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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 15, 2009

The future of the Shahdagh languages

  • John M. Clifton


Budukh, Kryz, and Khinalug are three Caucasian languages spoken in northeastern Azerbaijan near Mount Shahdagh. The speakers of all three languages are highly multilingual; reports are that they have near-native fluency in Azerbaijani. Furthermore, speakers of all three have been migrating from the mountains to more hospitable plains communities where they interact even more with native speakers of Azerbaijani. All three are endangered to some degree, but there are no detailed descriptions of the sociolinguistic situation in any of these languages. In 2000–2001, a research team investigated patterns of language use, language proficiency, and language attitudes in the three communities. The results suggest that the situation is far from uniform for the three language groups. While massive language shift is occurring in Budukh even in the mountain communities, Kryz is used in most village situations. Finally, a stable diglossia is currently in evidence in Khinalug. In all three communities, however, the traditional languages are definitely being replaced by Azerbaijani.

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Published Online: 2009-07-15
Published in Print: 2009-July

© 2009 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, D-10785 Berlin

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