A Short History of the Tabasaran Language and Its People

A Short History of the Tabasaran Language and Its People

Languages come, go, and evolve over the course of time.  What you currently speak now will seem alien to those born 300 years ago, and may be just as alien to those born 300 years in the future.

Because language is constantly changing, it is important to know and understand this change.  In addition, it is important to recognise languages that may be under appreciated and potentially even on the verge of dying out.

Let’s take a moment to review a short history of the Tabasaran Language, as well as its people.  Marginalised by global players in the past 100 years, the continuation of the language and the culture surrounding the language is a testament to its people.


So What Is The Tabasaran Language?

Tabasaran is the name given to a language that is spoken in the Northeast Caucasians.  This is an area now controlled by Russia, and is in their republic of Dagestan, which is in southern Russia.  Of the dialects of Tabasaran spoken, the two primary ones are North (Khanag) and South (Tabasaran.)  With a literary language that is based on the Tabasaran dialect, the Tabasaran Language is considered one of the official languages of Dagestan.


The History of Its People

The Tabasaran Language has been influenced by the lives and culture of the Tabasaran people.  Over hundreds of years, the Tabasaran people have been defined by their environment, using the natural resources as the central part of their economy.  The majority of people in the foothills employ themselves as cultivators and horticulturalists.  Peas, maize, rye, barley, wheat, cotton, tobacco, nuts, and grapes are all grown depending on where they are in the climate.  In the mountains, the majority of people work as livestock breeders.  Technology used in these professions are kept simple, with simple ploughs, sickles, and scythes.  Though tools may be seen as primitive, their craftsmanship is exemplary. 


The Struggle of A People and A Culture

With the influence of Russia on the daily life of those who identified as Tabasaran, many things were lost.  The predominant religion of the Tabasaran, Islam, was forcibly abolished by the Russians, dealing a blow to the sense of shared culture.  Despite this, the Tabasaran people have been able to hang on to both their language and society.  This is because old people in the society are seen as the mainstays of tradition, helping to bring up children and teach the importance of their values and ways to the next generation.

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