Prof. George Hewitt

The syntax of complementation in Abkhaz

The syntax of complementation in Abkhaz, in Iran and the Caucasus, 9.2, 332-379, 2005. Leiden: Brill.

Abkhaz  belongs to the small North West  Caucasian family,  whose other two members are Circassian and Ubykh (extinct since 1992). Fewer than 100,000 Abkhazians are centred on the historical home-land of Abkhazia, a de facto independent state in northwest Transcau-casia since the war with Georgia in 1992-93. Here the language re-tains the literary status awarded by the early Soviets, which means that there is teaching of/in Abkhaz in initial classes in Abkhaz language schools before the shift to Russian, publication, and broadcasting, but Russian is the main lingua franca, and younger generations generally speak more/better Russian than Abkhaz, though in the villages, the situation is healthier. Roughly the same applies to the most divergent dialect, Abaza, with around 30,000 speakers and separate alphabet from standard Abkhaz, in Russia’s north Caucasian province of Ka-rachay-Cherkessia. The majority Abkhazian population, anecdotally numbering upto 500,000, has since the late 19th century been found in Turkey, where no official language teaching has taken place during the lifetime of the Republic; younger generations are more fluent in Turkish, if not exclusively so. The language must be regarded as en-dangered, certainly in Turkey and probably in the Caucasus also.

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