Khinalug language

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каьтш мицI / kätš micʼ
Pronunciation[kætʃ mit͡sʼ]
Native toAzerbaijan
Native speakers
3,000 (2007)[1]
Cyrillic script, Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3kjj
Northeast Caucasian languages.png
(in Azerbaijan)
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Khinalug (also spelled Khinalig, Khinalugi, Xinalug(h), Xinaliq or Khinalugh) is a Northeast Caucasian language spoken by about 3,000 people in the villages of Khinalug and Gülüstan, Quba in the mountains of Quba Rayon, northern Azerbaijan. It forms its own independent branch within the Northeast Caucasian language family.[2]

Khinalug is endangered,[3] and classified as "severely endangered" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.[4]


Khinalug is the language of the village Khinalug in the Quba district of Azerbaijan. It has been tentatively classified by previous researchers as a member of the Lezgian family of the Dagestani branch of Northeast Caucasian languages[5] Although Khinalug is the official language of the village, it is mostly spoken by villagers in informal circumstances, while the national language Azerbaijani is used formally for educational purposes and to communicate with non-Khinalug speakers.[5] Khinalug is considered to be a threatened language. In recent years, the road leading to the villages where it is spoken has fallen into disrepair, leaving the area mostly isolated.[6]


A Latin orthography for Khinalug was developed in 2007 by a team of linguists from Moscow State University in collaboration with local school teachers in the village. It is presented in italics on the tables below.


Labial Dental Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
Nasal [m] m [n] n
Plosive voiceless lenis [p] p [t] t [k] k
voiceless fortis [pː] pp [tː] tt [kː] kk [] qq
voiced [b] b [d] d [ɡ] g
ejective [] p' [] t' [] k'
Affricate voiceless lenis [t͡s] c [t͡ʃ] ç [k͡x] kx 3 [q͡χ] q
voiceless fortis [t͡sː] cc [t͡ʃː] çç
voiced [d͡ʒ] j
ejective [t͡sʼ] c' [t͡ʃʼ] ç' [q͡χʼ] q'
Fricative voiceless [f] f [s] s [ʃ] ş [x] kh 2 [χ] x [ħ] hh 4 [h] h
voiced [v] v [z] z [ʒ] 1 [ɣ] gh 2 [ʁ] ğ [ʕ] ʕ 4
Trill [r] r
Approximant [l] l [j] y

1 The cedilla in the orthography is in the middle of the bottom of the <z>, as is typical of Russian linguistics.

2 Kh and gh are rare.

3 Kx is very rare.

4 The pharyngeal sounds mostly appear in Arabic loanwords.


Khinalug has nine vowels and four diphthongs.

Front Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
High [i] i [y] ü [ɯ] ı [u] u
Mid [e] e [ø] ö [o] o
Low [œ] ə [a] a

Diphthongs include: [iu] [ui] [oe] [oa].


The following words were phonetically transcribed from Khinalug:[8]

Khinalug singular Khinalug plural Translation
arhaz arhazırdır pen (enclosure for livestock)
c’imir c’imirdir sparrow
izin izindir gingiva
kırab kırabırdır galoshes
mısır mısırdır rope
nek’id nek’idirdir back
t’uk’un t’uk’undur cheek
t’umbol t’umboldur prune
ustot ustoturdur pepper
ustul ustuldur table
dalıg dalιgιrdιr work
culoz culozurdur tooth
jalkan jalkandιr mane
kotuk kotukurdur tree stump
mekteb mektebirdir school (compare: maktab)
mizer mizerdir textile

Note: ı is roughly pronounced as the e in "fallen". u is roughly pronounced as the ou in "coup".


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
А А̃ Аь Б В Г Гъ ГӀ ГӀв Д Дж Дз Е Е̃ Ж З И И̃ Й К Кв Кк Кх Кхв Кхкх Къв Кь КьӀ КӀ КӀв Л Лъ М Н О О̃ Оь
а а̃ аь б в г гъ гӀ гӀв д дж дз е е̃ ж з и и̃ й к кв кк кх кхв кхкх къв кь кьӀ кӀ кӀв л лъ м н о о̃ оь
38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74
П Пв ПӀ Р С Т Тт ТӀ ТӀв ТӀтӀ У У̃ Уь Ф Х Хъ Хъв Хь ХӀ Ӏ Ӏъ Ц Цв Цц ЦӀ ЦӀв Ч Чч ЧӀ ЧӀв Ш Шв Ъ Ы Э Ә Ә̃
п пв пӀ р с т тт тӀ тӀв тӀтӀ у у̃ уь ф х хъ хъв хь хӀ Ӏ Ӏъ ц цв цц цӀ цӀв ч чч чӀ чӀв ш шв ъ ы э ә ә̃


  1. ^ Khinalug at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Family tree of Northeast Caucasian languages at Ethnologue
  3. ^ Published in: Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages. Edited by Christopher Moseley. London & New York: Routledge, 2007. 211–280.
  4. ^ UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger Archived 2009-02-22 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Clifton, J.M. (2005). "The Sociolinguistic situation of the Khinalug in Azerbaijan" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-12. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Schulze, Wolfgang (2003). "[Khinulag]". Anthropological Linguistics. 450 (4): 450.
  7. ^ a b Kodzasov, S.V., et al., 2007. Khinalug language alphabet (in: Russian).
  8. ^ Lubotsky, Alexander (2010). Van Sanskriet tot Spijkerschrift: Breinbrekers uit alle talen [From Sanskrit to Cuneiform: Brain teasers from all languages] (in Dutch). Amsterdam University Press. pp. 12, 58–59. ISBN 978-9089641793. Retrieved 30 April 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Clifton, John M.; Deckinga, Gabriela; Lucht, Laura; Mak, Janfer; Tiessen, Calvin, Authors. 2005. "The Sociolinguistic Situation of the Khinalug In Azerbaijan."
  • Desheryev, Ju. D. 1959. Grammatika xinalugskogo jazyka. Izdatel'stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR, Moscow.
  • Hewitt, George. 2004. Introduction to the Study of the Languages of the Caucasus. LINCOM, Munich. p. 29.
  • Kibrik, Aleksandr E. 1972. Fragmenty grammatiki xinalugskogo jazyka. Izdatel'stvo Moskovskogo Universiteta, Moscow.
  • Kibrik, Aleksandr E. 1994. "Khinalug". In: The Indigenous Languages of the Caucasus, vol. 4; Rieks Smeets (ed.); Caravan Books, Delmar (New York). pp. 367–406.

External links[edit]