A Grammar of the Kabardian Language


231 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-919813-99-2
DDC 499'.96




Alexandra Sosnowski is an assistant professor in the Department of
German and Slavic Studies, University of Manitoba.


With the publication of this volume, John Colarusso brings to a close
the first comprehensive grammar of Kabardian in a language other than
Russian. Although the Kabardians form a small group of approximately
500,000 people, their tongue, in the light of the current policies of
the Russian federation toward the republics, may soon be elevated to the
status of a national language. The appearance of this grammar is,
therefore, timely (especially given that the Russian sources are still
hard to obtain.)

The Kabardian language, a northern member of a family called Northwest
Caucasian, has been a subject of modern linguistic debate, largely over
the status of its vowels. In his descriptive approach, however,
Colarusso goes beyond the controversial issues and attempts to convey
all aspects of this complex “exotic” language and its dialects. His
research and fieldwork on other languages and cultures of the Caucasus
form an important background to his interpretations of the grammar.

The book is to be commended for its balance and cohesion, as well as
for its meticulous table of contents. (The latter is especially valuable
because the book lacks helpful indexes.) The grammar is composed of a
two-page preface; a short but informative ethnographic introduction;
five chapters devoted, respectively, to phonetics, phonology,
morphology, word formation, and syntax; two useful appendices; and a
bibliography of cited works. Appendix A (a well-analyzed text and its
translation), particularly, provides a strongly authentic sense of this
extraordinarily difficult language. Also valuable is the closing
chapter, which gives the reader the first account of the Kabardian
language syntax.

Highly recommended for students and area specialists as a basic,
informative sourcebook, even though it is occasionally repetitive and
suffers from inadequate editing.


Colarusso, John., “A Grammar of the Kabardian Language,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/13242.