Udi language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
удин муз, udin muz[needs IPA]
Native toAzerbaijan, Russia, Georgia
RegionAzerbaijan (Qabala and Oguz), Russia (North Caucasus), Georgia (Kvareli), and Armenia (Tavush)
EthnicityUdi people
Native speakers
3,800 in Azerbaijan (2011)[1]
2,270 in Russia (2010), 90 in Georgia (2015)[1]
Early form
Language codes
ISO 639-3udi
Udi is classified as Severely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
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.

The Udi language, spoken by the Udi people, is a member of the Lezgic branch of the Northeast Caucasian language family.[2] It is believed an earlier form of it was the main language of Caucasian Albania, which stretched from south Dagestan to current day Azerbaijan.[3] The Old Udi language is also called the Caucasian Albanian language[4] and possibly corresponds to the "Gargarian" language identified by medieval Armenian historians.[3] Modern Udi is known simply as Udi.

The language is spoken by about 4,000 people in the village of Nij, Azerbaijan, in Qabala District, in Oghuz District, as well as in parts of North Caucasus in Russia. It is also spoken by ethnic Udis living in the villages of Debetavan, Bagratashen, Ptghavan, and Haghtanak in Tavush Province of northeastern Armenia, and in the village of Zinobiani (former Oktomberi) in the Qvareli Municipality of the Kakheti province of Georgia.

Udi is endangered,[5] classified as "severely endangered" by UNESCO's Red Book of Endangered Languages.[6]


The Udi language can most appropriately be broken up into five historical stages:[7]

Early Udi around 2000 BC – 300 AD
Old Udi 300–900
Middle Udi 900–1800
Early Modern Udi 1800–1920
Modern Udi 1920–present

Soon after the year 700, the Old Udi language had probably ceased to be used for any purpose other than as the liturgical language of the Church of Caucasian Albania.[8]

Old Udi was spoken from Tavush province and eastern Artsakh in the west to the city of Qəbələ in the east, an area centered around Utik province and the city of Partaw (now Barda).[9]


Old Udi was an ergative–absolutive language.[10]


Udi is agglutinating with a tendency towards being fusional. Udi affixes are mostly suffixes or infixes, but there are a few prefixes. Old Udi used mostly suffixes.[2] Most affixes are restricted to specific parts of speech. Some affixes behave as clitics. The word order is SOV.[11]

Udi does not have gender, but has declension classes.[12] Old Udi, however, did reflect grammatical gender within anaphoric pronouns.[13]



Vowels of Udi[14]
Front Central Back
Close i (y) u
Mid ɛ ɛˤ (œ) ə ɔ ɔˤ
Open (æ) ɑ ɑˤ


Consonant phonemes of Udi[15]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
lenis fortis
Nasal m n
Plosive voiced b d ɡ
voiceless p t k q
Affricate voiced d͡z d͡ʒ d͡ʒː
voiceless t͡s t͡ʃ t͡ʃː
ejective t͡sʼ t͡ʃʼ t͡ʃːʼ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ ʃː x h
voiced v z ʒ ʒː ɣ
Trill r
Approximant l j

Old Udi, unlike modern Udi, did not have the close-mid front rounded vowel /ø/.[16] Old Udi contained an additional series of palatalized consonants.[17]


Udi Latin alphabet table from a 1934 book

The Old Udi language used the Caucasian Albanian alphabet. As evidenced by Old Udi documents discovered at Saint Catherine's Monastery in Egypt dating from the 7th century, the Old Udi language used 50 of the 52 letters identified by Armenian scholars in later centuries as having been used in Udi language texts.[16]

In the 1930s, there was an attempt by Soviet authorities to create an Udi alphabet based on the Latin alphabet, as shown in the image, but its usage ceased after a short time.

In 1974, a Udi alphabet based on the Cyrillic alphabet was compiled by V. L. Gukasyan. The alphabet in his Udi-Azerbaijani-Russian Dictionary is as follows:

А а Аъ аъ Аь аь Б б В в Г г Гъ гъ Гь гь Д д Дж дж ДжӀ джӀ
Дз дз Е е Ж ж ЖӀ жӀ З з И и Й й К к Ҝ ҝ КӀ кӀ Къ къ
Л л М м Н н О о Оь оь П п ПӀ пӀ Р р С с Т т ТӀ тӀ
У у Уь Уь Ф ф Х х Хъ хъ Ц ц Ц' ц' ЦӀ цӀ Ч ч Ч' ч' ЧӀ чӀ
Чъ чъ Ш ш ШӀ шӀ Ы ы

This alphabet was also used in the 1996 collection Nana oččal (Нана очъал).

In the mid-1990s, a new Latin-based Udi alphabet was created in Azerbaijan. A primer and two collections of works by Georgy Kechaari were published using it and it was also used for educational purposes in the village of Nic. The alphabet is as follows:[18]

A a B b C c Ç ç D d E e Ə ə F f G g Ğ ğ H h
X x I ı İ i Ҝ ҝ J j K k Q q L l M m N n O o
Ö ö P p R r S s Ş ş T t U u Ü ü V v Y y Z z
Ц ц Цı цı Eъ eъ Tı tı Əъ əъ Kъ kъ Pı pı Xъ xъ Şı şı Öъ öъ Çı çı
Çъ çъ Ć ć Jı jı Zı zı Uъ uъ Oъ oъ İъ iъ Dz dz

In 2007 in Astrakhan, Vladislav Dabakov published a collection of Udi folklore with a Latin-based alphabet as follows:

A a Ă ă Ә ә B b C c Ĉ ĉ Ç ç Ç' ç' Č č Ć ć D d
E e Ĕ ĕ F f G g Ğ ğ H h I ı İ i Ĭ ĭ J j Ĵ ĵ
K k K' k' L l M m N n O o Ö ö Ŏ ŏ P p P' p' Q q
Q' q' R r S s Ś ś S' s' Ŝ ŝ Ş ş T t T' t' U u Ü ü
Ŭ ŭ V v X x Y y Z z Ź ź

In 2013 in Russia, an Udi primer, Nanay muz (Нанай муз), was published with a Cyrillic-based alphabet, a modified version of the one used by V. L. Gukasyan in the Udi-Azerbaijani-Russian Dictionary. The alphabet is as follows:[19]

А а Аь аь Аъ аъ Б б В в Г г Гъ гъ Гь гь Д д Дз дз Дж дж
Джъ джъ Е е Ж ж Жъ жъ З з И и Иъ иъ Й й К к К' к' Къ къ
Л л М м Н н О о Оь оь Оъ оъ П п П' п' Р р С с Т т
Т' т' У у Уь уь Уъ уъ Ф ф Х х Хъ хъ Ц ц Ц' ц' Ч ч Чъ чъ
Ч' ч' Ч’ъ ч’ъ Ш ш Шъ шъ Ы ы Э э Эъ эъ Ю ю Я я

Sample text[edit]

Cyrillic Alphabet (2007)[20] Latin Alphabet (2007) English translation
Са пасч'агъэн са пасч'агъаx ч'аxпи. Есиррэакъса энэсча ич оьлкина ич к'уа энэфса шэт'а пасч'агълугъаxал зафт'эбса. Къа усэнаxо yэсир пасч'агъэн xоишънэбса mэ пасч'агъаx тэ ватанбэз иxбафт'э, барта бэз оьлкинаx тагъа фурук'аз. Sa pasç'ağen sa pasç'ağax ç'axpi. Yesirreaq'sa enesça iç ölkina iç k'ua enefsa şet'a pasç'ağluğaxal zaft'ebsa. Q'a usenaxo yesir pasç'ağen xoiŝnebsa me pasç'ağax te vatanbez ixbaft'e, barta bez ölkinax tağa furuk'az.< A king caught a king, imprisoned him and carried him to his own land, keeping in his own house. He ruled over that kingdom, too. After 20 years, the imprisoned king asked this king: I'm thinking of my homeland, allow me to go to my land and I will examine it.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Udi at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ a b Gippert & Schulze (2007), p. 208.
  3. ^ a b Gippert & Schulze (2007), p. 210.
  4. ^ Gippert & Schulze (2007), p. 201.
  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. ^ Schulze (2005).
  8. ^ Schulze (2005), p. 23.
  9. ^ Schulze (2005), p. 22.
  10. ^ Gippert & Schulze (2007), p. 206.
  11. ^ Schulze, Wolfgang (2002). "The Udi Language". Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2012-08-05 – via lrz-muenchen.de.
  12. ^ Harris (1990), p. 7.
  13. ^ Gippert & Schulze (2007), p. 202.
  14. ^ Hewitt (2004), p. 57.
  15. ^ "Consonant Systems of the North-East Caucasian Languages". TITUS Didactica.
  16. ^ a b Gippert & Schulze (2007), p. 207.
  17. ^ Gippert & Schulze (2007), pp. 201, 207.
  18. ^ Aydınov, Y. A.; Keçaari, J. A. (1996). Tıetıir (PDF). Bəkü: "Maari̇f" Nəşriyyat. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-06-30.
  19. ^ "Удинский алфавит".
  20. ^ "Udi (удин муз / udin muz)". omniglot.


  • Gippert, Jost; Schulze, Wolfgang (2007). "Some Remarks on the Caucasian Albanian Palimsest". Iran and the Caucasus. 11 (2): 208, 201–212. doi:10.1163/157338407X265441.
  • Harris, Alice C. (2006), "History in Support of Synchrony", Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, 30: 142–159, doi:10.3765/bls.v30i1.942
  • Hewitt, George (2004). Introduction to the Study of the Languages of the Caucasus. Munich: Lincom Europa. ISBN 3895867349.
  • Schulze, Wolfgang (2005). "Towards a History of Udi" (PDF). International Journal of Diachronic Linguistics: 7, 1–27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 4 July 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gippert, Jost; Schulze, Wolfgang (2023). "Caucasian Albanian and Modern Udi". In Gippert, Jost; Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (eds.). Caucasian Albania: An International Handbook. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 231–260. doi:10.1515/9783110794687-005. ISBN 9783110794687.
  • Harris, Alice C. (2002). Endoclitics and the Origins of Udi Morphosyntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924633-5.
  • Lander, Yuri; Maisak, Timur (2021). ""Other" Strategies in the Eastern Caucasus (Part I): Data from Udi". Iran and the Caucasus. 25 (3): 272–283. doi:10.1163/1573384X-20210304. S2CID 239621185.
  • Schulze, Wolfgang (2015). "Aspects of Udi-Iranian Language Contact". In Bläsing, Uwe; Arakelova, Victoria; Weinreich, Matthias (eds.). Studies on Iran and The Caucasus. Brill. pp. 317–324, 373–401.

External links[edit]