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Avar language

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Title: Avar language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hinukh people, Khwarshi language, Bezhta language, Avar–Andic languages, Khinalug language
Collection: Agglutinative Languages, Avar Language, Subject–object–verb Languages
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Avar language

Магӏарул мацӏ, Авар мацӏ
Maharul macʼ, Awar macʼ
Native to Turkey
Ethnicity Avars
Native speakers
760,000  (2010)[1]
Official status
Official language in
 Dagestan (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 av
ISO 639-2 ava
ISO 639-3 Either:
ava – Modern Avar
oav – Old Avar
Linguist list
oav Old Avar
Glottolog avar1256[2]

Avar (self-designation магӏарул мацӏ maharul macʼ [maʕarul mat͡sʼ] "language of the mountains" or Авар мацӏ awar macʼ [awar mat͡sʼ] "Avar language") is a language that belongs to the Avar–Andic group of the Northeast Caucasian family.


  • Geographic distribution 1
  • Status 2
  • Dialects 3
  • Morphology 4
  • Phonology 5
  • Writing system 6
  • Orthography 7
  • History 8
  • Samples 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Geographic distribution

It is spoken mainly in the western and southern parts of the Russian Caucasus republic of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Jordan, and the Marmara Sea region of Turkey. It is spoken by about 762,000 people worldwide.


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 groups.


There are two main dialect groups: the northern, which includes Khunzakh, Kazbek, Gunib, Gumbet and others; and the southern, which includes Andalal, Gidatl', Antsukh, Charoda, Tlyarata, Tsumada, Tsunta and others.


Avar is an agglutinative language, of SOV order.


Consonant phonemes of Avar[3]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Radical 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 v z ʒ ʁ ʢ ɦ
Trill r
Approximant l j
  • Note that the source names a radical series ″pharyngeal″ indiscriminately in all the tables, also when it includes a plosive and thus clearly isn't a true pharyngeal.

Writing system

The Avar language has been written since the 15th century, in the old Arabic alphabet known as ajam, which is still known today. 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, small Latin letter l or the digit 1.


The Avar language is usually written in the Cyrillic script. The letters of the alphabet are (with their pronunciation given below in IPA transcription):[4]

А а Б б В в Г г Гъ гъ Гь гь ГӀ гӏ Д д
/a/ /b/ /w/ /ɡ/ /ʁ/ /h/ /ʕ/ /d/
Е е Ё ё Ж ж З з И и Й й К к Къ къ
/e/, /je/ /jo/ /ʒ/ /z/ /i/ /j/ /k/ /q͡χːʼ/
Кь кь КӀ кӏ КӀкӏ кӏкӏ Кк кк Л л М м Н н О о
/t͡ɬ’/ /k’/ /kːʼ/ /kː/ /l/ /m/ /n/ /o/
П п Р р С с Т т ТӀ тӏ У у Ф ф Х х
/p/ /r/ /s/ /t/ /t’/ /u/ /f/ /χ/
Хх хх Хъ хъ Хь хь ХӀ хӏ Ц ц Цц цц ЦӀ цӏ ЦӀцӏ цӏцӏ
/q͡χː/ /x/ /ħ/ /t͡s/ /t͡s’/
Ч ч ЧӀ чӏ ЧӀчӏ чӏчӏ Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы Ь ь
/t͡ʃ/ /t͡ʃ’/ /ʃ/ /ʃː/ /ʔ/ /ɨ/
Э э Ю ю Я я
/e/ /ju/ /ja/

/t͡ɬː/ and /ɬ/ are also written ЛӀ лӏ, Лъ лъ respectively.


The literary language is based on the болмацӏ (bolmacʼ) — 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.

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.


Hello! Ворчӏами! Vorçami!
How are you doing? Щиб хӏaл бугеб? Şçib ha bugeb
How are you? Иш кин бугеб? İş kin bugeb?
What is your name? Дуда цӏар щиб? Duda tsar sçib?
How old are you? Дур чан сон бугеб? Dur çan son bugeb?
Where are you going? Mун киве ина вугев? Mun kive ina vugev?
Sorry! Тӏаса лъугьа! Tasa luga!
Where is the little boy going? Киве гьитӏинав вас унев вугев? Kive git inav vas unev vugev
The boy broke a bottle. Васас шиша бекана. Wasas şişa bekana..
They are building the road. Гьез нух бале(гьабулеб) буго. Ğez nuh bale(ğabuleb) bugo.

See also


  1. ^ a b Modern Avar at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
    Old Avar at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Avar". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Consonant Systems of the North-East Caucasian Languages on TITUS DIDACTICA
  4. ^ Omniglot on the Avar alphabet, language and pronunciation

External links

  • Avar course (in French)
  • RFE/RL North Caucasus Radio (also includes Chechen and Adyghe)
  • Avar language corpus (in English, Russian, Polish and Belarusian)
  • Avar Cyrillic-Latin text and website converter
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