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Tevfik Esenc

Tevfik Esenc (Esenç in its proper Turkish spelling) (1904-1992) was a farmer from the village of Haci Osman köyü in Turkey.

His life and death would have been unremarkable in terms of his historical influence, were it not for the fact that he was the last living speaker of the Ubykh language. He was the muhtar (mayor) of Haci Osman köyü for a time, before receiving a post in the civil service of Istanbul, where he was able to do a great deal of work with the French linguist Georges Dumézil to help record his language.

Blessed with an excellent memory, and understanding quickly the goals of Dumézil and the other linguists who came to visit him, he was the premier source of not only the Ubykh language, but also of the mythology, culture and customs of the Ubykh people.

Esenç died on October 7, 1992, at the age of 88. The inscription that he wanted on his gravestone read as follows:

This is the grave of Tevfik Esenç. He was the last person able to speak the language they called Ubykh.