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(also known as Lower Circassian, or Kiakh), the language of the Adygeians. It belongs to the Abkhazo-Adyg group of Caucasian (Iberio-Caucasian) languages. It is spoken in the Adygei Autonomous Oblast and in the Lazarevskii and Tuapse raions of the Krasnodar Krai of the RSFSR. Adygei is spoken by about 87,000 people (1959). The language has four dialects: Abadzekh, Bzhedukh, Temirgoi, and Shapsug. Literary Adygei was based on and is being developed from the Temirgoi dialect.

The phonetics of Adygei is distinguished by an abundance of consonants (as many as 66 in the dialects), but there are only two vowels—short e and y —in the primary roots. The long vowels e, i, a, o, and u are formed by syllable contraction. In the definite declension the noun declines through four cases—direct, indirect, instrumental, and translative—and through two cases, rarely three, in the indefinite declension. The Adygei verb is rich in such forms as person, number, tense, mood, and voice. A multipersonal conjugation occurs when two or several personal prefixes or markers of the subject or of the direct and indirect objects are incorporated simultaneously into the conjugated form of the verb.

Multiple predicates incorporating prefixes of person, location, direction, personal relation, and sometimes noun root typify the Adygei language. The sentence structure varies depending on whether the predicate is transitive or intransitive (the subject is accordingly in the indirect or direct case; the predicate is intransitive, with an indirect object). The relative attribute stands before the word modified, and the qualitative attribute after the word modified. The usual sentence order is subject, direct object, remaining terms, and predicate.

The vocabulary of the modern Adygei language exhibits primary roots of the open syllable type. The majority of Adygei words are formed by combining these groups. After the October Revolution a script based on the Arabic alphabet was formed; this was replaced by a Latin script in 1927 and by a Russian script in 1938.


Iakovlev, N., and D. Ashkhamaf. Grammatika adygeiskogo literaturnogo iazyka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Rogava, G. B. K voprosu o strukture imennykh osnov kategoriiakh grammatich klassov v adygeiskikh (cherkesskikh) iazykakh. Tbilisi, 1956. (Includes bibliography.)
Russko-Adygeiskii slovar’. Moscow, 1960.
References in periodicals archive ?
(8) The communities living in the northwestern Caucasus range were known collectively as chertees in Russian (or even as simply gortsy--mountain dwellers, a term used collectively for all the highland communities in the Caucasus range), adygei in their own language, and Circassian in English.