Paleosiberian languages

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Paleosiberian languages

(pā'lēōsībēr`ēən), also called Paleoasiatic or Hyperborean languages, family of languages spoken by about 15,000 indigenous inhabitants of Siberia. Of these, most live in extreme NE Siberia, and fewer than 1,000 live farther W near the Yenisei River. Only a few languages survive of this once extensive family, which formerly was spread over a considerable area of N Asia. Among the Paleosiberian languages still in use are Chukchi, Koryak, Kamchadal, Yukaghir, and Gilyak. These tongues have characteristics that recall a number of Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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. For example, they are polysynthetic. In a polysynthetic language, a number of word elements are joined together to form a composite word that functions like a sentence in Indo-European languages. Most Paleosiberian languages did not have their own writing system in the past. Today their scripts are all based on the Cyrillic alphabet.


See R. Jakobson et al., Paleosiberian Peoples and Languages (1957, repr. 1981).

References in periodicals archive ?
The Yeniseian languages (Kott, Assan, Arin, Pumpokol, Yugh, and Ket) form a rather heterogeneous language family that is traditionally classified as one of the Paleo-Siberian language groups, which are not related to each other or to any other language family on the planet.
North from them were the Arctic peoples--the Saamis, the Samoyeds, the Yukaghirs and presumably several populations speaking Paleo-Siberian languages. South from the Finno-Ugrians were the Indo-European peoples also like a belt from the Atlantic at least to the Caspian Sea.
Languages in the northern belt of Eurasia are traditionally grouped as Indo-European, Uralic, Altaic and a loose residual collection of Paleo-Siberian languages that extend to Eskimo-Aleut in circumpolar North America and Greenland.
This includes the conventional Uralic and Altaic groups, the Paleo-Siberian languages that Uwe Seefloth (2000) has connected to Uralic (Yukaghir, Chukotka-Kamchatkan and Eskimo-Aleut), and Yeniseian.