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Ingush language

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Ingush language

ГӀалгӀай мотт (Ğalğaj mott)
Pronunciation /ʁəlʁɑj mot/
Native to Russia, Kazakhstan
Region Ingushetia, Chechnya
Ethnicity Ingush
Native speakers
320,000  (1999–2010)[1]
Northeast Caucasian
Official status
Official language in
 Ingushetia (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-2 inh
ISO 639-3 inh
Glottolog ingu1240[2]

Ingush (ГӀалгӀай, Ğalğaj, pronounced ) is a language spoken by about 300,000 people, known as the Ingush, across a region covering the Russian republics of Ingushetia and Chechnya.


Ingush and Chechen, together with Bats, constitute the Nakh branch of the Northeast Caucasian language family. They are not mutually intelligible, though there is pervasive passive bilingualism between Ingush and Chechen.[3]

Geographic distribution

Ingush is spoken by about 413,000 people (2002),[4] primarily across a region in the Caucasus covering parts of Russia, primarily Ingushetia and Chechnya. Speakers can also be found in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belgium, Norway, Turkey and Jordan.

Official status

Ingush is, alongside Russian, an official language of Ingushetia, a federal subject of Russia.

Writing system

Ingush became a written language with an Arabic-based writing system at the beginning of the 20th century. After the October Revolution it first used a Latin alphabet, which was later replaced by Cyrillic.
А а Аь аь Б б В в Г г ГӀ гӀ Д д Е е
Ё ё Ж ж З з И и Й й К к Кх кх Къ къ
КӀ кӀ Л л М м Н н О о П п ПӀ пӀ Р р
С с Т т ТӀ тӀ У у Ф ф Х х Хь хь ХӀ хӀ
Ц ц ЦӀ цӀ Ч ч ЧӀ чӀ Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы
Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я Яь яь Ӏ



Front Central Back
High и [i] у [u]
Mid э [e] ? [ə] о [o]
Low аь [æ] а [ɑː, ɑ]

The diphthongs are иэ /ie/, уо /uo/, оа /oɑ/, ий /ij/, эи /ei/, ои /oi/, уи /ui/, ов /ow/, ув /uw/.


The consonants of Ingush are as follows,[5] including the Latin orthography developed by Johanna Nichols:

Labial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Epiglottal Glottal
central lateral palatalized plain
Nasal м m [m] н n [n]
Plosive voiceless п p [p] т t [t] к kj [kʲ] к k [k] кх q [q] Ӏ w [ʡ] ъ ʼ [ʔ]
voiced б b [b] д d [d] г gj [ɡʲ] г g [ɡ]
ejective пӀ [pʼ] тӀ [tʼ] кӀ kjʼ [kʲʼ] кӀ [kʼ] къ [qʼ]
Affricate voiceless ц c [t͡s] ч ch [t͡ʃ]
ejective цӀ [t͡sʼ] чӀ chʼ [t͡ʃʼ]
Fricative voiceless ф f [f] с s [s] ш sh [ʃ] х x[χ] хь hw [ʜ] хӀ h [h]
voiced в v [v]/[w] з z [z] ж zh [ʒ] гӀ gh [ʁ]
Approximant л l [l] й j [j]
Trill voiceless рхӀ rh [r̥]
voiced р r [r]
  • Note that the epiglottals are traditionally called 'pharyngeal', with the epiglottal articulation subsumed under pharyngeal.


Ingush is not divided into dialects with the exception of Galain-Chazh (native name: Галайн-ЧӀаж), which is considered to be transitional between Chechen and Ingush.


Ingush is a nominative–accusative language in its syntax, though it has ergative morphology.[6]


The most recent and in-depth analysis of the language[7] shows eight cases: nominative, ergative, genitive, dative, allative, instrumental, lative, and comparative.

Cases Single Plural
Nominative -⌀ -azh / -ii, -i3
Ergative -uo / -z, -aa1 -asha / –azh
Genitive -a, -n2 -ii, -i
Dative -na, aa2 -azh-ta
Allative -ga -azh-ka
Instrumental -ca -azh-ca
Lative -gh -egh
Comparative -l -el
  1. -uo is the only productive form. -z appears with personal names, kin terms, and other nouns referring to humans. -aa occurs with some declensions and is increasingly productive in colloquial use.
  2. Allomorph after vowels
  3. The choice of -azh vs -ii is lexically determined for the nominative, but other cases are predictable.


Infinitive Stem {-a} Infinitive (INF) laaca
(INFS) {-a} Imperative (IMP) laaca
Present Stem --- Generic Present (PRES) loac
(unmarked) {-az&} Simultaneous Converb (SCV) loacaz&
{-ar} Imperfect (IMPF) loacar
{-agDa} FUTURE (FUT) loacadda
Past Stem {-ar} Witnessed Past (WIT) leacar
(PAST) {-aa}/{-na} Anterior Converb (ACV) leacaa
{-aa} + {-D} / {-na} + {-D} Perfect (PERF) leacaad
{-aa} + {-Dar} / {-na} + {-Dar} Pluperfect (PLUP) leacaadar


Like many Northeast Caucasian languages, Ingush uses a vigesimal system, where numbers lower than twenty are counted as in a base-ten system, but higher decads are base-twenty.
Orthography Phonetic Value Composition
cwa [t͡sʕʌ] 1
shi [ʃɪ] 2
qo [qo] 3
d.i'1 [dɪʔ] 4
pxi [pxɪ] 5
jaalx [jalx] 6
vorh [vʷor̥] 7
baarh [bar̥] 8
iis [is] 9
itt [itː] 10
cwaitt [t͡sʕɛtː] 11 1+10
shiitt [ʃitː] 12 2+10
qoitt [qoitː] 13 3+10
d.iitt1 [ditː] 14 4+10
pxiitt [pxitː] 15 5+10
jalxett [jʌlxɛtː] 16 6+10
vuriit [vʷʊritː] 17 7+10
bareitt [bʌreitː] 18 8+10
tq'iesta [tqʼiːestə̆] 19
tq'o [tqʼo] 20
tq'ea itt [tqʼɛ̯æjitː] 30 20+10
shouztq'a [ʃouztqʼə̆] 40 2×20
shouztq'aj itt [ʃouztqʼetː] 50 2×20+10
bwea [bʕɛ̯æ] 100
shi bwea [ʃɪ bʕɛ̯æ] 200 2×100
ezar [ɛzər] 1000 loan from Persian
  1. Note that "four" and its derivatives actually begin with noun-class marker. d- is merely the default value.


1sg 1plexcl 1plincl 2sg 2pl 3sg 3pl
Nom. so txo vai hwo sho/shu yz yzh
Gen. sy txy vai hwa shyn cyn/cun caar
Dat. suona txuona vaina hwuona shoana cynna caana
Erg. aaz oaxa vai wa oasha cuo caar
All. suoga txuoga vaiga hwuoga shuoga cynga caarga
Abl. suogara txuogara vaigara hwuogara shuogara cyngara caargara
Instr. suoca(a) txuoca(a) vaica(a) hwuoca shuoca(a) cynca caarca(a)
Lat. sogh txogh vaigh hwogh shogh cogh caaregh
Csn. sol txol vail hwol shol cul/cyl caarel

Word order

In Ingush, "for main clauses, other than episode-initial and other all-new ones, verb-second order is most common. The verb, or the finite part of a compound verb or analytic tense form (i.e. the light verb or the auxiliary), follows the first word or phrase in the clause." [9]

muusaa vy hwuona telefon jettazh
Musa V.PROG 2sg.DAT telephone striking
'Musa is telephoning you.'


  1. ^ Ingush at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Ingush". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Johanna Nichols, Ronald L. Sprouse, Ingush-English and English-Ingush dictionary. p 1
  4. ^ Ethnologue report for Ingush
  5. ^ Johanna Nichols, Ingush Grammar (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011) ISBN 0-520-09877-0 .
  6. ^ Johanna Nichols, Case in Ingush Syntax, and Johanna Nichols,Ingush Grammar (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010). ISBN 0-520-09877-3.
  7. ^ Johanna Nichols, Ingush Grammar.
  8. ^ Zev Handel, Ingush inflectional verb morphology: a synchronic classification and historical analysis with comparison to Chechen
  9. ^ Nichols, Johanna. (2011). Ingush Grammar. Berkeley: The University of California Press. Pp. 678ff.

External links

  • Appendix:Cyrillic script
  • Indigenous Language of the Caucasus (Ingush)
  • Ingush Language Project at UC Berkeley
  • University of Graz report
  • Russian-Ghalghaj (Ingush) vocabulary
  • Ingush basic lexicon at the Global Lexicostatistical Database
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