The Laz and Megrelian languages represent two dialects of one language,
which is the third member of the Cartvelian language group. Conventionaly
this language is called Zan.
Explanation of terms
Svans call Megrelians "Zan". Besides the
Svans, the Cabardinians call the area, occupied by Megrelians "Zane"
The form "San", which we find in the texts of Procopius of Caesaria and other greek writers, should mean "zan". The old greek sources identify the San nation with "macron": "The Sans, which earlier were called macrons... ", Strobon wrote. "The macrons are called the Sans now" , notices Stephan from Bysantz. "The ancestors of the Chans, barbarians from the very beginning, were called earlier the Sans ... ". "The Sans, now called the Chans ...", writes Procopius of Caesaria. The name of one village "Sazano" in Imereti and the name of the river "Zana" in Megrelian prove the historical evidence of the notion "Zan".
The ethnical value and political importance of this notions (Laz, Macron, Chan, San, Zan) in different epochs are the result of historical research. To stress is, that the term " Zan" according to its historical tradition exists till now.
All mentioned above allows us to use the term "Zan" (it
is used also for a designation of the parent language of Chan
and Megrelian) as a conventional term.
Area of distribution
The Mengrelian language is spoken in the western part of Georgia, namely: in the Odishi Hills and in the Kolcheti lowlands - from the sea-coast of the Black Sea as far as the Svan mountains and the river Tskhenistsqali.
The area of distribution of the Chan language is limited: The Chans live along the sea-coast of the Black Sea starting with the Sarpi village up to Rize. From the eastern side the spread area of their language is restricted by the mountains. According to Joseph Qipshidze, the Chan language can be spread to the West only through one gorge with 8 chan villages at the Chkhala river. The Chan language had to be spread along the whole sea-coast of the Black Sea towards Trabson. Nikolaj Marr cites the quotation of the laz bai Favzy from Atina:
"The inhabitants of Istanbul call the people, who live on the sea-coast of the Black Sea, the Laz. The last includes also the inhabitants of Sinop and Samsun. The inhabitants of Sinop in their turn call the inhabitants of Samsun Laz; the inhabitants of Samsun call Laz those, who live in Trapesun; the inhabitants of Trapesun - the inhabitants of Riza, and the last ones call us the Laz ".Chania is a part of Turkey. There is only one village, called Sarpi, which is situated partly on the territory of Georgia and partly in Turkey. The border between Georgia and Turkey goes through this village and divides it into two parts.
The Zan dialects, Laz and Megrelian are divided in their turn in subdialects.
There are three main major dialects of Laz: Khopa, Vitse-Arkabe, and Atina. Their distribution follows a line along the Black Sea from northwest to southwest. In most respects, Vitse-Arkabe and Atina are similar to each other, and opposed to Khopa, though there are some respects in which Vitse-Arkabe is closer to Khopa, and the two are opposed to Atina.
Megrelian is divided into two main dialects, Zugdid-Saurzaqan, sometimes
called the Northwest dialect, and Senak, sometimes referred to as the Southeast
dialect. Within the former, the Dzhvar subdialect is recognized; and within
the Senak dialect, are the Martvil-Bandz and Abash subdialects.
The consonant system of Zan (Laz and Megrelian)
Copyright ARMAZI Project / Manana Tandashvili, / Lana Ahlborn Frankfurt / Tbilisi 2001. All rights reserved.
საავტორო უფლება ეკუთვნის "არმაზის" პროექტს და მანანა თანდაშვილს,/ ლანა ალბორნს ფრანკფურტი / თბილისი 2001 წ.