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Gregory D. S. Anderson Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages Mapping Language Endangerment and Diversity. The Eastern Siberia Language Hotspot Presented at AAAS Feb 2007 San Francisco, CA. Eastern Siberia Language Hotspot. Tungusic Genetic Unit.

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The Eastern Siberia Language Hotspot Presented at AAAS Feb 2007 San Francisco, CA

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Gregory D. S. AndersonLiving Tongues Institute for Endangered LanguagesMapping Language Endangerment and Diversity

The Eastern Siberia Language Hotspot

Presented at AAAS Feb 2007

San Francisco, CA

genetic unit diversity vs language diversity
Genetic Unit Diversity vs. Language Diversity
  • An area can have a high genetic diversity index but have few overall total languages. In models of linguistic diversity that focus on absolute numbers of languages, such areas would be and are overlooked completely
  • One such area is Eastern Siberia
genetic units in eastern siberia
Genetic Units in Eastern Siberia
  • Chukotko-Kamchatkan Itelmenic
  • Tungusic Aleut
  • Turkic Eskimoic

Ainuic {Slavic}

  • Yukaghiric Nivx
  • Mixed Language (Mednyj or Copper Island Aleut)
languages and genetic units of eastern siberia
Languages and Genetic Units of Eastern Siberia
  • Some families and isolates (genetic units) are only found in Eastern Siberia
  • Nivx
  • Yukaghiric (??+ Omok†, Chuvan†)
  • Chukotko-Kamchatkan
  • + Itelmen
genetic index of eastern siberia language hotspot
The genetic index of Eastern Siberia is extraordinarily high, .523

If you include extinct languages, it is .480 which is still extremely high

Genetic Index of Eastern Siberia Language Hotspot
some features of languages of eastern siberia
Some features of languages of Eastern Siberia

Elaborate ‘case’ systems: suffixes on nouns instead of prepositions

  • word initial ng- (N-)
  • Extremely long words (‘polysynthetic’ structure) corresponding to phrases or even sentences in English
some unusual features of siberian languages
Some unusual features of Siberian Languages
  • Nivx counting forms
  • Chukchi men’s vs. women’s speech
  • Chukchi polysynthetic word structure
  • Itelmen consonant clusters
nivx isolate
Nivx (isolate)
  • Amur Nivxgloss
  • nˆr'4 people'
  • nur '4 animals'
  • (Panfilov 1962: 6-7, Gruzdeva 1998: 24)
chukchi men s vs women s speech
Chukchi Men’s vs. Women’s speech
  • Men: r Women: tz
  • Men: req´rk´n
  • Women: tzeq´tz´n
  • ‘what’s s/he doing?’
  • (Kämpfe/Volodin 1995: 8)
chukchi word phrases
Chukchi word-phrases
  • Chukchi (Skorik: 1986: 107; Kämpfe/Volodin 1995: 88)
  • revinret´N´rk´n

‘he wants to help’

  • ganp´nac&g´rg´naqorama

‘with the old men's reindeers’

  • klfknan ‘it fell out’
  • kstk’¬knan ‘he jumped’
language documentation
Language Documentation
  • A language may be considered well documented if there is
  • a writing system or a standardized means of rendering the words graphically or symbolically
  • a grammar, dictionary/lexicon and glossed text collection
  • and annotated, digital, searchable audio/video materials
documentation of eastern siberian languages
Documentation of Eastern Siberian languages
  • 100+ year history of language study but no Eastern Siberian language approaches this standard
  • Many lack dictionaries and glossed texts
  • Almost all have no accessible annotated digital audio or video materials
documentation of eastern siberian languages1
Documentation of Eastern Siberian languages
  • Average level of documentation (0 is lowest, 5 is highest) ranges between 1.78 to 2.12 depending on whether extinct languages are included
  • Kerek,Negidal, Oroch and Ulch stand out as the least documented
history of russian indigenous interactions in e siberia
History of Russian-Indigenous Interactions in E. Siberia
  • 17th century first Cossacks entered Eastern Siberia
  •  i.e. these were fur tribute exploitation colonies
  •  as long as payment of the fur was met without resistance, the Native Siberians were mostly left alone
  •  In Eastern Siberia, indigenous languages and cultures survived largely intact in the first two centuries of Russian rule
brief history of eastern siberia
Brief History of Eastern Siberia
  •  those who didn’t cooperate were often killed
  •  later during the initial phase of the penal colony that Siberia is infamous for, the old friend of European colonialist expansion, smallpox, lent a helping hand in subjugating the Siberian peoples
  •  The Yukaghir were particularly hard hit, literally decimated
brief history of eastern siberia1
Brief History of Eastern Siberia
  • In the mid-to-late nineteenth century former serfs began occupying areas across Siberia and massive populations were moved or enticed there in the early Soviet period
  • This was the era of the settlement colonies which usually spells trouble for local indigenous languages
language endangerment
Language Endangerment
  • Languages become endangered when their speakers no longer pass them to the next generation.
  • This decision is made due to a complex range of social and economic factors but once initiated, usually leads to language death (when it has no community of users at all)
language endangerment1
Language Endangerment
  • In Eastern Siberia there are 21 living indigenous languages; 20 are threatened or endangered and all but one of the remaining 11 genetic units endangered
language endangerment in eastern siberia
Language Endangerment in Eastern Siberia
  • Ainu†, Sirenik†, Omok†, Chuvan† are already extinct genetic units of the area
  • Yukaghiric, Itelmen, Mednyj Aleut, and Nivx will soon follow
eastern siberian language endangerment
Eastern Siberian Language Endangerment
  • Average level of endangerment is very high, 2.17 (0 is extinct, 5 healthy), or seriously endangered, average youngest speaker 60 or older
language endangerment in eastern siberia1
Language Endangerment in Eastern Siberia
  • Kerek, Ulch, Orok, Oroch, Chukchi and Evenki stand out for their rapid decline
  • Some reports suggest Orok is down to 10 speakers and Kerek under 5!
2002 census data
ALL Languages but Aleut, Oroch, Yakut and Yukaghir report decrease in total number of speakers

Yakut is absorbing other languages of Northeast Siberia

Russian also expanding almost everywhere else

2002 Census Data
2002 census
Most drastic decline in Chukchi, Orok, Koryak, Nivx and Eskimo

Orok down to 64 speakers, Kerek 15, Al’utor 40, Negidal 147, Sirenik now 0

Considering these are inflated….

2002 Census