How Do You Say "Chechnya"?

How Do You Say "Chechnya"?

How Do You Say "Chechnya"?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Oct. 26 1999 9:07 PM

How Do You Say "Chechnya"?

In television reports about the Russian bombardment of Chechnya, news anchors seem to disagree over the pronunciation of the troubled region's name. Some stress the first syllable, while others enunciate the word with three syllables. What's the correct pronunciation of "Chechnya"?

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The answer is "Chich-nya," two syllables, with a strong stress on the second. But the inhabitants of Chechnya are known as "Che-chens," emphasis on the first syllable.

"Chechen" is a Russian word. While most Chechens speak Russian, they also speak a distinct language called Nokhchiin, and in that tongue, Chechens refer to themselves as Nokhchi. Hence, when they attempted to break away from the Russia Federation in 1991, revolutionaries proclaimed the formation of an independent nation they called Nokhchi-Chu. And although the capital of Chechnya is widely known as Grozny (Russian for "stormy"), Chechens call it Djovkhar Ghaala. But don't worry if you have trouble wrapping your tongue around the Nokhchiin words--Westerners commonly use the Russian terms, and the Nokhchi take no offense when they are referred to as Che-chens.