Lak – The language of Dagestan in Russia

The Dagestan Institute of Advanced Training of Teachers held the third republican contest to find the best reader of Dagestan work authors. This was in dedication to the International Language Mothers day. The main aim of the competition was to identify and support gifted children to further their knowledge and understanding of various literary works and improvement of their spoken speech. The competition is normally attended by children who are in the 10th and 11th grade from various Dagestan educational institutions. The Lak language is included among the linguistic categories in the competition.

The Lak language is spoken by the Lak people of Russia who live in the Republic of Dagestan. Other people who can speak Lak can be found in Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Uzbekistan. Lak is a northeastern Caucasian language. About 157,000 people speak this language. In the past, the Lak language was referred to as Gazi-Qumuq or Kasi-Kumukh. Gazi or Kasi meant ‘warrior for faith’. Lak has a number of loan words from different languages such as Russian, Turkish, Persian and Arabic. The Lak language is closely related to the Dargwa language. Some linguists view Lak and Dargwa or Dargin as independent languages, while others view it as two different dialects of the same language. Dargwa is a language that is also spoken in Central Dagestan.

Lak, also spelled as Lakk, Laki, Lamassa and Siar is a written language. It was first written using the Arabic alphabet before the Latin alphabet was adopted. Since 1938, the Cyrillic alphabet has been in use. Arabic was initially used in the 19th century as Laks were Daghestani Muslims. At this time, there were a lot of religious literature which had spread. Literary as well as historical materials were written down using Arabic script. Since there are only a few Lak speakers, it means that the readership for any works written in Lak would be small. Therefore, a lot of Lak writers prefer to write in Russian rather than Lak so that they can capture a wider audience. Most of the literal texts available in Lak are works that have been translated from other languages.

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