Abkhaz is a Northwest Caucasian language spoken mainly in Abkhazia, an autonomous republic in Georgia. There are also Abkhaz speakers in the Republic of Adjara in Georgia, and in Turkey, Russia, Syria, Iraq and Jordan. In 2015 there were about 190,110 speakers of Abkhaz, including 129,000 in Georgia, and 44,000 in Turkey. According to the 2010 census, there were 6,786 Abkhaz speakers in Russia.
Abkhaz is also known as Abkhazian or Abxazo. Dialects include Abzhywa or Abzhui, which is spoken in the Caucasus; Bzyb or Bzyp, which is spoken in the Caucasus and Turkey; and Sadz, which is spoken in Turkey. The literary language is based on the Abzhywa dialect. Abkhaz is related to Abaza, Adyghe, Kabardian and Ubykh.
Abkhaz was first documented in the 17th century by Evliya Çelebi, a Turkish traveller who used the Arabic script. In 1862 Baron Peter von Uslar, a Russian soldier-linguist, devised a way of writing Abkhaz with the Cyrillic alphabet based on the Bzyp dialect. In the 1920s a way of writing Abkhaz with the Latin alphabet was devised by Nikolai Marr, a Russian/Georgian linguist, and used between 1926 and 1928. Abkhaz was written with a version of the Georgian alphabet between 1938 and 1953.
The current Cyrillic-based system, which has been in use since 1954, is considered somewhat cumbersome with its 14 extra letters for consonants and its inconsistencies. Recently there have been suggestions that a new Latin-based spelling system should be created.
The first novel in Abkhaz was written by Dârmit' Gulia (1874-1960), who is regarded as the Father of Abkhaz Literature. He also founded the first Abkhaz newspaper, wrote poety, plays, translations, historical and ethnographical writings and lectured on Abkhaz at Tbilisi University.
The transliteration system used in the alphabet charts and for the sample text is the 1995 ISO 9 system. Other transliteration systems are available.
Hear Abkhaz letters and words
Дарбанзаалак ауаҩы дшоуп ихы дақәиҭны. Ауаа зегь зинлеи патулеи еиҟароуп. Урҭ ирымоуп ахшыҩи аламыси, дара дарагь аешьеи аешьеи реиԥш еизыҟазароуп.
Dаrbаnzааlаk аuаòy dšoup ihy dаķãiţny. Auаа zegʹ zinlei pаtulei eik̄аroup. Urţ irymoup аhšyòi аlаmysi, dаrа dаrаgʹ аešʹei аešʹei reipš eizyk̄аzаroup.
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.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about Abkhaz language and people
Information about Abkhazia and Abkhaz
Online Abkhazian lessons
Online Abkhaz dictionary
Free Abkhaz fonts
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