The Last Ubykh.

From Circassian World:

The Last Ubykh

Tevfik Esenç (1904 – October 7, 1992) was a Circassian exile in Turkey and the last known speaker of the Ubykh language.

Esenç was raised by his Ubykh-speaking grandparents for a time in the village of Haci Osman in Turkey, and he served a term as the muhtar (mayor) of that village, before receiving a post in the civil service of Istanbul. There, he was able to do a great deal of work with the French linguist Georges Dumézil to help record his language.

Blessed with an excellent memory, and understanding quickly the goals of Dumézil and the other linguists who came to visit him, he was the primary source of not only the Ubykh language, but also of the mythology, culture and customs of the Ubykh people. He spoke not only Ubykh but Turkish and the Hakuchi dialect of Adyghe, allowing some comparative work to be done between the two languages. He was a purist, and his idiolect of Ubykh is considered by some as the closest thing to a standard “literary” Ubykh language that existed.

There’s a photo and a link to a sound file. Thanks, Trevor!

Comments

  1. Michael Vnuk says:

    The original, which you have copied, has two versions of his first name: Tevkif and Tevfik.

  2. Good catch! The first is, of course, a typo.

    [Update: I deleted the first occurrence (in bold, before the title).]

  3. And of course it’s against your religion to fix obvious typos in quotations, particularly when they are in bold print or otherwise emphasized (and therefore less visible).

  4. January First-of-May says:

    Entirely unrelated fact: there was apparently a gap of (just barely over) 24 hours between successive LH comments (6:01 pm May 27 to 6:34 pm May 28). In other words, nobody commented on any LH thread for an entire day.

    Is this the first time that happened in LH history, and if not, how long ago was the last? (Assuming it’s possible to tell, obviously.)

  5. And of course it’s against your religion to fix obvious typos in quotations…

    That’s what [sic] is for.

  6. David Marjanović says:

    there was apparently a gap

    Yeah. I came here several times during the gap and was quite surprised.

  7. Sir JCass says:

    I’m no expert on this subject but it fascinates me and I was reading up on it recently. Just some quick links (in French and Ubykh) for the time being as unfortunately I’m busy at the moment.

    Here’s Georges Charachidzé, who assisted Dumézil, on Youtube talking about working with Tevfik Esenç. There’s also some brief footage of the man himself.

    Esenç reads a short folk tale in Ubykh.

  8. David Eddyshaw says:

    According to Fenwick’s Ubykh grammar, Esenç’s purism was a bit of a problem, in the sense that Dumézil had him revise and correct other speakers’ texts, thereby destroying some evidence of language variation.

    Having said that, the fact that Ubykh is remarkably well documented for an extinct language is pretty much all due to Esenç.

    [Try as I might, I can never quite shake off the ghostly presence of Philip K Dick when thinking about this language.]

  9. OK, OK, I admit the typo was glaring, and the easiest way to deal with it was to delete the first occurrence (in bold, before the title), so that’s what I did.

    [Try as I might, I can never quite shake off the ghostly presence of Philip K Dick when thinking about this language.]

    Same here! (Ubik.)

  10. It was the first Tevfik Esenç money he had ever seen…

  11. David Eddyshaw says:

    Perfectly safe when spoken correctly.

  12. Trond Engen says:

    He was a purist, and his idiolect of Ubykh is considered by some as the closest thing to a standard “literary” Ubykh language that existed.

    Esençial Ubykh.

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