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Index / Languages / Caucasian /
Circassian



Sub-languages
Adyghe
Kabardian

Circassian by country
Figures in 1000.
Iraq
30 0.1%
Israel
2 <0.1%
Jordan
117 1.9%
Saudi Arabia
25 0.1%
Syria
65 0.3%
Turkey
1,300 1.7%
TOTAL 1)
1,530 0.3%
Russia
600
Dialects
Figures in 1000.
Adyghe
400 150
Kabardian
1,130 450
TOTAL
1,500 600
1) Calculated for the total population of North Africa and the Middle East, approx. 460,000,000.

North Caucasian language or languages originally of northern Turkey and southern Russia, spoken by a total of 2.1 million. There are about 1.5 million Circassian speakers in the Middle East, 1.3 million of these in Turkey (all are 2009 estimates).
There are mainly two forms of Circassian, Adyghe and Kabardian. There has been fairly little research into Circassian, and from main sources, there are no finite descriptions of similarities and differences between the two. Confusion over distinctions have motived some scholars to handle them merely as dialects of Circassian. In these cases, Kabardian is called Eastern Circassian, while Adyghe is called Western Circassian. There is a middle too, Besleney, which is defined as a dialect of Kabardian, but has many similarities with Adyghe.
There are phonetic and lexical differences, but the question remains unanswered: Are the two languages inherently intelligible with each other.
Just to add up to the confusion, Kabardian speakers may actually refer to their own tongue as Adighabze, meaning "Adyghe language".




By Tore Kjeilen