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Tabasaran language

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Title: Tabasaran language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Aghul language, Dagestan, Rutul language, Tsakhur language, Lezgian language
Collection: Agglutinative Languages, Dagestan, Languages of Russia, Lezgian Languages, Northeast Caucasian Languages
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Tabasaran language

табасаран чIал tabasaran č’al
Native to Russia
Region Southern Dagestan
Ethnicity Tabasarans
Native speakers
130,000 (2010 census)[1]
Northeast Caucasian
  • Lezgic
    • Samur
      • Eastern Samur
        • Lezgi–Aghul–Tabasaran
          • Tabasaran
Official status
Official language in
Dagestan (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 tab
Glottolog taba1259[2]

Tabasaran (also written Tabassaran) is a Northeast Caucasian language of the Lezgic branch. It is spoken by the Tabasaran people in southern part of the Russian Republic of Dagestan. There are two main dialects: North (Khanag) and South Tabasaran. It has a literary language based on the Southern dialect, one of the official languages of Dagestan.

Tabasaran is an ergative language. The verb system is relatively simple; verbs agree with the subject in number, person and (in North Tabasaran) class. North Tabasaran has two noun classes (also dubbed with the term "grammatical gender"), whereas Southern Tabasaran has none (i.e. one fewer than North Tabasaran, because no noun classes means that all nouns belong to the same class).


  • Geographical distribution 1
  • Phonology 2
    • Vowels 2.1
    • Consonants 2.2
  • Writing system 3
  • Grammar 4
  • Samples 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Geographical distribution

It is spoken in the basin of Upper Rubas-nir and Upper Chirakh-nir.




Consonant phonemes of Tabasaran[3]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Epiglottal Glottal
plain lab.
lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis lenis fortis
Nasal m n
Plosive voiced b d ɡ ɢ
voiceless p t k q ʔ
Affricate voiced d͡z d͡ʒ d͡ʒʷ
voiceless t͡s t͡sː t͡ʃ t͡ʃː t͡ʃʷ t͡ʃːʷ
ejective t͡sʼ t͡ʃʼ t͡ʃʷʼ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ ʃː ʃʷ ʃːʷ x ʜ
voiced v z ʒ ʒʷ ɣ ʢ ɦ
Trill r
Approximant l j

Writing system

Tabasaran is written using Cyrillic.

Letter IPA
А а /ɑ/
Аь аь /æ/
Б б /b/
В в /v/
Г г /ɡ/
Гг гг /ɣ/
Гъ гъ /ʕ/
Гь гь /h/
Д д /d/
Е е /ɛ/, /jɛ/
Ё ё /jo/
Ж ж /ʒ/, /dʒ/
Жв жв /ʒʷ/
З з /z/, /dz/
И и /i/
Й й /j/
К к /kʰ/
Кк кк /kː/
Къ къ /qːʰ/
Кь кь /qʼ/
Кӏ кӏ /kʼ/
Л л /l/
М м /m/
Н н /n/
О о /o/
П п /pʰ/
ПП пп /pː/
Пӏ пӏ /pʼ/
Р р /r/
С с /s/
Т т /tʰ/
Тт тт /tː/
Тӏ тӏ /tʼ/
У у /u/
Уь уь /y/
Ф ф /f/
Х х /ɦ/
Хъ хъ /qʰ/
Хь хь /x/
Ц ц /tsʰ/
Цц цц /tsːʰ/
Цӏ цӏ /tsʼ/
Ч ч /tʃʰ/
Чв чв /tʃʷʰ/
Чч чч /tʃːʰ/
Чӏ чӏ /tʃʼ/
Ш ш /ʃ/
Шв шв /ʃʷ/
Щ щ /ɕ/
Ъ ъ /ʔ/
Ы ы /ɨ/
Ь ь
Э э /ɛ/
Ю ю /y/, /ju/
Я я /æ/, /jɑ/

Note: The letters indicated in orange are encountered only in loanwords from Russian.


Tabasaran is very probably an active language of the fluid-S type. It is reported to have 53 noun cases[4] but see Comrie[5] and Blake.[6]


Uwu aldakurawu "Уву алдакураву" — "You are falling."

Uzuz uwu kkunduzuz "Узуз уву ккундузуз" — "I love you."

Uwu fudžuwa? "Уву фужува?" — "Who are you?"

Fici wuna? "Фици вуна?" — "How are you?"

Zakur ʕürza "Закур гъюрза" — "I'll come tomorrow"

Uzu kana qheza "Узу кана хъэза" — "I'll be back"


  1. ^ Tabasaran at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Tabassaran".  
  3. ^ Consonant Systems of the North-East Caucasian Languages on TITUS DIDACTICA
  4. ^ Comrie, B (1981). The languages of the Soviet Union. Cambridge University Press. 
  5. ^ Comrie, B. & Polinsky, M. (1998). The great Daghestan case hoax. 
  6. ^ Blake, Barry J. (2001). Case. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Chanmagomedov, B.G.-K. & K.T. Šalbuzov, Tabasaransko-russkij slovar’, Moskva: Ilim, 2001, ISBN 5-02-022620-3 [Includes outline of Tabasaran grammar (Grammatičeskij očerk tabasaranskogo jazyka) by K.K. Kurbanov (p. 395-476)]

External links

  • Tabasaran dictionary online from IDS (select simple or advanced browsing)
  • Entry in the Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire
  • Sample text
  • Description at Languages of the World
  • Entry at the Rosetta Project
  • Tabasaran basic lexicon at the Global Lexicostatistical Database

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