Abkhazian has fifty-eight consonants. By contrast, English, a language which is not consonant-poor, has twenty-three: the ones for which there are the alphabetic letters such as b, d, f, etc. plus sh, ch, dz, ng, the occasional trilled r, and the two sounds that are indicated by th (voiced in 'soothe' and unvoiced in 'sooth'). Twenty-three consonants can make an infinite number of words; fifty-eight consonants are more than a mouthful. How can the human speech apparatus produce so many distinguishable sounds? "By utilizing all points of articulation from the lips back to the larynx," says an Abhakazian linguist, and "by associating with plain consonants such secondary features as labialization, palatalisation, and pharyngalisation." More simply, everywhere that tongue, lips, teeth, palate, or throat can either stop the flow of air or allow air to pass through must be put into play. Moreover, If I understand correctly, a sound made by vibrating, for instance, the area of the uvular might occur in both labialized (i.e. rounded lips) and unlabialized variants.
I'm guessing that Abkhazian would be formidably difficult to understand, especially for those who are acquainted only with Indo-European languages.
Abkhazian is one of the indigenous North West Caucasian languages, distantly related to Circassian and the now extinct Ubykh. It may be descended from Hattic, which may have been spoken in the empire of the Hittites. There are something like a million Abkhazian speakers, half in Abkhazia itself, a country that borders the Black Sea to the northwest of Georgia, and half in Turkey and other locations in the Abkhazian diaspora. Written language came only in the mid-nineteenth century to the wild Caucasus. Abkhazians have been described as 20% Muslim, 80% Christian, and 100% pagan, their religion "a peculiar mosaic of fragments of religious beliefs" in which "Christian ceremonies, Muslim rites, and pagan observances are so closely interwoven that it seems impossible to separate them."
Though the Abkhazian consonant system is daunting, it's a relief to learn that the language uses only one vowel - ah - and also that both the extinct Ubykh and a still existing dialect of Abkhazian named Bzyp (pronunciation??) employed "a minimum of eighty consonants." Is eighty the record?