The North Caucasian languages, sometimes called simply Caucasic, are a pair of well established language families spoken in the Caucasus, chiefly in the north: the Northwest Caucasian family, also called Pontic, Abkhaz–Adyghe, Circassian, or West Caucasian; and the Northeast Caucasian family, also called Nakh–Dagestanian or East Caucasian.
The Kartvelian languages including Georgian and Laz, once known as South Caucasian, are no longer considered genetically related to the North Caucasian languages and are classed as an independent language family.
Some linguists, notably Sergei Starostin and Sergei Nikolayev, believe that the two groups sprang from a common ancestor about five thousand years ago. However, this proposal is difficult to evaluate, and remains controversial.
There are some 34 to 38 distinct North Caucasian languages.