Intriguing Stuff In Abkhasia: Words Begin With ‘A’

I love languages and and here I want to talk a bit about how huge and weird can be the world of languages, also in the sense that it has produced really strange stuff.

I stumbled into the Abkhasian language (spoken in Abkhasia, a small semi-independent state within Georgia (the Asian country) when reading a short wonderful article. Well, this language has got just two vocals (three if you consider combinations of sounds) but fifty-eight mighty consonants. 58 consonants. (See Wikipedia’s article).

In the original and super interesting Karlos Zurutuza’s Jot Down Magazine article Donde Cersei es Stalin (Where Cersei is Stalin, El Pais, Feb. 2018), some intriguing data is offered that fascinated me:

Por si fuera poco, casi el 90?% de su vocabulario comienza por la letra «a»: los abjasios se llaman apsua a sí mismos —«el pueblo de las almas»—; Apsny, a su patria, apsuara, a su código ético tradicional; atsa y ash, al pan y el queso, y se despiden con un sonoro abziaraz. Ni siquiera los préstamos se libran: arespublika, arestorant,akafe… Si alguna vez cae en sus manos un diccionario abjasio podrán pensar que no es más que el primer tomo de un inmenso glosario; el correspondiente a la «a».

As if that were not enough, almost 90% of their vocabulary begins with the letter “a”: the Abkhazians call themselves apsua – “the people of souls” -; Apsny, their homeland, apsuara, their traditional code of ethics; atsa and ash, bread and cheese, and say goodbye with a loud abziaraz. Not even loans are waged: arespublika, arestorant, akafe … If ever an Abkhazian dictionary falls into your hands you may think that it is only the first volume of an immense glossary; the one corresponding to «a». [my bold]

But this extraordinary and ancient people has another intriguing aspect of their Abkhasian culture, as Zurutuza reports:

Los abjasios son cristianos en un 80%, musulmanes en un 20%, y cien por cien paganos», asegura Stanislav Lakoba […]

Abkhasians are 80% Christian, 20% Muslim, and 100% pagans, reports…

Wikipedia states: Abkhazia is a de facto sovereign state whose status is disputed. It considers itself to be an independent state, but this is recognised by only a few other countries. The Georgian government and most of the world’s other states consider Abkhazia de jure a part of Georgia’s territory.

Wonderful discoveries.

[Featured image from Wikipedia: Apsua Holding Apsny Flag, by Apsuwara – CC-Licensed BY-SA]


Also published on Medium.

About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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