Learn Chechen language
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Carte de Tchétchénie
Par sa situation géographique unique (hautes montagnes situées entre la mer Noire et la mer Caspienne), le Caucase est connu pour son nombre impressionnant de langues. Ces dernières n'ont d'ailleurs souvent aucun lien avec les langues sémitiques, turques ou indo-européennes.
A language of the North East Caucasus spoken in Chechnya by around 2 million speakers, Chechen is in the Waynakh language family.
Chechen is one of them and studying it will introduce you to a language that is both rich and complex. Knowledge of the Chechen language will allow you a unique foray into the fascinating imagination of this mountain people influenced by their religion and traditions.
Chechen is very similar to the Ingush language, spoken in the neighboring republic.
Chechen is written with the Cyrillic alphabet to which some additions have been made to represent all the sounds specific to the language.
Chechen has 8 cases (declination). The principle of declension states that the ending of a word changes in relation to its function in the sentence. In other words, the word "house" will change its ending if we say "in the house", "coming from the house" or "towards the house".
For Europeans, the Chechen language (sometimes known as Chechen-Ingush for its resemblance to the language spoken in the neighboring republic) has many unusual characteristics. Learning Chechen is therefore facilitated when students are introduced to the main characteristics of the grammar and structure of this Caucasian language. Here is our dossier on Chechen.
There are around 3 million speakers who speak the Chechen language; The vast majority of them are Chechens.
Chechen language grammar
Cases in Chechen
Like many other languages, Chechen "also Ingush" is a declension language. This means that the ending of a word changes in relation to its function in the sentence.
In English, the only change that undergoes a word is to note its plural character. We then add an "s". In Chechen, the situation is more complex. Take the word "house - хӏусам " as it is found in the dictionary. The basic form is called nominative, or subject. On the other hand, if we say, "I am IN the house", the Chechens will say "house" in another way whereas to say, "I am coming FROM the house" the word "house" will be said even differently.
The Chechen language has 6 functions (or cases). Some languages like Hungarian or Finnish have 16 and 21, giving them a fascinating complexity. The 6 cases of Chechen are: absolute (or nominative) , ergative , genitive , dative , instrumental, comparative and locative . The locative in Chechen has the particularity of being used in three different ways: the locative is useful to describe where an action or a thing is located. The allative answers the question "to where?" and the ablative refers to the point of origin of a thing or an action.
The presence of "class" is not the appange of the languages of the Caucasus. They are also found in some African languages such as Wolof . Thus, the Chechen (just like the Ingush) lists all of its names in different classes. Each of the classes depends only on the verb of the sentence. but of the verb. Only verbs beginning with a vowel have the gender index. Verbs starting with a consonant will not see this rule. The languages of the region generally have class marks. On the other hand, the Chechen, just like the Ingush has only 6.
Writing in Chechen
Chechen writing, until the 20th century was without writing. This was also the case for all the languages of the Caucasus except Georgian and Armenian. A linguist by the name of Baron Pyotr Karlovich Uslar (1816 - 1875) then attempted to create an alphabet for mountain peoples. Despite all his hard work, his success was mixed. On the other hand, the languages of the Caucasus then passed through 3 successive alphabets. The Arabic alphabet, then Latin script then Cyrillic script.
It was in 1918 that the Arabic alphabet (called "adjam") was introduced. We quickly noticed its insufficient to represent all the sounds of the Chechen language.
Chechen language family
Chechen (nokhchiyn mott in Chechen) is in the Caucasian language family which has two branches: Western (Abkhazia-Adyghe languages) and Eastern (Nakh-Dagestani languages) languages. The Chechen language belongs to the Nakh languages. The current representatives of the Nakh languages are Chechen, Ingush and Batsbiet (very few people represent this nation and their official religion is Christianity, while Chechens and Ingush are Muslims).
In Chechnya, the people live with an active billinguisime. This means that people speak to each other in Russian and Chechen in the same sentence, passing from one to the other without even realizing it. Knowledge of the Chechen language nevertheless allows an incursion into the culture of this mountain people.
The Caucasian languages to which Chechen (and Ingush) belongs are divided into two sub-families: the northern and southern languages.
The northern family is divided into two groups:
1. Chechenolezghian languages (also known as Northeast Caucasian languages). Included in this group are Central Caucasian languages such as Chechen, Ingush and Bat, the latter being spoken in Tushetia (თუშეთი) province in Georgia. There are also various Dagestan language groups such as Avar, Andi, Lak, Dargwa, Artchi (spoken by about 1000 people in a village in the radius of Tcharod). We also find in this family, several languages of southern Dagestan such as Küri, Lezghien, Agoul, Tabassaran, Budukh, Jek, Khinagoul, Routoul and Takhour. Finally, we also find languages of South Dagestan such as Udi (+ - 5000 speakers) and Hinaluk.
2. The Abasgokerkel languages (also known as Western Caucasic languages). This group of languages includes Adyghé, (Circassian), Kabard, Circassian and Abkhaz.
The southern family is particularly homogeneous. The languages of this group are spoken in the south of the Caucasus, along the Black Sea as well as in the high valleys of the Caucasus. Phonetically, they are much simpler than the languages of the northern family. This group includes 4 Kartvelian languages (named after "Georgian"): Georgian, Mingrelian, Laz and Svane.