Chamalal language

Chamalal (also called Camalal or Chamalin) is an Andic language of the Northeast Caucasian language family spoken in southwestern Dagestan, Russia by approximately 500 ethnic Chamalals. It has three quite distinct dialects, Gadyri, Gakvari, and Gigatl.[2]

чамалалдуб мичIчI (çamalaldub miçʿçʿ)
Native toRussia
RegionSouthwestern Dagestan[1]
EthnicityChamalal people
Native speakers
500 (2010)[2]
Northeast Caucasian
Language codes
ISO 639-3cji


Chamalal is spoken in southwestern Dagestan, Russia by indigenous Chamalals since the 8th or 9th century. The ethnic population is approximately 5,000, with around 500 speakers. The language has a 6b (threatened) status.

Geographic distribution

The approximately 500 ethnic speakers live in eight villages in the Tsumadinsky District on the left bank of the Andi-Koisu river in the Dagestan Republic and in the Chechnya Republic. The speakers are mostly Muslim, primarily following Sunni Islam since the 8th or 9th century.

Official status

There are no countries with Chamalal as an official language.


Chamalal has there distinct dialects: Gadyri (Gachitl-Kvankhi), Gakvari (Agvali-Richaganik-Tsumada-Urukh), and Gigatl (Hihatl). There are also two more dialects: Kwenkhi, Tsumada.

Derived languages

Gigatl (Hihatl) and Chamalal proper (with Gadyri, Gakvari, Tsumada and Kwenkhi dialects) are considered to be sublanguages.

Writing System

Chamalal is an unwritten language. Avar and Russian are used in school, and Avar is also used for literary purposes.


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  1. ^ Ethnologue language map of European Russia, with Chamalal in the inset with reference number 10
  2. ^ a b Chamalal at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Chamalal". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Further reading


Chamalal may refer to:

The Chamalal people

The Chamalal language

Chaman Lal (novelist)

Chaman Lal Chaman (London-based Punjabi poet)

Chaman Lal Gupta (former minister of state in the Government of India)

Chaman Lal Malhotra (former Indian cricketer)

List of endangered languages in Russia

An endangered language is a language that is at risk of falling out of use, generally because it has few surviving speakers. If it loses all of its native speakers, it becomes an extinct language. A language may be endangered in one area but show signs of revitalisation in another, as with the Irish language.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines five levels of language endangerment between "safe" (not endangered) and "extinct":

Vulnerable - "most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains (e.g. home)"

Definitely endangered - "children no longer learn the language as mother tongue in the home"

Severely endangered - "language is spoken by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may understand it, they do not speak it to children or among themselves"

Critically endangered - "the youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently"

Extinct - "there are no speakers left; included in the Atlas if presumably extinct since the 1950s"The list below includes the findings from the third edition of Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2010; formerly the Red Book of Endangered Languages), as well as the online edition of the aforementioned publication, both published by UNESCO.


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