Language Interference In The Speech Of Adyghe (Circassian) Diaspora Abroad


This study considers the language interference as a form of interaction of various language systems coexisting within one territory evidence from the speech of the Adyghe diaspora in foreign countries. Based on the analysis of the audio recordings of phono-archive and field materials we defined features of some lexical units in the speech of the Circassians living in the foreign-language environment. We have noted that external and internal factors of the impact on the speech of Circassians lead to the changes in phonologic, lexical and grammatical levels of the language as well as in the paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations. The phonetic interference is most particularly apparent in the voiced speech which consists in clarification of how the native Adyghe speaker in the contact with other languages of other linguistic group perceives and reproduces sounds of one language as native, and another language (the language of the country where he/she is living) as the second in the speech of a bilingual. The syntagmatic interference expressed in two types: resegmentation and synharmonization. In the article it is concluded that the language interference in the speech of a bilingual, is primarily the process itself, that is the mixture of elements from native and learned languages in linguistic consciousness of an individual due to imposing of two (or more) systems upon each other at language contact. Also it is noted that the interference of the native language is one of the main causes of appearing not only a foreign accent but foreign-language inclusions.

Keywords: InterferenceCircassiansdiasporaforeign-language environmentspeechtransformation


The dialogue of two and more languages, cultures in one territory inevitably leads to an interference, that is, the forms of interaction of various language systems coexisting in one territory. The interferences of the languages relating to different linguistic groups lead not only to loanword, but also to their affinity totally. Thus, “in everyday speech” which is characterized by unconstraint, the absence of the mental stumbling block providing abidance of language instructions, Circassians in diaspora switch to the blended communication where the meaning of communication is important, but not the formulation of thoughts " (Abazova, 2017).

Problem Statement

For the last decades the problem of contacts of various languages has developed into a problem of linguistic usage. Under the circumstances, studying the language interference in the speech of the Kabardino-Circassian diaspora abroad is of particular interest. Studying this problem is important for understanding the features of Circassians’ adaptation to the language and sociocultural systems of the resident countries. Transformation of the speech of the Adyghe diaspora abroad, the important marker of ethnic identity, is of a particular scientific interest. At all times, the interference of languages, the problem of vocabulary loan of certain languages from other languages as a result of language contacts, was and remains one of the important issues of general language science. In this regard, the research is directed to studying the language interference in the speech of the Adyghe (Circassian) diaspora in comparison with the Kabardino-Circassian literary language

Research Questions

The objective of the research is the language interference in the speech of the Adyghe (Circassian) diaspora in foreign countries

Purpose of the Study

The problem of the interference in the speech of the Adyghe (Circassian) diaspora abroad has not become the subject of the special research. Meanwhile, studying the diasporas speech (language) as the model of the people functioning in the foreign-language environment is the relevant scientific issue nowadays. The aim of the given research is to define the extent of language contact and functioning in public life: the case of the Adyghe (Circassian) diaspora speech abroad. This research is based on the integrated approach to studying, systematization and the analysis of the field materials, the available IHS KBFC RAS phono-archives and scientific works where certain aspects of studying the concepts of interference and language (speech) of Circassians abroad were studied.

Research Methods

Studying the language interference on the example of the Adyghe (Circassian) diaspora speech abroad allows to newly highlight some understudied aspects of transformation of the Adyghe (Circassian) ethnic society living in the nonethnic environment for a long time. To implement the tasks we have used the wide range of sources: the audio recordings of conversations with respondents of various age-sex groups collected over 2007 to 2015 period. The respondents were the Adyghes (Circassians) living in the territory of Turkey, Syria, Jordan as well as repatriates from abroad. We also have studied the phonoarchives of scientific institutions which include the speech records of the Adyghe (Circassian) diaspora representatives. Those recordings were collected in various expeditions at different times. As the empirical material we have used scientific works written by European and Western linguists (Schuchardt, 2003; Pack , 2004; Vinogradov, 2003; Shcherba, 1958; Karlinsky,1989; Abazova, 2014, etc.). These studies help to reveal the degree of the language interference in the Kabardino-Circassian language in the diaspora, and to define the extent of its change in the nonethnic language environment.

The complex of methods and techniques was used in this work. We applied the descriptive method when collected and systematized materials according to the research topic; the comparative method is to collate languages of various the Adyghe (Circassians) subethnic groups living abroad, the comparative historical method is to restore some historшс facts of the Adyghe (Circassian) diaspora abroad as well as to determine regularities of the Kabardino-Circassian diaspora speech transformation. The contextual method was applied in this research to define the extent of the Kabardino-Circassian diaspora speech transformation under the influence of the foreign-language environment. The ethnolinguistic method was used to characterize the particular sub-dialects and dialects of the Kabardino-Circassian language. The method of the synchronic linguistic description of material was applied to identify and describe the borrowed vocabulary in the speech of the Circassian (Adyghe) diaspora abroad. The complex of the used methods of a linguistic research helps to reveal the extent of the language interference and to define major factors of its change under the influence of exogenous and endogenous factors.


In linguistics, the influence of one language system on another language, which today is one of the main issues of the modern language contact theory, is referred to as the term “interference”. For V. Yu. Rosenzweig (Rosenzweig, 1972) the interference is a violation of the rules of contacting languages correlation by bilinguals, which is appeared in speech in a deviation from the norm (Shcherba, 1958).

A. Vinogradov (2003) in his encyclopedic dictionary offered the following definition: “ interference (from the Latin “inter” means “between, amid, mutually” and “ferio” means “hit, strike”) is the interaction of language systems in the conditions of the bilingualism developing either in contact languistic, or at individual learning nonnative language is expressed in deviations from the norm of the second language system under the influence of native language …” (Yartseva, 1990) “The result of interaction of the contacting systems can be expressed as deviations, violations in all changes of structural language elements in speech – in the meanings, properties, compatibility and "behavior" of language units" (Bagana & Blazhevich, 2011)

N. S. Pack wrote that “the interference is cases of deviation from the norm in the speech of a bilingual on I2 under the influence of I1, resulting from the language contact. The specifics of the influence of I1 on I2 is found at various levels of language - on phonologic, lexical and grammatical and other planes - paradigmatic and syntagmatic" (Pak, 2004). According to V.A. Vinogradov the interference is a direct consequence and the main phenomenon of language contacts, “defined as the deviation from the norm of one or each of the contacting languages that expressed in the bilingual speech as a result of their familarity more than with one language. At the same time, the more the difference between systems is, the more the potential area of the interference is”.

In sounding speech, the phonetic intercalation is often encountered, which is the reproduction of a primary language in a foreign ethnic environment by a native speaker (Kabardian-Circassian language among representatives of the foreign diaspora); the sounds of the second language (the state language of the resident country) are perceived and reproduced.

U. Weinreich distinguishes a syntagmatic interference, which is caused by functioning of phonetic system units in the speech chain and has arisen owing to the contacts of two and more various contacting languages. It can be of two forms: a) resegmentation; b) synharmonization.

Resegmentation of a speech stream leads to changing the quantity of elements in a word at which the number of elements increases or reduces. According to classification U. Weinreich, the study has identified the most common types of phonetic interference in the speech of representatives of the Adyghe (Circassian) diaspora abroad (Turkey, Jordan, Syria).

The main types include:

  • amplification of a vowel or syllable in the middle and at the end of a word. For example, cf.: “jezybyri” instead of literary Kabardino-Circassian language of an “jehzyri” (him(her)self), “dyk”yzdynehsami” instead of “dyk”yzdehsami” (to what they have reached); “argueruueh sehlam kyvyzokhyzhkheh” instead of “argueruh sehlam kyvyzohyzhkheh” (I say goodbye to you again) (Fonoarchive, 0016), “zymahueh guereh” instead of “zymahueh guer” (some day) (Phonoarchive, 0016);

  • metatethesis (shifting sounds or syllables in words), for example, cf.: “kIehntIyrof” instead of “kIehrtIof” (potato), “zyri zhimyIeu schtymeh” instead of “zyri zhimyIeu schytmeh” … (if tells nothing) (Phonoarchive, 1065; 1079, 1073);

  • syncope (dropping the sound in the middle of the word), for example, cf.: “ssсhIeIym se s[]kyschIykhikhar” instead of “sschIekym seh sykhyschIykhikhar” (I do not know why he has chosen me) (Phonoarchive, 0016), “syzykhehs zhylehm dehg"u[]ui saguroIueh” instead of “syzyhehs zhylehm dehg"uehui saguroIueh” (I agree well with fellow villagers), “s[]tu dakheh” instead of “sytu dakheh” (how it is beautiful) (Phonoarchive, 1068);

  • apocope (the loss of final consonant from the word), for example, cf.: to “adreh[]” instead of “adrey” (another), “K”ehbehrdeh[]” instead of “K”ehbehrdey” (Kabarda) (Phonoarchive, 0016; 1068, 1074);

  • elision (the loss of an unstressed vowel at the end of the word), for example, cf.: “tau[] fyschytkheh?” instead of “daueh fyschytkheh” (how are you)(Phonoarchive, 0016), “au[]” instead of “aueh” (but) (Phonoarchive, 0016; 1073, 1076);

  • loss of a syllable at the beginning of the word, for example, cf.: “il"ehs[]bzhaneh” instead of “il"ehs zybzhaneh” (several years) (Phonoarchive, 0016; 1072, 1073), “ui psal"ehr []pyzoud” instead of “ui psal"ehr zehpyzoud” (I interrupt your conversation) (Phonoarchive, 1065, 1079, 1068), “1999 g"ehm []shchIehdzau” instead of “1999 g"ehm shchyshchIehdzau” (since 1999) (Phonoarchive 1078).

According to U. Weinreich synharmonization means changing the set of vowels and consonants. In the studied language, due to the rules of phonemes collocations in the speech stream of the native language, some changes in the system of vowels and consonants are observed. For example, “shchytyg”arehkIehs” instead of “shchytareht” (there would be so), “pehmyshchI” instead of “nehmyshchI” (besides this), “Ig'y” instead of “idzhy” (now), “h"yg’abz” instead of “h"ydzhehbz” ( girl) (Phonoarchive 1079, 1073, 1074).

Furthermore, the phonetic interference lays the ground for the emergence of a foreign accent, which, for A.A. Reformatsky, “... is the result of introducing skills of the phonologic system into unfamiliar phonologic system” (Reformatsky, 1996). Consequently, the phonetic interference generates the accent which occurs in the studying language speech. The type of the accent depends on the language interfered the studied one. The main languages, influencing the speech of Circassians abroad, are Turkish, for those who live in the territory of Turkey, and Arabic, for those who live in Syria and Jordan. This statement is also confirmed by A.E. Karlinsky, he considers that learning non-mother tongue is not independent, but it is in interaction with the native language, which subsequently influences the speech of the bilingual person either positively or negatively (Karlinsky, 1989).

The deviation from the usage generates violation of collocation, arrangement, choice of linguistic units. Studying the interaction of contacting languages, the extents of their interfering influence get the great importance (Mezhetskaya, 2014). Thus, the mixture of languages is not the result of borrowings as much as mutual adaptation of contacting languages to their simplifying" (Schuchardt, 2003). At the same time, the lexical interference is observed. A.E. Karlinsky connects the emergence of the lexical interference with the use of foreign-language words and phrases in the speech on R2, which tends to increase. This regularity is primarily connected with the factor that lexis and phraseology of any language represent an open system, less strictly organized in comparison with phonetic and grammatical units and rules (Karlinsky, 1989).

When borrowing one or another word, the borrowing language adapts a foreign-language inclusion under the laws of phonetics, grammar and word formation. In our case Turkisms and Arabisms are adapted according to phonetics and grammar of the Kabardino-Circassian literary language. In the speech of the Kabardino-Circassian diaspora abroad, the lexical layer phonetic adapted words is observed. For example, meh᾿sehla instead of me΄selâ (for example), in the word "mehsehla" there is the replacement of both front vowels е [e] to short mid central vowel [œ], but the stress remains on the final syllable of “mehsehlˊa” , that is, pronounced with the Turkish accent; dehhjeh (daha΄) "more". In the speech of the diaspora the word "daha΄" has the long back vowel а at the end and in the middle of the word that transforms into short mid vowel e. This word is pronounced according to the standards of the Kabardino-Circassian literary language. The word “alfa’beh” (Alfabe΄) "alphabet" often occurs in the speech. When pronouncing this word the representatives of diaspora break orthoepic norms: the short mid vowel [e] is used instead of front vowel [æ] at the end of the word. This arabism is used not only in the speech of the Circassian diaspora in Syria, but also in Turkey. Thus, the word "alfabe" is borrowed from Arabian, but in Turkey this word occurs in the diaspora speech as turkism, in Syria and in the historic homeland it is used in dialects and sub-dialects as an arabism (Phonoarchive, 0016, 1072; 1073; 1074). "In most cases these new borrowings have forced out native Adyghe words which existed now in literary Kabardino-Circassian language in the historical Homeland (Abazova, 2014).

During the analysis of sources and materials we have established that the lexical interference follows the laws of the studying language (Kabardino-Circassian): there is a replacement of unusual in articulation and in compatibility of sounds from the Turkish and Arab languages on close to them in sound quality of the Kabardino-Circassian language.


Thus, the interference is case of deviation from literary norm in the speech of a bilingual under the influence of other language, as a result of language contact. At the same time, that language, which bilinguals perfectly knows, is dominating. In the case under consideration, for some informants (people of advanced age) the Kabardino-Circassian language is the main, despite the fact that it functions only as the "oral speech", as there is no literary language, but with specific accent. And for the younger generation the dominating language is the language of the country they live, they read and write. Thus, the Kabardino-Circassian language acts as the second language that is why the language interference at various levels of language occurs. We suppose that interference, first of all, is the process itself, that is mixing the elements of the native and learned languages in linguistic consciousness of an individual, due to imposing of two (or more) systems to each other at language contact.

The language interference is one of the main causes of appearing the foreign accent as well, appearing foreign words in speech, that is turkic, arabic loanwords, formulated within the norms of borrowing language- Kabardino-Circassian.

Language contact leads to formation of language interference, and in some cases there is also a transferring of one language functioning regularities to another at which the influencing language does not cause breaking the norms in the first one, but stimulates the already existing regularities, processes and phenomena in it.


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29 March 2019

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Unatlokova, L., Unatlokov, B. K., Khutezhev, Z., & Abazova*, M. M. (2019). Language Interference In The Speech Of Adyghe (Circassian) Diaspora Abroad. In & D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 58. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 10-16). Future Academy.