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Yukaghir languages

Yukaghir languages

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The Yukaghir languages are a small family of two closely related languages – Tundra
Northern Yukaghir language
The Tundra Yukaghir language is one of only two Yukaghir languages.Last spoken in the tundra belt extending between the lower Indigirka to the lower Kolyma basin...

 and Kolyma Yukaghir
Southern Yukaghir language
The Southern, Kolyma or Forest Yukaghir language is one of only two Yukaghir languages.Last spoken in the forest zone near the sources of the Kolyma, divided between the Sakha Republic and the Magadan Oblast , previously in the wider area of the upper Kolyma region.-Classification and grammatical...

 – spoken by the Yukaghir
Yukaghir
The Yukaghir, or Yukagirs , деткиль ) are a people in East Siberia, living in the basin of the Kolyma River.-Region:The Tundra Yukaghirs live in the Lower Kolyma region in the Sakha Republic; the Taiga Yukaghirs in the Upper Kolyma region in the Sakha Republic and in Srednekansky District of...

 in the Russian Far East
Russian Far East
Russian Far East is a term that refers to the Russian part of the Far East, i.e., extreme east parts of Russia, between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean...

 living in the basin of the Kolyma River
Kolyma River
The Kolyma River is a river in northeastern Siberia, whose basin covers parts of the Sakha Republic, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, and Magadan Oblast of Russia. Itrises in the mountains north of Okhotsk and Magadan, in the area of and...

. According to the 2002 Russian census, both Yukaghir languages taken together have 604 speakers.http://www.perepis2002.ru/index.html?id=17 Recent reports from the field reveal that this number is far too high: the Yukaghir languages have at most seventy to eighty speakers.http://www.mpi.nl/research/research-projects/syntax-typology-and-information-structure/fieldsites/yukaghir, http://home.medewerker.uva.nl/c.ode/bestanden/Tundra%20yukagir%20project%20abstract%20sept%202009.pdf The entire family is thus to be regarded as moribundhttp://www.helsinki.fi/~tasalmin/nasia_report.html.

Classification and grammatical features


The relationship of the Yukaghir languages with other language families is uncertain, though it has been suggested that they are distantly related to the Uralic languages
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

, thus forming the putative Uralic–Yukaghir language family.

Tundra and Kolyma Yukaghir are the only two remnants of what used to be one of the dominant languages/language families of north-eastern Siberia, spreading from the River Anadyr
Anadyr River
Anadyr is a river in the far northeast Siberia which flows into Anadyr Bay of the Bering Sea and drains much of the interior of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Its basin corresponds to the Anadyrsky District of Chukotka....

 in the east to the River Lena
Lena River
The Lena is the easternmost of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean . It is the 11th longest river in the world and has the 9th largest watershed...

 in the west. On the basis of the evidence of early sources, it can be assumed that there existed a Yukaghir dialect continuum, with what is today Tundra Yukaghir and Kolyma Yukaghir at the extremes.

These two languages share only a relatively small part of the vocabulary and are not mutually intelligible. The basic grammatical structures, however, are very similar. Both languages have residual vowel harmony and a complex phonotactics of consonants. Both have rich agglutinative morphology and are strictly head-final
Head directionality parameter
In linguistics, the head directionality parameter is a proposed parameter that classifies word order accordingly to the placement of the head stem, which can be either:* Head-final : Heads follow phrases in forming larger phrases...

. There is practically no finite subordination and very few coordinate structures. The most spectacular feature of TY and KY grammar is the split intransitive alignment system based on discourse-pragmatic features. In absence of narrow focus, the system is organised on the nominative–accusative basis; when focused, direct objects and subjects of intransitive verbs are co-aligned (special focus case, special focus agreement).

Members


The two extant varieties of Yukaghir are:
  • Tundra Yukaghir (ykg; Northern Yukaghir language, also known as Wadul): 30 to 150 speakers as of 1989. Last spoken in the tundra
    Tundra
    In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

     belt extending between the lower Indigirka to the lower Kolyma
    Kolyma River
    The Kolyma River is a river in northeastern Siberia, whose basin covers parts of the Sakha Republic, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, and Magadan Oblast of Russia. Itrises in the mountains north of Okhotsk and Magadan, in the area of and...

     basin (69°N 154°E). Formerly spoken in a much wider area extending to the Lena
    Lena River
    The Lena is the easternmost of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean . It is the 11th longest river in the world and has the 9th largest watershed...

     basin in the west.
  • Kolyma Yukaghir
    Southern Yukaghir language
    The Southern, Kolyma or Forest Yukaghir language is one of only two Yukaghir languages.Last spoken in the forest zone near the sources of the Kolyma, divided between the Sakha Republic and the Magadan Oblast , previously in the wider area of the upper Kolyma region.-Classification and grammatical...

     (yux; Forest Yukaghir, Southern Yukaghir language, also known as Odul): 5 to 10 speakers as of 2009 http://www.mpi.nl/research/research-projects/syntax-typology-and-information-structure/fieldsites/yukaghir. Last spoken in the forest zone near the sources of the Kolyma, divided between the Sakha Republic and the Magadan Oblast
    Magadan Oblast
    Magadan Oblast is a federal subject of Russia in the Far Eastern Federal District. Its administrative center is the city of Magadan....

     (around 65°N 153°E), previously in the wider area of the upper Kolyma region.

See also

  • Paleosiberian languages
    Paleosiberian languages
    Paleosiberian languages or Paleoasian languages is a term of convenience used in linguistics to classify a disparate group of languages spoken in some parts of north-eastern Siberia and some parts of Russian Far East...

  • Indigenous peoples of Siberia
    Indigenous peoples of Siberia
    Including the Russian Far East, the population of Siberia numbers just above 40 million people.As a result of the 17th to 19th century Russian conquest of Siberia and the subsequent population movements during the Soviet era, the demographics of Siberia today is dominated by native speakers of...

  • Uralic–Yukaghir languages
  • Yukaghirs

Further reading


  • Jochel'son Vladimir I. 1900. Materialy po izucheniju jukagirskogo jazyka i fol’klora. ('Materials for the Study of Yukaghir Language and Folklore'). Sankt-Peterburg: Akademija nauk.
  • Jochelson, Waldemar. 1926. The Yukaghir and the Yukaghirized Tungus. Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History, 9, 13. Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition. Leiden: Brill.
  • Krejnovich, Erukhim A. 1958. Jukagirskij jazyk. ('The Yukaghir Language') Moscow and Leningrad: Nauka.
  • Krejnovich, Erukhim A. 1982. Issledovanija i materialy po jukagirskomu jazyku. ('Investigations and Materials on the Yukaghir Language') Leningrad: Nauka.
  • Kurilov, Gavril N. 2001. Jukagirsko-russkij slovar'. ('Yukaghir-Russian Dictionary') Novosibirsk: Nauka.
  • Maslova, Elena. 2001. Yukaghir Texts. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  • Maslova, Elena. 2003. A Grammar of Kolyma Yukaghir. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Maslova, Elena. 2003. Tundra Yukaghir. LINCOM Europa. Languages of the World/Materials 372.
  • Nikolaeva, Irina. 2006. A Historical Dictionary of Yukaghir. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Vakhtin, Nikolaj B. 1991. The Yukagir language in sociolinguistic perspective. Steszew, Poland: International Institute of Ethnolinguistic and Oriental Studies.


External links