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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the language of the Ossetians, who constitue the basic population of the Severnaia Osetiia ASSR and Iuzhnaia Osetiia Autonomous Oblast. It is also spoken in the Kabarda-Balkar ASSR, Stavropol’ Krai, and a number of regions of the Georgian SSR. Ossetic is spoken by 432,000 persons (1970 census).

Ossetic belongs to the Indo-European language family; it has preserved many features inherited from the language of the Alani and Scythians. There are two primary dialects: Iron, the basis of the literary language, and Digor. The inhabitants of the mountain auls of Uallagkom speak a mixed dialect.

The phonology of Ossetic is characterized by seven vowels (strong and weak) and 28 consonants (including globalized consonants and the uvular q). Its grammatical structure is agglutinative (declensions) and inflectional (conjugations). Nouns have the categories of definiteness and number; there are nine cases. There are four classes of numerals: cardinals, ordinals, distributives, and fractions. Ossetic has been strongly influenced by other Caucasian languages.

The first written record in Ossetic, the Zelenchukskaia inscription (written in Greek letters), dates from 941. A writing system based on the Cyrillic alphabet was created by A. Shegren in 1844. From 1923 to 1938 the Ossetic writing system was based on the Latin alphabet. A Georgian-based script was used in Iuzhnaia Osetiia from 1938 to 1954. A writing system based on the Russian alphabet was adopted in Severnaia Osetiia in 1938 and in Iuzhnaia Osetiia in 1954.


Shegren, A. Osetinskaia grammatika, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1844.
Miller, V. F. Iazyk osetin. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962. (Translated from German.)
Akhvlediani, G. S. Sbornik izbrannykh rabot po osetinskomu iazyku, book 1. Tbilisi, 1960.
Grammatika osetinskogo iazyka, vols. 1–2. Ordzhonikidze, 1963–69.
Abaev, V. I. Osetinskii iazyk i fol’klor, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Abaev, V. I. Istoriko-etimologicheskii slovar’ osetinskogo iazyka, vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958–73.
Abaev, V. I. Russko-osetinskii slovar’. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
From the point of view of prefixation, the SAE core is constituted by German, Croatian, Romanian and Ossetic. The SAE core for prefixal-suffixal derivation lies on the territory spoken by Slavic languages.
One possible alternative to this analysis might be treating -lasen as a morphologicalized relational noun (this interpretation is proposed in Belyaev 2015 for Ossetic directive, recessive and comitative markers, which demonstrate many postpositional properties, just as the Beserman recessive and approximative do).
2010, Evolution of Case in Ossetic.--Iran and the Caucasus 14, No.
Here follow some examples (for a more comprehensive list see Zoller forthcoming): Garhwali syam karka 'woodcock', Wakhi kherk, khirk 'chicken', Burushaski qarqaamuc 'Huhn, Hahn' (with -muc < OIA mrgaci 'bird' [10265]), (25) Pashto qarya 'crow, rook', Ossetic kark 'hen', Late Avestan kahrka- (in compounds), Middle and New Persian kark 'chicken, hen', Tocharian B kranko 'chicken', etc.
Unlike what we observe in the Slavic and Kartvelian language families, finally, Ossetic is the only Iranic language hating developed this kind of derivational-like grammatical category (Edel'man 2002: 127); hence, Abaev [1965/1995: 343-354] and Edel'man [2002: 127] consider the aspectual value of preverbs, together with the Genitive-Accusative case marking on direct objects, to be a very old grammatical isogloss shared by Ossetic and Russian, which goes back to early contacts between Scythian and Eastern Slavs (7).
Among the modern Iranian languages, Ossetic is distinguished by its complex system of nominal case inflection, exemplified by the following paradigms for baex "horse" in the two major dialects, Digor (D) and Iron (I): (2) Digor pl.
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]-, Ossetic zarond) with amphikinetic accent jarant- < [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]-ont- / jurate < [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Nussbaum 1976: 18-20, etc., but Peters [1980: 193-94 n.
Today the Ossetes, the Alans' linguistic descendants, inhabit a comparatively small area in the Central Caucasus (the North Ossetic Republic--Alanija, and the (formerly autonomous) South Ossetic region of Georgia).
Abaev (CnoBapb, III: 33) accounts for Ossetic sar [sim] sarae 'woe!' [less than] *sar [sim] sard-ae [less than] *sar [sim] sar-dae [less than] *sard [sim] sar-dae [less than] *sard [sim] sard-dae, which together with Pers.
Some Notes on Herodotus IV, 71-75," comparing recent archaeological discoveries and the Ossetic Baekh faeldisyn ritual.