A North-West Caucasian language
, closely related to Abaza
, and related to Kabardian
) and the now extinct Ubykh
The northern dialect of Abkhaz is called Bzâp and the southern dialect, the literary form, is Abz'âwa. The word Abkhaz is from the Georgian name, not the self-name of the language.
Abkhaz is spoken in Abkhazia, the secessionist westernmost autonomous region of Georgia. The native name of Abkhazia is Apsny (Georgian Apkhazeti). The capital, known to us by its Russian name Sukhumi or Georgian Sokhumi, is known in Abkhaz surprisingly as Aqua -- nothing to do with the Latin for water, of course.
Like the other North-West Caucasian languages, Abkhaz has only two vowel phonemes, but these are modified by neighbouring consonants to give a wider range of vowel sounds. There are sixty-seven consonants in Bzâp and fifty-eight in Abz'âwa.
Typologically Abkhaz is SOV, NA, and postpositional. It is ergative, although nominal actants have no case marking, which resides in the verb complex.
It has gone through a number of different scripts in its time, the first one having been devised by Baron Peter von Uslar in about 1862. The current very complicated form of the Cyrillic alphabet may be seen at http://omniglot.com/writing/abkhaz.htm