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A street in Nizh A Grammar of Udi

 This book project aims at a comprehensive description of Udi, a Southeast Caucasian (Lezgian) language spoken by some 3.000 people mainly in the village of Nizh in Northern Azerbaijan, but also in the near-by town of Oguz (formerly Vartashen) as well as in the Zinobiani (Oktoberi) settlement in Eastern Georgia. In addition, Udi emigrants from Azerbaijan live in scattered places in Northernmost Armenia, in Russia, Kazakhstan, and other regions of the former Soviet Union. Udi is constituted by two varieties (Nizh and Vartashen) that differ with respect to both grammar and lexicon. Both varieties are marked for long-standing impact from both Armenian and Azeri (Azerbaijani), supplemented by earlier impact from Northwest Iranian, lateron Southwest Iranian languages (Persian). Language contact has strongly changed the archicture of Udi and have obscured its East Caucasian 'make-up'. Nevertheless, it can be safely stated now that Udi reflects an early split-off from the Eastern Samur branch of Lezgian (today represented by Tabasaran, Aghul, and Lezgi). 'Early Udi' (as spoken roughly between 300 and 700 CE) was part of a dialect cluster, another dialect of which was Caucasian Albanian, the (state?) language of the Christian kingdom of Caucasian Albania. Caucasian Albanian has been known in more details since the decipherment and edition of the so-called Caucasian Albanian Palimpsests (see Jost Gippert, Wolfgang Schulze et al. 2009. The Caucasian Albanian palimpsests from Mount Sinai. Turnhout:Brépols (two volumes)). The language of the palimpests is clearly related to Udi and represents the oldest East Caucasian language documented so far (roughly 600 CE).

The layout of the grammar

ca pictureThe book project 'A Grammar of Udi' represents a corpus-based descriptive approach to this language supplemented by extensive field notes of the author. The descriptive format corresponds to that of Basic Linguistic Theory (Dixon 2009) and to standards in typology. The framework underlying the description dwells upon functionalism, typologoy, and cognitivism steadily turning them into a diachronic perspective in order to explain the emergence of given morphosyntactic, syntatic, and morphosemantic units and structures. In this respect, the grammar includes both the aspect of language knowledge/language practice (linguistic practice being monitored with the help of corpus linguistics and corresponding statistics) and that of a 'historical grammar of Udi' (among others by constant comparison of the Udi data with those of Caucasian Albanian). The 'Grammar of Udi' will also include a selection of fully glossed texts and a discussion of the Udi lexicon with respect to native (East Caucasian) terms and loans.

Some basic sections are (selection):

  • Udi and Udi speakers: A general overview
  • Basic typological features of Udi
  • Phonetics and Phonology (including relevant unsage-based statistics statistics)
  • Sound changes from Caucasian Albanian toi Udi
  • The referential domain (NP) and its modification: Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives etc.
  • The relational domain (VP) and its modification: Verbs and their categories; adverbs etc.
  • The basic clause and its variation
  • Subordination and clause chaining
  • Modal modification of clauses
  • Orientation and Location
  • The pragmatics of Udi speech acts
  • Text cohesion and the make-up of Udi story telling strategies
  • The Udi lexicon

Readers interested in a sample of the Udi grammar can find an excerpt here. Further excerpts are available upon demand (see "rapid contact"). The grammar will be finalized in 2013 (with a total of roughly 1.200 pages).                 

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