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Bezhta language

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Title: Bezhta language  
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Subject: Tsezic languages, Bezhta people, Hunzib language, Hinuq language, Khinalug language
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Bezhta language

бежкьалас миц / bežƛʼalas mic
Native to Russia
Region Southern Dagestan
Native speakers
6,800  (2006–2010)[1]
Northeast Caucasian
  • Tsezic
    • Bezhta–Hunzib–Khwarshi
      • Bezhta
Language codes
ISO 639-3 kap
Glottolog bezh1248[2]

The Bezhta (or Bezheta) language (Bezhta: бежкьалас миц, bežƛʼalas mic, pronounced ), also known as Kapucha (from the name of a large village[3]), belongs to the Tsezic group of the North Caucasian language family. It is spoken by about 6,200 people in southern Dagestan, Russia[4]

Bezhta can be divided into three dialects – Bezhta Proper, Tlyadal and Khocharkhotin[4] – which are spoken in various villages in the region. Its closest linguistic relatives are Hunzib and Khwarshi.[5] Bezhta is unwritten, but various attempts have been made to develop an official orthography for the language. The Bezhta people use Avar as the literary language. The first book ever printed in Bezhta was the Gospel of Luke.[6]


Bezhta has a rich consonantal and – unlike its relatives Tsez and Avar – a relatively large vowel inventory (18 distinct vowel phonemes), compared to other languages of the same family.


Bezhta is mostly agglutinative and the vast amount of locative cases makes its case system particularly rich. The verb morphology is relatively simple, though. It is an ergative language.


Unlike Tsez, Bezhta has a decimal system with the word for twenty being an exception.

  Latin Cyrillic
1 hõs гьонс
2 qʼona къона
3 łana лъана
4 ṏqʼönä оьнкъоьнаь
5 łina лъина
6 iłna илъна
7 aƛna алIна
8 beƛna белIна
9 äčʼena аьчIена
10 acʼona ацIона
20 qona хъона
100 hõsčʼitʼ / -čʼitʼ гьонсчIитI / -чIитI
1000 hazay гьазай
  • Multiples of 10 higher than 20 are formed by adding the suffix -yig (-йиг) to the multiplier. Hence, the word for 30 is łanayig (лъанайиг).
  • Compound numbers are formed by juxtaposition, the smaller numbers following the greater ones. The number 47 is thus expressed as ṏqʼönäyig aƛna (оьнкъоьнаьйиг алIна).

Sample of the Bezhta language

This is a passage taken from the Gospel of Luke[7] written in a Cyrillic orthography based on Avar and Chechen, a Latinized transcription and one in IPA.
Гьогцо гьоллохъа нисос: Hogco holloqa nisos: [hoɡ.t͡so holː.o.qɑ ni.sos Jesus said to the followers:
Доьъа богьцалаъ вагьда̄ ниса: Dö'a bohcala' wahdā nisa: dɜʔ.ɑ boh.t͡sɑ.lɑʔ wɑh.dɑː ni.sɑ When you pray, pray like this:
«Йа̄ Або, Дибо ца̄н аьдамла̄ илагьияб бикӀзи йовала, «Yā Abo, Dibo cā̃ ädamlā ilahiyab bikʼzi yowala, jɑː ʔɑ.bo, t͡sɑ̃ː ʔa.dɑm.lɑː ʔi.lɑ.hi.jɑb bikʼzi jo.wɑ.lɑ "O Father, we pray that your name will always be kept holy,
Дибо Парчагьлъи йонкъала; Dibo Parčahłi yõqʼala; pɑr.t͡ʃɑh.ɬi jõ.qʼɑ.lɑ we pray that your kingdom will come;
Шибаб водиъ баццас баьба илол нилӀа; Šibab wodi' baccas bäba ilol niƛa; ʃi.bɑb wo.diʔ bɑt͡sː.ɑs ba.bɑ ʔ ni.tɬɑ give us the food we need for each day;
Илла мунагьла̄кьас кьодос тилӀки, судлӀо нисода илена къацӀцӀола илол кешлъи йо̄вакьас кьодос тилӀбакца. Illa munahlāƛʼas ƛʼodos tiƛki, sudƛo nisoda ilena qʼacʼcʼola ilol kešłi yōwaƛʼas ƛʼodos tiƛbakca. ʔi.lːɑ mu.nɑh.lɑːtɬʼ.ɑs tɬʼo.dos ti.tɬki, sud.tɬo ni.sɔ.dɑ ʔi.le.nɑ qʼɑt͡sʼː.o.lɑ ʔ keʃ.ɬi joː.wɑ.tɬʼɑs tɬʼo.dos ti.tɬbɑk.t͡sɑ forgive us the sins we have done, because we forgive every person that has done wrong to us.
Ми илос гьаьл бикъелална уьнхолъа̄къа.» Mi ilos häl biqʼelalna ü̃xołāqʼa.» mi ʔi.los hal bi.qʼe.lɑl.nɑ ʔɨ̃.χo.ɬɑː.qʼɑ] And don't let us be tempted."


  1. ^ Bezhta at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Bezhta". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Shirin Akiner, Islamic Peoples of the Soviet Union, 2nd ed. (KPI, Distributed by Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986: ISBN 0-7103-0188-X), p. 253.
  4. ^ a b Ethnologue entry for Bezhta
  5. ^ Schulze, Wolfgang (2009). "Languages in the Caucasus" (PDF). p. 6. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Institute for Bible Translation. "Translators' News" (PDF) (December 2000). p. 1. 
  7. ^ Gospel of Luke in Bezhta

External links

  • Margus Kolga; Igor Tõnurist; Lembit Vaba; Jüri Viikberg (1993). "The Bezhtas". The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire. 
  • The Bezhta People and Language (P.J. Hillery)
  • Bezhta Vocabulary List (from the World Loanword Database)
  • Bezhta basic lexicon at the Global Lexicostatistical Database
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