Chechen language

Chechen (Нохчийн)
Spoken in: Russia
Region: autonomous republic of Chechnya
Total speakers: 944,600
Ranking: Not in top 100
Genetic classification: Caucasian (geographical convention)

 North (disputed)
  North Central

Official status
Official language of: Chechnya (autonomous republic of Russia)
Regulated by: -
Language codes
ISO 639-1ce
ISO 639-2che
See also: LanguageList of languages

The Chechen language has about 1,200,000 speakers, most of whom live in Russia.



The Chechen language is one of the languages of the Caucasus. Linguistically, it is a North Central Caucasian language with possible connection with certain other Caucasian languages, forming the North Caucasian languages. Partial mutual intelligibility exists with the Ingush language, and there are intermediary dialects.

Languages indigenous to the Caucasus are not members of any language families spoken elsewhere in the world.

Geographic distribution

Chechen is spoken by about 950,000, in Chechnya and (due to the Chechen diaspora) Middle East countries, especially Jordan.

Official status

Chechen is an official language of Chechnya, an autonomous republic of Russia.


There are a number of Chechen dialects:


Some characteristics of Chechen include its wealth of consonants and sounds similar to Arabic or Native American languages, a large vowel system resembling Swedish or German, several grammatical genders, and a complex phrase structure.

The Chechen language has (like most indigenous languages of the Caucasus) a large number of consonants: about 31 (depending on the dialect and the analysis), more than for most languages of Europe. Unlike most other languages of the Caucasus, it also has an extensive inventory of vowels and diphthongs: about 27 (depending on dialect and analysis), similar in number and phonetics to the vowel systems of the Scandinavian languages, German, and Finnish. None of the spelling systems used for Chechen so far have distinguished the vowels with complete accuracy.


Chechen also presents interesting challenges for lexicography, as creating new words in the language relies on fixation of whole phrases rather than adding to the end of existing words or combining existing words. It can be difficult to decide which phrases belong in the dictionary.


Native Chechen words are few in number (not more than 3000). There are many borrowings from Russian, Turkic languages (mostly from Kumuck), Arabic, and some -- from Persian (Farsi), Alanian (Ossetic), and Georgian. Chechen and Ingush scholars have found links to the ancient cuneiform languages Hurrian and Urartian.


The Chechen literary language was created after the October Revolution, and the Latin alphabet began to be used instead of Arabic for Chechen writing in the mid-1920s. In 1938, the Cyrillic alphabet was adopted. With the declaration of the Chechen republic in 1992, most Chechen speakers returned to the Latin alphabet. The Chechen diaspora in Jordan, Turkey and Syria is fluent but generally not literate in Chechen except for individuals who have made efforts to learn the writing system, and of course the Cyrillic alphabet is not generally known in these countries.

External links


es:Idioma checheno fr:Tchtchne ja:チェチェン語 ru:Чеченский язык sr:Чеченски језик


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