Search Results

In: Endangered Languages of the Caucasus and Beyond

Khinalug, a minority language spoken by some 1,500 people mainly in the village of Khinalug in the Quba district of Azerbaijan Republic, is generally regarded as the most divergent East Caucasian language. Its exact genealogical place within the group of around 30 East Caucasian languages has been debated since long. Still, at least some of the relevant contributions to this debate, ground their arguments in a rather small piece of evidence, usually taken from a handful of assumed lexical correspondences and typological analogies. In the present paper, I discuss some methodological problems related to the enterprise of determining the place of Khinalug among the East Caucasian languages, addressing both selected lexical and grammatical features. I also include some sociolinguistic features that are crucial to the discussion. As an alternative to the current hypotheses, I suggest to consider the possibility that Khinalug is not an East Caucasian language from a genetic point of view, but a non-East Caucasian language that has become “Caucasianised” over times. In the first part of my paper I will focus on some general issues and on the lexicon.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

This is the second part of the article dedicated to the discussion of some methodological problems related to the history of Khinalug, published in the current volume of Iran and the Caucasus (see Schulze 2018). Whereas the first part analyses some basic data on Khinalug in its genetic problem and addressed some questions of loans and cognates, the second one turns to grammatical issues. Khinalug, a minority language spoken by some 1500 people mainly in the village of Khinalug in the north of Azerbaijan Republic, is generally regarded as the most divergent East Caucasian language. Its exact genealogical place within the world of the roughly 30 East Caucasian languages has been debated since long. Still, at least some of the relevant contributions to this debate ground their arguments in just a rather small piece of evidence, usually taken from a handful of assumed lexical correspondences and typological analogies. The same holds for grammar. As for morphosyntax, the problem is complicated by the fact that hitherto it is virtually impossible to safely reconstruct a more systematic inventory of Proto-East Caucasian morphemes together with their function values. A closer look at the morphosyntax of Khinalug may lead to just the same conclusion that seems to emerge from a more comprehensive analysis of the lexicon: I suggest, to consider the possibility that Khinalug is not an East Caucasian language from a genetic point of view, but a non-East Caucasian language that has become ‘Caucasianized’ over times.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

Abstract

The paper examines some aspects of language contact in the regions of present-day Azerbaijan focusing on the Southeast Caucasian language Udi and its ancestor (Caucasian Albanian). Both languages are marked for a rather pronounced impact from languages that must have played a dominant role since Classical antiquity and in Medieval times. Here, at least three layers can easily be isolated: (a) Old Armenian, (b) both Northwest Iranian and Southwest Iranian, (c) Turkic in terms of Oghuz Turkic (Azeri). Both (Early) Modern Persian and Azeri conditioned that Udi was later-on at least partly integrated into the world of Oriental language despite of the fact that its speakers remained Christians. The pre-Oriental impact from Armenian and (mainly northwest) Iranian languages resulted in significant shifts with respect to both the lexicon and the grammar of Caucasian Albanian and Udi that set apart both languages from the world of Lezgian languages. The paper illustrates the presence of different Iranian layers in Caucasian Albanian and Udi, addressing both lexical and morphosyntactic issues. With respect to morphosyntax, two topics are discussed, namely the emergence of Split-O strategies in Caucasian Albanian and Udi and the development of a system of floating agreement clitics. Both patterns represent instances of structural borrowings from local Iranian languages, which likewise testifies the former relevance of Iranian languages in Central Azerbaijan.

In: Studies on Iran and The Caucasus

The present paper discusses the historical background of selected terms in the world of East Caucasian languages that are related to the domain of metallurgy (copper, iron, tin, plumb, gold, and silver) augmented by terms for ‘coal’ and ‘salt’. A closer inspection of these terms shows that none of them can be reconstructed for Proto-East Caucasian. Rather, we have to deal either with terms that have been coined in the intermediate protolanguages (Nakh, Avar-Andian, Tsezian, Lezgian, Lak, Dargwa, and Khinalug) or with more or less recent loans stemming mainly from the Iranian and Turkic languages. The absence of reconstructable terms for the items under review suggests that the speakers of the East Caucasian proto-language had not been involved expressively in metallurgic traditions (as opposed to farming traditions). Tentatively, these speakers can thus be associated with the early farming culture within the complex of the Kuro-Araxes Culture. Only after the protolanguage disintegrated due to the migration of most of its speakers in the Dagestan and the regions of Chechnya, some societies related to these intermediate proto-languages must have been involved more expressively in metallurgic traditions. The more recent loans, e.g. for copper, gold, and silver, stemming from Iranian (Persian) and Turkic (Kumyk and Azeri) illustrate a shift in conceptualising these objects: They were now interpreted as artifacts (rather than as natural resources) that were associated with the cultures of the dominant ‘Oriental’ societies. The paper can be seen as a preliminary study concerning the areal distribution of lexical patterns in the Eastern Caucasus from a historical perspective.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

The present paper aims at a closer inspection of historical layers of the lexicon of East Caucasian by looking at a small set of lexical forms that are related to the world of concepts for domestic animals. The paper concentrates on these terms also in order to discuss the question to which extent the reconstructability of corresponding forms for Proto-East Caucasian may shed light on some of the economical patterns of the speakers of this language. It will be shown that much of the terminology for domestic animals has to be related to earlier or later loan layers or to innovative processes within the subgroups. The fact that very few of the terms occurring in one of the domains at issue (‘cow’, ‘horse’, ‘donkey’, ‘pig’, ‘sheep’, ‘goat’) can be reconstructed for Proto-East Caucasian is related to the assumption that lexical terms that are strongly related to the praxeological dimension of socioeconomic concepts tend to be rather instable and adaptable over times to changes with respect to these praxeological patterns. The paper also strongly advocates for a closer consideration and isolation of loan layers present in the individual East Caucasian languages prior to any enterprise aiming at the reconstruction of Proto-East Caucasian lexical units.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

Two palimpsest manuscripts founded in the Mt. Sinai monastery by Zaza Aleksidze and identified as Caucasian Albanian by the same researcher can be regarded as the earliest documentation of an East Caucasian language. The decipherment of the palimpsests dating back to probably the 6th or 7th century A.D. mainly by Jost Gippert and the author of this paper allow relating the language of these texts (fragments of the Gospel of John and parts of a Christian lectionary) to the world of modern East Caucasian languages. It soon became clear that the language conventionally termed Caucasian Albanian (CA; for lack of a known autochthonous name) can be regarded as a more or less direct ancestor of present-day Udi, a minotarian language spoken in one village in Azerbaijan (Nij), as well as in some other settlements and cities of the former USSR. The paper wants to illustrate the degree of relatedness between of CA and Udi by referring to aspects of phonology, morphosyntax, and the lexicon. The CA and (Vartashen) Udi versions of a short text passage (Matthew 17,1-3) are additionally used to show that although some major processes of language change have occurred since the times of CA, there still is enough evidence that ascertain the assumption of immediate relatedness.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

Abstract

The so-called Caucasian Albanian Palimpsest kept in St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai for the first time allows to draw a comprehensive picture of one of the languages (probably the state language) of the third medieval Christian kingdom in Transcaucasia, namely (Caucasian) Albania. The relevant parts of the two palimpsest manuscripts (Sin. N 13 and N 55) covering roughly 120 pages (that is two thirds of the two manuscripts) have been deciphered, interpreted, and translated in the course of an international project running since 2003. The Caucasian Albanian texts comprise a) fragments of a Lectionary, and b) parts of the Gospel of John, written by a different hand in a different style. A number of both text-internal and text-external arguments suggest that the original manuscripts were produced in the 7th century A.D. The analysis of the texts clearly argues in favour of the assumption that the translators relied upon corresponding Old Armenian sources. Nevertheless, it can be shown that the texts in parts deviate from those Old Armenian Bible texts that have survived to our days, so that Georgian, Greek, and Syriac sources must also be taken into account. The readable passages of the two texts furnish us with roughly 8,000 word tokens (some 1,000 lemmatised lexical entries). Hence, the Caucasian Albanian palimpsest gives a considerable insight into the lexicon, grammar, and phonology of its language, which can now safely be identified as an early variant of Udi (East Caucasian, Lezgian). Caucasian Albanian (or Old Udi) differs from present-day Udi in a number of features, including an additional set of palatalised consonants, a more conservative system of local case markers, gender distinction within the set of anaphoric pronouns, and a stronger tendency to construe larger clitic chains. The lexicon is marked for three aspects: a) the preservation of Lezgian terms lost in present-day Udi; b) a set of loans from Armenian and (less prominent) from Georgian; c) loan translations especially from Armenian. The syntax of the texts comes close to that of its sources; however, the texts also exhibit a number of syntactic features alien to both Armenian and Georgian. This suggests that the translators tried to find a balance between the preservation of the original wording of the sources and the necessity to meet the needs of the Caucasian Albanian speaking audience.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Geschichte und ethische Konsequenzen für die Gegenwart
Der vorliegende Band geht auf ein ein internationales Kolloquium in Heidelberg zurück, das 2006 Ergebnisse eines Projektes vorstellte, das die verschollen geglaubten psychiatrischen Krankenakten der Opfer der 'Aktion T4', der zentral organisierten Phase der Krankenmorde, erstmals systematisch untersucht. Zudem wurde der gegenwärtige Forschungsstand zu dieser ersten großen Massenvernichtungsaktion des NS-Regimes zusammengetragen.