Toponymic System Of Dagestan: Aspects And Prospects Of Research


The article discusses the toponymy of Dagestan as a toponymic space, a toponymic system and a toponymic picture of the world. The research touches upon the main aspects of the study of Dagestan toponymy: linguo-geographical, linguo-cognitive, ethno-linguistic, etc. The work describes such concepts as toponymic personality, toponymic context. The toponymy of Dagestan is considered as a part of the general toponymic system of Russia, as its regional fragment, which has its own specificity, determined by geographic location, history of settlement and ethnographic state of the region. The principles of the nomination of toponymic objects of Dagestan, the peculiarities of the language representation of toponymic concepts are presented, the main cognitive models of the content of the toponymic concept “surrounding space” are revealed in the minds of the residents of Dagestan, which ensures preservation and continuity from generation to generation. The study analyzes the toponymic material of the Avar, Andean, Begtin, Dargha and Lezghin languages belonging to the Avar-Ando-Tsez, Laksk-Darginsk and Lezgin groups of the Dagestan languages. Practical linguistic material is presented by the toponyms and micro-toponyms collected by the authors in several districts of the Republic of Dagestan. The present stage of development of world science is characterized by the most intensive development of its areas and sections that occupy a border position i.e. combine the elements and methodology of several scientific areas at the junction of which they emerged. Such interdisciplinary area is toponymy, which was formed at the junction of geography, linguistics and history.

Keywords: Toponymic systemDagestanspacepicturecontext


The toponymic space of Dagestan is reasoned by its geographical location, already reflected in the name of the region - Dagestan - “Country of Mountains”. By toponymic space, the authors mean the totality of toponyms on the territory of a certain region, used in a given language of a given people to name real, hypothetical and “fantastic” objects, or “the part of reality marked by proper names” (Shmelev, 2013, p. 76). Under the toponymic system, the authors consider “a set of toponyms of a certain territory bounded historically and geographically, in which their interconnection and interdependence and the general processes of their origin and word formation are manifested” (Vorobyova, 1983, p. 7), which is “a part of the naturally formed language systems with a long history with all the tendencies embedded in it” (Matveyev, 2006, p. 160).

Problem Statement

The toponymy of Dagestan is considered both as a certain toponymic space, and as a peculiar toposystem, and as a special toponymic picture of the world - “this is a toponymic system in its mental being” (Golev & Dmitrieva, 2008, p. 10). In the toponymic system of Dagestan, there are certain local systems of nominations that are regional in nature: oronyms, hydronyms and oikonyms. Continuing the study of the theory of the toponymic system, the authors develop the idea of the toponymic system at a new linguistic and methodological level. The scientific novelty of the research is reasoned by the combination of the presentation of mental and ontological being of toponymic system, the analysis of its functional properties and the systemic description of the onomastic vocabulary of a certain region.

Research Questions

The subject of research is the linguistic features of the toponyms of Dagestan in the areas inhabited by Avars, Andians, Bezhtins, Dargins and Lezgins. Regional toponyms in various research works are studied mainly from the point of view of the traditional approach, i.e. in the system of linguistic disciplines. The authors consider the subject of research from the point of view of the history of a toponym, its etymology, distribution area, lexico-semantic classification and structural and derivational characteristics - any proper name (toponym) - “is an onomastic sign reflecting the knowledge complex about proper name (linguistic and encyclopedic knowledge) and serving for the organization of onomastic knowledge in human mind” (Shcherbak, 2008, p. 15). The linguistic representation of onomastic knowledge is carried out using onomastic categories and is called “onomastic representation”, which means “transfer of onomastic knowledge in the form of concepts and language units” (Shcherbak, 2008, p. 22).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to analyze, describe and prepare the material for the vocabulary representation of the toponymic system of Dagestan, presented on the example of the Avar, Andean, Begta, Dargin and Lezgin languages. In addition, the examples from toponymic legends presented in the study are an attempt to explain why a particular name appeared in a given expression (in research case, in proverbs and sayings). Folklore toponymy can be based both on the true principle of nomination, and on the folk etymological reading of a name - the very mechanism of its generation is important, which becomes a fact of the cultural connotation of a toponym as a folklore code of popular culture.

The main purpose of the simultaneous study of toponyms of a given region is to determine the organization of different toponyms of the same territory and to establish a toponymic system.

Research Methods

During the study of research topic, the main is the descriptive method apart from general scientific research methods. The geographical method of toponymic research is based on the use of popular geographical terms.

The cartographic method is used to establish patterns of placement of toponymic phenomena, the dynamics of their development over time, spatial connections and dependencies, both between individual toponymic facts and between them and various social and natural realities reflected on maps. The full description and analysis of toponymic facts cannot be carried out without the use of historical research methods. Toponyms reflect the attitude of a person to nature, which has developed over a long historical period. However, the main methods of this research are linguistic ones: etymological, formant and word-formation method and semantic analysis of toponyms (Tagirov & Khalilov, 2018).


The traditional structural approach focused primarily on the identification of relations within the topological system, while the cognitive approach addresses the linguistic consciousness of native speakers, the toponymic picture of the world, which has a territorial character and regional characteristics, which are considered as regional mentality, i.e. biologically, historically and socially conditioned system of stereotypes functioning in Dagestan. The language representation of toponymic concepts in the Dagestan languages is carried out due to a large set of language means (Otsomieva-Tagirov, 2007). First of all, with the help of a capital letter, which is the distinguishing code mark for a proper name and common noun, or appellate:

Avar. Лъарáхъ , com. лъар «river», ТIалýлI , com. тIалó «high plain»;

Lezg. ТIулар «Mountain», com. тIул «Peak», К1унтIар « Bald mountain» от кIунтI «bald peak».

In the toponymic system of Dagestan, there are semantic relations characteristic of other toposystems, but having their own lexical specificity:

1) lexico-semantic models (for example, reflecting flora and fauna):

Avar. Махирохь «birch forest», БисикIкIал «Mountain goat break», ГIанкIигомог «Hare hollow » (Tlantari village, Gumbetovsky region.);

cham. МуселІ квел «Bull pen», АмахулІ бекъулІ « Donkey back » (Gakvari village, Tsumadinsky region);

lezg. Чумал бахча «Kizil garden», НуькIре булах « Sparrow spring », Перленгдин чарх « Tiger rock ».

2) Countable-numeric series:

avar. КIикIкIал «Two Gorges» (Almakh village, Kazbekovsky region), ЛъаганчIихъакI « Three stones » (Mogokh, Gergebilsky region);

cham. ЭчІида инцучІ бакьан «Between two springs» (Gakvari village, Tsumadinsky region);

lezg. Кьве рекьин арада авай ник1ер «Arable land between two roads» (Ashaga village, Hivskiy region).

Antonymic pairs of compound toponyms are presented:

1) in spatial-quantitative oppositions: avar. Жаниб Хъоринзо «Inner Chorinzo» – ТIад Хъоринзо «Upper Chorinzo» (Almakh village, Kazbekovsky region);

cham. Беххилаб гьасІсІа «Long lowlands» – БашакІуб гьасІсІа « Short lowlands », Бакьи гъāй « middle part of village » – Беххи гъāй « final part of village » (Gakvari village, Tsumadinsky region);

2) time oppositions within the system:

avar. Басриял хабзал «Old grave yard» – ЦIиял хабзал « New grave yard » (Gortkolo village, Khunzakh region); Басрияб кьохъан нух « The road through the Old Bridge » – ЦIияб кьохъан нух « The road through the New Bridge ».

lezg. ХарапIаяр «Old settlement» (Alkadar), ЦIийи хуьр «New settlement (Kasumkent village, S-Stalsky region).

A special aspect of the study of the Dagestan toponymic system is its functioning in oral and written speech. Toponymic picture of the world of Dagestan finds expression in the so-called “cultural semantics” of toponyms - in motivation: in various connotations and verification of names, in local folklore, i.e. “mental education, the content of which is experienced knowledge of a toponymic reality relevant to a specific linguocultural community” (Bykanova, 2001, p. 48). The language representation of toponymic concepts in the Dagestan languages is carried out due to the motivational meaning of the toponym, which:

1) Reflects cultural realities or situations:

avar. Арав дун Гьолокье, бахараб гIадалъе, гIадаллъарав дун «I went to Golotl, hit in the head, I lost my mind»; Багьана – Гьолокье, жийго – ЦIолокье « Pretext - in Golotl, she is in Zolotl »;

lezg. Багдадда лам кьве шигьи я лагьайла, килигайт1а кьве шигьи хьана «They said in Baghdad a donkey costs two pennies, it turned out that only to look at a donkey costs two pennies»; Нехир Хуьруьгда хвейила, гьахъ хъуьлуьдриз гана « The herd was kept in Khryug, and the tribute was paid to the men of honor».

2) Contains the cultural version of any properties of the object itself, attributed to it:

avar. Алазан рагIалда бицараб, Ициг гохIихъ батараб «What was told on the Alazan River was found at Itzig Hill»;

lezg. Шалбуздагъда жив хьайиала, Муьшкуьрда кьеж жеда «If there is snow on Shalbuzdag, Mushkur will have moisture», Ахцегьа туькIуьрай манияр Чепени чкIана « Songs written in Akhtakh are also known in Jaba», КIвалин хабар гъвеч1идавай, хуьруьн хабар делидавай «About the news in the house - from the baby, and about the news in the village - from the fool».

From the examples it is clear that among these nominations there is a vocabulary of local speech, creating a dialectal color.

The connotative level of toponymic semantics has a special ethnocultural value: БахIарчи цIакъав – ЧIондокьа ХIажияв, цIар – ХIажимурадие «Khazhiyav from Chondotlya is a good hero, glory is for Hadji Murat»; Арпа-чай бахунелъул МухIумагIали гIадин «How Muhumaali, when swam Arpa-chay».

Hydrothematics, outstanding events and the names of the heroes of this period form a special layer of the toponymic system - folklore toponymy, or folklore re-motivation of the toponym, the so-called toponymic legends. The concept of a person as a form of mental being of the toponymic system, which implements concepts, the conceptual framework of which is associated with the events of the Caucasian War under the leadership of Imam Shamil. Understanding the toponymic system as a toponymic picture of the world leads to the emergence of such a concept as a toponymic personality, orienting itself in geographic space with the help of reference signs that show their perception, understanding and interpretation from the position of the addressee, certain toponymic associations included in the consciousness of the toponymic personality in so-called toponymic context (Golev & Dmitrieva, 2008).

Oriented to the system of language, onomastic concepts are represented at the following levels: formal (grammatical and word-formation) and semantic.

1. Formal onimization occurs when:

1.1. Through the word-forming toponymic suffix - locative affixes: avar. ГохIдá нахъá хурзал «Arable land behind the hill» (Tselmes), НахълъаратIа кьо « Bridge on the back river » (Gortkolo village, Khunzakhsky region);

cham. Хвабхе тисІсІвабе «Swamps at the mill», (Gakvari village, Tsumadinsky region);

bezht. Зидаъ «on the Zida mountain», Онкъкьа « on the shady side », Бихъхъаъдā « on the Southernside

lezg. Хуьруьхъ галай никIер «Tillage outside the village», Гъугъвандихъ галай чка « Place beyond Gugan » (Tsmur village, S-Stalsky region).

1.2. By number: avar. ТIинаб гьаргIиб «In a small plain» (Kolo) – in singular, ГIисин свералаби «Small twists» (Zaib village, Khunzakhsky region) – in plural;

Lezg. ГъвечIи тIул «Small hollow» (Ashaga-Zinit village, Kurakhsky region) – in singular, Вини къазмаяр «Top dugouts» (Stal village, S-Stalsky region) – in plural.

1.3. Syntactically:

1.3.1. By one lexeme: Гьанáрди «Anardi», ХIохIóда «Khokhoda» (Amushi village, Khunzakhsky region);

cham. ЧІаме «Horns», Ситвл «Situ» (Gakvari village, Tsumadinsky region);

bezht. Баьлаькуьваъ «Balakuro» (mountaion), Апаъ «Apa», Хинод «Khinod»;

lazg. Фияр (Fiy), Чепер (Dzhaba), Мискискар (Miskindzha village, Dokuzparinsky region).

1.3.2. Through the phraseological unit: avar. Кьодухъ бакI «By the bridge», КIудияб лъарахъ добе кьо « Bridge over a large river »;

cham. ГегучI яшал «Pass at Goguch» (Gakvari village, Tsumadinsky region);

bezht. Хойла лъикьа «Ram spring»;

lezg. Хардаяр чуьхуьдай булах «Spring in which the rice stock is washed».

2. Semantic onimization is represented as:

1.1 Simple (direct value of appeal). The round shape is reflected in the following nominations: ГургинмегIер «Round mountain» (Khindakh), Гургина хур « Round, oval arable land » (Khunzakh village, Khunzakhsky region);

lezg. Элкъвей векьер «Round hay» (Yukhari), Элкъвей кьилер « Round peaks» (Khurakh), Элкъвей кIунтI « Round peaks» (Zizik village, S-Stalsky region.).

1.2. Metaphoric: Ражихо «Pestle», Хьаг «Pan» (Amushi village, Khunzakhsky region);

1.3. Metonymic: Меседил хIор «Golden lake»; Меседил гохI «Golden hill»,

lezg. Къизилар хкатдай пел «Gold-bearing slope» (Pitikent village, S-Stalsky region).

The important property of toponymic concepts is the formation on their basis of the toponymic category - “the union of proper names on the basis of a common concept (name concept)” (Shcherbak, 2008). Toponymic concepts that form the regional toponymic conceptual sphere are represented by dialect features of linguistic units (Rubleva, 2013).

The Dagestan languages (and dialects) contain a multitude of popular geographic terms that often become the basis for toponomination, which are included in the toponymic system of the region. Selectivity depends on the dialectical connections between language units.

It is believed that the more abstract the idea of reality (avar. авал «quarter », г1уро «meadow», хур «arable land», нух «road», ах «garden», рохь «forest»; лезг. къазма «village», векь «pasture land», тепе «hill», вацI «river», сергьят «headland», дере «valley»), the higher its naming ability: avar. Гъоркьавал «Lower quarter», ТIассаавал «Upper quarter» (Almakh village, Kazbekovsky region), КIудянохъóда « In a big cave » (Amushi village, Khunzakhsky region).

cham. Бела «Gully», СІсІедвбе «Hills», (Gakvari village, Tsumadinsky region);

lezg. Гуьне пата авай вир «Lake on the sunny side» (Gelchen village, Kurakhsky region).

The main cognitive models of the content of the toponymic concept “surrounding space” in the minds of Dagestanis are as follows (by degree of frequency):

1) «a person» – the name or surname of the owner, first settler or member of his family: avar. ХIанзатил тала «Khanzat meadow», Ирбагьинил тала «Ibragin meadow» (Burtunai, Kazbekovsky);

cham. ХІажил хваб «Khazha mill», Шундалассуб мигъа «Shundalav pature land» (Gakvari, Tsumadinsky);

bezht. Аьлил Маьгьаьмадлаъ « by Alil Magomed», Ирбагьимла цIаъ « In the field of Ibrahim»;

darg. Мирзала бягI «Mirza slope» (Sanchi, Kaytagsky); БяхIмудла хъяб «Bakhmud pass» (Kudagu, Dakhadaevsky);

lezg. Аливердидин векьин чака «Aliverdi meadow» (Akhty, Akhtynsky), Вагьабан векьин «Vagab meadow» (Ashaga-stal, S-Stalsky).

2) «water», «landscape», «relief»: avar. БегIер гохI «Sharp hill», Бакъда лъар «River on the sunny side» (Butsra, Khunzakhsky);

bezht. Тикьа цIаъ «On the other side of the field», Хийкувала лъикьа «On the spring of the Khiy gorge», Хъохъова кувакьа «At the dry gorge»;

darg. Чанккалла шери «Salty pond», Лаккурбалла кьакь «Top of climbs» (Sanchi, Kaytagsky);

lezg. Купул яд «Spring from rheumatism» (Orta-Stal S.-Stalsky), Агъа уьр «Lower reservoir» (Kurah, Kurakhsky).

3) «Fauna», «flora»: avar. ЗазигохI «Hill of Thorn Grass», Согролъ мегIер « Cowberry Mountain», БацIикIкIал «Wolf gorge», Гагудал гохI «Cuckoo Hill»;

cham. МичІил мигълІи «Buttercup Meadows», БацІгъада «Wolf river », ГегучІ «At cuckoo», ГъагъулІ басс «Rock partridge» (Gakvari, Tsumadinsky);

bezht. Анзалакьа «Over rowan», Берусела къоьчIоьдоьй «At badger hole», Синхъиъ «At a bear»;

darg. Улала бяхI «Strawberry slope», Ччимбала гьулгъи «Kizil grove», Хъиххвала гьулгъи «Nut grove», ЦIицIбукъкъалла шери «Leech pond» (Sanchi, Kaytagsky);

lezg. Лифре булах «Dove spring» (Kahtsugs), Хтун тар авай кек «Plum Tree Place» (Speak, S.-Stalsky).

4) «geographical realities»: avar. Багьараб нохъо «Through cave», (Butsra), Салусвери «Sand twist», (Amushi, Khunzakhsky);

cham. Савй лълъинилІ инцв «Cold water spring», СералІе микъабе «Sand roads», (Gakvari, Tsumadinsky);

bezht. Веллаъас гьино «Road to Georgia», Качалай «Settlement»;

darg. Гъвяргъвярти «Stone slope» (Sanchi, Kaytagsky), Шурла дубура «Mountain boulders», ТIярхъбар дубура «Leaky Mountain» (Gubden, Karabudakhkentsky);

lezg. Чархар «Mountains» (Tatarkent, Magaramkentsky).

5) «religious realities»: avar. Шайхасул хоб «Sheikh grave» (Tsalkita, Khunzakhsky);

bezht. Шейхила шуьнаькьаь «At the grave of the Sheikh»;

darg. Шейх ГIяхIмадла пир «The shrine at the grave of Sheikh Ahmed», Дулкье пир « The shrineat the slope», Рирси пир « The shrine at the grave of a girl» (Sanchi, Kaytagsky), Кьара Кьурешцци пирти « Kala Kureish Shrines» (Urkarakh, Dakhadaevsky).

6) «oppositivity»: avar. Гъóркьакулáл «Lower villages» – ТIáсакулáл «Upper villages», ТIассахьаг «Upper pan» – Хьаг «Pan» – Гъоркьахьаг «Lower pan»;

cham. Ахбасс «Upper plate» – Гьикь басс «Lower plate», Ахгъада «Upper river» – Гьикьгъада «Lower river», Гошаб бела «Big ravine» – МикІуб бела «Small ravine» (Gakvari, Tsumadinsky);

darg. Куре «Hollow» – Чихъли Куре «Upper hollow» – Гухъли Куре «Lower hollow» – Сагъли Куре «Close hollow» (с. Санчи, Кайтагский р.);

lezg. Вини магьле «Upper magal» – Юкьвал магьле «Middle magal» – Агъа магьле «Lower quarter».

7) «occupation, social characteristics of residents»: avar. Фельдшерасул къватI «Nurse street», Къадиясул ссан «Kadiy mezha» (Khunzakh), Базáргазулнух «The road of merchants» (Amushi, Khunzakhsky);

cham. Палагьаниб бекь «Tightrope walker» (Gakvari, Tsumadinsky).

bezht. Гигьдийа кувакьа «On the gorge of thieves»;

darg. Маллала бяхI «Mullah slope», Урчирукъянна хъяб «Horse trainer pass», (Aimaumahi, Sergokalinsky).

In the structure of toponymic categories, cognitive models are distinguished. They reflect the the ideas of inhabitants about the habitat, represented by the denotative attributes of an object: a variety of reality phenomena (things, actions, relationships, properties, processes, etc.) For example, ideas about motive or stagnant water allow highlighting various characteristics of the concept “water” in the corresponding toponyms:

avar. Мусудузул ицц «Spring of girls», Гъоргъочол ицц «Gurgling spring», ХIортIа хIор «Lake on the lake», ТIино гьечIеб хIор «Bottomless Lake», Родолаб хIор «Whey Lake» (Sivukh, Khunzakhsky);

cham. МилъилІ игьра «Sunny lake» (Gigatly), ГьанлІ гъадачІ «On village river» (Gakvari, Tsumadinsky).

lezg. Къарид булах «Spring of an old lady», Ругъвал вир «Leech Pond».

The study shows that the formation of the toponyms of Dagestan is based on the interaction of the concepts “a person”, “flora”, “fauna”, “landscape”, “water”, “number” and others. The ideas of residents about space and time are reflected in the following prevailing conceptual characteristics: primary / secondary in the models “big / small”, “new / old”, “upper/ lower”, etc.

These cognitive models are nationwide and are typical of any region, although they have local characteristics.


The prerequisites of the formation of regional toponyms lay the concepts that are represented in a particular region. At the same time, toponymic concepts and their cognitive models in the form of personal ideas about the surrounding world are fixed in the language through the meanings of specific onomastic units. The analysis of the toponymic material of the Avar, Andean, Bezhta, Dargha and Lezghin languages demonstrates regional features:

1) The destruction (due to renaming) of the old toponymic system, which is naturally developed, and the formation of a new, artificial to some extent, and the restructuring of semantic relations within this system.

These are secondary micro-toponyms: ХIохIода «Khokhoda» – Гъоркьа ХIохIода «Lowe Khokhoda » – ТIасса ХIохIода «Upper Khokhoda» – ХIохIода хурзал «Arable lands in Khokhoda» – ЖанихIохIода чIакIултIаналъул хурзал «Beet Fields in the Inner Khokhoda» etc.

As it can be seen, the original toponym is HIoxIoda , and the subsequent ones are formed by means of this onym. They are weak, i.e. insignificant micro-toponyms in which the destruction of the structure is possible, as happened in the toponymic name of ZhanikhIokhIod ChIakIultI Ananul hurzal «Beet Fields in the Inner Khokhoda». When they stopped planting beets, only the older generation remember the micro-toponym. Therefore, it is important to study the relations of linguistic forms with their cognitive counterparts (toponymic concepts), which is associated with certain knowledge structures, models of organization and processing of conceptual content in the language, which are called cognitive or conceptual models in cognitive linguistics (Golomidova, 1998).

2) The rethinking of the internal form of toponyms in the consciousness of a toponymic personality;

3) Different functioning of the toponymic system depending on the situation of communication, age, etc.

A linguistic-culturological study of local multicultural topospace, as well as macro-toponymy in general is a promising scientific direction. The factual material involved in the field of research can be used in linguistic works related to the study of the kinship of Dagestan languages, as well as in lexicographical practice in the creation of special toponymic dictionaries.


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Alieva, Z., Ganieva, F., Temirbulatova, S., Khalilov, M., & Otsomieva-Tagirova*, Z. (2019). Toponymic System Of Dagestan: Aspects And Prospects Of Research. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2570-2578). Future Academy.