How to read Lezgi – Step 3.1

After a longish break another six-pack of letters is coming up.  The 0.1 is here because for a while we are going to move forward in shorter installments (less examples, for example). On the other hand – your work gets harder as the letters will look less familiar.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Бб, Гг, Дд, Зз, Ии, Лл (here arranged alphabetically)

Бб is easy but dangerous. The easiness is in that it is pronounced /b/ as you’d perhaps expect from its shape. The danger lies in that it’s not that difficult to confuse б /b/ with  в /w/ which we met earlier.

буба /buba/ means “father”
абур /abur/ means “those” or “they”
хабар /xabar/ – news, information

Ии is the only vowel for today, an /i/ (maybe a bit closer to ‘ee’ in ‘feet’ than ‘i’ in ‘fit’).

иви /iwi/ – blood
иеси /iyesi/ – host, owner, proprietor
им – this, this one
ибур – these, these ones
ина – here
ви  – your (sg.)
-ни /-ni/ – question particle for yes/no questions; attached to the end of word you ask about, you can think of it as “is-it?/does-it?”; in pronunciation it often shortens to /n/ sound, or, even further, to nasalisation of the preceding vowel.

A question for transcription and translation, just to make sure everything is clear by now:
Ви буба ина авани?
A bonus challenge: do you know how to answer affirmatively?

Дд stands for /d/. Try connecting it in mind with the Greek delta.

диде – mother
дах – ‘daddy’, or ‘elder brother’
дуст – friend
мад  – yet, another one, next one

Гг has an even more transparent Greek connection. It’s a gamma, hence a /g/.

гада – boy
гун – to give; giving
гана – gave (past tense form)
вугун /wugun/ – to give (for a given time or purpose)
гур – grave

Зз looks a bit like a 3, but is pronounced /z/

зун – I, me
за – I (subject in transitive sentences)
заз – to me (dative)
зи – my
зурба – very big, great
гузва – gives, is giving (also for other persons)
гуда – will give

And now comes the trick. What can you make of the following sentences (apart from that they’re silly) in terms of Lezgi grammar? Any observations?

Зи буба ви бубадиз атана.
Ви бубади зи бубадиз хабар гана.
Зи бубади заз хабар гузва.
За зи дустуниз хабар гуда.
Зи дустуни ваз хабар гуда.
Ва ви дахаз хабар гуда.

Лл listed last, sounds like /l/.

It lets us to introduce a very productive suffix:
-вал /-wal/ creates abstract nouns

стхавал – brotherhood
дидевал – motherhood
садвал – unity (one-ness)

That would be all for today, as always I wait impatiently for your feedback, but right now we can proudly go from the Л to the Е to the З to the Г to the И.

ЛЕЗГИ! Yes, you should now be able to spell and read the name of the language and nation.


2 Responses to “How to read Lezgi – Step 3.1”

  1. eskandarj Says:

    Ви буба ина авани? Vi buba ina avani?
    your father ina is, is-it?
    Your father is [ina], isn’t he?

    ун, зи уба ина ава.


    Arabic: хабар
    Azeri: -ни (is this a direct loan from Azeri -mi, or merely a calque? Or neither?)
    Persian: дуст


    It’s remarkable how абур and ибур seem to mirror the Persian ‘aanhaa’ and ‘inhaa,’ that is to say, /a/ for distance and /i/ for closeness. им is another example, though probably only coincidentally similar to Persian ‘in.’

    No idea about the grammar. People’s daddies and friends seem to be giving news, cases are involved in some way, and my brain is too fried at work to figure out anything else. I’m reminded a bit of when, at the tender age of 18, I decided to teach myself Chechen. I quickly came to the conclusion that I was simply not smart enough to learn Chechen and became reasonably fluent in Spanish instead.

    • learninglezgi Says:

      Ah, crap, I forgot to list the ина ‘here’. The whole task was pointless without that bit of knowledge. But thanks to your brave attempt, next takers now have the updated post at their disposal. You’ll not be forgotten Eskandar, I’m telling you 🙂

      Yeah а and и are for distance / proximity. There are many contrasting pairs apart from а / и; ам / им; ана / ина; абур / ибур

      No worries about the cases thing. The info I’ve given is very scarce, not everything inflects the same way and it’s all basically an exercise in exercise-designing for me. When you’re in mood for detective work, give it a try. (hint: the forms are mapped for зун; you have to find their equivalents for other nouns/pronouns and then think about syntactic alignment)

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