Tabasaran language

табасаран чIал tabasaran ҫ̇al
Native to Russia
Region Southern Dagestan
Ethnicity Tabasarans
Native speakers
130,000 (2010 census)[1]
Northeast Caucasian
  • Lezgic

    • Samur
      • Eastern Samur
        • Lezgi–Aghul–Tabasaran
          • Tabasaran
Official status
Official language in
Dagestan (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 tab
Glottolog taba1259[2]

Tabasaran (also written Tabassaran) is a Northeast Caucasian language of the Lezgic branch. It is spoken by the Tabasaran people in southern part of the Russian Republic of Dagestan. There are two main dialects: North (Khanag) and South Tabasaran. It has a literary language based on the Southern dialect, one of the official languages of Dagestan.

Tabasaran is an ergative language. The verb system is relatively simple; verbs agree with the subject in number, person and (in North Tabasaran) class. North Tabasaran has two noun classes (also dubbed with the term "grammatical gender"), whereas Southern Tabasaran has none (i.e. one fewer than North Tabasaran, because no noun classes means that all nouns belong to the same class).

Geographical distribution

It is spoken in the basin of Upper Rubas-nir and Upper Chirakh-nir.



Consonant phonemes of Tabasaran[3]
Labial Dental Palatal Velar Uvular Epiglottal Glottal
plain sibilant plain labial
Nasal m n
voiced b d d͡z d͡ʒ d͡ʒʷ ɡ ɢ
voiceless p t t͡s t͡ʃ t͡ʃʷ k q ʔ
fortis t͡sː t͡ʃː t͡ʃːʷ
ejective t͡sʼ t͡ʃʼ t͡ʃʷʼ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ ʃʷ x ʜ
fortis ʃː ʃːʷ
voiced v z ʒ ʒʷ ɣ ʢ ɦ
Approximant l j
Trill r

Writing system

Tabasaran is written using Cyrillic.

Letter IPA
А а /ɑ/
Аь аь /æ/
Б б /b/
В в /v/
Г г /ɡ/
Гг гг /ɣ/
Гъ гъ /ʕ/
Гь гь /h/
Д д /d/
Е е /ɛ/, /jɛ/
Ё ё /jo/
Ж ж /ʒ/, /dʒ/
Жв жв /ʒʷ/
З з /z/, /dz/
И и /i/
Й й /j/
К к /kʰ/
Кк кк /kː/
Къ къ /qːʰ/
Кь кь /qʼ/
Кӏ кӏ /kʼ/
Л л /l/
М м /m/
Н н /n/
О о /o/
П п /pʰ/
ПП пп /pː/
Пӏ пӏ /pʼ/
Р р /r/
С с /s/
Т т /tʰ/
Тт тт /tː/
Тӏ тӏ /tʼ/
У у /u/
Уь уь /y/
Ф ф /f/
Х х /f/
Хъ хъ /qʰ/
Хь хь /x/
Ц ц /tsʰ/
Цц цц /tsːʰ/
Цӏ цӏ /tsʼ/
Ч ч /tʃʰ/
Чв чв /tʃʷʰ/
Чч чч /tʃːʰ/
Чӏ чӏ /tʃʼ/
Ш ш /ʃ/
Шв шв /ʃʷ/
Щ щ /ɕ/
Ъ ъ /ʔ/
Ы ы /h/
Ь ь
Э э /ɛ/
Ю ю /y/, /ju/
Я я /æ/, /jɑ/

Note: The letters indicated in orange are encountered only in loanwords from Russian.


Tabasaran is very probably an active language of the fluid-S type. It is reported to have 53 noun cases[4] but see Comrie[5] and Blake.[6]


Uwu aldakurawu "Уву алдакураву" — "You are falling."

Uzuz uwu kkunduzuz "Узуз уву ккундузуз" — "I love you."

Uwu fudžuwa? "Уву фужува?" — "Who are you?"

Fici wuna? "Фици вуна?" — "How are you?"

Zakur ʕürza "Закур гъюрза" — "I'll come tomorrow"

Uzu kana qheza "Узу кана хъэза" — "I'll be back"


  1. Tabasaran at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Tabassaran". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Consonant Systems of the North-East Caucasian Languages on TITUS DIDACTICA
  4. Comrie, B (1981). The languages of the Soviet Union. Cambridge University Press.
  5. Comrie, B. & Polinsky, M. (1998). The great Daghestanian case hoax (pdf).
  6. Blake, Barry J. (2001). Case. Cambridge University Press.
Tabasaran language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
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