Annotated Swadesh wordlists for the Nakh group (North Caucasian family).

Languages included: Chechen [nah-che], Ingush [nah-ing], Batsbi (Bats) [nah-bcb].
Reconstruction: Proto-Nakh reconstruction available.

Data sources.

Matsiyev 1961 = Мациев, А. Г. Чеченско-русский словарь [A. G. Matsiyev. Chechen-Russian Dictionary]. Государственное издательство иностранных и национальных словарей: Москва. // (Large dictionary (20,000 entries) of the literary Chechen language.)
Karasayev & Matsiyev 1978 = Карасаев, А. Т.; Мациев, А. Г. Русско-чеченский словарь [A. T. Karasayev; A. G. Matsiyev. Russian-Chechen Dictionary]. Издательство "Русский язык": Москва. // (Large dictionary (40,000 entries) of the literary Chechen language.)

Ozdoyev et al. 1962 = Оздоев, И. А.; Мациев, А. Г.; Джамалханов, З. Д. Ингушско-чеченско-русский словарь [I. A. Ozdoyev; A. G. Matsiyev; Z. D. Dzhamalkhanov. Ingush-Chechen-Russian Dictionary]. Грозный: Чечено-Ингушское книжное издательство. // A brief, but informative, trilingual dictionary of the literary Nakh languages.
Ozdoyev 1980 = Оздоев, И. А. Русско-ингушский словарь. Под редакцией Ф. Г. Оздоевой и А. С. Куркиева [I. A. Ozdoyev. Russian-Ingush Dictionary]. Москва: Издательство "Русский язык". // Large dictionary (40,000 entries) of the literary Ingush language.
Kurkiyev 2005 = Куркиев, А. С. Ингушско-русский словарь [A. S. Kurkiyev. Ingush-Russian Dictionary]. Магас: Издательство "Сердало". // One of the newer dictionaries of the Ingush language. Used mostly as an auxiliary source in dubious and debatable cases.

Kadagidze 1984 = Кадагидзе, Давид; Кадагидзе, Нико. Цова-тушинско-грузинско-русский словарь [Kadagidze, David & Niko. Tsova-Tush-Georgian-Russian Dictionary]. Тбилиси: Издательство "Мецниереба". // A large trilingual dictionary, the major source of lexical information on Batsbi.
Desheriyev 1953 = Дешериев, Ю. Д. Бацбийский язык [Desheriyev, Yu. The Batsbi Language]. Москва-Ленинград. // A detailed description of the phonology and grammar of Batsbi; includes selected lists of nominal and verbal items and examples of texts.

NCED = Starostin, Sergei A.; Nikolayev, Sergei L. A North Caucasian Etymological Dictionary. Moscow: Asterisk Publishers, 1994. Reprint in 3 vols.: Ann Arbor: Caravan Books, 2007. // Monumental etymological dictionary of the North Caucasian (Nakh-Daghestanian, a.k.a. Northeast Caucasian + Abkhaz-Adyghe, a.k.a. Northwest Caucasian) language family. In addition to approximately 2000 roots, reliably or tentatively reconstructed for Proto-North Caucasian, also provides intermediate reconstructions for the protolanguages of the daughter branches: Nakh, Avar-Andian, Tsezian, Dargwa, Lezghian, Abkhaz-Adyghe. Tables of correspondences and detailed notes are given in the introduction, available online at All etymologies also available online on the StarLing database server, at
NED = Starostin, Sergei A.; Nikolayev, Sergei L. Nakh Etymological Database. // Computerized version of the Proto-Nakh corpus, available at Includes some Proto-Nakh etymologies (mostly basic lexicon items) that have not been included in [NCED] due to their lack of external cognates in other branches of North Caucasian. Only numbers of etymologies are referenced, since the source lacks pagination.
Imnayshvili 1977 = Имнайшвили, Д. С. Историко-сравнительный анализ фонетики нахских языков [D. S. Imnayshvili. A Historical-Comparative Analysis of the Phonetics of the Nakh Languages]. Тбилиси: Издательство "Мецниереба". // Detailed comparative analysis of the synchronic systems and diachronic developments of the phonetic and phonological systems of the Nakh language group. Includes a large amount of unique dialectal data, making the work a primary source on Nakh reconstruction. Does not, however, contain the author's own version of the reconstructed Proto-Nakh phonological system.

Notes on transcription:
Chechen and Ingush data are given in UTS variants as well as official Cyrillic orthography. Batsbi data are given only in their UTS variants, since the language has no official orthography. Transliteration from Cyrillic characters for all three languages (Batsbi is also sometimes transcribed in Cyrillic, e. g. in [Desheriyev 1953]) is as follows:

а a
аь ä
е e
и i
о o
оь ö
оа ɔ
у u
уь ü
п p
б b
ф f
в w
м m
т t
д d
р r
л l
лъ ɬ
й y
ц c
дз ʒ
с s
з z
ч č
дж ǯ
чI čʼ
ш š
ж ž
к k
г g
х x
гI ɣ
кх q
ʼ ʔ
I ʕ
хь ħ
хI h

It should be noted that usually, the back fricatives х (x), гI (ɣ) are realized phonetically as uvular rather than velar fricatives (i. e. χ and ʁ). However, since there is never any phonological contrast between uvular and velar fricatives in Nakh, nor is any such opposition reconstructible for the Proto-Nakh level, we transliterate them with the traditionally less "marked" velar fricative symbols, to indicate the lack of such an opposition.

Reconstruction notes: The only systematic published reconstruction of the Proto-Nakh phonological system and etymological corpus belongs to Sergei Nikolayev, although the reconstruction acknowledges its serious debt to [Imnayshvili 1977]. It was included in [NCED] and published electronically (as [NED]) on the StarLing database server. For the purposes of the reconstruction of the Swadesh wordlist for Proto-Nakh, only a few minor modifications to Nikolayev's reconstructions and etymologies have been proposed in the current proto-list by G. Starostin.
The basic table of consonantal correspondences for Nakh languages, proposed in [NCED: 92], is reproduced below for convenience. Transcription has been modified as per UTS standards. In [NCED], the slash sign stands for "understandable allophonic variation", the tilde sign denotes a "not well understood split of reflexation"; this marking has been retained in the table. Seriously questionable phonemes have been italicized (see notes below):

Proto-Nakh Batsbi Chechen Ingush
*p p p p
*b b b-, -0- ~ -w- b-, -0- ~ -w-
*pʼ pʼ-, -b- pʼ-, -b-
*f w (~ h, ʔ) h/w f
*w w w-, -0- ~ -w- w-, -0- ~ -w-
*m m m m
*t t t t
*d d d-, -0- ~ -y- d-, -0- ~ -y-
*tʼ tʼ-, -d- tʼ-, -d-
*r r r r
*n n, -(V̄)0 n-, -(V̄)0 n-, -(V̄)0
*c c c c
ʒ-, -z- z z
*cʼ cʼ-, -z- cʼ-, -z-
*s s s s
č č č
ǯ-, -ž- ž ž
*čʼ čʼ čʼ-, -ž- čʼ-, -ž-
š š š
*y y y y
ɬ l l
ɬ l l
*l l l l
*k k k k
*kʸ k č k
*g g g-, -0- ~ -y- g-, -0- ~ -y-
*gʸ g ž ž
*kʼ kʼ-, -g- kʼ-, -g-
*kʼʸ čʼ-, ž kʼ-, -ž-
*q q q q
*x (= *χ) x (= χ) x (= χ) x (= χ)
*ɣ (= *ʁ) ɣ (= ʁ) ɣ (= ʁ) ɣ (= ʁ)
ʔ ʔ ʔ
*h h ~ ʔ h h/v
ʕ ʔ ʔ
ʕ ʕ ʕ
ħ ħ ħ
ʔ ʔ ʕ

Notes: 1) The voiced lateral affricate (?) has been reconstructed for Proto-Nakh only on the evidence of somewhat conflicting variation between ɬ and l in some of the sources on Batsbi. This issue needs additional investigation based on careful fieldwork.
2) The six-laryngeal system, reconstructed for Proto-Nakh, may be slightly superfluous. Existing correspondences show that at least 5 distinct phonemes have to be set up for Proto-Nakh to account for the complex reflexation (no modern language distinguishes more than 4), but the need of a sixth one is debatable.
3) The palatal-velar series *kʸ, *gʸ, *kʼʸ, reconstructed on the basis of occasional palatalization of velars in Vainakh languages (Chechen, Ingush), is ultra-rare and should rather be reinterpreted in terms of positional change, conditioned by certain vocalic contexts. This, however, has no bearing on the reconstruction of the Swadesh wordlist, since these hypothetical phonemes are not encountered in any of the particular etyma on this list in Proto-Nakh.

Proto-Nakh vocalism is reconstructed as a simple five-vowel system (*i, *e, *a, *o, *u) with the additional feature of vowel length also being of phonological value. However, the actual vowel correspondences between Nakh languages are quite complex; this is caused by various processes of "umlautization", i. e. vowels of the second syllable influencing the "coloring" of vowels in the first syllable. For a full description of these processes as well as secondary processes related to Proto-Nakh Ablaut (vowel gradation in verbal and nominal roots), please consult [NCED: 96-102], as well as notes on particular reconstructions in our database.

Database compiled and annotated by: G. Starostin (last revision: October 2011).