Udi – The oldest language in Dagestan

It is believed that the Udi language was the main language that was spoken in the region that stretched from Dagestan to Azerbaijan. Udi is a North-East Caucasian language. It is thought that the earlier version of Udi was Caucasian Albania. Udi speakers can be found in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia and Georgia. Approximately 5,000 people speak this language. Udi has been classified as an endangered language by UNESCO in the World Atlas of Languages. Most Udi speakers are either bilingual or multi-lingual. Udi is often used to speak among close friends and family members, while other languages are preferred when speaking in public places. Some of the other languages spoken by ethnic Udi’s include Georgian, Tati, Armenian and Russian. Most of the people who speak Udi are the older generation, who are above 50 years of age. Younger people are becoming less interested in learning the language. They speak what has come to be known as Young People’s Udi, which is Udi that has been strongly influenced by the Azeri language.

Alternate names for the Udi language are Uti and Udin. Udi has a number of dialects. This includes Nidzh, Oghuz and Oktomberi. Oktomberi is known to be more divergent from the Nidzh dialect than from the Oghuz dialect. The Oghuz dialect has about only 100 people left. The language is taught in lower primary classes, though in most areas children attend Russian language schools. The Udi language is not viewed to be as prestigious as the Russian language. Udi is viewed as one of the most archaic Dagestan languages therefore, it is one of the most investigated languages by linguists. Udi has a lot of loan words from other languages. This includes Georgian, Azerbaijani and Russian.

Udi was initially spoken using the Cyrillic alphabet. In the late 1990s, a Latin script was introduced to write the language. The first documentation of the Udi language was started in the middle of the 19th century. Anton Antonovich published the first Udi Grammar book in 1863. In 1902, part of the Bible was published using the Udi language.

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