Andrew Krug has very kindly sent me a link to the Radio Free Europe North Caucasus languages service, which has archived RealAudio broadcasts in Chechen, Circassian, and Avar (not to mention Russian). I’m listening to the Circassian now; the only thing I recognize is “Adyghe Respublika” (adyghe being the self-designation for the languages called by foreigners Adyge and Kabardian/Circassian), but it’s fascinating to hear—it doesn’t sound anything like I had imagined.

Kabardian is famous for allegedly having only one vowel, but as this site says:

One striking feature of NWC [North-West Caucasian] is that the languages are very rich in consonants and very poor in vowels. In fact it is sometimes said that Kabardian has “only one vowel”. This is not actually true, but the peculiar phonology of the NWC languages makes it to some degree justifiable.


  1. C. Bloggerfeller says

    There are quite a few Circassians with their own sites on the Web. The big expert on all things Circassian is Amjad Jaimoukha. Check out his home page here:
    It has links to those radio broadcasts, plus a page on Abkhazian hunting language (the Medieval Abkhazians apparently developed a special version of their language so the animals they were hunting wouldn’t understand what they were saying) and information about the Ubykh language which was declared extinct eleven years ago this month on the death of its last speaker Tevfik Esenc.

  2. C. Bloggerfeller says

    Check out this page in particular:
    It has an extraordinary audio file of a Nart saga being recited in Kabardian.

  3. Many thanks — that’s great! Here‘s the direct link.

  4. Sadly, the North Caucasus Service no longer seems to have broadcasts in the cool languages, though it’s still there and reporting. (I replaced the links in the post with archived ones; I haven’t checked to see if the audio still works.)

  5. David Marjanović says

    I just checked – none of the audio was archived.

  6. Sad but unsurprising. Thanks for checking!

Speak Your Mind