Sociolinguistics in the Caucasus

Authored by: Victor A. Friedman

The Routledge Handbook of Sociolinguistics Around the World

Print publication date:  November  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415422789
eBook ISBN: 9780203869659
Adobe ISBN: 9781135261054


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As a geo-political region, the Caucasus can be divided into the North Caucasus and the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia). Transcaucasia consists of the Republics of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan—including polities whose status is still disputed as of this writing: Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh, which seceded from Azerbaijan to join Armenia in 1988, followed by a war lasting until 1994. In strictly geographic terms, Georgia and Azerbaijan also include some north Caucasian slopes in their territory. In the south, the political borders of Turkey to the west and Iran to the east form a convenient demarcation, although speakers of relevant languages extend into and/or migrated to both these countries. The geo-political North Caucasus is entirely within the Russian Federation and consists of a series of Republics (from west to east): Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia (Alania), Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Daghestan. Adygea is surrounded by Krasnodar Kraj, which, with Stavropol Kraj and Kalmykia, forms the northern administrative border of the remaining North Caucasian republics, whose southern borders are defined by Georgia and Azerbaijan. The Black Sea defines the western border, and to the east is the Caspian.1

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