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(self-designation, Nakhcho), a people living in the Northern Caucasus, predominantly in the central and eastern parts of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR (Chechen make up about 50 percent of the population) and in Khasav” iurt Raion of the Dagestan ASSR. The total number of Chechen in the USSR is 755,800 (1979 census). The Chechen speak the Chechen language. Believers are Sunni Muslims.
The Chechen, like the related Ingush, are the indigenous population of the Northern Caucasus. They are mentioned in seventh-century Armenian sources, which refer to them as the Nakhchamat’ian. Originally, the Chechen lived in the mountains in individual territorial groups. In the 15th and 16th centuries they descended to the plains and into the valleys of the Terek River and its tributaries the Sunzha and Argun. Before the October Revolution of 1917, the Chechen were divided into two groups according to their place of habitation—Greater and Lesser Chechnia. Those living on the plain were primarily engaged in land cultivation, while those living in the mountains engaged in stock raising. The production of hand-crafted goods, such as felt coats, leather goods, and pottery, is also developed.
During the years of Soviet power, the culture of the Chechen has undergone a radical transformation: illiteracy has been eliminated, a writing system has been created, a national intelligentsia has emerged, and literature and other forms of art have been widely developed.
(For information about the history, economy, and culture of the Chechen, see alsoCHECHEN-INGUSH AUTONOMOUS SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC.)
REFERENCESNarody Kavkaza, vol. 1. Moscow, 1960.
Ocherki istorii Checheno-Ingushskoi ASSR, vols. 1–2. Groznyi, 1967–72.
an island in the northwestern part of the Caspian Sea, north of the Agrakhan Peninsula. The island measures 12 km in length and as much as 5 km in width. Sand spits overgrown with reeds extend from the shore into the sea.
the language of the Chechen. According to the 1970 census, there are approximately 613,000 speakers of Chechen, mainly in the central and eastern raions of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR and in the Khasav”iurt Raion of the Dagestan ASSR.
Chechen belongs to the Nakh group of the Caucasian (Ibero-Caucasian) languages. Its dialects are Ploskostnoi, Akka, Che-berloi, Melkha, Itumkala, Galanchog, and Kista. Chechen has a rich vowel system that includes dipthongs and long and mutated vowels; there are abrupt (glottalized) and pharyngeal consonants. The six nominal classes have one type of declension, and cardinal and local cases are distinguished. The verb has the categories of class, number, tense, mood, and aspect. Aspect is marked by internal inflection, as in lalla (“to drive away” [perfective]) and liella (“to drive” [imperfective]). The counting system is vigesimal. The syntax of the simple sentence is distinguished by its great variety of constructions. A writing system based on Arabic script was developed after the October Revolution; it was superseded by a Latin script in 1927. Since 1938, Chechen has used a Cyrillic alphabet.
REFERENCESIakovlev, N. F. Sintaksis chechenskogo literatumogo iazyka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1940.
Mal’sagov, D. D. Checheno-ingushskaia dialektologiia i puti razvitiia checheno-ingushskogo literatumogo (pis’mennogo) iazyka. Groznyi, 1941.
Desheriev, Iu. D. Sovremennyi chechenskii literaturnyi iazyk, part 1. Groznyi, 1960.
M. E. ALEKSEEV