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Adyghe language

Adyghe language

Adyghe language (адыгaбзэ, adygabze, adəgăbză) is one of the two official languages of the Republic of Adygea in the Russian Federation, the other being Russian. It is spoken by various tribes of the Adyghe people: Abzekh, Adamey, Bzhedugh; Hatukuay, Kemirgoy, Makhosh; Natekuay, Shapsigh; Zhane, Yegerikuay, each with its own dialect. The language referred to by its speakers as Adygebze or Adəgăbză, and alternatively spelled in English as Adygean, Adygeyan or Adygei. It is also known as Circassian.

There are apparently around 128,000 speakers of the language on the native territory in Russia, almost all of them are mother-tongue speakers. In the whole world, some 300,000 speak the language. The largest Adyghe-speaking community is in Turkey, spoken by the post Russo-Caucasian war diaspora.

Adyghe belongs to the family of Northwest Caucasian languages. Kabardian is a very close relative, treated by some as a dialect of Adyghe or of an overarching Circassian language. The Ubykh, Abkhaz, and Abaza languages are also close relatives thereof.

The language was standardized after the October Revolution. Since 1938, Adyghe has used the Cyrillic alphabet. Before that, an Arabic-based alphabet was used together with the Latin.


Adyghe exhibits a large number of consonants: between fifty and sixty consonants in the various Adyghe dialects. All dialects possess a contrast between plain and labialised glottal stops; a very unusual minimal contrast, and possibly unique to the Abdzakh dialect of Adyghe, is a three-way contrast between plain, labialised and palatalised glottal stops (although palatalised glottal stop is also found in Hausa). The Black Sea dialect of Adyghe contains a highly unusual sound: a bidental fricative [h̪͆] which corresponds to the voiceless velar fricative [x] found in other varieties of Adyghe.


Adyghe, like all Northwest Caucasian languages, has a basic Subject Object Verb typology, and is characterized by an ergative construction of the sentence.


А а Б б В в Г г Гу гу Гъ гъ Гъу гъу Д д
Дж дж Джъ джъ Дз дз Дзу дзу Е е Ё ё Ж ж Жъ жъ
Жъу жъу Жь жь З з И и Й й К к Ку ку Къ къ
Къу къу КI кI КIу кIу Л л Лъ лъ ЛI лI М м Н н
О о П п ПI пI ПIу пIу Р р С с Т т ТI тI
ТIу тIу У у Ф ф Х х Хъ хъ Хъу хъу Хь хь Ц ц
ЦI цI Ч ч ЧI чI Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы Ь ь
Э э Ю ю Я я I
Note: In the table above the appearances of the letter "I" render the specific character, "palochka".

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