
60 qouztʼqʼ 3×20
70 qouztʼqʼaitʼː (3×20)+10
80 Dʕe(v)uztʼqʼ 4×20
90 Dʕe(v)uztʼqʼaitʼː (4×20)+10
100 pxauztʼqʼ 5×20
120 jexcʼatʼqʼ from jetxcʼatʼqʼ 6x20
160 barɬcʼatʼqʼ 8×20
200 icʼatʼqʼ from itʼːcʼatʼqʼ 10x20
1000 atas from Georgian

In Bats, as in its closest relatives Chechen and Ingush, the number four (Dʕivʔ) begins with a noun-class marker, represented by D (by default, or another capital letter for the other classes). This marker will agree in class with the class of the nominal which the number modifies, even if that nominal is not overtly expressed and is only apparent through pragmatic or discursive context, as in Vʕivʔev (four (males)). This is seen in the word 'four' itself as well as its derivatives.


Bats has explicit inflections for agentivity of a verb; it makes a distinction between:

as woʒe (I fell down through no fault of my own)
so woʒe (I fell down and it was my own fault)


  1. ^ "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in danger". UNESCO. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  2. ^ "Batsbi alphabet, pronunciation and language". Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  3. ^ HG1994[full citation needed]
  4. ^ Hauk, Bryn; Hakim, Jacob (Summer 2019). "Acoustic properties of singleton and geminate ejectives in Tsova-Tush" (PDF). ICPhS 2019 Conference Proceedings.
  5. ^ a b c Holisky, Dee Ann and Gagua, Rusudan, 1994. "Tsova-Tush (Batsbi)", in The indigenous languages of the Caucasus Vol 4, Rieks Smeets, editor. Caravan Books, pp. 147-212
  6. ^ Schiefner, Anton (1856). Versuch über die Thusch-Sprache oder die khistische Mundart in Thuschetien. St. Petersburg.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ Kevin Tuite (2007). The rise and fall and revival of the Ibero-Caucasian hypothesis, pp. 7-8. Historiographia Linguistica, 35 #1.

External links[edit]