International Association for Assistance to the Abaza-Abkhazian ethnos «Alashara»



 "We are ready to continue working to make our contribution to the preservation of the Abaza language", - Rodion Svetlichny concluded our conversation following after the results of the first expedition of a group of volunteer researchers of the St. Petersburg charitable scientific public foundation for linguistic research "The word" in June 2017. And here is the year 2018: summing up the work of the next expedition.

Gift to kids and their parents

 – This year we have worked for almost a month and set ourselves other tasks, -says Rodion. - Last year we investigated the state of the Abaza language, its dialects and dialects at the present stage, the level of knowledge of the native language of children and adults, identified difficulties. Therefore, this time we have come to benefit from a specific case. Time was limited, so it was a small project that can be mastered within a month. I think we have coped with this task thanks to the support of like-minded friends.

The first meeting was held at the Department of Kabardino-Circassian and Abaza languages and literature of the republican institute of advanced training of education workers. Primary school teacher from gymnasium № 1 aof aul Psyzh Aminat Bulatova and the head of the expedition Rodion Svetlichny, having discussed together with the head of the department proposals and conditions for their implementation, decided to prepare an audio program to help teachers of preschool and primary schools, as well as parents. Aminat Viktorovna Bulatova was the originator of the program and coordinator of the working group. Substantial support was rendered by the head of the kindergarten "Zvezdochka"of Psyzh of Abaza municipal district Margarita Malkhozova, donating a room for work. 63 works was chosen from publications for children in the Abaza language: fairy tales, poems, stories and rhymes. They were voiced by 11 people. Rodion himself was a sound engineer and sound producer.

– Soon all Abaza kindergartens and schools will receive the audio program recorded on discs, - explains Svetlichny. - The project received the full and sincere support of the head of our fund E. Zakharova.


Expedition team


This year the team has changed and expanded, but, unfortunately, one of the active members of the expedition 2017 Sergey Bictimirkin couldn't come. Each member of the team had a separate task.

Margarita Kravtsova - practical psychologist, lives and works in Kiev, is an employee of a public organization operating under the project of the International population fund of the United Nations.

- I came to your hospitable land for the first time. My tasks in the expedition were also connected with psychology, – Margarita shares her impressions. - It was very interesting to observe the psychological moments of communication. Even the facial expressions and gestures show how easily people here find a common language with each other. In Karachay-Cherkesia people live emotional, open, and it was nice and very easy to communicate. We visited different families, many of them are international, for example, Abazin's husband, Karachay's wife, or Russian husband, Abazin's wife. Our conversations have always been sincere: we were told the history of the people, the history of the family and family, about national rituals, for example, about how the matchmaking or wedding. The material that I received valuable and unique, I am overwhelmed with pleasant emotions and impressions.

Elena Guts, a student of Kyiv Dragomanov University, a future linguist, continued the emotional story of her colleague:

- I was born in Yakutia, currently studying in Kiev. I was also in Karachay-Cherkesia for the first time. It is very much surprising. After the bustle of the big city in the eye catches the regularity, modesty. I noticed that many girls wear long dresses with long sleeves and neat beautiful scarves around their necks. In this respect, there is no comparison with the capital. I enjoyed this atmosphere of modesty, restraint and kindness. As a novice researcher, I am very pleased to get acquainted with such a complex language as Abaza. In the village of Novo-Kuvinsk teacher even held a mini-lesson with us. Such complex expressions like "five pigeons are sitting on the five stones," was a revelation for me. At the same time, I realized that you can learn it, you just have to try very hard. Here are amazing people and amazingly beautiful nature.

Commenting on the words of Margarita and Elena, Rodion remembered that last year they could not even go to the mountains. And this year we managed to stay in the families of friends, hold meetings in the villages of Staro-Kuvinsk and Krasny Vostok, take a tour of Arkhyz, enjoy walks in Cherkessk, and even experience the healing effect of the thermal springs of the complex "Pearl of the Caucasus".

– It was nice to see the team of the International association "Alashara" again, - Svetlichny says. – They do a lot to preserve the Abaza language. We are delighted with it. During the meeting, we discussed the possibility of developing and publishing a printed version of our audio program with the support of "Alashara". We hope for close cooperation in the future.


On the transcription of the Abaza language


The expedition also included Rodion's wife Elena Svetlichnaya, a prominent specialist with extensive experience in working with non-written peoples of Africa, master of applied linguistics of Middlesex University (Middlesex).

– As a linguist, I was very interested to see how the language works, - says Elena. - I started with the phonetics. I was, of course, amazed at how many consonants there were. A person who wants to learn Abaza, need to try very hard to learn how to pronounce all these sounds. I think this is the beauty of the Abaza language. We with Rodion will come back, I want to know Abaza language deeper.

Elena Svetlichnaya worked for several years in Kenya, creating writing for one of the unwritten tribes. And, of course, it was a sin not to use the experience of such a high-level specialist to develop the transcription of the Abaza language.

– Transcription alphabet edited and modificarea by the International phonetic association, and as of 2005 this alphabet includes 107 symbols-letters, 52 character – diacritic signs and 4 symbols – the signs of prosody, – says Elena. – Sounds transcription are very helpful to the linguists and to students just learning the language, to correctly pronounce a particular sound. We tried to correlate the sounds of the Abaza language with this alphabet and developed our own correspondence table.

The first steps in this direction have been taken by the American linguist Brian O`Herin, who for many years conducted research on various theoretical and practical issues of Abaza language, has a number of publications and monographs on Abaza grammar. During her stay in Karachay-Cherkesia, Elena Svetlichnaya studied and finalized the draft transcription of the Abaza language proposed by Brian, and we will offer this project to specialists for testing.


Fund "The word" and Abaza


Members of the expedition are volunteers of the fund "The word", about the activities of which they told us briefly.

St. Petersburg scientific public foundation for linguistic research "The word" was founded in 1996 to promote the development of writing and the study of languages of the peoples of Russia and the CIS. Since 2000, within the framework of its activities implementing projects in the field of linguistics and the creation of linguistic databases, theory and practice of translation, sociolinguistics and social psychology are realised.

– I would like to express my gratitude to all our like-minded people who helped to implement the project, especially the children who voiced the texts, - Rodion Svetlichny said at the end of our meeting. – I was pleasantly surprised that Abazin has their own puppet theater, it was nice to work together with its head Zurab Kopsergenov. We are already making plans for next year and hope to support and continue close cooperation in the implementation of new projects.

From their side, the Abaza public expresses their heartfelt gratitude to the St. Petersburg scientific public foundation "The word" and its head Elena Zakharova.