The last two are often treated as a single Atinan dialect. Speakers of different Laz dialects have trouble understanding each other, and often prefer to communicate in the local official language.
|malimberan-მალიბერან||maoropenan- მაოროფენან||p’oromt- პორომთ||p’qorot-პყოროფთ|
Today most Laz speakers live in Northeast Turkey, in a strip of land along the shore of the Black Sea: in the Pazar (Atina), Ardeşen (Art'aşeni), Çamlıhemşin (Vijadibi) and Fındıklı (Vitze) districts of Rize, and in the Arhavi (Ark'abi), Hopa (Xopa) and Borçka districts of Artvin. There are also communities in northwestern Anatolia (Akçakoca in Düzce, Sapanca in Sakarya, Karamürsel and Gölcük in Kocaeli, Bartın, and Yalova) where many immigrants settled since the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) and now also in Istanbul and Ankara. Only a few Laz live in Georgia, chiefly in Ajaria. Laz are also present in Germany where they have migrated from Turkey since the 1960s.
Laz has no official status in either Turkey or Georgia, and no written standard. It is presently used only for familiar and casual interaction; for literary, business, and other purposes, Laz speakers use their country's official language (Turkish or Georgian).
Laz is unique among the South Caucasian languages in that most of its speakers live in Turkey rather than Georgia. While the differences between the various dialects are minor, their speakers feel that their level of mutual intelligibility is low. Given that there is no common standard form of Laz, speakers of its different dialects use Turkish to communicate with each other.
Between 1930 and 1938, Zan (Laz and Mingrelian) enjoyed cultural autonomy in Georgia and was used as a literary language, but an official standard form of the tongue was never established. Since then, all attempts to create a written tradition in Zan have failed, despite the fact that most intellectuals use it as a literary language.
In Turkey, Laz has been a written language since 1984, when an alphabet based on Turkish script with Latin alphabet was created. Since then, this system has been used in most of the handful of publications that have appeared in Laz. Developed specifically for the South Caucasian languages, the Georgian alphabet is better suited to the sounds of Laz, but the fact that most of the tongue's speakers live in Turkey, where the Latin alphabet is used, has rendered the adoption of the former impossible. Nonetheless, 1991 saw the publication of a textbook called Nana-nena ('Mother tongue'), which was aimed at all Laz speakers and used both the Latin and Georgian alphabets. The first Laz-Turkish dictionary was published in 1999.
The only languages in which the Laz receive an education are Turkish (in Turkey) and Georgian (in Georgia). Virtually all the Laz are bilingual in Turkish and Laz or in Georgian and Laz. Even in villages inhabited exclusively by Laz people, it is common to hear conversations in Turkish or Georgian. Turkish has had a notable influence on the vocabulary of Laz.
Laz speakers themselves basically regard the language as a means of oral communication. The families that still speak Laz only do so among adults in informal situations, with Turkish or Georgian being used in all other contexts. This means that the younger generations fail to fully acquire the language and only gain a passive knowledge of it.
In recent times, the Laz folk musician Birol Topaloğlu has achieved a certain degree of international success with his albums Heyamo (1997, the first album ever sung entirely in the Laz language) and Aravani (2000). The Laz rock and roll musician Kazım Koyuncu performed rock and roll arrangements of Laz traditional music from 1995 until his death in 2005.
In 2004, Dr. Mehmet Bekâroğlu, the deputy chairman of Felicity Party sent a notice to the state broadcasting corporation TRT declaring that his mother tongue is Laz and demanding broadcasts in Laz. The same year, a group of Laz intellectuals issued a petition and held a meeting with TRT officials for the implementation of Laz broadcasts. However, as of 2008, these requests have been ignored by authorities.
The Laz verb is inflected with suffixes according to person and number, and also for Grammatical tense, aspect, mood, and (in some dialects) evidentiality. Up to 50 verbal prefixes are used to indicate spatial orientation/direction. Person and number suffixes provided for the subject as well as for one or two objects involved in the action, e.g. gimpulam = "I hide it from you".