[lg policy] Language maps of the Caucasus

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 22 16:28:18 UTC 2013


A number of people have asked me lately about the linguistic
situation in the Caucasus, given the sudden attention being paid
to Chechnya and Dagestan because of the Boston bombings.

We have a page with language maps on it on our site, but I've
discovered that many of the links are broken.  (The map page badly
needs work, and I'd be happy if someone would volunteer to fix it--it's a
real mess.)

I did find some links to language maps of the Caucasus, and can recommend
at least one of them: http://lingvarium.org/index.shtml
is the general site, with more specific maps of some of the regions at

Pages are available either in Russian or English, and because of the
complexity and linguistic diversity of the region, I recommend going to the
specific region(s) first, since an overall map of the area can't give much

Remember that some of the linguistic groups in the Caucasus were deported
by Stalin after the Germans were driven back from their attempt to capture
the petroleum resources in Azerbaijan during World War II.  Stalin accused
various groups of collaborating with the Germans, so they were deported to
Central Asia and not allowed to return (if at all) until Khrushchev changed
the policy.  In the process many of the speakers of the deported groups'
languages assimilated to Russian and their speakership was drastically
reduced.  One of the news sources over the weekend reported that the number
of speakers of Dagestani in Dagestan was less than 10%.

The linguistic history of this region is immensely complex, and I'm not
doing it justice, but I thought it needed some attention right now.



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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