Caucasian Urum is spoken by a Greek population in the district of Trialeti, Georgia (Small Caucasus). Currently, the language is strongly endangered. While the Urum population numbered 30811 people according to the 1979 Population Census of the Georgian SSR, their number is estimated to have decreased to only 1500 people in 2006 (data from the European Centre for Minority Issues, see Wheatley 2006). In recent years, many native speakers have left the traditional villages and moved to Tiflis or to further destinations outside Georgia (the most frequent destination being Greece). The language documentation is imperative, both in the interest of the scientific community and in the interest of the language community itself, seeing that its cultural heritage will be extinct within the next few decades.
According to the community tradition (see the ancestor story in the text collection of this project) the Urum population is Greeks originally situated in Eastern Turkey (Kars). Their ancestors moved to Caucasus in the beginning of the 19th century. Since then, the language has been in extensive contact with Russian, Georgian, and - probably - Armenian and Pontic Greek. We term the language of this population "Caucasian Urum" in order to distinguish it from the Urum language spoken in Ukraine (also known as Greek-Tatar) and from the Urum language spoken in Turkey. Many statements can be found in literature regarding the relation between these three languages/varieties (that share the name Urum), however the empirical basis of these statements is very poor; most crucially, there are no studies that compare data from these three sources, i.e., the available statements are rather speculative. The exact historical relationship remains an open question, to which present documentation aspires to make a significant contribution.