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Tevfik Esenç

Tevfik Esenç
Born 1904
Died 7 October 1992 (aged 87–88)
Residence Hacı Osman, Balıkesir, Turkey
Nationality Turkish

Tevfik Esenç (1904 – 7 October 1992) was a Circassian exile in Turkey and the last known fully competent speaker of the Ubykh language.


Esenç was raised by his Ubykh-speaking grandparents for a time in the village of

  • Sample Sound Files of Ubykh Language, from the Lacito Archive
  • Tevfik Esenç narrating the story of the two travellers and the fish in Ubykh on YouTube

External links

  1. ^ a b c Tevfik Esenç's page in Circassian World
  2. ^ a b E. F. K. Koerner (1 January 1998). First Person Singular III: Autobiographies by North American Scholars in the Language Sciences. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 33.  


In 1994, A. Sumru Özsoy organized an international conference, namely Conference on Northwest Caucasian Linguistics, at Boğaziçi University in memory of Dumézil and Esenç.[2]

This is the grave of Tevfik Esenç. He was the last person able to speak the language they called Ubykh.
— Gravestone, inscription

Esenç died in 1992 at the age of 88. The inscription that he wanted on his gravestone read as follows:[1]

Having an excellent memory and understanding quickly the goals of Dumézil and the other linguists who came to visit him, he was the primary source of not only the Ubykh language, but also of the mythology, culture and customs of the Ubykh people. He spoke not only Ubykh, but also the Hakuchi dialect of Adyghe, allowing some comparative work to be done between these two members of the Northwest Caucasian family. He was also a fluent speaker of Turkish. He was a purist, and his idiolect of Ubykh was considered by Dumézil as the closest thing to a standard "literary" Ubykh language that existed.[1]

[2] studied Ubykh with him.A. Sumru Özsoy Later Turkish linguist [1]

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