Lesson:Qafesona/1. Introduction

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The Qafesona language is a small Slavic language with less than a million native speakers. It is spoken in Caucasus region in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and North Ossetia-Alania. The vast majority of the language's vocabulary is of Slavic origin, much also comes from Armenian and Georgian with a small amount having other origins, such as Arabic and Turkic.


See also: Phonology and orthography and IPA for Qafesona

The commonest script used to write the Qafesona language is an adapted version of the Cyrillic alphabet and so that is the writing system used in these lessons. Primary stress in polysyllabic words will be marked with an acute accent ( ´ ) above the appropriate vowel, however this is only used for the purpose of learning and is not used by native speakers. Secondary stress may be marked with a grave accent ( ` ). To help English speakers who are not familiar with Cyrillic, its letters can be categorised into four groups.

Group 1

Letters with similar appearances and sounds as in English:

  • А а /a/ : similar to the "a" in "spat"; more similar to the Spanish "casa" or French "enga"
  • Е е /e/ : somewhat similar to the "ay" in "play"; more akin to the French "joué"
  • К к /k/ : "k" in "skin"
  • М м /m/ : "m" in "mattress"
  • О о /ɔ/ : similar to, but shorter than, the "aw" in "law"; the same as the Portuguese "avó"
  • Т т /t/ : "t" in "started"

Group 2

Sound-alikes that have different appearances:

  • Б б /b/ : "b" in "brought"
  • Г г /g/ : "g" in "against"
  • Д д /d/ : "d" in "indent"
  • Ж ж /ʐ/ : similar to the "s" in "vision"
  • И и /i/ : similar to, but short than, the "ee" in "meeting"; the same as the French "fini'"
  • Й й /j/ : "y" in "yelp"
  • Л л /l/ : "l" in "elephant"
  • П п /p/ : "p" in "price"
  • Ў ў /w/ : "w" in "went"
  • Ф ф /f/ : "f" in "free"
  • Ӽ ӽ /h/ : "h" in "hello" or "ahead"
  • Ц ц /t͡s/ : "ts" in "cats"
  • Џ џ /ɖ͡ʐ/ : similar to the "j" in "jam"
  • Ш ш /ʂ/ : similar to the "sh" in "shadow"

Group 3

Look-alikes that have different sounds:

  • В в /v/ : "v" in "ventilation"
  • З з /z/ : "z" in "zoo"
  • Ѕ ѕ /d͡z/ : "ds" in "sheds"
  • Н н /n/ : "n" in "nasal"
  • Р р /r/ : rolled "r"; Spanish "perro"
  • С с /s/ : "s" in "signal"
  • У у /u/ : similar to "oo" in "spook"; the same as the French "ou"
  • Х х /x/ : "ch" in Scottish "loch"; Spanish "general"
  • Ч ч /ʈ͡ʂ/ : similar to the "tch" in "catch"

Group 4

Unfamiliar appearances and sounds:

  • Ӄ ӄ /q/ : similar to /k/ but "guttural"; Arabic "Qur'ān"
  • Ы ы /ɨ/ : similar to the "e" in "roses" for some; Russian "быть"
  • Ь ь /◌ʲ/ : palatalises the preceding letter, adding a slight /j/ sound


Qafesona has three numbers: singular, paucal and plural. The language has lost essentially all of its grammatical gender, whereas other Slavic languages such as Czech have three genders. However, as with all Slavic languages, Qafesona does have a case system. This is mainly used to mark the grammatical functions of declinable words, such as the subject, direct object and indirect object of the sentence. This means that word order is freer in Qafesona than in English. The language has are seven cases. Verbs have three simple tenses: past, present and future; but Qafesona also has two aspects: imperfective and perfective.

Qafesona lessons
Part I 1. Introduction2. Reading practice
Part II 3. My name is...4. My family5. Myself6. Travel7. On holiday