Chechen is part of the small family of Nakh-Daghestanian or Northeast Caucasian languages spoken mainly in the Republic of Chechnya in the Russian Federation by 1.35 million people, according to the 2010 Russian census. There are also some Chechen speakers in Georgia, Germany, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Turkey and Uzbekistan. The Chechens call themselves Noxchi and their language Noxchiin Mott. The name Chechen comes from the town of Cheechan where the Russians first encoutered Chechen speakers.
Chechen was originally written with a version of the Arabic alphabet, which was introduced along with Islam in the 16th century. Between 1925 and 1938 it was written with the Latin alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet was adopted in 1938, and was replaced by a new version of the Latin alphabet in 1992, but after the defeat of the secessionist government, the Cyrillic alphabet was restored. In Georgia the Georgian alphabet is sometimes used.
Hear the Chechen alphabet:
Ламанах духдуьйлу шал шийла шовданш
Шиэн бекъачу кийрана Ӏаббалца ца молуш,
Ӏин кӀоргиэ буьйлш, мела муж муьйлуш,
Варшан йистиэ йолу маргӀал сийна буц
Шиэн оьздачу зоьрхана буззалца ца юуш,
Орцал лахабуьйлуш, сема ладуьйгӀш,
Иччархочун тоьпуо лацарна, кхоьруш,
Дехачу диэгана буткъага мотт хьоькхуш,
Мокхазан бердах куьрана га хьоькхуш,
Попан орамах торгӀала тӀа детташ,
Лергаш дуьхьал туьйсуш, кур аркъал туьйсуш,
Гу лекха буьйлуш, гӀелашка ва гӀергӀаш,
Масаниэ сай лиэла гӀелашца ва боцуш!
Вай биэн дац, ва кӀентий, аьлар ца хуьлуш?
From the depths of the mountains gush the ice-cold springs,
But he doesn't fill his lean stomach there.
Rather he descends to the depths of the ravine and drinks from a warm puddle.
The wooded slope is bordered by rising fresh blue grass,
But he doesn't fill his noble belly there.
Coming out below the wooded hills, he listens carefully,
Anxious to avoid the dreaded hunter's gun.
Licking his long body with his slender tongue,
Sharpening his branched antlers on the flinty shore,
Striking his spotted hind leg on the plane tree's root,
Pointing his ears forward, tossing his antlers onto his back,
Climbing high on the hill, bellowing to the does,
How many stags walk without their mates?
And are there not many lads besides us of whom the same is true?
-The Stag (Chechen folk song)
Aghul, Akhvakh, Andi, Archi, Avar, Bagvalal, Batsbi, Bezhta, Botlikh, Budukh, Caucasian Albanian, Chamalal, Chechen, Dargwa, Godoberi, Hinukh, Hunzib, Ingush, Karata, Khinalug, Khwarshi, Kryts, Kubachi, Lak, Lezgian, Rutul, Tabassaran, Tindi, Tsakhur, Tsez, Udi
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