Official language in
Distribution of the Adyghe language in Adygea, Russia (2002)
Total percentage of the population speaking Adyghe or Kabardian language in Turkey (1965)
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Destroyed or barely existing
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Adyghe ( or ; Adyghe: , romanized: Ad?gabz?, [a:da:bza]), also known as West Circassian (Adyghe: , romanized: k'ax?bz?), is a Northwest Caucasian language spoken by the western subgroups of Circassians. It is spoken mainly in Russia, as well as in Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Israel, where they settled after the Circassian genocide. It is closely related to the Kabardian (East Circassian) language, though some reject the distinction between the two languages in favor of both being dialects of a unitary Circassian language.
Since 1936, the Cyrillic script has been used to write Adyghe. Before that, an Arabic-based alphabet was used. In recent years, a new Latin script has been devised that seeks to include phonemes from all the Adyghe and Kabardian dialects, as well as other North Caucasian languages.
The language is referred to by its speakers, just like Kabardian, as Ad?gabz? or Adyghabze, and alternatively transliterated in English as Adygean, Adygeyan or Adygei. The literary language is based on the Temirgoy dialect. It is one of two official languages of the Republic of Adygea in the Russian Federation, the other being Russian.
There are around 128,000 speakers of Adyghe in Russia, almost all of them native speakers. In total, some 300,000 speak it worldwide. The largest Adyghe-speaking community is in Turkey, spoken by the post Russian-Circassian War (circa 1763-1864) diaspora; in addition to that, the Adyghe language is spoken by the Cherkesogai in Krasnodar Krai.
Adyghe belongs to the family of Northwest Caucasian languages. Kabardian (also known as East Circassian) is a very close relative, treated by some as a dialect of Adyghe or of an overarching Circassian language. Ubykh, Abkhaz and Abaza are somewhat more distantly related to Adyghe.
Adyghe exhibits a large number of consonants: between 50 and 60 consonants in the various Adyghe dialects. All dialects possess a contrast between plain and labialized glottal stops. A very unusual minimal contrast, and possibly unique to the Abzakh dialect of Adyghe, is a three-way contrast between plain, labialized and palatalized glottal stops (although a palatalized glottal stop is also found in Hausa and a labialized one is found in Tlingit). The Black Sea dialect of Adyghe contains a very uncommon sound: a bidental fricative [h], which corresponds to the voiceless velar fricative [x] found in other varieties of Adyghe.
In contrast to its large consonant inventory, Adyghe has only three phonemic vowels in a vertical vowel system.
||? ? |
||? ? |
|? ? |
||D d |
||Jzü jzü |
||Qu qu |
||O o |
||T'u t'u |
|W w/U u
||Çü çü |
|Ya ya |
|? ?||A a||? (goat), (they count)|
|? ?||B b||(fox), (a lot)|
|? ?||V v|
|? ?||G g||? (powder), (tree)|
|Gu gu||(heart), (word)|
|? ?||(spring), (summer)|
|?u ?u||(neighbor), ? (mirror)|
|? ?||D d||(bitter), ? (pretty)|
|C c||? (shirt), ? (bridge)|
|Dz dz||? (bag), ? (to throw)|
|Dzu dzu||? (rick), ? (lower rick)|
|? ?||Ye ye||? (to catch), (to look at)|
|(? ?)||(Yo yo)||(Christmas tree)|
|? ?||? ?||(mouth), (beard)|
|Jz jz||(old), (slow)|
|Jzü jzü||? (to melt), ? (star)|
|J j||? (wind), ? (shadow)|
|? ?||Z z||(straight), (steep)|
|? ?||? i||(to enter), (exit)|
|? ?||Y y||(iodine), (rich)|
|? ?||K k||(button), (team, command)|
|Ku ku||(cradle), (cart)|
|Q q||(city), ? (to come)|
|Qu qu||(ship), (mountain)|
|K' k'||(winter), (long), (tail), ? (calf)|
|K'u k'u||? (to walk), ? (strong)|
|? ?||L l||(painted), (meat)|
|Tl tl||(step), (lame)|
|L' l'||(man), (bravery)|
|? ?||M m||? (moon), ? (sheep)|
|? ?||N n||(eye), (mother)|
|? ?||O o||(that), ? (bin), ? (you), (snow), ? (rain)|
|? ?||P p||(nose), ? (dust)|
|P' p'||(bed), ? (pillow)|
|P'u p'u||? (to rise, to adopt), ? (pupil, apprentice)|
|? ?||R r||(to pour into), (to tell him)|
|? ?||S s||(i, me), (sabre)|
|? ?||T t||(grandfather), (we)|
|T' t'||(ram), ? (dirt)|
|T'u t'u||(old), (pair)|
|? ?||U u||(straighten), ? (tamp, to make smooth)|
|? ?||F f||(white), ? (to want)|
|? ?||X x||(sea, six), ? (council)|
|Xh xh||(to move), (to sow)|
|Xhu xhu||? (to happen), (circle)|
|H h||(dog), (oven)|
|? ?||Ts ts||? (rib), (hair on body)|
|Tsu tsu||(shoe), (ox)|
|Ts' ts'||(wet), (person)|
|? ?||Ç ç||? (cheerful), ? (chicken)|
|Ç' ç'||(area), (debt)|
|Çh çh||(oak), (cold)|
|? ?||? ?||(brother), (thunder)|
|u u||(envious), (come - to plural)|
|[?']||? (to do), ? (knowledge)|
|u u||(black), (greetings)|
|? ?||? ?||? (yard), ? (sour cream)|
|? ?||I ?||? (and also), (one)|
|? ?||? ?||(floor), (grandmother)|
|(? ?)||(Yu yu)||? (Joseph), ? (Jonah)|
|? ?||(Ya ya)||(theirs), ? (evil)|
|ü||(to meet), (to be near sitting), (thread)|
, , [d?z?], [k?], [q?], ?I? [k?'], ?I? [p?'], ?I? [t?'], , [t?s?], , ?I? ['], I? .
In some dialects [q], [x?], [t].
The vowels are written ⟨?⟩ [?], ⟨?⟩ [a] and ⟨?⟩ [a:].
Other letters represent diphthongs: ⟨?⟩ represents [ja:], ⟨?⟩ [j?] or [?j], ⟨?⟩ [wa] or [o], ⟨?⟩ represent [u] or [w] or [w?] and ⟨?⟩ represents [aj] or [ja].
|T?w wut?||[taw wt]||How are you?|
|I?||Su||[s'?w]||I am fine|
|?||Respublik?||[r?aspblka]||Republic||Latin (r?s + p?blicus, 'public concern')|
|Komputer||[k?ampt?ar]||Computer||Latin (com + put?re, 'to settle together')|
|?||Matematik?||[ma:t?ama:tka]||Maths||Ancient Greek ( máth?ma, 'study, knowledge')|
|Sport||[sp?art]||Sports||French (desport, 'entertainment')|
|B?raq||[b?ra:q]||Flag||Turkic (batrak, 'spear, stick')|
|I||Qart'of||[qa:rt'?af]||Potato||German (Kartoffel, 'potato')|
|Tomat||[t?ama:t]||Tomato||Nahuan (tomatl, 'tomato')|
|Wor?ndj||[warand?]||Orange||Persian ( nârang or nâranj, orange)|
|N?maz||[nama:z]||Salah (Islamic praying)||Persian (? namâz, 'Salah')|
|Qal?||[qa:la]||City||Akkadian (kalakku, 'fort')|
|Dunay||[dna:j]||Earth||Arabic (? duny?, 'Earth')|
Adyghe is taught outside Circassia in a Jordanian school for the Jordanian Adyghes, Prince Hamza Ibn Al-Hussein Secondary School in the capital Amman. This school, which was established by the Adyghe Jordanians with support from the late king Hussein of Jordan, is one of the first schools for the Adyghe communities outside Circassia. It has around 750 Jordanian Adyghe students, and one of its major goals is to preserve Adyghe among newer Adyghe generations, while also emphasising the traditions of the Adyghes.
Adyghe is spoken by Circassians in Iraq and by Circassians in Israel, where it is taught in schools in their villages. It is also spoken by many Circassians in Syria, although the majority of Syrian Circassians speak Kabardian.
There are many books written in or translated into Adyghe. An Adyghe translation of the Quran by Ishak Mashbash is available. The New Testament and many books of the Old Testament have been published in Adyghe by the Institute for Bible Translation in Moscow.
According to the UNESCO 2009 map entitled "UNESCO Map of the World's Languages in Danger", the status of the Adyghe language in 2009, along with all its dialects (Adyghe, Western Circassian tribes) and (Kabard-Cherkess, Eastern Circassian tribes), is classified as vulnerable.
? . , ? . ? ? . ? ? ? ?. ? ? ? . ? ? ?, ? ? . ? , ? ?.
W?blap'?m ?d?j Gu'?r 'a?. Ar Th?m ?d?j 'a?, a Gu'?ri Th?w ar. W?blap'?m ?ejaw a Gu'?r Th?m ?d?j 'a?. Th?m a Gu'?r zeç'?ri q?ri?xhu?. Th?m qxhu pst?wmi a?w a Gu'?m q?rim?xhu zi '?r. M?k'od?j?n s'?n a Gu'?m x?tl, a '?nri ts'?fx?m n?f?n? af?xhu?. N?f?n?r unç'm n?f?, unç'ri n?f?n?m tek'uap.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning With God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence. What has come into existence by means of him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light is shining in the darkness, but the darkness has not overpowered it.
The following texts are excerpts from the official translations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Adyghe and Kabardian, along with the original declaration in English.
|English||Adyghe||Adyghe Latin||Pronunciation||Kabardian equivalent||Kabardian Latin|
|Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 1)||?l ? (1-? ?)||Ts'?f Fuwax?m Afh Dun?yepst?w Dj?psatl (1-n?r? p?ç?ug)||[ts'?f faa:?axam a:fa?aa dnajapstaw d?apsa:? | z?na p?t?]||?l ? (1- )||Ts'?ux Xw?fax?m Tewxwa Duneypso Dj?psatl? (1-n? p?çw?)|
|All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.||?I ? ?, ? I? ? ?. ? II ?I?, ? .||Ts'?f pst?wri h?fit?w, yatl?t?nr? yafuwax?mr?k'? z?f?d?w qatlf?. Aq?lr? z?x?k' ?uaz?r? ya, z?r z?m zeqo? z?xa azfaug d?tl?w z?ft?nx? faye.||[ts'?f pstawr aftaw | ja:tanara ja:faa:?axamrak'a zafadaw qa:?f? ? a:q?lra zaxa?'?k' a:zara ja:?a | z?r z?m zaq?a? zaxa:?'a a:zfa: da?aw zaft?nxa fa:ja ?]||?I , ? ?I? ? ?I? . ? II ?I, ? ? ?.||Ts'?ux psori ?h?xwuyitu, ya ?'?h?mr? ya xw?fax?mr?k'? z?xw?d?w qatlxur. Aq?lr? z?x'?k' ?uaz?r? ya'e?i, z?r z?m z?qw z?xa?'? yauk d?utl z?xut?n xweyx.|