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Documenting a West Circassian Dialect in Israel

From October 25 to November 1 2017, Yury Lander and Irina Bagirokova spent over a week in Israel, documenting a West Circassian dialect.

After the Caucasian War in the second half of the 19th century, a significant number of Circassians, who speak languages belonging to the Abkhaz-Adyghe (or West Caucasian) language family, left the Caucasus and resettled in the Ottoman Empire. As a result, Adyghe and Kabardian settlements can be found in many countries of the Middle East. In Israel, there are two West Circassian villages - Kfar-Kama, inhabited by speakers of the Shapsug dialect, and Rehaniya, where the Abadzek dialect is spoken. Both dialects are hardly ever used in Russia.

This year's trip was devoted to the documentation of the dialect of Kfar Kama. Thanks to the active assistance of local residents, Yury Lander and Irina Bagirokova of NRU HSE recorded a number of texts and dialogues in Shapsug, collected preliminary material for a noun dictionary, and examined some grammatical features of the dialect of Kfar Kama.

In addition to HSE's Yury Lander and Irina Bagirokova, Dr. Eitan Grossman, professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Dmitry Nikolaev, a postdoctoral researcher of the same university, were involved in the project. The participants also met with linguists from the University of Haifa Bracha Nir and Irit Meir in Kfar Kama, and discussed how to conduct psycholinguistic experiments with the West Circassian material in Israel. After the trip to the village, the processing of the material continued in Jerusalem, where Yuri Lander also gave a talk on Yet Another typology of marking loci at a meeting of the typological seminar at the Hebrew University.

The study of West Circassian in Israel was conducted as part of the project on "Circassian isoglosses" of the Linguistic Convergence Laboratory and the project "Electronic documentation of a polysynthetic language", supported by the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research (grant No. 15-06-07434).