She argues that Daghestan’s enormous linguistic diversity has prevented it from becoming “a single people speaking a single language.” Had there been just one language there, Daghestan in her view might have been able to “establish one of the most powerful states in the region,” possibly with an influence greater than Armenia or Georgia.
Manafova concedes that today, were a single language to be adopted, that would lead to the more rapid disappearance of the languages spoken by relatively few people and could even lead to the more radical Russianization and Russification of the republic’s population. Consequently, any change would be controversial.
At the same time, she says that in contrast to Chechnya where the single national language is modernizing and dominating ever more spheres of life, many of the languages of Daghestan are degrading and losing much of the lexical fund they need to express ideas about modern technology.
Other Daghestani writers have called for making Kumyk or Avar the dominant language and still a third group is pushing for the idea of creating a new mountaineer language by combining elements of some of the languages spoken by smaller groups in the republic’s population.
Radzhabov quotes Daghestani writer Ziyatuudin Aydamirov to the effect that making these choices is not about which language is good or bad but rather about “the life or death of our people. We will be able to survive only with our native languages” and our “national self-consciousness” (mkala.mk.ru/articles/2015/04/10/esli-nam-suzhdeno-vyzhit.html).
Given that it is impossible to make all 50 indigenous languages state languages, Aydamirov continues, it would be good to have just one, “an official all-mountaineer language.” And to get there, he argues, scholars should unite all the mountaineer languages into two groups of related tongues, the South Daghestani language and the Middle Daghestani language.
The first would unite Lezgin, Tabasaran, Agul, Tutul and Tsakhur; the second would unite Dargin, Lak, Avar and the Ando-Tses languages. Kumyk, Aydamirov suggests, could serve as the third.