Laz language

Laz language

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Encyclopedia
The Laz language is a South Caucasian language (also known as Kartvelian language) spoken by the Laz people
Laz people
The Laz are an ethnic group native to the Black Sea coastal regions of Turkey and Georgia...

 on the Southeast shore of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

. It is estimated that there are around 30,000 native speakers of Laz in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, in a strip of land extending from Melyat to the Georgian border (officially called Lazistan
Lazistan
Lazistan was the Ottoman administrative name for the sanjak comprising the Laz or Lazuri-speaking population on the southeastern shore of the Black Sea. However, its boundaries did not coincide with the Laz-speaking area...

 until 1925), and about 2,000 in Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

.

Classification


Laz is one of the four South Caucasian languages
South Caucasian languages
The Kartvelian languages are spoken primarily in Georgia, with a large group of ethnic Georgian speakers in Russia, the United States, the European Union, and northeastern parts of Turkey. There are approximately 5.2 million speakers of this language family worldwide.It is not known to be related...

. Along with Mingrelian, it forms the Zan branch
Zan languages
The Zan languages, or Zanuri, are a branch of the Kartvelian languages constituted by the Mingrelian and Laz languages. Some linguists consider both to be members dialects of the same, Zan, language...

 of this language family. The two languages are very closely related, to the extent that some linguists refer to Mingrelian and Laz as dialects or regional variants of a single Zan language, a view held officially in the Soviet era and still so in Georgia today. In general, however, Laz and Mingrelian are classed as separate languages, due both to the long-standing separation of their communities of speakers (500 years) and to a lack of mutual intelligibility.

Geographical distribution


The ancient kingdom of Colchis
Colchis
In ancient geography, Colchis or Kolkhis was an ancient Georgian state kingdom and region in Western Georgia, which played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the Georgian nation.The Kingdom of Colchis contributed significantly to the development of medieval Georgian...

 was located in the same region the Laz speakers are found in today, and its inhabitants probably spoke an ancestral version of the language. Colchis was the setting for the famous Greek legend
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 of Jason
Jason
Jason was a late ancient Greek mythological hero from the late 10th Century BC, famous as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. He was the son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcus...

 and the Argonauts
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

.

Today most Laz speakers live in Northeast Turkey, in a strip of land along the shore of the Black Sea: in the Pazar
Pazar
Pazar is a town and district of Rize Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey, 37 km east of the city of Rize.-Etymology:The town was formerly named Atina and was renamed Pazar 'market' in 1928.-Geography:...

 (Atina), Ardeşen
Ardesen
Ardeşen is a town and district of Rize Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey, 48 km along the coast road from the city of Rize.-History:...

 (Art'aşeni), Çamlıhemşin
Çamlihemsin
Çamlıhemşin is a small town and district of Rize Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey.With its mountains and valleys in all shades of green Çamlıhemşin has a reputation as one of the most attractive parts of the eastern Black Sea region, particularly with the autumn foliage.-Etymology:The...

 (Vijadibi) and Fındıklı
Findikli
Fındıklı is a town and district of Rize Province on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, east of the city of Rize.-Etymology:The town was formerly known as Vitze which means twig or branch in the Laz language and was renamed Fındıklı after the hazelnuts that were grown here, .-Geography:Like most Black...

 (Vitze) districts of Rize
Rize
Rize is the capital of Rize Province, in northeast Turkey, on the Black Sea coast.-Etymology:The name comes from Greek or Ριζαίον , meaning "mountain slopes". In modern times, its name in Greek was usually Ριζούντα . Its Latin forms are Rhizus and Rhizaeum...

, and in the Arhavi
Arhavi
Arhavi is a town and district of Artvin Province in the mountains above the Black Sea coast in the east of Turkey.Arhavi is away from Hopa, away from Fındıklı, away from Artvin, away from Rize....

 (Ark'abi), Hopa
Hopa
Hopa is a city and district of Artvin Province in northeast Turkey. It is located on the eastern Turkish Black Sea coast about from the city of Artvin and 18 kilometres from the border with Georgia.-Geography:...

 (Xopa) and Borçka
Borçka
Borçka is a town and district of Artvin Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey, on the border with Georgia.Borçka is reached by a winding road up from the Black Sea coast, alongside the Çoruh River. There is an ancient stone bridge across the river just west of the town.Borçka Lake is a popular...

 districts of Artvin
Artvin
-History:See Artvin Province for the history of the region.-Places of interest:* Artvin or Livana castle, built in 937There are a number of Ottoman Empire houses and public buildings including:* Salih Bey mosque, built in 1792...

. There are also communities in northwestern Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 (Akçakoca
Akçakoca
Akçakoca is both a town and district of Düzce Province, in the Black Sea region of Turkey, located about 200 km east of Istanbul. The town was named after a Turkish chieftain of the 14th century CE who captured the area for the Ottoman Empire, and sports a statue in his honor. The town...

 in Düzce
Düzce Province
Düzce Province is a province in northwestern Turkey. It is on the coastline of the Black Sea and is traversed by the main highway between Istanbul and Ankara. The main town is Düzce...

, Sapanca
Sapanca
Sapanca is a town and district of Sakarya Province in the Marmara region of Turkey near the Lake Sapanca. The mayor is İbrahim Uslu .-External links:***...

 in Sakarya
Sakarya Province
Sakarya Province is a province in Turkey, located on the coast of Black Sea. The river Sakarya creates a webbing of estuaries in the province....

, Karamürsel
Karamürsel
Karamürsel is a town and district located in northwestern Turkey, in the province of Kocaeli. The mayor is İsmail Yıldırım .Karamürsel is on the coast of Izmit Bay and has beautiful shores. It has a famous basket known as Karamürsel basket, which is mainly used in collecting fruit like cherries, etc....

 and Gölcük in Kocaeli
Kocaeli Province
Kocaeli Province is a province of Turkey. Its capital is İzmit, which is sometimes referred to as Kocaeli itself. The largest town in the province is now Gebze. The traffic code is 41. The province is located at the easternmost end of the Marmara Sea, especially on the Gulf of İzmit. Because of...

, Bartın
Bartin Province
Bartın Province is a small province in northern Turkey on the Black Sea, surrounding the city of Bartın. It is to the east from Zonguldak Province.The town of Bartın contains a number of very old wooden houses which are no longer extant in other places....

, and Yalova
Yalova Province
Yalova Province is a province in northwestern Turkey, on the eastern coast of the Sea of Marmara. Its adjacent provinces are Bursa to the south and Kocaeli to the east. The provincial capital is the city of Yalova. The population of the Yalova Province is 203,741...

) where many immigrants settled since the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) and now also in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 and Ankara
Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

. Only a few Laz live in Georgia, chiefly in Ajaria. Laz are also present in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 where they have migrated from Turkey since the 1960s.

Social and cultural status



Laz has no official status in either Turkey or Georgia, and no written standard. It is presently used only for familiar and casual interaction; for literary, business, and other purposes, Laz speakers use their country's official language (Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 or Georgian).

Laz is unique among the South Caucasian languages in that most of its speakers live in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 rather than Georgia. While the differences between the various dialects are minor, their speakers feel that their level of mutual intelligibility is low. Given that there is no common standard form of Laz, speakers of its different dialects use Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 to communicate with each other.

Between 1930 and 1938, Zan (Laz and Mingrelian) enjoyed cultural autonomy in Georgia and was used as a literary language, but an official standard form of the tongue was never established. Since then, all attempts to create a written tradition in Zan have failed, despite the fact that most intellectuals use it as a literary language.

In Turkey, Laz has been a written language since 1984, when an alphabet based on Turkish script
Turkish alphabet
The Turkish alphabet is a Latin alphabet used for writing the Turkish language, consisting of 29 letters, seven of which have been modified from their Latin originals for the phonetic requirements of the language. This alphabet represents modern Turkish pronunciation with a high degree of accuracy...

 with Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 was created. Since then, this system has been used in most of the handful of publications that have appeared in Laz. Developed specifically for the South Caucasian languages, the Georgian alphabet
Georgian alphabet
The Georgian alphabet is the writing system used to write the Georgian language and other Kartvelian languages , and occasionally other languages of the Caucasus such as Ossetic and Abkhaz during the 1940s...

 is better suited to the sounds of Laz, but the fact that most of the tongue's speakers live in Turkey, where the Latin alphabet is used, has rendered the adoption of the former impossible. Nonetheless, 1991 saw the publication of a textbook called Nana-nena ('Mother tongue'), which was aimed at all Laz speakers and used both the Latin and Georgian alphabets. The first Laz–Turkish dictionary was published in 1999.

The only languages in which the Laz receive an education are Turkish (in Turkey) and Georgian (in Georgia). Virtually all the Laz are bilingual in Turkish and Laz or in Georgian and Laz. Even in villages inhabited exclusively by Laz people, it is common to hear conversations in Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 or Georgian
Georgian language
Georgian is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus.Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad...

. Turkish has had a notable influence on the vocabulary of Laz.

Laz speakers themselves basically regard the language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 as a means of oral communication. The families that still speak Laz only do so among adults in informal situations, with Turkish or Georgian being used in all other contexts. This means that the younger generations fail to fully acquire the language and only gain a passive knowledge of it.

In recent times, the Laz folk musician Birol Topaloğlu has achieved a certain degree of international success with his albums Heyamo (1997, the first album ever sung entirely in the Laz language) and Aravani (2000). The Laz rock and roll musician Kazım Koyuncu
Kâzim Koyuncu
Kâzım Koyuncu was a Turk folk-rock singer, song writer, and activist of Laz ethnicity....

 performed rock and roll arrangements of Laz traditional music from 1995 until his death in 2005.

In 2004, Dr. Mehmet Bekâroğlu, the deputy chairman of Felicity Party in Turkey, sent a notice to the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation
Turkish Radio and Television Corporation
The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, also known as TRT , is the national public broadcaster of Turkey and was founded in 1964. Around 70% of TRT's funding comes from a tax levied on electricity bills and a sales tax on television and radio receivers...

 (TRT) declaring that his mother tongue is Laz and demanding broadcasts in Laz. The same year, a group of Laz intellectuals issued a petition and held a meeting with TRT officials for the implementation of Laz broadcasts. However, as of 2008, these requests have been ignored by authorities.

Laz Dialects


Laz has five major dialects:
  • Xopuri, spoken in Hopa
    Hopa
    Hopa is a city and district of Artvin Province in northeast Turkey. It is located on the eastern Turkish Black Sea coast about from the city of Artvin and 18 kilometres from the border with Georgia.-Geography:...

     and Ajaria;
  • Vitzur-Ark'abuli, spoken in Arhavi
    Arhavi
    Arhavi is a town and district of Artvin Province in the mountains above the Black Sea coast in the east of Turkey.Arhavi is away from Hopa, away from Fındıklı, away from Artvin, away from Rize....

     and Fındıklı
    Findikli
    Fındıklı is a town and district of Rize Province on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, east of the city of Rize.-Etymology:The town was formerly known as Vitze which means twig or branch in the Laz language and was renamed Fındıklı after the hazelnuts that were grown here, .-Geography:Like most Black...

    ;
  • Çxala, spoken in Düzköy (Çxala) village in Borçka
    Borçka
    Borçka is a town and district of Artvin Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey, on the border with Georgia.Borçka is reached by a winding road up from the Black Sea coast, alongside the Çoruh River. There is an ancient stone bridge across the river just west of the town.Borçka Lake is a popular...

    ;
  • Atinuri, spoken in Pazar
    Pazar
    Pazar is a town and district of Rize Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey, 37 km east of the city of Rize.-Etymology:The town was formerly named Atina and was renamed Pazar 'market' in 1928.-Geography:...

     (former Atina);
  • Art'aşenuri, spoken in Ardeşen
    Ardesen
    Ardeşen is a town and district of Rize Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey, 48 km along the coast road from the city of Rize.-History:...

    .


The last two are often treated as a single Atinan dialect. Speakers of different Laz dialects have trouble understanding each other, and often prefer to communicate in the local official language.
English Atina Art'aşeni Arkabi Xopa–Batumi
I love malimben maoropen p’orom p’qorop
You love galimben gaoropen orom qorop
S/he-It loves alimben aropen oroms qorops
We love malimberan maoropenan p’oromt p’qorot
You love galimberan gaoropenan oromt qoropt
They love alimberan aoropenan oroman qoropan

Writing system



Laz is written in Georgian alphabet
Georgian alphabet
The Georgian alphabet is the writing system used to write the Georgian language and other Kartvelian languages , and occasionally other languages of the Caucasus such as Ossetic and Abkhaz during the 1940s...

 or in the modified Latin alphabet
Turkish alphabet
The Turkish alphabet is a Latin alphabet used for writing the Turkish language, consisting of 29 letters, seven of which have been modified from their Latin originals for the phonetic requirements of the language. This alphabet represents modern Turkish pronunciation with a high degree of accuracy...

 (as used in Turkish, but with specific Laz extensions).
Georgian (Mkhedruli) Latin (common) Latin (rare) IPA
Orthographic alphabets Transcriptions
a a ɑ
b b b
g g ɡ
d d d
e e ɛ
v v v
z z z
t t t
i i i
k’
l l l
m m m
n n n
y y j
o o ɔ
p’
j ž ʒ
r r r
s s s
t’
u u u
p p p
k k k
ǧ ɣ ɣ
q q’
ş š ʃ
ç č t͡ʃ
ts, or з c t͡s
z’ ʒ d͡z
ts’, or з’ ċ t͡sʼ
ç’ č’ t͡ʃʼ
x x x
c ǯ d͡ʒ
h h h
f f f

Linguistic features


Like many languages of the Caucasus
Languages of the Caucasus
The languages of the Caucasus are a large and extremely varied array of languages spoken by more than ten million people in and around the Caucasus Mountains, which lie between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea....

, Laz has a rich consonantal system (in fact, the richest among the South Caucasian family) but only five vowels (a,e,i,o,u). The noun
Noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

s are inflected with agglutinative suffixes to indicate grammatical function
Grammatical function
In linguistics, grammatical functions refer to functional relationships between participants in a proposition...

 (4 to 7 cases, depending on the dialect) and number (singular or plural), but not by gender.

The Laz verb is inflected with suffixes according to person and number, and also for Grammatical tense
Grammatical tense
A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

, aspect
Grammatical aspect
In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb is a grammatical category that defines the temporal flow in a given action, event, or state, from the point of view of the speaker...

, mood
Grammatical mood
In linguistics, grammatical mood is a grammatical feature of verbs, used to signal modality. That is, it is the use of verbal inflections that allow speakers to express their attitude toward what they are saying...

, and (in some dialects) evidentiality
Evidentiality
In linguistics, evidentiality is, broadly, the indication of the nature of evidence for a given statement; that is, whether evidence exists for the statement and/or what kind of evidence exists. An evidential is the particular grammatical element that indicates evidentiality...

. Up to 50 verbal prefixes are used to indicate spatial orientation/direction. Person and number suffixes provided for the subject as well as for one or two objects involved in the action, e.g. gimpulam = "I hide it from you".

Grammar



Some distinctive features of Laz among its family are:
  • Two additional consonants, /f/ and /h/;
  • All nouns end with a vowel.
  • More extensive verb inflection, using directional prefixes.
  • Substantial lexical borrowings from Greek and Turkic languages
    Turkic languages
    The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

    .

Vocabulary

  • Ho (ჰო) – yes
  • Va (ვა), Var (ვარ) – no
  • Ma (მა) – I
  • Si (სი) – you
  • Skani (სქანი) – your
  • Çkimi (ჩქიმი), Şk’imi (შკიმი) – my
  • Gegacginas / Xela do k’aobate (გეგაჯგინას/ხელა დო კაობათე) – Hello
  • K’ai serepe (კაი სერეფე) – Good night
  • K’ai moxtit (კაი მოხთით) – Welcome
  • Didi mardi (დიდი მარდი) – Thanks
  • Muç’ore? (მუჭორე?) – How are you?
  • K’ai vore (კაი ვორე), Vrosi vore (ვროსი ვორე) – I'm fine
  • Dido xelabas vore (დიდო ხელაბას ვორე) – I'm very happy
  • Ma vulur (მა ვულურ) – I'm going
  • Ma gamavulur (მა გამავულურ) – I'm going outside
  • Gale (გალე) – Outside
  • Ma amavulur (მა ამავულურ) – I'm going inside
  • Doloxe (დოლოხე) – Inside
  • Ma gevulur (მა გევულურ) – I'm going down
  • Tude (თუდე) – Down, under
  • Ma eşevulur (მა ეშევულურ) – I'm going up
  • Jin (ჟინ) – Up
  • Sonuri re? (სონური რე?) – Where are you from?
  • T’rapuzani (ტრაფუზანი) – Trabzon
  • Turkona (თურქონა), Turkie (თურქიე) – Turkey
  • Ruseti (რუსეთი) – Russia
  • Giurcistani (გიურჯისთანი), Giurci-msva (გიურჯი-მსვა) – Georgia, Place of Georgian
  • Oxorca (ოხორჯა) – woman
  • K’oçi (კოჩი) – man
  • Bozo (ბოზო), k’ulani (კულანი) – girl
  • Biç’i (ბიჭი) – boy
  • Sup’ara (სუპარა) – book
  • Megabre (მეგაბრე) – friend
  • Qoropa (ყოროფა) – love
  • Mu dulia ikip? (მუ დულია იქიფ?) – What is your job?
  • Lazuri giçkini? (ლაზური გიჩქინი?) – Do you know Laz?
  • Mu gcoxons? (მუ გჯოხონს?), – What is your name?
  • Ma si kqorop (Hopa dialect) (მა სი ქყოროფ) – I love you

See also


  • Georgian language
    Georgian language
    Georgian is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus.Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad...

  • Languages of the Caucasus
    Languages of the Caucasus
    The languages of the Caucasus are a large and extremely varied array of languages spoken by more than ten million people in and around the Caucasus Mountains, which lie between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea....

  • Megrelian language
    Megrelian language
    Mingrelian, or Megrelian , is a Kartvelian language spoken in Western Georgia , primarily by Georgians of Mingrelian origin. The language was also called Iverian in the early 20th century...

  • Svan language
    Svan language
    The Svan language is a Kartvelian language spoken in the Western Georgian region of Svaneti primarily by the Georgians of Svan origin...


External links

Lazkulturdernegi.org.tr lazurinena.com Laz Cultur – Information about Lazs, Laz Language, Culture, Music Laz Cultur – Information about Lazs, Laz Language, Culture, Music Laz Cultur – Information about Lazs, Laz Language, Culture, Music and Laz Diaspora