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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



one of the Caucasian (Iberio-Caucasian) languages which has recently become a written language and which is included in the Abkhazo-Adyg group. This language is spoken predominantly in the Abkhazian ASSR (about 65,000 speakers) and in Turkey. It is represented by two dialects—the Abzhui dialect, on which the literary language is based, and the Bzyb’ dialect. The phonetics of the Abkhaz language is characterized by a meager vocalic system (the phonemes /a/ and /a/ with broad phonetic variation) and a rich consonantal system (58 phonemes in the literary language and 65 phonemes in the Bzyb’ dialect). Stress is phonologically significant.

By morphological type, the Abkhaz language is agglutinative, with a highly developed prefix structure. Elements of polysynthesism are much in evidence. The simplicity of the noun morphology contrasts with the complexity of the verbal morphology. There are several categories common to nouns and verbs (the categories of humans and things, number, and possessiveness; common particles). There are no declensions. Postpositions are used instead of prepositions. The verbs are divided into transitive and intransitive, static and dynamic. Among the verbal categories are person (polypersonal conjugation), number version potentiality, reciprocity, conjunctivity, causitive, tense, mood, and so forth. There is a complex system of preverbs. Infinite and verbal adverb constructions functioning as subordinate clauses are widely used. Compounding of words plays an important role in the formation of words. The vocabulary exhibits Turkisms, Georgianisms, and Russianisms. The Latin script adopted in 1928 was converted in 1938 to a Georgian script and in 1954 to a Russian script.


Uslar, P. K. Etnografiia Kavkaza: Iazykoznanie. Vol. 1: Abkhazskii iazyk. Tiflis, 1887.
Marr, N. Ia. Abkhazsko-russkii slovar’. Leningrad, 1926.
Bgazhba, Kh. S. Bzybskii dialekt abkhazskogo iazyka. Tbilisi, 1964.
Lomtatidze, K. V. “Abkhazskii iazyk.” In Iazyki narodov SSSR. Vol. 4: Iberiisko-kavkazskie iazyki. Moscow, 1967.
Grammatika abkhazskogo iazyka. Sukhumi, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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