The more I learn about the Georgian language the more eager I am to compare it with nearby Caucasian languages, to which it is not related but shares a common Sprachbund with.

Although I'm also interested in Abkhaz and Chechen, I've become mostly interested in Avar because of the Caucasian languages spoken in Dagestan it has the most speakers, it's flourishing, it's taught in schools, and is used as a local lingua franca.

Yet despite this there is an amazing paucity of information about Avar available on the internet. At least in English.

I am seeking either a grammar of Avar or a pretty detailed description. A dictionary would also be OK. I can't really pay for one and I don't have access to journals for professional linguists. Where might I be able to find something?

  • 3
    What languages can you read in? If Russian is one of them, a good place to start would be philology.ru/linguistics4/madiyeva-67.htm (also, see References at the end of the entry) and philology.ru/linguistics4/alekseev-99c.htm. There's a special department at the Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, iling-ran.ru/beta/departments/kavkaz. Some names: Alekseev, Ataev, Madiyeva.
    – Alex B.
    Jun 2, 2013 at 19:31
  • I can't read Russian but I know the alphabet and Indo-European languages are easy (-; I could probably also tackle German or French, in which I've seen lots of linguistics published. By the way, if you submitted this info as an answer rather than a comment I think it's almost as good as Gaston's and just as useful for me - thanks! Jun 3, 2013 at 5:10

4 Answers 4


The only grammar of Avar that I can find is this, in French:

Charachidzé, Georges. 1981. Grammaire de la langue avar. Paris: Editions Jean-Favard.

A Nook ebook version is, apparently, free from Barnes and Noble, but only if you're in the USA. You can see several pages of the grammar here.

This review of the 4 volume 'The Indigenous languages of the Caucasus' mentions the Charachidzé grammar as well as several other works. I suspect they will all be difficult to obtain.

A search of LinguistList gets this information, but no grammar.

Ethnologue claims there is an SIL grammar (as well as a dictionary and Bible portions), but it might be hard to get. A search of SIL gets these results, but still no grammar. If you have a look at this paper on Avar from SIL the references might be useful if you read Russian (there's always Google translate). The paper includes the lead author's email address so you could try contacting him.

You could also ask on the Caucasian studies mailing list CaucNet.

Finally, you could try asking on LinguistList, or perhaps email Johanna Nichols, a linguist who has carried out much work on Caucasus languages.


Cyril Graham - The Avar Language (1873)

Dependency and discourse-configurationality: A study of Avar

You're not likely to find much else on Avar, which is still quite poorly described in English despite being the largest Dagestani language.

I'm currently learning it (through Russian, though even here the materials are few and far between) and I can say the verb system is not terribly complex, especially when compared to Georgian. In fact there is not a lot in the grammar that is reminiscent of Georgian and the languages are not genetically related as far as we know.

I might put together a short grammar "cheat sheet" if I get far enough in the language but for now I'm focused on the learning, which I am documenting on my blog: dirrakmuhruzdabugo.wordpress.com [3].

  • Wow I'm excited to be able to follow your blog! Dec 12, 2016 at 15:36

The Virtual Language Observatory (VLO), a service by the European CLARIN project, has links to materials for rare languages like Avar. Just entering "Avar" in the search slit will give you about three dozen hits that can be further refined if wanted. It reveals (among other things) an electronic copy of the Avar grammar already mentioned by Gaston Ümlaut.

Bookmark to the VLO query described above:



I've just discovered (via UniLang) a German language site on Avar:


It's set out as lessons but includes (oddly) English-Avar and Avar-English dictionaries.

It has quite a bit of grammar info but seems only to cover pronounds, nouns, and adjectives. No information on the verbal system, which is usually where the meaty stuff.

(Looks like it hasn't been updated in seven years so I wouldn't expect a verb section soon.)

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