Avar language

This article is about the Avar language. For the Avar people, see Avars (Caucasus).
Магӏарул мацӏ, Авар мацӏ
Maⱨarul maⱬ, Avar maⱬ
Native to Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Turkey
Ethnicity Avars
Native speakers
760,000 (2010)[1]
Cyrillic (current)
Georgian, Arabic, Latin(historical)
Official status
Official language in
Dagestan (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 av
ISO 639-2 ava
ISO 639-3 Either:
ava  Modern Avar
oav  Old Avar
Linguist list
oav Old Avar
Glottolog avar1256[2]

Avar (self-designation Магӏарул мацӏ Maⱨarul maⱬ [maʕarul mat͡sʼ] "language of the mountains" or Авар мацӏ Avar maⱬ [awar mat͡sʼ] "Avar language") is a language that belongs to the Avar–Andic group of the Northeast Caucasian family.

Geographic distribution

It is spoken mainly in the western and southern parts of the Russian Caucasus republic of Dagestan, and the Balaken, Zaqatala regions of north-western Azerbaijan.[1] Some Avars live in other regions of Russia. There are also small communities of speakers living in the Russian republics of Chechnya and Kalmykia; in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Jordan, and the Marmara Sea region of Turkey. It is spoken by about 762,000 people worldwide. UNESCO classifies Avar as vulnerable to extinction.[3]


It is one of six literary languages of Dagestan, where it is spoken not only by the Avar, but also serves as the language of communication between different ethnic groups.


There are two main dialect groups: the northern, which includes Khunzakh, Kazbek, Gunib, Gumbet and others; and the southern, which includes Andalal, Gidatl', Antsukh, Charoda, Tlyarata, Tsumada, Tsunta and others.


Avar is an agglutinative language, of SOV order.

Adverbs do not inflect, outside of inflection for noun class in some adverbs of place: e.g. the /b/ in /ʒani-b/ "inside" and /t͡se-b-e/ "in front". Adverbs of place also distinguish locative, allative, and ablative forms suffixally, such as /ʒani-b/ "inside", /ʒani-b-e/ "to the inside", and /ʒani-sa/ "from the inside". /-go/ is an emphatic suffix taken by underived adjectives.


Consonant phonemes of Avar[4]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
central lateral
lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis
Nasal m n
Plosive voiced b d ɡ
voiceless p t k ʔ
ejective kːʼ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡sː t͡ʃ t͡ʃː t͡ɬː q͡χː
ejective t͡sʼ t͡sːʼ t͡ʃʼ t͡ʃːʼ (t͡ɬːʼ) q͡χːʼ
Fricative voiceless s ʃ ʃː ɬ ɬː x χ χː ʜ
voiced v z ʒ ʁ ʢ ɦ
Trill r
Approximant l j

There are competing analyses of the distinction transcribed in the table with the length sign ː. Length is part of the distinction, but so is articulatory strength, so they have been analyzed as fortis and lenis. The fortis affricates are long in the fricative part of the contour, e.g. [tsː] (tss), not in the stop part as in geminate affricates in languages such as Japanese and Italian [tːs] (tts). Laver (1994) analyzes e.g. t͡ɬː as a two-segment affricatefricative sequence /t͡ɬɬ/ (/tɬɬ/).[5]

Writing system

The Avar language has been written since the 15th century, in the old Georgian alphabet. From the 17th century onwards it was written in an Arabic alphabet known as ajam, which is still known today. As part of Soviet language re-education policies in 1928 the Ajam was replaced by a Latin alphabet, which in 1938 was in turn replaced by the current Cyrillic script. Essentially, it is the Russian alphabet plus one additional letter called palochka (stick, Ӏ). As that letter cannot be typed with common keyboard layouts, it is often replaced with a capital Latin letter I, small Latin letter l or the digit 1.


The Avar language is usually written in the Cyrillic script. The letters of the alphabet are (with their pronunciation given below in IPA transcription):[4][6]

А а
Б б
В в
Г г
Гъ гъ
Гь гь
ГӀ гӏ
Д д
Е е
/e/, /je/
Ё ё
Ж ж
З з
И и
Й й
К к
Къ къ
Кь кь
КӀ кӏ
КӀкӏ кӏкӏ
Кк кк
Л л
ЛӀ лӏ
Лъ лъ
Лълъ лълъ
М м
Н н
О о
П п
Р р
С с
Сс сс
Т т
ТӀ тӏ
У у
Ф ф
Х х
Хх хх
Хъ хъ
Хь хь
Хьхь хьхь
ХӀ хӏ
Ц ц
Цц цц
ЦӀ цӏ
ЦӀцӏ цӏцӏ
Ч ч
Чч чч
ЧӀ чӏ
ЧӀчӏ чӏчӏ
Ш ш
Щ щ
Ъ ъ
Ы ы
Ь ь
Э э
Ю ю
Я я


The literary language is based on the болмацӏ (bolmacʼ)—bo = "army" or "country", and macʼ = "language"—the common language used between speakers of different dialects and languages. The bolmacʼ in turn was mainly derived from the dialect of Khunzakh, the capital and cultural centre of the Avar region, with some influence from the southern dialects. Nowadays the literary language is influencing the dialects, levelling out their differences.

The most famous figure of modern Avar literature is Rasul Gamzatov (died November 3, 2003), the People's Poet of Dagestan. Translations of his works into Russian have gained him a wide audience all over the former Soviet Union.


English Avar Transliteration IPA
Hello! Ворчӏами! Vorçami! /wort͡ʃ’ami/
How are you doing? Щиб хӏaл бугеб? Şçib ha bugeb? /ʃːib ʜal bugeb/
How are you? Иш кин бугеб? İş kin bugeb? /iʃ kin bugeb/
What is your name? Дуда цӏар щиб? Duda tsar sçib? /duda t͡s’ar ʃːib/
How old are you? Дур чан сон бугеб? Dur çan son bugeb? /dur t͡ʃan son bugeb/
Where are you going? Mун киве ина вугев? Mun kive ina vugev? /mun kiwe ina wugew/
Sorry! Тӏаса лъугьа! Tasa luga! /t’asa ɬuha/
Where is the little boy going? Киве гьитӏинав вас унев вугев? Kive git inav vas unev vugev /kiwe hit’inaw was unew wugew/
The boy broke a bottle. Васас шиша бекана. Wasas şişa bekana.. /wasas ʃiʃa bekana/
They are building the road. Гьез нух бале (гьабулеб) буго. Ğez nuh bale(ğabuleb) bugo. /hez nuχ bale (habuleb) bugo/

See also


  1. 1 2 Modern Avar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Old Avar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Avar". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger". UNESCO. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  4. 1 2 Consonant Systems of the North-East Caucasian Languages on TITUS DIDACTICA
  5. Laver (1994) Principles of Phonetics p. 371.
  6. Omniglot on the Avar alphabet, language and pronunciation

External links

Avaric edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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