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A fun articulation tongue twister in Circassian


Its IPA transcription is /pɕadːʒəʑəʃxa/

It means "breakfast."

For those confused, the tongue twister involves alternating between palato-alveolar and alveolo-palatal sibilants. A palato-alveolar sibilant is the "sh" sound in English you might be familiar with. The alveolo-palatal sibilant, however, is the "sh" sound, but your tongue is touching your lower teeth. Let's break this word down into syllables to get a better understanding:

Пщэд /pɕad/ - This is like saying "pshad," but the alveolo-palatal sibilant is present, so you have to pronounce the "sh" with your tongue touching your lower teeth.

Джы /dʒə/ - This syllable uses the palato-alveolar sibilant, so you can pronounce it like the "j" in English. Now, the "ы" sound is a schwa sound, meaning it's like the first "o" in the word "tomato."

Жьы /ʑə/ - This syllable uses the alveolo-palatal sibilant, but it's slightly different. To understand it, please pronounce the following sounds: "sh," and the "s" from "pleasure." Notice a difference? That's because the "s" in "pleasure" is voiced because your vocal cords vibrate as you pronounce the consonant, and this is the sound that is said in this syllable, but with your tongue on the bottom teeth.

Шхэ /ʃxa/ - This syllable uses the palato-alveolar sibilant, meaning it is just like the normal English "sh." As for the "х" sound, it is pronounced like the Spanish "j." So in total it's like saying "shxa."

When you put them all together, you get пщэдджыжьышхэ. Once you figure out pronouncing it slowly, try saying it fast like it would be in normal conversation. You will most likely fail the first few tries (unless phonetics and IPA are your specialty), but after some practice, you'll eventually get it!

I would provide a link to Forvo providing a native speaker pronunciation of the word, but there isn't one. Sorry for the inconvenience!

If you have any questions, please let me know. I hope I could give you some insight on how cool Circassian is!

Edit: I'm sorry, but the word actually means "breakfast." I checked it in a Russian-Circassian dictionary and messed up. Lunch is "шэджэгъуашхэ".

September 18, 2017



Circassian is so hard to pronounce, even for someone who knows the Cyrillic alphabet! There are just some consonant clusters that I've never had to pronounce before!

Circassian is really cool though, I hope it gains more speakers and that the Circassian people are allowed to go back to their homeland and get the genocide recognized.

Are you Circassian yourself? How well do you speak the language? What's something cool about the Circassian language?


I am not Circassian (Hispanic actually). My Circassian is somewhat shabby but I've mastered pronunciation of all phonemes, which I feel are one of the best parts of the language, and know an okay amount of words. The hardest part of learning Circassian are the verbs, which I have yet to master. I'm glad there's someone on Duolingo interested in the Circassian languages!


Anyways, here's one of the turnoffs for learning Circassian: the multiple "h"'s; Х, Ху, Хъ, Хъу, Хь - all are pronounced differently, but sound similar enough to confuse learners.


Frankly I think the Cyrillic alphabet is a bit poorly suited to Circassian, but it's better than Latin at least. I personally think an extended and modified Georgian alphabet would be able to write Circassian a bit better.


How did you get interested in Circassian?


I found a sample of Circassian written on an online forum. It looked crazy. Even crazier, there was someone who identified it on their first try. Using that, I looked into the language and fell in love with it. The language is so exotic, and the culture of its speakers even more so!


I would provide a link to Forvo providing a native speaker pronunciation of the word, but there isn't one. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Here's one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyd111X0B-g

I must say I'm having trouble with the /ʃx/ combination much more than the palatal/alveolar switching; my natural inclination is to turn it into /ʃχ/.


TBH I could understand that struggle if the ending was шъхэ /ʂxa/, but to hear the struggle of pronouncing шхэ I find odd IMO.


I have no idea what that means but it is super cool that you are venturing to have fun with this language!


By the way, the word means "lunch."

EDIT: I messed up. It means "breakfast."


Your 'lunch' seems quite the mouthful :D


Dinner is quite a mouthful as well; пщыхьэщхьэшхэ /pɕəħaɕħaʃxa/

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