лезги чӏал
lezgi č’al[1]
Pronunciation[lezɡi tʃʼal]
Native toNorth Caucasus
RegionDagestan and Azerbaijan
Native speakers
630,000 (2020)[2]
Northeast Caucasian
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2lez
ISO 639-3lez
Lezgian is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
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Lezgian, also called Lezgi or Lezgin /ˈlɛzɡn/,[3][4] is a Northeast Caucasian language. It is spoken by the Lezgins, who live in southern Dagestan (Russia); northern Azerbaijan; and to a much lesser degree Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan; Kazakhstan; Turkey, and other countries. It is a much-written literary language[citation needed] and an official language of Dagestan. It is classified as "vulnerable" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.[5]

Geographic distribution

In 2002, Lezgian was spoken by about 397,000 people in Russia, mainly Southern Dagestan; in 1999 it was spoken by 178,400 people in mainly the Qusar, Quba, Qabala, Oghuz, Ismailli and Khachmaz provinces of northeastern Azerbaijan. Lezgian is also spoken in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Germany and Uzbekistan by immigrants from Azerbaijan and Dagestan.

Some speakers are in the Balikesir, Yalova, İzmir, Bursa regions of Turkey especially in Kirne (Ortaca), a village in Balikesir Province which touches the western coast, being south-west of Istanbul.

The total number of speakers is about 800,000.[6]

Related languages

Main article: Lezgic languages

Nine languages survive in the Lezgic language family:

These have the same names as their ethnic groups.

Some dialects differ heavily from the standard form, including the Quba and Akhty dialects spoken in Azerbaijan.[6]



Vowels of Lezgian[7][8]
Front Central Back
plain rounded
Close i ⟨и⟩ y ⟨уь⟩ /ɨ/ ⟨ы⟩[a] u ⟨у⟩
Mid e ⟨е, э⟩ o ⟨o⟩[b]
Open æ ⟨я⟩ a ⟨а⟩
  1. ^ Dialectal
  2. ^ in Russian loanwords


There are 54 consonants in Lezgian. Characters to the right are the letters of the Lezgian Cyrillic Alphabet. Aspiration is not normally indicated in the orthography, despite the fact that it is phonemic.

Consonants of Lezgian[12]
Labial Dental Post-
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
plain lab. plain lab. plain lab.
Nasal /m/ м /n/ н
Plosive voiced /b/ б /d/ д /g/ г // гв
voiceless /p/ п /t/ т // тв /k/ к // кв /q/ къ // къв /ʔ/ ъ
aspirated // п // т /tʷʰ/ тв // к /kʷʰ/ кв // хъ /qʷʰ/ хъв
ejective // пl // тl /tʷʼ/ тӏв // кl /kʷʼ/ кlв // кь /qʷʼ/ кьв
Affricate voiced /dz/ дз // дж
voiceless /t͡s/ ц /t͡sʷ/ цв /t͡ʃ/ ч
aspirated /t͡sʰ/ ц /t͡sʷʰ/ цв /t͡ʃʰ/ ч
ejective /t͡sʼ/ цl /t͡sʷʼ/ цlв /t͡ʃʼ/ чl
Fricative voiced /v/ в /z/ з // зв /ʒ/ ж /ʁ/ гъ /ʁʷ/ гъв
voiceless /f/ ф /s/ с // св /ʃ/ ш /x/ хь // хьв /χ/ х /χʷ/ хв /h/ гь
Approximant /l/ л /j/ й /w/ в
Trill /r/ р


Main article: Lezgin alphabets

Lezgian has been written in several different alphabets over the course of its history. These alphabets have been based on three scripts: Arabic (before 1928), Latin (1928–38), and Cyrillic (1938–present).

The Lezgian Cyrillic alphabet is as follows:[13]

А Б В Г Гъ Гь Д Е Ё Ж З И Й К Къ Кь Кӏ Л М Н О П Пӏ Р С Т Тӏ У Уь Ф Х Хъ Хь Ц Цӏ Ч Чӏ Ш Щ Ъ Ы Ь Э Ю Я
а б в г гъ гь д е ё ж з и й к къ кь кӏ л м н о п пӏ р с т тӏ у уь ф х хъ хь ц цӏ ч чӏ ш щ ъ ы ь э ю я

The Latin alphabet was as follows:

A a Ä ä B b C c Č č Ch ch Čh čh D d
E e F f G g Gh gh H h I i J j K k
Kh kh L l M m N n Ŋ ŋ O o Ö ö P p
Ph ph Q q Qh qh R r S s Š š T t Th th
U u Ü ü V v X x X́ x́ Y y Z z Ž ž


Lezgian is unusual for a Northeast Caucasian language in not having noun classes (also called "grammatical gender"). Standard Lezgian grammar features 18 grammatical cases,[14] produced by agglutinating suffixes, of which 12 are still used in spoken conversation.


The four grammatical cases are:[12]


There are two types of declensions.

First declension

Case Singular Plural
Absolutive буба buba бубаяр bubajar
Ergative бубади bubadi бубайри bubajri
Genitive бубадин bubadin бубайрин bubajrin
Dative бубадиз bubadiz бубайриз bubajriz
Adessive бубадив bubadiv бубайрив bubajriv
Adelative бубадивай bubadivaj бубайривай bubajrivaj
Addirective бубадивди bubadivdi бубайривди bubajrivdi
Postessive бубадихъ bubadiqʰ бубайрихъ bubajriqʰ
Postelative бубадихъай bubadiqʰaj бубайрихъай bubajriqʰaj
Postdirective бубадихъди bubadiqʰdi буабайрихъди buabajriqʰdi
Subessive бубадик bubadikʰ бубайрик bubajrikʰ
Subelative бубадикай bubadikʰaj бубайрикай bubajrikʰaj
Subdirective бубадикди bubadikʰdi бубайрикди bubajrikʰdi
Inessive бубада bubada бубайра bubajra
Inelative бубадай bubadaj бубайрай bubajraj
Superessive бубадал bubadal бубайрал bubajral
Superelative бубадалай bubadalaj бубайралай bubajralaj
Superdirective бубадалди bubadaldi бубайралди bubajraldi



The numbers of Lezgian are:

уд ud zero
сад sad one
кьвед qʷ’ed two
пуд pud three
кьуд q’ud four
вад vad five
ругуд rugud six
ирид irid seven
муьжуьд muʒud eight
кlуьд k’yd nine
цlуд ts’ud ten
цlусад ts’usad eleven
цlикьвед ts’iqʷ’ed twelve
цlипуд ts’ipud thirteen
цlикьуд ts’iq’ud fourteen
цlувад ts’uvad fifteen
цlуругуд ts’urugud sixteen
цlерид ts’erid seventeen
цlемуьжуьд ts’emyʒud eighteen
цlекlуьд ts’ek’yd nineteen
къад qad twenty
къадцуд qadtsud thirty
яхцlур jaxts’ur forty
яхцlурцуд jaxtsurtsud fifty
пудкъад pudqad sixty
пудкъадцlуд pudqadtsud seventy
кьудкъад q’udqal eighty
къудкъадницlуд q'udq'adnitsud ninety
виш viʃ one hundred
агъзур aɣzur one thousand

Nouns following a number are always in the singular. Numbers precede the noun. "Сад" and "кьвед" lose their final "-д" before a noun.

Lezgian numerals work in a similar fashion to the French ones, and are based on the vigesimal system in which "20", not "10", is the base number. "Twenty" in Lezgian is "къад", and higher numbers are formed by adding the suffix -ни to the word (which becomes "къанни" - the same change occurs in пудкъад and кьудкъад) and putting the remaining number afterwards. This way 24 for instance is къанни кьуд ("20 and 4"), and 37 is къанни цӏерид ("20 and 17"). Numbers over 40 are formed similarly (яхцӏур becomes яхцӏурни). 60 and 80 are treated likewise. For numbers over 100 just put a number of hundreds, then (if need be) the word with a suffix, then the remaining number. 659 is thus ругуд вишни яхцӏурни цӏекӏуьд. The same procedure follows for 1000. 1989 is агьзурни кӏуьд вишни кьудкъанни кӏуьд in Lezgi.


  1. ^ "Lezgi Language, Alphabet and Pronunciation". omniglot.com. Retrieved 2021-01-08.
  2. ^ Lezgin at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  3. ^ Bauer, Laurie (2007). The Linguistics Student's Handbook. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  4. ^ Babak, Vladimir; Vaisman, Demian; Wasserman, Aryeh (23 November 2004). Political Organization in Central Asia and Azerbaijan: Sources and Documents. Routledge. ISBN 9781135776817.
  5. ^ UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger Archived February 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b "Enthnologue report for Lezgi". Ethnologue.com. 1999-02-19. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
  7. ^ Chitoran & Babaliyeva 2007, p. 2153.
  8. ^ Haspelmath 1993, pp. 28, 31.
  9. ^ a b c Haspelmath 1993, p. 32.
  10. ^ Haspelmath 1993, p. 35.
  11. ^ Chitoran & Babaliyeva 2007, pp. 2154, 2156.
  12. ^ a b Haspelmath (1993), p. 2
  13. ^ Талибов Б. Б., Гаджиев М. М. Лезгинско-русский словарь. Moscow, 1966.
  14. ^ Haspelmath (1993), p. 74