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

Languages included: Abzhuwa Abkhaz [wcc-abk], Bzyb Abkhaz [wcc-bzb], Abaza [wcc-abz].

Data sources.

Abkhaz (general):
Genko 1998 = А. Н. Генко. Абхазско-русский словарь. [A. N. Genko. Abkhaz-Russian dictionary]. Сухуми: Издательство "Алашара". // A large dialectological dictionary of Abkhaz, compiled in the 1930s. Includes data both on the Abzhuwa and the Bzyb dialects.
Shakryl 1986 = К. С. Шакрыл, В. Х. Конджария. Словарь абхазского языка. [K. S. Shakryl, V. Kh. Kondzharia. Dictionary of the Abkhaz language]. Сухуми: Издательство "Алашара". // Huge defining vocabulary of Abkhaz that also includes Russian translations. Somewhat superfluous in the light of other sources, but occasionally useful in checking out complicated cases of polysemy/synonymy.

Abzhuwa Abkhaz:
Bgazhba 1964 = Русско-абхазский словарь. Под редакцией Х. С. Бгажба [Russian-Abkhaz dictionary. Ed. by Kh. S. Bgazhba]. Сухуми: Издательство "Алашара". // A large Russian-Abkhaz dictionary (appr. 16,000 entries), based on the Abzhuwa dialect.
Kaslandzia 2005 = В. А. Касландзия. Абхазско-русский словарь. [V. A. Kaslandzia. Abkhaz-Russian dictionary]. Сухум. // One of the most recent and detailed dictionaries of Abkhaz (in two volumes), based exclusively on the Abzhuwa dialect and well illustrated by examples of syntactic usage.

Bzyb Abkhaz:
Bgazhba 2006 = Х. С. Бгажба. Бзыбский диалект абхазского языка (исследование и тексты). 3-е издание [Kh. S. Bgazhba. The Bzyb dialect of Abkhaz. 3rd edition.] Сухум. // Detailed description of the specific phonetic, grammatical, and lexical features that separate the Bzyb dialect from the more well-known, but in some respects less archaic, Abzhuwa. Includes a large collection of texts from multiple old and recent sources.

Tugov 1967 = Абазинско-русский словарь. Под редакцией Тугова В. Б. [Abaza-Russian dictionary. Ed. by V. B. Tugov]. Москва: Издательство "Советская энциклопедия". // A 14,000 item dictionary; also contains a brief grammar sketch of Abaza. Based on the literary Tapanta dialect.
Zhirov & Ekba 1956 = Русско-абазинский словарь. Ответственные редакторы: Х. Д. Жиров и Н. Б. Экба. [Russian-Abaza dictionary. Ed. by Kh. D. Zhirov, N. B. Ekba]. Москва: Государственное издательство иностранных и национальных словарей. // A 30,000 item dictionary; also contains a brief grammar sketch of Abaza.
Genko 1955 = Генко, А. Н. Абазинский язык. Грамматический очерк наречия Тапанта. [A. N. Genko. The Abaza Language. A grammatical sketch of the Tapanta dialect.] Москва: Издательство Академии Наук СССР. // Detailed description of the grammar of literary Abaza (based on the Tapanta dialect).

Notes on transcription:

Most of the data are transliterated into the UTS from the standard Cyrillic orthography systems developed for West Caucasian languages (generally consistent across different languages, but with minor discrepancies depending on particularities of phonemic systems).

The standard Abkhaz alphabet (including additional symbols for Bzyb) is transliterated as follows:

Cyrillic UTS Notes
а a
б b
в v
г g
гǝ In older sources, e. g. Bgazhba 1964, frequently spelled as гу.
ӷ ʁ
ӷǝ ʁʷ
ӷь ʁʸ
д d
е e Phonologically = the equivalent of ay or ya.
ж ʐ
жǝ žʷ
жь ž
з z
зǝ ʑʷ Only in the Bzyb dialect.
ʒ ʒ
ʒǝ ʒʷ
и i Phonologically = the equivalent of ǝy.
й y Depending on the source, this glide may be orthographically rendered as й or и.
кǝ kʼʷ
қ k
қь kʼʸ
ҟǝ qʼʷ
ҟь qʼʸ
л l
м m
н n
о o Positional variant, never encountered as a real phoneme.
ҧ p
р r
с s
сǝ ʆʷ Only in the Bzyb dialect.
с ̀ ʆ Only in the Bzyb dialect.
тǝ tʼʷ
ҭ t
у u Phonologically = the equivalent of aw.
ў w Depending on the source, this glide may be orthographically rendered as ў or у.
ф f
х χ
хǝ χʷ In older sources, e. g. Bgazhba 1964, frequently spelled as ху.
хь χʸ
х ̀ χˤ Only in the Bzyb dialect.
х ̀ǝ χˤʷ Only in the Bzyb dialect.
ҳ ħ
ҳǝ ħʷ
ц c
цǝ ɕʷ
ҵǝ ɕʼʷ
ц ̀ ɕ Only in the Bzyb dialect.
ҵ ̀ ɕʼ Only in the Bzyb dialect.
џь ǯ
ч č
ҷ čʼ
ҿ c̨ʼ
ш š
шǝ ʃʷ
шь ʃ
ы ǝ
ҩ ʕʷ

1) All Abkhaz voiceless non-glottalized consonants are also admittedly aspirated as well. We do not, however, mark aspiration in the transcription due to its lack of phonological value (and the fact that it would only further encumber the already quite complex transliteration).
2) Dialects of Abkhaz distinguish between four different series of affricates and fricatives (not counting an additional one or two series of labialized affricates/fricatives). The alphabet formally distinguishes them as [1] "non-palatalized hissing" (ц, etc.), [2] "palatalized hissing" (ц ̀, etc.; only in the Bzyb dialect), [3] "non-palatalized hushing" (ҽ, etc.), and [4] "palatalized hushing" (ч, etc.). In the usual IPA transliteration of Abkhaz, it is, however, more generally accepted to convey this opposition as [1] "alveolar" (IPA ts = UTS c, etc.), [2] "alveolo-palatal" (IPA = UTS ɕ, etc.), [3] "retroflex" (IPA = UTS , etc.), [4] "post-alveolar" (IPA = UTS č, etc.). We adopt the latter system in our transliteration.
3) Stress, which has significant phonological value in Abkhaz, is consistently marked with ˈ in the UTS transliteration (usually following the information in [Genko 1998]), but not in the official orthography variants.

The Abaza orthography is transliterated as follows:

Cyrillic UTS Notes
а a
б b
в v
г g
гъ ɣ In Abaza, phonetically realized as uvular [ʁ].
гъв ɣʷ
гъь ɣʸ
гI ʕ
гIв ʕʷ
д d
дж ǯ
джв ǯʷ
джь ǯʸ
дз ʒ
ж ž
жв žʷ
жь žʸ
з z
и ǝy
й y Phonetic sequences ya, yu are sometimes marked as я, ю in the Cyrillic system.
к k
къв qʼʷ
къь qʼʸ
кIв kʼʷ
кIь kʼʸ
л l
м m
н n
п p
р r
с s
т t
тш č
у ǝw
ф f
х x In Abaza, phonetically realized as uvular [χ].
хъ q
хI ħ
хIв ħʷ
ц c
ч čʸ
чв čʷ
чI čʼʸ
чIв čʼʷ
ш š
шв šʷ
шI čʼ
щ šʸ
ы ǝ
ъ ʔ

Note: Although the UTS contains separate symbols for palatal affricates and fricatives, we prefer to transliterate these Abaza sounds as combinations with the palatalization mark ( ʸ ), for systemic reasons (palatalization usually permeates the entire consonantal inventory of Abaza, not just the coronal affricate/fricative system).

Notes on Abkhaz dialects.

A detailed check of [Bgazhba 2006] as the most authoritative source on the Bzyb dialect has not permitted to elicit even one reliable example where a basic Swadesh term in Bzyb would lexically differ from a basic Swadesh term in the Abzhuwa dialect (even considering the fact that a large section of the book is specifically devoted to listing as many cases of lexical divergence between the two dialects as possible). Nevertheless, separate lists were still compiled for Abzhuwa and Bzyb, based on (a) a general possibility to do this; (b) the idea that this would allow the viewer to better see and assess the phonetic discrepancies between the more innovative Abzhuwa and the more conservative Bzyb dialect.

Bzyb forms are also systematically marked in [Genko 1998], but only if they are, in some way, divergent from the Abzhuwa standard. We mark [Genko 1998] as an alternate source for Bzyb data, but consistently leave the Bzyb slot empty if the word has not been located in [Bgazhba 2006]. It may be guessed that further lexicographic work on Bzyb may turn out to reveal one or two potential lexical discrepancies between this dialect and Abzhuwa, but, in any case, the lexical differentiation between these two dialects is obviously quite minimal.

Database compiled and annotated by: G. Starostin (latest version: February 2012).