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From Caucasian Albanian to Udi

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

Two palimpsest manuscripts founded in the Mt. Sinai monastery by Zaza Aleksidze and identified as Caucasian Albanian by the same researcher can be regarded as the earliest documentation of an East Caucasian language. The decipherment of the palimpsests dating back to probably the 6th or 7th century A.D. mainly by Jost Gippert and the author of this paper allow relating the language of these texts (fragments of the Gospel of John and parts of a Christian lectionary) to the world of modern East Caucasian languages. It soon became clear that the language conventionally termed Caucasian Albanian (CA; for lack of a known autochthonous name) can be regarded as a more or less direct ancestor of present-day Udi, a minotarian language spoken in one village in Azerbaijan (Nij), as well as in some other settlements and cities of the former USSR. The paper wants to illustrate the degree of relatedness between of CA and Udi by referring to aspects of phonology, morphosyntax, and the lexicon. The CA and (Vartashen) Udi versions of a short text passage (Matthew 17,1-3) are additionally used to show that although some major processes of language change have occurred since the times of CA, there still is enough evidence that ascertain the assumption of immediate relatedness.

Affiliations: 1: University of Munich


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