The Sami languages

October 1, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Posted in Language, Scandinavia | Leave a comment
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It has been a long time ago since I posted about the Sami people, so today it is the turn of the languages. As this is an introductory post, the information comes from the Wikipedia:

The Sami languages

The Sami languages are spoken in Sápmi in Northern Europe, in a region stretching over the four countries Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, reaching from the southern part of central Scandinavia in the southwest to the tip of the Kola Peninsula in the east.

During the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age now extinct Sami languages were also spoken in the central and southern parts of Finland and Karelia and in a wider area on the Scandinavian peninsula. Historical documents as well as Finnish and Karelian oral tradition contain many mentions of the earlier Sami inhabitation in these areas (Itkonen 1947). Also loanwords as well as place-names of Sami origin in the southern dialects of Finnish and Karelian dialects testify of earlier Sami presence in the area (Koponen 1996; Saarikivi 2004; Aikio 2007). These Sami languages, however, became later extinct under the wave of the Finno-Karelian agricultural expansion.

The Sami languages form a branch of the Uralic language family. According to the traditional view, Sami is within the Uralic family most closely related to the Baltic-Finnic languages (Sammallahti 1998). However, this view has recently been doubted by some scholars, who argue that the traditional view of a common Finno-Sami protolanguage is not as strongly supported as has been earlier assumed, and that the similarities may stem from an areal influence on Sami from Baltic-Finnic.

In terms of internal relationships, the Sami languages are divided into two groups: the western and the eastern ones. The groups may be further divided into various subgroups and ultimately individual languages. (Sammallahti 1998: 6-38.) Parts of the Sami language area form a dialect continuum in which the neighbouring languages may be to a fair degree mutually intelligible, but two more widely separated groups will not understand each other’s speech. There are, however, sharp and absolute language boundaries, in particular between Northern Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami, the speakers of which are not able to understand each other without learning or long practice.

Western Sami languages

– Southern Sami
– Ume Sami
– Pite Sami
– Lule Sami
– Northern Sami

Eastern Sami languages

– Inari Sami
– Kemi Sami (extinct)
– Skolt Sami
– Akkala Sami (extinct)
– Kildin Sami
– Ter Sami

At present there are nine living Sami languages. The largest six of the languages have independent literary languages; the three others have no written standard, and there are only few, mainly elderly speakers left. The ISO 639-2 code for all Sami languages without its proper code is “smi”.

The other Sami languages are moribund and have very few speakers left. Ten speakers of Ter Sami were known to be alive in 2004, and Pite Sami and Ume Sami likely have under 20 speakers left. The last speaker of Akkala Sami is known to have died in December 2003, and the eleventh attested variety Kemi Sami became extinct in the 19th century.

Of course the data needs to be continuoslly revised as the sociolinguistic situation is always dynamic. Advice an info in that direction would be very appreciated, so if you are Sami and are reading that, do not hesitate to comment!


Fourth and last step: Russia and Japan

July 29, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Posted in Language, Maps | Leave a comment
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After some months, we finish this trip around the world with Ethnologue. We started in Alaska and Canada, passed by Greenland and Scandinavia, and now we finish in Russia and Japan. It has been a cool trip, right? Lets see what they have for Russia and Japan:

Russia (Asia) and Japan

Ainu: [ain] South Sakhalin Island and southern Kuril Islands. Dialects: Sakhalin (Saghilin), Taraika, Hokkaido (Ezo, Yezo), Kuril (Shikotan). Classification: Language Isolate Nearly extinct.

Aleut: [ale] 190 in Russia (2002 K. Matsumura). 5 on Bering Island Atkan (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 702 (1989 census). Nikolskoye settlement, Bering Island, Commander (Komandor) Islands. Alternate names: Unangany, Unangan, Unanghan. Dialects: Beringov (Bering, Atkan). Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Aleut

Aleut, Mednyj
: [mud] 10 (1995 M. Krauss). Copper Island, Komandor Islands. Alternate names: Medny, Copper, Copper Island Aleut, Attuan, Copper Island Attuan, Creolized Attuan. Classification: Mixed Language, Russian-Aleut Nearly extinct.

Alutor: [alr] 100 to 200 (2000 A. E. Kibrik). Ethnic population: 2,000 (1997 M. Krauss). Koryak National District, northeast Kamchatka Peninsula, many in Vyvenka village, 2 families in Rekinniki, and individual families in Tilichiki and Tymlyt. Some speakers are separated at considerable distances and without regular contact. Alternate names: Alyutor, Aliutor, Olyutor. Dialects: Alutorskij (Alutor Proper), Karaginskij (Karaga), Palanskij (Palana). Considered a dialect of Koryak until recently. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Northern, Koryak-Alyutor

Chukot: [ckt] 10,000 (1997 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 15,000. Chukchi Peninsula, Chukot and Koryak National Okrug, northeastern Siberia. Alternate names: Chukcha, Chuchee, Chukchee, Luoravetlan, Chukchi. Dialects: Uellanskij, Pevekskij, Enmylinskij, Nunligranskij, Xatyrskij, Chaun, Enurmin, Yanrakinot. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Northern, Chukot

Enets, Forest: [enf] 40 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 209 with Tundra Enets (1989 census). Taimyr National Okrug. Along the Yenisei River’s lower course, upstream from Dudinka. The Forest variety is in the Potapovo settlement of the Dudinka Region. Alternate names: Yenisei Samoyedic, Bay Enets, Pe-Bae. Dialects: Forest and Tundra Enets are barely intelligible to each other’s speakers. It is transitional between Yura and Nganasan. For a time it was officially considered part of Nenets. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed Nearly extinct.

Enets, Tundra: [enh] 30 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 209 together with Forest Enets (1990 census). Taimyr National Okrug. Along the Yenisei River’s lower course, upstream from Dudinka. ‘Tundra’ in the Vorontzovo settlement of the Ust-Yenisei Region. Alternate names: Yenisei Samoyedic, Madu, Somatu. Dialects: Tundra and Forest Enets barely intelligible to each other’s speakers. It is transitional between Yura and Nganasan. For a time it was officially considered part of Nenets. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed Nearly extinct.

Even: [eve] 7,543 (1989 census). Ethnic population: 17,199 (1989 census). Yakutia and the Kamchatka Peninsula, widely scattered over the entire Okhotsk Arctic coast. Alternate names: Lamut, Ewen, Eben, Orich, Ilqan. Dialects: Arman, Indigirka, Kamchatka, Kolyma-Omolon, Okhotsk, Ola, Tompon, Upper Kolyma, Sakkyryr, Lamunkhin. Ola dialect is not accepted by speakers of other dialects. A dialect cluster. It was incorrectly reported to be a Yukaghir dialect. Classification: Altaic, Tungus, Northern, Even

Evenki: [evn] 9,000 in Russia (1997 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 30,000 in Russia (1997 M. Krauss). Evenki National Okrug, Sakhalin Island. Capital is Ture. Alternate names: Ewenki, Tungus, Chapogir, Avanki, Avankil, Solon, Khamnigan. Dialects: Manegir, Yerbogocen, Nakanna, Ilimpeya, Tutoncana, Podkamennaya Tunguska, Cemdalsk, Vanavara, Baykit, Poligus, Uchama, Cis-Baikalia, Sym, Tokmo-Upper Lena, Nepa, Lower Nepa Tungir, Kalar, Tokko, Aldan Timpton, Tommot, Jeltulak, Uchur, Ayan-Maya, Kur-Urmi, Tuguro-Chumikan, Sakhalin, Zeya-Bureya. Classification: Altaic, Tungus, Northern, Evenki

Gilyak: [niv] 1,089 (1989 census). Population includes 100 Amur, 300 Sakhalin (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 4,673 (1989 census), including 2,000 Amur, 2,700 Sakhalin (1995 M. Krauss). Sakhalin Island, many in Nekrasovka and Nogliki villages, small numbers in Rybnoe, Moskalvo, Chir-Unvd, Viakhtu, and other villages, and along the Amur River in Aleevka village. Alternate names: Nivkh, Nivkhi. Dialects: Amur, East Sakhalin Gilyak, North Sakhalin Gilyak. The Amur and East Sakhalin dialects have difficult inherent intelligibility of each other. North Sakhalin is between them linguistically. Classification: Language Isolate

Itelmen: [itl] 60 (2000). Ethnic population: 2,481 (1989 census). Southern Kamchatka Peninsula, Koryak Autonomous District, Tigil Region, primarily in Kovran and Upper Khairiuzovo villages, west coast of the Kamchatka River. Alternate names: Itelymem, Western Itelmen, Kamchadal, Kamchatka. Dialects: Sedanka, Kharyuz, Itelmen, Xajrjuzovskij, Napanskij, Sopocnovskij. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Southern

Karagas: [kim] 25 to 30 (2001). Ethnic population: 730 (1989 census). Siberia, Irkutsk Region. Alternate names: Tofa, Tofalar, Sayan Samoyed, Kamas, Karagass. Classification: Altaic, Turkic, Northern Nearly extinct.

Kerek: [krk] 2 (1997 M. Krauss). There were 200 to 400 speakers in 1900. Ethnic population: 400. Cape Navarin, in Chukot villages. Dialects: Mainypilgino (Majna-Pil’ginskij), Khatyrka (Xatyrskij). Previously considered a dialect of Chukot. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Northern, Koryak-Alyutor Nearly extinct.

Ket: [ket] 550 to 990 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 1,222 (2000). Upper Yenisei Valley, Krasnoyarski krai, Turukhansk, and Baikitsk regions, Sulomai, Bakhta, Verkhneimbatsk, Kellog, Kangatovo, Surgutikha, Vereshchagino, Baklanikha, Farkovo, Goroshikha, and Maiduka villages. East of the Khanti and Mansi, eastern Siberia. Alternate names: Yenisei Ostyak, Yenisey Ostiak, Imbatski-Ket. Classification: Yeniseian

Koryak: [kpy] 3,500 (1997 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 7,000. Koryak National Okrug, south of the Chukot; northern half of Kamchatka Peninsula and adjacent continent. Alternate names: Nymylan. Dialects: Cavcuvenskij (Chavchuven), Apokinskij (Apukin), Kamenskij (Kamen), Xatyrskij, Paren, Itkan, Palan, Gin. Chavchuven, Palan, and Kamen are apparently not inherently intelligible. Classification: Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Northern, Koryak-Alyutor

Nenets: [yrk] 26,730 (1989 census). Population includes 1,300 Forest Nenets, 25,000 Tundra Nenets. Ethnic population: 34,665 (1989 census) including 2,000 Forest Enets. Northwest Siberia, tundra area from the mouth of the northern Dvina River in northeastern Europe to the delta of the Yenisei in Asia, and a scattering on the Kola Peninsula; Nenets, Yamalo-Nenets, and Taimyr national okrugs. Alternate names: Nenec, Nentse, Nenetsy, Yurak, Yurak Samoyed. Dialects: Forest Yurak, Tundra Yurak. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed

Nganasan: [nio] 500 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 1,300. Taimyr National Okrug, Taimyr Peninsula, Siberia, Ust-Avam village in the Dudinka Region; Volochanka and Novaya villages in the Khatang Region. They are the northernmost people in Russia, near the Yakut, Dolgan, and Evenki peoples. Alternate names: Tavgi Samoyed. Dialects: Avam, Khatang. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed

Oroch: [oac] 100 to 150 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 900 (1990 census). Eastern Siberia in the Khabarovsk Krai along the rivers that empty into the Tatar Channel, on Amur River not far from the city of Komsomolsk-na-Amure. Many live in the Vanino Region in Datta and Uska-Orochskaya settlements. Some live among the Nanai. Alternate names: Orochi. Dialects: Kjakela (Kjakar, Kekar), Namunka, Orichen, Tez. Classification: Altaic, Tungus, Southern, Southeast, Udihe

Orok: [oaa] 30 to 82 in Russia (1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 33 to 85. Ethnic population: 250 to 300 (1995 M. Krauss). Sakhalin Island, Poronajsk District, Poronajsk town, Gastello and Vakhrushev settlements; Nogliki District, Val village, Nogliki settlement. Also spoken in Japan. Alternate names: Oroc, Ulta, Ujlta, Uilta. Dialects: Poronaisk (Southern Orok), Val-Nogliki (Nogliki-Val, Northern Orok). Significant differences between dialects. For a while Orok was officially considered part of Nanai. Classification: Altaic, Tungus, Southern, Southeast, Nanaj Nearly extinct.

Selkup: [sel] 1,570 (1994 Salminen, 1994 Janhunen). Northern Sel’kup has 1,400 speakers out of 1,700, Central Sel’kup has 150 speakers out of 1,700, Southern Sel’kup has 20 speakers out of 200. Ethnic population: 3,600. Tom Oblast, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Krasnoyarski Krai and Tomskaya Oblast. The northern dialect is spoken in Krasnoselkup Region, Krasnoselkup, Sidorovsk, Tolka, Ratta, and Kikiyakki villages; part of the Purovsk Region, Tolka Purovskaya village; adjacent regions of the Krasnoyarski Krai; Kureika village, Kellog, and Turukhan River basin and Baikha. The southern dialect (Tym) is spoken in a range of villages in the northern part of the Tomskaya Oblast. Alternate names: Ostyak Samoyed. Dialects: Taz (Northern Sel’kup, Tazov-Baishyan), Tym (Central Selk’up, Kety), Narym (Central Sel’kup), Srednyaya Ob-Ket (Southern Sel’kup). A dialect continuum with difficult or impossible intelligibility between the extremes. Speakers in the south are separated from others. Classification: Uralic, Samoyed

Yugh: [yuu] 2 or 3 (1991 G. K. Verner in Kibrik). Nonfluent speakers. Ethnic population: 10 to 15 (1991 G. K. Verner in Kibrik). Turukhan Region of the Krasnoyarsk Krai at the Vorogovo settlement. Previously they lived along the Yenisei River from Yeniseisk to the mouth of the Dupches. Alternate names: Yug. Classification: Yeniseian Nearly extinct.

Yukaghir, Northern: [ykg] 30 to 150 (1995 M. Krauss, 1989 census). Ethnic population: 230 to 1,100 (1995 M. Krauss, 1989 census). Yakutia and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Alternate names: Yukagir, Jukagir, Odul, Tundra, Tundre, Northern Yukagir. Dialects: Distinct from Southern Yukaghir (Kolyma). It may be distantly related to Altaic or Uralic. Classification: Yukaghir Nearly extinct.

Yukaghir, Southern
: [yux] 10 to 50 (1995 M. Krauss, 1989 census). Ethnic population: 130 (1995 M. Krauss, 1989 census). Yakutia and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Alternate names: Yukagir, Jukagir, Odul, Kolyma, Kolym, Southern Yukagir. Dialects: Not inherently intelligible with Northern Yukaghir. Classification: Yukaghir Nearly extinct.

Yupik, Central Siberian: [ess] 300 in Russia (1991 Kibrik). Ethnic population: 1,200 to 1,500 in Russia (1991 Kibrik). Chukchi National Okrug, coast of the Bering Sea, Wrangel Island. The Chaplino live in Providenie Region in Novo-Chaplino and Providenie villages. Alternate names: Yoit, Yuk, Yuit, Siberian Yupik, “Eskimo”, Bering Strait Yupik, Asiatic Yupik. Dialects: Aiwanat, Noohalit (Peekit), Wooteelit, Chaplino. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Yupik, Siberian

Yupik, Naukan: [ynk] 75 (1990 L.D. Kaplan). Ethnic population: 350. Chukota Region, Laurence, Lorino, and Whalen villages, scattered. Formerly spoken in Naukan village and the region surrounding East Cape, Chukot Peninsula, but they have been relocated. Alternate names: Naukan, Naukanski. Dialects: 60% to 70% intelligibility of Chaplino. Classification: Eskimo-Aleut, Eskimo, Yupik, Siberian.

The situation is quite depressing, with a lot of languages that are tagged as “nearly extinct”… Here you have, as usually, the map for the zone. As Russia is a huge country, Ethnologue has one general index map, which I am showing here, and then some more detailed maps, that you can find clicking here:

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