Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Гьази-Кьумукь - Lak, rare language of Dagestan

I don´t know about you, but I love looking at maps. Ever since I was a child one of my favorite activities was looking at globes. The image above is a linguistic map of North East Caucasian Languages they comprise a language family spoken in Russian, Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and northern Azebaijan.

A little background information on this war torn region. Azerbaijan is rich in oil and gas. The Russians want to control the pipe lines that run from Azerbaijan to the Black Sea. This region provides oil to much of Western Europe. It is pretty easy to understand the situation just by looking at this map. But, this blog is about languages not about politics. So lets hop back to the main point.

The people of Dagestan speak a rare languages. Languges of Dagestan are: Agul, Avar, Dargwa, Lak, Lexgin, Rutul, Tabasaran, and Tsakhur. One of those rare languages,  Lak, is spoken only by 160,000 people. The current Lak alphabet is the Cyrillic alphabet. What is interesting about the Lak language, is that up until the nineteen twenties, Lak used the Arabic alphabet, then it was written in the Latin alphabet and now it is written in the Cyrillic alphabet. This means that a person born during WWI, had to learn three different alphabets to write their own language.

Amazing. That my friends, is all about politics and religion.

One person referred to this region as...¨Nobody-gives-a-fucki-Stan.¨ know who you are! Naughty, naughty, naughty!

One of the other rare languages of Dagestan is Aghul. Twenty eight thousand people speak Aghul, most of them live in Dagestan.The language contrasts voiced and voiceless pharyngeal fricatives with voiceless epiglottal stops and fricatives. Fricative sounds are produced by constricting air flow through a narrow channel. The place of articulation is the pharyngeal, which basically means the root of the tongue against the back of the throat. 

Avar Language, ¨language of the mountains,¨ is another official language of Dagestan. It is spoken by over one million people worldwide. Avar also uses the Cyrillic Alphabet. 

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