The Lezgi language is spoken by more than 800,000 people in the mountains of Northern Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan, Russia. It belongs to the larger Caucasian language family. Having its roots in the ancient Albanian Empire (5-7thC), it has been spoken for many years in the Caucasus Mountains.
The Lezgi alphabet has changed several times over the course of the past centuries. Nowadays, the current way of writing involves a modified Cyrillic script using 45 characters. The Lezgi dialects can be categorized in four groups according to geographical regions, Kyre, Akhti, Kusar, Ismayilli, with slight variations concerning pronunciation, endings and words. Depending on various levels of education, most Lezgis can understand each other regardless the dialect they use. Although these dialects are separated by mountains and country borders, the Lezgi people see their language and nation as unified entities.
Lezgi is a language with a large consonant inventory, expansive noun case system and complicated verb affixing strategies. In the following paragraphs, I will first attempt to show through several illustrative examples how to pronounce the Lezgi script and then I will compare the partitives in both the Finnish and Lezgi languages.
Before starting, I would like to express my gratitude to Piotr Kozlowski for his enormous help.
Reading and pronunciation instructions
One of the problems which occurs and as it was mentioned upper the Lezgi language is written in a modified Cyrillic script. As there is no standard Latin script for the Lezgi language, will be used the method developed by Polish linguist Piotr Kozlowski. The only contribution to Piotr Kozlowskis method is appropriate usage of Finnish version of Latin script.
Moreover, will be given example in Lezgi using Cyrillic and its Latin equivalent with translation into Finnish.
To start, below firstly will be given the following letters which are the same in Finnish: Aa, Ее, Оо, Кк, Мм, Тт. However, depending on word the letters Kk and Tt can be pronounced either with aspiration (puff of air, as in English kick, take) or without it (as in English skip, step). When it begins a word or comes after another vowel ‘e’ is pronounced [je].
So, for instance, with the given letters can be built following words:
там – tam – metsä
еке – jeke – iso
мет – met – polvi
амма – amma – mutta
Next considering Cyrillic letters which look like Latin but indeed pronounced otherwise: Cc Yy Пп Рр Хх Нн Вв.
Cc pronounced like [s]. Yy is pronounced like [u]. Пп is pronounced like [p] (can be pronouned, depending on word, either with, or without the aspiration).
Нн – looks like an ‘h’ [hoo] but sounds like an [n]. Рр – This is Lezgi [r] sound. Xх – pronounced like ‘kh’
Вв – pronunciation varies from ‘w’ to ‘v’. However, as basically it is a ‘w’. Moreover, when в follows a consonant it sort of forms one sound with it – the consonant is pronounced with rounded lips (labialization). The word свас means ‘miniä’ or ‘morsian’. It is normally pronounced [s_was], [s_w] symbolizing the almost-at-the-same-time pronunciation of [s] and [w].
сев [sew] – olut
вах [vakh] – sisar
хва [kh_wa] – poika
рак [rak] – ovi
мус [mus] – milloin
Next: Бб, Гг, Дд, Зз, Ии, Лл.
Бб is pronounced like [b]. Дд – [d]. Ии – [i]. Лл – [L]. Гг – is pronounced [g] like in 'gaselli'. Pronunciation of Зз is tricky because in Finnish there is no exact sound that matches. It should be pronounced like English [z], or maybe the closest sound in Finnish will be [ts].
буба [buba] – isä
иви [iwi] – veri
диде [dide] – äiti
гада [gada] – poika
зун [zun] [tsun] – minä
садвал [sadval] – yhtenäisyys
Йй, Ээ, Ёё, Юю, Яя.
So, Йй is pronounced like [j]. Ээ is always [e]. Ёё – [jo], but it is used very rarely and only in borrowed from Russian words. Юю – [ju]. Яя – [ja], however when it comes between consonants, it’s read [ä].
яд [jad] – vesi
уюн [ujun] – temppu
экв [ek_w] – valo
йиф [jif] – yö
Жж, Чч, Цц, Шш, Щщ, Фф, ъ.
Жж – [zh] or [ž]. Чч – is like English [ch]. Цц – can be pronounced as [ts] or [z]. Шш is [sh] or [š]. Щщ – this letter is used only in loanwords from Russian and pronounced like combination of [shch]. Фф – is simple [f]. ъ - stands for a glottal stop, ie. the sound in the middle of ‘uh-huh’, like starting to pronounce a vowel and in the middle suddenly cutting off the sound. For ъ in transcripiption will be used '.
ваъ [va'] – ei
жив [zhiv] [ živ] – lumi
цав [tsaw] – taivas
шумуд? [shumud] [šumud] - kuinka monta?
Фу [fu] – leipä
Now we are moving to digraphs: пI тI кI цI чI.
These all mark so-called ejective consonant. To pronounce them one should pronounce their regular equivalent except that stoping the airflow through glottis (that is, make a glottal stop).
КIан [k'an] – rakasta
кIвал [k'_wal] – talo, koti
цIай [ts'ai] – tuli
тIвар [t'_war] – nimi
чIал [ch'al] – kieli
Зи тIвар Kac я [Zi t'_war Kas ja] – Nimeni on Kas
Ваз Лезги чIал рахазвани? [Vaz Lezgi ch'al rakhazvani] – Puhutko Lezgia?
Continuing with digraphs: гъ къ хъ.
Къ is pronounced like [k] but further back in the throat. This letter in transcription will be denoted by [q]. хъ [qh] is much like къ [q] but it is aspirated. That is, a breath of air follows the throaty ‘k’. гъ is pronounced like [g] and [h] but together and it will be denoted by [gh].
ГъалатI [ghalat'] – virhe
гъед [ghed] – tähti
къад [qad] – kaksikymmentä
хъел [qhel] – viha
The last four letters: уь кь хь гь.
Уь is Finnish [y]. гь is simple [h]. кь [q’] is to къ [q] what кI [k’] is to к [k]. In other words, it is both throaty and glottalised. хь (kh”) is like German ch in ‘ich’.
гьикI [hik’] - miten
гьина [hina] – missä
кьвед [q’wed] – kaksi
кьел [q’el] – suolaa
уьгьу [yhy] – yskä
хьел [kh”el] – nuoli
Given instructions are enough to be able to read and pronounce sounds in the Lezgi language.
The partitives in the Finnish and Lezgi languages
Partitive basically is a word or phrase (such as some of or any of) that indicates a part or quantity of something as distinct from a whole. From the Latin, "relating to a part".
In the Finnish language partitives used in the following situations:
A) It is used for uncountable things:
Minä ostan kaupasta maitoa. (I am buying some milk from the store)
B) It is used when stating an amount of more than 1:
Kolme autoa. (three cars)
C) It is used for objects in negative sentences:
Omistan auton. (I own a car) -> En omista autoa. (I don't own a car)
D) It is also used when expressing the idea of non-completeness of an action, or how the action does not fully consume its object.
Rakastan sinua (I love you).
When it comes to the usage of partitives in the Lezgi language, the partitive phrases express a certain quantity of the modified head noun which they precede.
The nouns used in partitive phrases typically to denote:
Sa finzhan chay (One cup tea) – A cup of tea
Pud zhyt ch'uru chubaruk-ar (Five pair wild swallow-PL) – Five pairs of wild swallows
Chantada sa q'as mukhan fu awa-ch (In bag one barley bread be-NEG) – In my bag there is not a piece of barley bread
D) Abstract quantity nouns
Gzaf paj alim-ar (Much part scientist-PL) – A large part of the scientists
1. www.lezgilanguage.wordpress.com – Piotr Kozlowski web site dedicated to the Lezgi language
2. “A Grammar of Lezgian” - Martin Haspelmath