The Tabassaran language of Dagestan

Tabassaran is a North East Caucasian language, under the Legic branch. It is mainly spoken in Dagestan. It is one of the official 14 languages of the state. Speakers can also be found in the former Soviet Republics including Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Russia and Kazakhstan. Approximately 100,000 people speak this language. Tabassaran has 2 main dialects. This includes northern Tabassaran (Khanag) and southern Tabassaran. The Tabassaran are very united people and have been able to resist foreign pressure for a long time. They comprise 5 percent of the population in Dagestan. The Tabassaran speak multiple languages. This includes Russian, Azerbaijani and Lezgin.

The development of writing in the Tabassaran area was mostly as a result of Islamic influence. From the start of the 20th century to the middle of the 21st century, Tabassaran was written using the Arabic alphabet. This was as a result of the popular use of the Arabic language. Most Tabassarans are Muslims up to date, as a result of this early Arabic influence. Every Tabassaran village has a mosque and large villages may have more than one mosque and an Islamic school. The writing system was then changed to the Latin alphabet. In 1937, the Cyrillic alphabet was adopted. There is a Tabassaran dictionary. There are also Tabassaran magazines and newspapers. The literary language used is based on the southern Tabassaran dialect. Tabassaran has a simple verb system, where the verbs agree with the subject and the number in person.

Other names for Tabassaran include Ghumghum, Tabasarantsy and Tabasaran. Most Tabassarans live in mountainous regions but currently, most of them have moved to foothills or lowland regions. They use the mountainous regions for pasture during summer and they use the plateaus for pasture during winters. Before the Muslim influence, Tabassarans were Christians.

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