Rutul language

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мыхӀабишды чӀел
myxʼabišdy č̣el
Pronunciation[mɨxabiʃdɨ t͡ʃʼɛl]
Native toNorth Caucasus, Azerbaijan
RegionSouthern Dagestan, Russian–Azerbaijani border
Native speakers
36,400 (2010 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3rut
Caucasus-ethnic roetoelen.png
Rutul in the Caucasus

Rutul is a language spoken by the Rutuls, an ethnic group living in Dagestan (Russia) and some parts of Azerbaijan. It is spoken by 30,000 people in Dagestan (2010 census)[2] and 17,000 (no date) in Azerbaijan.[3] The word Rutul derives from the name of a Dagestani village where speakers of this language make up the majority.[4][full citation needed]

Rutul is endangered in Russia[5] and classified as "definitely endangered" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.[6]


Rutul belongs to the Lezgic group of the Northeast Caucasian language family. The Rutuls call their language myxʼabišdy čʼel.


Rutul was not a written language until the writing system for it (based on Cyrillic) was developed in 1990. A Latin alphabet was developed in 2013 based on the Shin-Shorsu dialect.[7] Speakers are often bilingual or multilingual, having a good command of the Azeri, Lezgian and/or Russian languages. There are 8 dialects and 2 subdialects of Rutul. The literary version of the language remains in the process of development. In the Rutul-populated regions of southern Russia, Rutul is taught in primary schools (grades 1 to 4).[4][full citation needed]



Vowel phonemes[8]
Front Central Back
Close i iː y ɨ ɨː u uː
Mid ɛ eː
Open æ ɑ ɑː


Consonant phonemes[8]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyn-
plain lab. plain lab. plain lab. plain lab.
Nasal m n
Plosive voiced b d ɡ ɡʷ ɢ ɢʷ
voiceless p t k q ʡ ʔ
ejective kʷʼ qʷʼ
Affricate voiced d͡z d͡ʒ d͡ʒʷ
voiceless t͡s t͡sʷ t͡ʃ t͡ʃʷ
ejective t͡sʼ t͡sʷʼ t͡ʃʼ t͡ʃʷʼ
Fricative voiceless (f) s ʃ ʃʷ x χ χʷ ħ h
voiced z (ʒ) ɣ ʁ ʁʷ ʢ
Trill r ʜ
Approximant w l j

Related languages[edit]

Among the languages of the Lezgic group, Tsakhur appears to be the closest relative of Rutul.[9][full citation needed] Other than these two, there are seven more languages in the Lezgic group, namely: Lezgian, Tabasaran, Aghul, Budukh, Kryts, Udi and Archi.

Rutul alphabet

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rutul". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  2. ^ Информационные материалы об окончательных итогах Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года
  3. ^ Rutul language at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  4. ^ a b (in Russian) ETHEO: Rutul Language
  5. ^ Published in: Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages. Edited by Christopher Moseley. London & New York: Routledge, 2007. 211–280.
  6. ^ UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger
  7. ^ Clarkson, Jonathan; Iurkova, Elena (December 2015). "Important Factors in the Development of an Orthography: Shin-Shorsu Rutul—a Case Study". SIL Forum for Language Fieldwork 2015-002. SIL International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015. Retrieved 2016-06-22.
  8. ^ a b G. X. Ibragimov. 2004. Rutul'skij Jazyk. Machacala: Maxačkala: Dagestanskij Gosudarstvennyj Pedagogičeskij Universitet.
  9. ^ (in Russian) The Tsakhur language. The ETHEO Project. Last updated 11 October 2005. Retrieved 26 December 2006

External links[edit]