Brief introduction to the Chechen
Chechen belongs to the Nakh-Daghestanian, or Northeast Caucasian, language family, a very old language family which is indigenous to the Caucasus and has no traceable outside relationships. Chechen is closely related to Ingush (they are about as close as Spanish and Portuguese) and slightly less closely related to the moribund Batsbi, or Tsova-Tush, language of Georgia. It is distantly related to the indigenous languages of Daghestan (such as Avar, Lak, Dargi, and Lezgi).
Chechen is the first language of the great majority of the Chechen people, who numbered somewhat over a million in 1994. The present number is less, perhaps under 800,000.
In terms of linguistic
typology, Chechen is
head-final, ergative, moderately synthetic, and
dependent-marking. It has a complex consonant system
including ejectives, uvulars, and pharyngeals. It also has a
large vowel system rather like that of Swedish or Finnish.
About 84% of the basic
vocabulary is cognate with
Ingush, and much less with the more distantly related Daghestanian
languages: about 30% with Avar, and about 20% with Lezgi.
sources of vocabulary include Arabic, Persian, and neighboring
languages. Much of the traditional scientific and technical
vocabulary is from Persian or Arabic.
Chechens call themselves noxchii and their language noxchiin mott. The name
"Chechen" was first applied to them by Russians. It is taken from
the name of the lowland town Cheechan, one of the first Chechen towns
encountered by Russians.