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ABKHAZIA

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suze
305770.  Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:54 pm Reply with quote

(I've been thinking for a while that I need a Project, and this particular forum looks like a good one to which to give a bit of attention.)

Abkhazia isn't on many maps of the world, because its independence is not generally recognised. It's a region of north west Georgia, to the international way of thinking - but declared itself independent of that country in 1992, and after a year long war was victorious against the Georgian Army. At present, the Abkhazian government controls about 5/6 of the territory and the Georgian government the rest.

Abkhazia formally applied for membership of the United Nations on 7 March this year, although the application seems unlikely to be accepted. As something of a clue to where its sympathies lie, citizens of Abkhazia are granted Russian passports on application - since Abkhazian ones aren't internationally recognized, and the Abkhazians refuse to hold Georgian ones.

While globally famous Abkhazians have been few, one that some will have heard of is Temuri Ketsbaia, the erstwhile Newcastle United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Dundee footballer. He's now the manager of Anórthōsī Ammochṓstoy in the Cypriot premier league.

The Abkhaz language, like many in the Caucasus, is long on consonants and short on vowels; there are sixty seven of the former and just two of the latter.

The world's deepest cave is in Abkhazia - the Krubera cave which is 2,080 metres deep, and has yet to be explored right to the bottom.

Finally, we need to have something fun. Abkhazia issued two postage stamps in 1994 which were apparently meant to commemorate Marx and Lenin. Whether there was a foul up or whether it was a joke is not entirely clear - but they got the wrong Marx. And someone who wasn't quite called Lenin.

 
Sadurian Mike
305773.  Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:59 pm Reply with quote

I bet that's a collectable stamp even if it was deliberate!

Poor old Abkhazian, having to be pro-Russian at a time when international opinion is swinging away from them again. Bad timing on their part.

 
violetriga
305775.  Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:04 pm Reply with quote

Great post - love the stamps!

I'm quite surprised how detailed the info on Wikipedia is, even more so that it's a featured article on the Spanish language - http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abjasia.

 
jsteel
369316.  Fri Jun 27, 2008 2:51 am Reply with quote

Very good start, suze.

I have a little problem, however, NOT because it is not correct, but because people can easily misunderstand one point (think in a different frame).

suze wrote:

The Abkhaz language, like many in the Caucasus, is long on consonants and short on vowels; there are sixty seven of the former and just two of the latter.


While this is correct (although there are some disagreements on the number of consonant phonema), it has to be added that the language uses more vowel allophones, so it actually has more than two vowels, but it has two vowel phonema.

http://titus.fkidg1.uni-frankfurt.de/didact/caucasus/kaukvok.htm#Abkhaz

http://titus.fkidg1.uni-frankfurt.de/didact/caucasus/nwkklaut.htm#abkhaz

What I mean that if you say that there are two vowels in a language, many people would think that only two vowels are pronounced, which is not the case. The point being that these 2 vowels differentiate between words, but each of these, depending on the context (consonants) pronounced differently, often significantly differently (a nasal n exists in English (like in Congo), however, it is not a phonema (as there is no non-nasal version of Congo that would mean something different), thus it is not counted as a consonant).

If I'm wrong and the general public or the respected visitors of the wonderful QI site are all aware of this distinction, then I apologise.

 
suze
369401.  Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:05 am Reply with quote

You are entirely right jsteel; I freely admit that when I post here on language matters, I sometimes oversimplify for a general audience.

As you say, opinion differs on just precisely how many consonant phonemes there are in Abkhaz. The lowest figure found in serious literature on the subject is 58 (the number claimed by the site to which you link), while some other writers go over one hundred. The figure of 67 which I used earlier is the conventional figure for the Bzyp dialect, the most consonant-rich of the three main dialects of the language.

On the vowels, there are usually said to be either six or seven vowel sounds which a non-speaker would perceive as different - the arguable one being the only long vowel sound in the language. But as noted, there are only two vowel phonemes.

The version of the Cyrillic alphabet used for Abkhaz uses six letters to denote vowels. This is a relatively unusual feature of the language; in most languages allophones are represented by the same grapheme (i.e. letter). Ergo, the alphabet used for Abkhaz really is phonetic; most languages which are said to have phonetic spelling actually have phonemic spelling.

 
General_Woundwort
378735.  Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:17 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
At present, the Abkhazian government


Probably a better description than it deserves: gangstocracy would be better (although the President at least has the element of style in having been a wine farmer, as opposed to the root vegetables Belarus' President managed). It achieves the otherwise impossible, and makes Mikhail Saakashvili look a paragon of virtue and diplomatic responsibility. The war of 1992/3 didn't exactly result in a victory for a proud, independent people as much as an opportunity to expunge the territory of established minorities, Georgian and others, in a parallel to what was being enacted in the Balkan peninsular.

The Caucasian region, like the Balkans, is not best suited to the idea of a nation state, and is now riddled with dirty, nasty ethnic conflicts and, of course, Russia shitting in faces and calling it chocolate fudge (such as South Osestia, also part of Georgia). Maybe the Abkhazians were expelled during Imperial Russia's expansion, but so were Georgians and Svans and Armenians.

The region is exceptionally dangerous for journalists and, over the past few months, has seen armed attacks blamed on both Georgia and Russia and 'others', as well as Russian drones sighted over Georgia.

 
nlgauvreau
958908.  Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:27 am Reply with quote

I realise this is quite an old topic (in relative terms), but I did find an article on the postage stamp issue.
http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/28/world/philatelists-just-wanna-have-fun.html

 
Jenny
958963.  Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:28 am Reply with quote

Thanks nlgauvreau - we always like to see old threads revived :-)

 
spursystarman
1218423.  Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:05 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
(I've been thinking for a while that I need a Project, and this particular forum looks like a good one to which to give a bit of attention.)

Abkhazia isn't on many maps of the world, because its independence is not generally recognised. It's a region of north west Georgia, to the international way of thinking - but declared itself independent of that country in 1992, and after a year long war was victorious against the Georgian Army. At present, the Abkhazian government controls about 5/6 of the territory and the Georgian government the rest.

Abkhazia formally applied for membership of the United Nations on 7 March this year, although the application seems unlikely to be accepted. As something of a clue to where its sympathies lie, citizens of Abkhazia are granted Russian passports on application - since Abkhazian ones aren't internationally recognized, and the Abkhazians refuse to hold Georgian ones.

While globally famous Abkhazians have been few, one that some will have heard of is Temuri Ketsbaia, the erstwhile Newcastle United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Dundee footballer. He's now the manager of Anórthōsī Ammochṓstoy in the Cypriot premier league.

The Abkhaz language, like many in the Caucasus, is long on consonants and short on vowels; there are sixty seven of the former and just two of the latter.

The world's deepest cave is in Abkhazia - the Krubera cave which is 2,080 metres deep, and has yet to be explored right to the bottom.

Finally, we need to have something fun. Abkhazia issued two postage stamps in 1994 which were apparently meant to commemorate Marx and Lenin. Whether there was a foul up or whether it was a joke is not entirely clear - but they got the wrong Marx. And someone who wasn't quite called Lenin.


I distinctly remember when I started on my linguistics degree a lecture where the prof used one of the Caucasian languages to illustrate morphology (the use of prefixes and suffixes to alter the meaning of the 'core' word) and the word he used was (separate morphemes indicated by hyphens. I can remember the word but not the meaning):
u-a-qi-di-dez-qe-shi-zhi-fa-t-e-qim
It may have been Abkhaz, or possibly Circassian. I'd love to know which!

 
spursystarman
1218425.  Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:11 pm Reply with quote

jsteel wrote:
Very good start, suze.

I have a little problem, however, NOT because it is not correct, but because people can easily misunderstand one point (think in a different frame).

suze wrote:

The Abkhaz language, like many in the Caucasus, is long on consonants and short on vowels; there are sixty seven of the former and just two of the latter.


While this is correct (although there are some disagreements on the number of consonant phonema), it has to be added that the language uses more vowel allophones, so it actually has more than two vowels, but it has two vowel phonema.

http://titus.fkidg1.uni-frankfurt.de/didact/caucasus/kaukvok.htm#Abkhaz

http://titus.fkidg1.uni-frankfurt.de/didact/caucasus/nwkklaut.htm#abkhaz

What I mean that if you say that there are two vowels in a language, many people would think that only two vowels are pronounced, which is not the case. The point being that these 2 vowels differentiate between words, but each of these, depending on the context (consonants) pronounced differently, often significantly differently (a nasal n exists in English (like in Congo), however, it is not a phonema (as there is no non-nasal version of Congo that would mean something different), thus it is not counted as a consonant).

If I'm wrong and the general public or the respected visitors of the wonderful QI site are all aware of this distinction, then I apologise.

Not sure what you mean by a nasal n, since n is by definition nasal! The n in Congo is not in fact an n phoneme at all, but one called 'eng' in linguistics. In the IPA it is represented as an n with a tail, similar to the lower-case Greek eta. It is more of a nasal g than anything, witness how in some dialects (Birmingham for instance) it readily dissimilates from a following g (sing-ging-g)

 

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