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Index / Languages / Caucasian / Circassian /
Adyghe
Other spellings: Adygeyan; Adygei
Adyghe: Adygabza; Adygebze; Adegăbză



Adyghe by country
Figures in 1000.
Iraq
30 0.1%
Israel
2 <0.1%
Jordan
55 0.9%
Syria
25 0.1%
Turkey
290 0.4%
TOTAL *)
400 0.1%
Russia
150
*) Calculated for the total population of North Africa and the Middle East, approx. 460,000,000.

North Caucasian Circassian language spoken by 400,000 in the Middle East (2009 estimate), of which 70% live in Turkey. The homeland is in Russian Caucasia, but only 150,000 speak it there. It is the official language of the Russian republic of Adygea. There is also a strong community in Jordan, as well as small ones in Iraq and Syria.
Adyghe is very close to Kabardian, and many scholars consider the variants merely as dialects of the Circassian language.
Adyghe is noted for having more distinct consonants than in other languages, between 50 and 60. About half of these are fricatives (sounds made by forcing air through a narrow opening in the mouth). There are very few vowels in use. Adyghe has an expressed difference between plain and labialized glottal stops, which is quite unique. Another unusual element is the bidental fricative, a variant of the letter 'h'. The sentences have a basic Subject-Object-Verbal structure.
Around Turkey, there are about 1,000 villages where only Circassian language is spoken, whether it be Kabardian or Adyghe. Estimates as old as the mid-1980's set the number of monoligualists to 6%. This a figure that reflected geographical isolation and represented mainly the elderly. Today it seems likely that close to 100% Adyghe also practice Turkish.
Adyghe is a written language, using the Latin alphabet in Turkey, the Cyrillic in Russia.




By Tore Kjeilen