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Mingrelian language

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Mingrelian language

Mingrelian
მარგალური ნინა margaluri nina
Native to Georgia
Region Samegrelo, Abkhazia
Ethnicity Mingrelians
Native speakers
unknown (500,000 cited 1989)[1]
Kartvelian
Georgian script
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xmf
Glottolog ming1252[2]
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Mingrelian or Megrelian (მარგალური ნინა margaluri nina) is a UNESCO designating it as a "definitely endangered language".[3]

Distribution and status

No reliable figures exist for the number of Mingrelian native speakers, but it is estimated to be between 500,000 and 800,000. Most speakers live in the Abkhazia, but the ongoing civil unrest there has displaced many Mingrelian speakers to other regions of Georgia. Their geographical distribution is relatively compact, which has helped to promote the transmission of the language between generations.

Mingrelian is generally written with the Georgian (or, for expatriate speakers, the local official language) for other purposes.

In the summer of 1999, books of the Georgian poet Murman Lebanidze were burned in the Mingrelian capital, Zugdidi, after he made disparaging remarks about the Mingrelian language.[4]

History

Mingrelian is one of the Svan (which is believed to have branched off in the 2nd millennium BC or earlier).[5] Mingrelian is not mutually intelligible with any of those other languages, although it is said that its speakers can recognize many Laz words.

Some linguists refer to Mingrelian and Laz as grouped within the Zan languages.[6] Zan had already split into Mingrelian and Laz variants by early modern times, however, and it is not customary to speak of a unified Zan language today.

The oldest surviving texts in Mingrelian date from the 19th century, and are mainly ethnographical literature. The earliest linguistic studies of Mingrelian include a phonetic analysis by Jumber Kukava, and Vakhtang Kharchilava.

Phonology

Vowels

Mingrelian has five primary vowels a, e, i, o, u. The Zugdidi-Samurzaqano dialect has a sixth, ə, which is the result of reduction of i and u.

Mingrelian vowels
Front Back
unrounded rounded
High i [i] [ə]) u [u]
Mid e [ɛ] o [ɔ]
Low a [ɑ]

Consonants

Consonant inventory of Megrelian is almost identical to Svan.

Mingrelian consonants
Labial Dental Alveolar Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m [m] n [n]
Plosive voiced b [b] d [d] g [ɡ]
voiceless p [p] t [t] k [k] ʔ [ʔ]
ejective [pʼ] [tʼ] [kʼ] [qʼ]
Affricate voiced ʒ [d͡z] ǯ [d͡ʒ]
voiceless c [t͡s] č [t͡ʃ]
ejective ċ [t͡sʼ] čʼ [t͡ʃʼ]
Fricative voiced v [v] z [z] ž [ʒ] ɣ [ɣ]
voiceless s [s] š [ʃ] x [x] h [h]
Trill r [r]
Approximant central y [j]
lateral l [l]

Phonetic processes

Vowel reduction

Certain pairs of vowels reduce to single vowels:

  • ae and aieee
  • ao, oa and ooaaa
  • ou → uu → u

In Zugdidi-Samurzaqano dialect the vowels i and u also often reduce to ə.

Pre-consonant change of velar g

Before consonants, gr.

Positional change of uvular q' sound

In word-initial prevocalic and intervocalic positions, q' → ʔ. Before the consonant v, q' → ʔ/ḳ.

Regressive assimilation of consonants

The common types are:

  • voicing/devoicing of voiceless/voiced consonants before voiced/voiceless ones (respectively).
  • glottalization of consonants before the glottalized ones and the glottal stop.

Progressive dissimilation

If the stem contains r then the suffixes -ar and -ur transform to -al and -ul. E.g. xorga (r an l appears later. E.g. marṭvili ("Martvili", the town) → marṭvil-ur-i (adj. "Martvilian")

In a stem with voiceless affricates or voiceless sibilants, a later ǯ is deaffricated to d. E.g. orcxonǯi → orcxondi "comb", č'anǯi → č'andi "fly (insect)", isinǯi → isindi "arrow", etc.

The transformation of l

  • in all dialects of Megrelian, before consonants lr.
  • in the Martvili subdialect in word-initial prevocalic position, l → y → ∅ and in intervocalic position l → ∅

Intervocalic deletion of v

Between the vowels the organic v disappears. E.g. xvavi (Geo. "abundance, plenty") → *xvai → xvee (id.), mṭevani (Geo. "raceme") → ṭiani (id.), etc.

Phonetic augmentation n

Before the stops and affricates, an inorganic augmentation n may appear (before labials n → m).

Alphabet

Megrelian is written in the Mkhedruli script.

Mkhedruli Transcription IPA transcription
a ɑ
b b
g ɡ
d d
e ɛ
v v
z z
t t
i i
l l
m m
n n
y j
o ɔ
ž ʒ
r r
s s
u u
ə ə
p p
k k
ɣ ɣ
ʔ ʔ
š ʃ
č t͡ʃ
c t͡s
ʒ d͡z
ċ t͡sʼ
čʼ t͡ʃʼ
x x
ǯ d͡ʒ
h h

Grammar

Dialects

The main dialects and sub-dialects of Mingrelian are:

  • Zugdidi-Samurzakano or Northwest dialect
    • Dzhvari
  • Senaki or Southeast dialect
    • Martvili-Bandza
    • Abasha

Famous speakers

References

  1. ^ Mingrelian at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Mingrelian". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger
  4. ^ Ammon, Ulrich; Dittmar, Norbert; Mattheier, Klaus J., eds. (2006). Sociolinguistics: an international handbook of the science of language and society. Walter de Gruyter GmbH. p. 1899.  
  5. ^ http://www.lrz-muenchen.de/~wschulze/lgxcauc.pdf
  6. ^ K2olxuri Ena (Colchian Language)
  7. ^ http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100708/ap_on_re_eu/eu_georgia_oldest_person

External links

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