The Caucasian languages
If anything, Europe’s linguistically most exotic area is the Caucasus. In terms of linguistic density it is the subcontinent’s New Guinea. Languages of Western, Central and Eastern Europe are less typologically diverse – and not much more numerous – than the languages spoken in its southeastern corner. Three “endemic” language families are spoken here, South Caucasian (Kartvelian), Northeast or simply East Caucasian (Nakh-Daghestanian) and Northwest or simply West Caucasian (Abkhaz-Adyghe). The latter two are sometimes considered to form a deep-level North Caucasian family (see Nikolaev and Starostin 1994), but this entity is disputed. An earlier hypothesis of genealogical relations between all endemic families (the assumed Ibero-Caucasian family) has now been largely abandoned (cf. Tuite 2008). The linguistic diversity of the area is further extended by the presence of Turkic and Indo-European languages. We will primarily deal with endemic families, sometimes also with Armenian (for the purposes of this survey, the difference between Eastern and Western Armenian may be neglected), to a lesser extent with Iranian languages which are also spoken outside the Caucasus and minimally with the Turkic languages, as Turkic is dealt with in a separate chapter of the present volume.