It does seem that way. One consolation is that Avar grammar is quite simple in comparison to other Caucasian languages like Chechen/Georgian/Circassian.
I was going to write some lessons but, given the lack of interest and a native speaker to make corrections, decided it was pointless. Instead, I'll keep posting more material to the wiki
and use this forum for taking notes.
I'll be concentrating more on grammar here, those who want to learn a few simple phrases can refer to the phrasebook
i'm adding to the wiki.
A little about Avar:
-It belongs to the North Caucasian/Nakh-Dagestani family of languages. It may be distantly related to Northwest Caucasian but otherwise, there is no proven connection to any other language family in the world, though attempts have been made to link it to the Na-Dene languages of North America (which do seem to share some similarities in their phonology).
-It's one of the half-dozen odd official literary languages in the republic of Dagestan, and the most widely spoken of these languages (apart from Russian).
-The republic of Dagestan is said to be one of the most linguistically diverse regions on the planet. About 30 languages (not including the numerous dialect forms) are spoken. While Russian is the main lingua franca, Avar is also used for communication between related ethnic groups. with so many languages being spoken on such a small piece of land, it's not uncommon to find Dagestanis who speak 4 or more languages.
-It has been written since the 17th century, using an Arabic-based alphabet. Nowadays it's written in Cyrillic but it's always been more of a spoken language than a written one, and even fluent speakers are sometimes not fully literate in standard Avar. This can be partly blamed on the rather poor status it (and other indigenous languages) has in the school system, where Russian and other "world languages" are given priority.
-Avar has many spoken dialects which can be roughly divided into northern (which are closer to the literary language) and southern groups, which are not mutually intelligible.
-Just like many minority languages of the former USSR, Avar has borrowed many common words from Russian: учитель, teacher, студент university student, школа school, стол table, автобус bus, etc. There are also many loans from Persian/Arabic, especially theological/religious and scientific/technical terms: аллагь الله Allah, дин دين religion, рухI روح soul, гIелму علم science, дуниял دنیا world, имтахIан امتحان exam, дарс درس lesson, шагьар شهر etc. Loans from Turkic languages (mainly via Kumyk) and Georgian are also present in smaller numbers.
Literary Avar is pronounced more or less as it is written. The only thing to be aware of is the stress, which usually falls on the first or second syllable but is quite irregular and can shift on different forms of the same word (plurals or when cases are added). Another thing to watch out for are the double consonants - which aren't really pronounced double, but more forcefully than their single counterparts.
Дун - I
Мун - you (singular)
Ниж, нилъ - we
нуж - you (plural)
дов - he
дой - she
доб - it
дол - they
Unlike many common languages, Avar does not have a polite singular. "мун" is used to address all people regardless of age or social standing.
You'll also notice there are two words for "we" - the first excludes the person being spoken to ("we without you") while the second includes it ("we with you").
For the third person, the same root до- is used. the different endings are the four class markers that exist in avar:
в for male humans
й for females
б for things and animals
р/л for plurals of all of the above.
the class markers perform a function similar to the genders of indo-european languages, but in avar it's much, much simpler. the gender of a word is determined quite logically - в always refers to male humans, й to female humans, etc. the only notable exception is the word лъимер "child", which belongs to the neuter class б. making other words agree in gender is also quite simple - simply by putting the class marker in the appropriate part of a word. nouns are notable for their lack of a class marker (apart from some nouns referring to people like вас - boy, яс (йас) girl, вац brother, яц sister) but nearly all other types of word can take class affixes.
the verb букIине "to be"
as in many languages, this one is irregular. the present tense goes like this:
вуго (в class)
йиго (й class)
буго (б class)
руго (л class - р is usually used at the beginning of a word)
The past and future tenses, however, are more regular.
вукIана, йикIана, букIана, рукIана
вукIина, йикIина, букIина, рукIина
as you can see, the different tenses are formed by changing the medial vowel. how it changes depends on the ending in the infinitive (-изе/-ине/-азе etc) and other factors. altogether there are about 8 conjugation paradigms.
by learning a few extra words, you can now make simple sentences like:
дун магIарулав вуго i (male) am an avar.
мун магIарулай йиго you (female) are an avar.
доб лъимер буго it is a child.
дол лъимал руго they are children.
since avar uses case endings and class markers to show agreement, word order is quite free, but the normal word order is s-o-v or less commonly, s-v-o.
щив/щий - who?
щиб - what? (sing.)
щал - what? (pl.)
щай - why?
кида - when?
кин - how?
the class markers in the words щиб and киб are doing double duty as locative case-endings, this will be discussed in a future post.
Дов кив вугев? Where is he?
Дой кий йигей? Where is she?
Доб киб бугеб? Where is it?
Дол кир ругел? Where are they?
as you can see, the verb "to be" changes slightly and takes another case marker. one of the purposes of this change is to form questions when a question word is part of the sentence. if there is no question word, the suffix -ищ is used (more about this later).