Chechen

Language section number: 402 (How to register for Critical Languages classes)

Chechen is a Northeast Caucasian language. It is spoken by more than 1.4 million people, mostly in Chechnya and by Chechen people elsewhere. Most Chechen vocabulary is derived from the Nakh branch of the Northeast Caucasian language family, although there are significant minorities of words derived from Arabic (Islamic terms, like "Iman", "Ilma", "Do'a") and a smaller amount from Turkic (like "kuzga", "shish"), belonging to the universal Caucasian stratum of borrowings) and most recently Russian (modern terms, like computer – "kamputar", television – "telvideni", televisor – "telvizar", metro – "metro" etc.).

Before the Russian conquest, most writing in Chechnya consisted of Islamic texts and clan histories, written usually in Arabic but sometimes also in Chechen using Arabic script. Those texts were largely destroyed by Soviet authorities in 1944. The Chechen literary language was created after the October Revolution, and the Latin script began to be used instead of Arabic for Chechen writing in the mid-1920s. In 1938, the Cyrillic script was adopted, in order to tie the nation closer to Russia. With the declaration of the Chechen republic in 1992, some Chechen speakers returned to the Latin alphabet.

The Chechen diaspora in Jordan, Turkey, and Syria is fluent but generally not literate in Chechen except for individuals who have made efforts to learn the writing system, and of course the Cyrillic alphabet is not generally known in these countries. The choice of alphabet for Chechen is politically significant: Russia prefers the use of Cyrillic, whereas the separatists prefer Latin.

CLP's Chechen Tutor


Zura Dotton

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chechen Language", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.