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Ingush language

гӏалгӏай мотт (Ghalghai mott)
Pronunciation[ˈʁəlʁɑj mot]
Native toRussia
RegionIngushetia, Chechnya
Native speakers
350,000 (2020)[1]
Cyrillic (current)
Georgian, Arabic, Latin (historical)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2inh
ISO 639-3inh
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Ingush (/ˈɪŋɡʊʃ/; Гӏалгӏай мотт, Ghalghai mott, pronounced [ˈʁəlʁɑj mot]) is a Northeast Caucasian language spoken by about 500,000 people, known as the Ingush, across a region covering the Russian republics of Ingushetia and Chechnya.


Ingush and Chechen, together with Bats, constitute the Nakh branch of the Northeast Caucasian language family. There is pervasive passive bilingualism between Ingush and Chechen.[2]

Geographic distribution

Ingush is spoken by about 353,000 people (2020),[1] primarily across a region in the Caucasus covering parts of Russia, primarily Ingushetia and Chechnya. Speakers can also be found in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belgium, Norway, Turkey and Jordan.[citation needed]

Official status

Ingush is, alongside Russian, an official language of Ingushetia, a federal subject of Russia.

Writing system

It is possible that during the period of 8–12th century, when the Temples like Tkhaba-Yerdy emerged in Ingushetia, a writing system based on a Georgian script emerged. This is attested by the fact that a non-Georgian name, 'Enola', was found written on the arc of Tkhaba-Yerdy.[3] Furthermore, Georgian text was found on archaeological items in Ingushetia that could not be deciphered.[4]

Ingush became a written language with an Arabic-based writing system at the beginning of the 20th century. After the October Revolution it first used a Latin alphabet, which was later replaced by Cyrillic.

А а Аь аь Б б В в Г г Гӏ гӏ Д д Е е
Ё ё Ж ж З з И и Й й К к Кх кх Къ къ
Кӏ кӏ Л л М м Н н О о П п Пӏ пӏ Р р
С с Т т Тӏ тӏ У у Ф ф Х х Хь хь Хӏ хӏ
Ц ц Цӏ цӏ Ч ч Чӏ чӏ Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы
Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я Яь яь Ӏ ӏ



Front Central Back
High и/i [ɪ] varies [ɨ] у/u [ʊ]
Mid э/e [e] varies [ə] о/o [o]
Low аь/ea [æ] а/a [ɑː]

The diphthongs are иэ /ie/, уо /uo/, оа /oɑ/, ий /ij/, эи /ei/, ои /oi/, уи /ui/, ов /ow/, ув /uw/.


The consonants of Ingush are as follows,[5] including the Latin orthography developed by Johanna Nichols:[6]

Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
palatalized plain
Nasal m ⟨м, m⟩ n ⟨н, n⟩
Plosive voiceless p ⟨п, p⟩ t ⟨т, t⟩ t͡s ⟨ц, c⟩ t͡ʃ ⟨ч, ch⟩ ⟨к, jk⟩ k ⟨к, k⟩ q ⟨кх, q⟩ ʡ ⟨ӏ, w⟩ ʔ ⟨ъ, ʼ⟩
ejective ⟨пӏ, pʼ⟩ ⟨тӏ, tʼ⟩ t͡sʼ ⟨цӏ, cʼ⟩ t͡ʃʼ ⟨чӏ, ch’⟩ kʲʼ ⟨кӏ, jkʼ⟩ ⟨кӏ, kʼ⟩ ⟨къ, qʼ⟩
voiced b ⟨б, b⟩ d ⟨д, d⟩ ɡʲ ⟨г, jg⟩ ɡ ⟨г, g⟩
Fricative voiceless f ⟨ф, f⟩ s ⟨с, s⟩ ʃ ⟨ш, sh⟩ χ ⟨х, x⟩ ʜ ⟨хь, hw⟩ h ⟨хӏ, h⟩
voiced ʋ ⟨в, v⟩ z ⟨з, z⟩ ʒ ⟨ж, zh⟩ ʁ ⟨гӏ, gh⟩
Approximant l ⟨л, l⟩ j ⟨й, j⟩
Trill voiceless ⟨рхӏ, rh⟩
voiced r ⟨р, r⟩

Single consonants can be geminated by various morphophonemic processes.


Ingush is not divided into dialects with the exception of Galanchoz [ru] (native name: Галай-Чӏож/Галайн-Чӏаж), which is considered to be transitional between Chechen and Ingush.[7]


Ingush is a nominative–accusative language in its syntax, though it has ergative morphology.[8][9]


The most recent and in-depth analysis of the language[9] shows eight cases: absolutive, ergative, genitive, dative, allative, instrumental, lative and comparative.

Cases Singular Plural
Absolutive -⌀ -azh / -ii, -i[a]
Ergative -uo / -z, -aa[b] –azh
Genitive -a, -n[c] -ii, -i
Dative -na, aa[c] -azh-ta
Allative -ga -azh-ka
Instrumental -ca -azh-ca
Lative -gh -egh
Comparative -l -el
  1. ^ The choice of -azh vs. -ii is lexically determined for the nominative, but other cases are predictable.
  2. ^ -uo is the only productive form. -z appears with personal names, kin terms, and other nouns referring to humans. -aa occurs with some declensions and is increasingly unproductive in colloquial use.
  3. ^ a b Allomorph after vowels


Stem Suffix Tense Example
Infinitive Stem
{-a} Infinitive (INF) laaca
{-a} Imperative (IMP) laaca
Present Stem
--- Generic Present (PRES) loac
{-az&} Simultaneous Converb (SCV) loacaz&
{-ar} Imperfect (IMPF) loacar
{-agDa} Future (FUT) loacadda
Past Stem
{-ar} Witnessed Past (WIT) leacar
{-aa}/{-na} Anterior Converb (ACV) leacaa
{-aa} + {-D} / {-na} + {-D} Perfect (PERF) leacaad
{-aa} + {-Dar} / {-na} + {-Dar} Pluperfect (PLUP) leacaadar


Like many Northeast Caucasian languages, Ingush uses a vigesimal system, where numbers lower than twenty are counted as in a base-ten system, but higher decads are base-twenty.

Orthography Phonetic Value Composition
cwa [t͡sʕʌ] 1
shi [ʃɪ] 2
qo [qo] 3
d.i'1 [dɪʔ] 4
pxi [pxɪ] 5
jaalx [jalx] 6
vorh [vʷor̥] 7
baarh [bar̥] 8
iis [is] 9
itt [itː] 10
cwaitt [t͡sʕɛtː] 11 1+10
shiitt [ʃitː] 12 2+10
qoitt [qoitː] 13 3+10
d.iitt1 [ditː] 14 4+10
pxiitt [pxitː] 15 5+10
jalxett [jʌlxɛtː] 16 6+10
vuriit [vʷʊritː] 17 7+10
bareitt [bʌreitː] 18 8+10
tq'iesta [tqʼiːestə̆] 19
tq'o [tqʼo] 20
tq'ea itt [tqʼɛ̯æjitː] 30 20+10
shouztq'a [ʃouztqʼə̆] 40 2×20
shouztq'aj itt [ʃouztqʼetː] 50 2×20+10
bwea [bʕɛ̯æ] 100
shi bwea [ʃɪ bʕɛ̯æ] 200 2×100
ezar [ɛzər] 1000 loan from Persian
  1. Note that "four" and its derivatives begin with noun-class marker. d- is merely the default value.


1st person 2nd person 3rd person
singular plural singular plural singular plural
exclusive inclusive
Nominative so txo vai hwo sho/shu yz yzh
Genitive sy txy vai hwa shyn cyn/cun caar
Dative suona txuona vaina hwuona shoana cynna caana
Ergative aaz oaxa vai wa oasha cuo caar
Allative suoga txuoga vaiga hwuoga shuoga cynga caarga
Ablative suogara txuogara vaigara hwuogara shuogara cyngara caargara
Instrumental suoca(a) txuoca(a) vaica(a) hwuoca shuoca(a) cynca caarca(a)
Lative sogh txogh vaigh hwogh shogh cogh caaregh
Comparative sol txol vail hwol shol cul/cyl caarel

Word order

In Ingush, "for main clauses, other than episode-initial and other all-new ones, verb-second order is most common. The verb, or the finite part of a compound verb or analytic tense form (i.e. the light verb or the auxiliary), follows the first word or phrase in the clause".[12]











Muusaa vy hwuona telefon jettazh

Musa V.PROG 2S.DAT telephone strike.CVsim

It's Musa. It's Musa on the phone for you. (After answering the phone.)


  1. ^ a b Ingush at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Nichols & Sprouse (2004), p. 1.
  3. ^ Chentieva 1958, p. 13.
  4. ^ Chentieva 1958, p. 14.
  5. ^ Nichols (2011), p. 20.
  6. ^ Nichols (2011), pp. 19–21.
  7. ^ Koryakov 2006, p. 25.
  8. ^ Nichols (2008).
  9. ^ a b Nichols (2011).
  10. ^ Handel (2003), p. 6.
  11. ^ Nichols (2011), p. 174-175.
  12. ^ Nichols (2011), pp. 678ff.


English sources

  • Handel, Zev (2003). "Ingush inflectional verb morphology: a synchronic classification and historical analysis with comparison to Chechen" (PDF). Current Trends in Caucasian, East European and Inner Asian Linguistics. pp. 123–175. doi:10.1075/cilt.246.11han. Archived from the original (PDF) on Feb 1, 2017.
  • Nichols, Johanna; Sprouse, Ronald L. (2004). Ingush-English and English-Ingush Dictionary. Routledge.
  • Nichols, Johanna (2008). "Case in Ingush syntax". Case and Grammatical Relations. John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 57–74. doi:10.1075/tsl.81.04nic.
  • Nichols, Johanna (2011-03-15). Ingush Grammar (PDF). Berkeley, California; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press. pp. 1–806.

Russian sources

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Ingush language
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