By Elnur Aliyev, a linguist specializing in Caucasian languages
Editor: Elizabeth Owen
It’s not the loss of their severely endangered language that worries the residents of Budukh, a hillside village of about 150 people overshadowed by the mountains of Azerbaijan’s Greater Caucasus range. It’s the lack of a good road and how to manage without it.
Eighty-year-old Tarlan Mammadov understands that emotion. In 1957, Mammadov, a driver for the local sovkhoz, or state collective farm, drove the first vehicle, a GAZ-51 truck, to reach Budukh.
“Children were running after the vehicle. . .Villagers ran to the vehicle, they were so happy that a motor vehicle arrived in the village for the first time,” he recollects.
At the time, there was no paved road to Budukh; only a “very steep” and “narrow” dirt path that was “so difficult” to ascend, he says. Today, there are three roads, but just one of them, 40-45 kilometer drive from Quba, is considered relatively safe. At least between June and September, where there is no risk of snow or rain.
Villagers say that all other problems - migration for work, in particular - are related to their lack of a good road. They envy Khinaliq, a protected historical village about 14 kilometers (roughly 9 miles) to the west, that, since the construction of a decent road in 2006, has turned into a bit of a tourist hub.
By contrast, isolation is a way of life in Budukh, located to the southeast of 4,243-meter-(13,921-feet)-high Mount Shahdagh, near the border with Russia’s Daghestan.