Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The area in Russia is known as North Ossetia-Alania (capital: Vladikavkaz), while the area in Georgia is called South Ossetia (capital: Tskhinvali). Ossetian speakers number about 500,000, 60 percent of whom live in Alania, and 15 percent in South Ossetia.
Ossetian, together with Tati-Persian and Talyshi is one of the main Iranian languages with a sizeable community of speakers in the Caucasus. It is descended from the language of the Alans, a group within the nomadic Sarmatians. It is believed to be the only surviving descendent of a Sarmatian language.
There are two important dialects: Iron and Digor -- the former being the more widely spoken. Written Ossetian may be immediately recognized by its use of the æ, a letter to be found in no other language using the Cyrillic alphabet. A third dialect of Ossetic, Jassic, was formerly spoken in Hungary.
The literary form of the language has 35 phonemes -- 26 consonants, 7 vowels and 2 diphthongs.
Cyrillic Alphabet (since 1937):
Roman Alphabet (1923-1937): A/a, Æ/æ, B/b, C/c, Č/č, D/d, E/e, F/f, G/g, H/h, I/i, J/j, K/k, L/l, M/m, N/n, O/o, P/p, Q/q, R/r, S/s, Š/š, T/t, U/u, V/v, X/x, Y/y, Z/z, Ž/ž
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