Samoyedic Languages

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Samoyedic Languages


a group of languages belonging to the Uralic language family. The Samoyedic languages include the Nenets, Enets, and Nganasan languages, which are spoken in the tundra zone of extreme northeastern Europe and northwestern Asia and which form the North Samoyedic subgroup; the Selkup language of Western Siberia; and the practically extinct Kamas, a dialect of which is known as Koibal and which is spoken in the Minusinsk Basin. Samoyedic dialects included Mator, Karagas, and Taigi; these closely related dialects were supplanted by Turkic languages and are known only from word lists of the 18th and early 19th centuries, when they were spoken in the Saian Upland region. Samoyedic languages are currently spoken by more than 34,000 persons (1970 census). The Saian Upland and the adjacent regions are assumed to be the homeland of the Proto-Samoyedic linguistic community, which dissolved early in the Common Era.

Most Samoyedic languages have a well-developed vowel system consisting of 15 to 25 phonemes. Consonant clusters almost never occur at the beginning of a word. Some dialects have preserved a mobile stress that serves to distinguish linguistic units. There are frequent morphophonemic changes in roots and affixes, especially nasal-obstruent alternations (n/t, n/?, and so forth), which date back to Proto-Samoyedic. Nouns have three numbers, from five to ten cases (and sometimes more), and possessive personal forms, as in the Nenets form ḿa?al (“your [singular] tent”). Some languages also have personal forms that indicate intent or destination, as in the Nenets form ḿatar (“a tent for you [singular]”); these forms may take predicative endings and are inflected for person and even tense. The verb has three types of conjugations in most Samoyedic languages: objective (transitive), subjective (intransitive), and reflexive. The verb produces a large number of nominal forms and has many moods and tenses. Word order is not very fixed, with subject-object-predicate and definer-defined models predominating. The vocabulary exhibits traces of contacts with Turkic, Mongol, Ob-Ugric, and Eniseian languages. From the 17th century to the present, Russian has been the primary source of borrowings.


Iazyki ipis’mennost’ narodov Sever a, part 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.
Iazyki narodov SSSR, vol. 3. Moscow, 1966.
Tereshchenko, N. M. Sintaksis samodiiskikh iazykov. Leningrad, 1973.
Castrén, M. A. Grammatik der samojedischen Sprachen. St. Petersburg, 1854.
Castrén, M. A. Wörterverzeichnisse aus den samojedischen Sprachen. St. Petersburg, 1855.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(4) In North Samoyed languages, different converbs of the copula verb 'be' in different stages of grammaticalization function as essives.
To the oldest layer of inherited stems belong stems that have cognates in one or several Samoyed languages: Nenets (Tundra or Forest Nenets), Enets, Nganasan, Selkup, or already vanished Kamass and Mator and which are not loans from Indo-European.
In addition to Finnish, a number of Baltic-Finnic languages, Lapp (Sami), and a couple of Samoyed languages employ it.
This is a case of a particularly productive root which, in Samoyed languages, clearly refers to the semantic fields associated with ideas of life, animation and soul.16 Furthermore the Nenets formed a word on this root that they use to indicate the wild reindeer (iljebc'), which literally means 'livelihood'; and iljebja means 'wealth, goods', referring to the importance of the domesticated reindeer herd.
In one case, however, the shift *l- > *j- occurred before PSam *e in part of the Samoyed languages: cf.
It is also mentioned that there are similar words in Samoyed languages, but they are not considered cognate with the Finnic word.
Still a possibility remains that it is a Common-Uralic 2PSg marker -t, in front of which there appeared a homorganic nasal as is often the case in Samoyed languages. Principally, it has not been excluded that the Nganasan and Mator -q may have been adopted from *-n and thus group together with the other 2PSg personal nsuffixes in Uralic languages (but in Nganasan and Mator the *nt cannot phonetically be reduced to *n as is the case with some other Samoyedic languages).
The point of the article is to give a systematic description of the Inferential Mood in Nenets--one of the Northern Samoyed languages. In the plane of expression this mood is represented by a regular paradigm based upon the opposition of 3 tenses (Present, Past, Future), 3 persons (1st, 2nd, 3rd), 3 numbers (singular, dual, plural), and 3 types of conjugation (subjective, objective, reflexive).
Based on the use of (Northern) Samoyed languages one could imagine that in a number of Uralic languages the text meant for the listener (= the 2nd person) sounds natural when determined by means of the above-men tioned 2Px, meaning something like 'the matter heard by you'.
The same observations may be made about the Samoyed languages: the word for 'hundred' (Sam.
In Samoyed languages this *V-sV has four main functions.
In seinen Forschungen konzentrierte er sich im Wesentlichen auf die samojedischen Sprachen (On Samoyed Languages, Szombathely 1996 (Dissertationes Savariensis, 14); Enets, Munchen--Newcastle, 1999 (LINCOM Europa); Kamass, Muncen--Newcastle 1999 (LINCOM Europa)), auf die Geschichte der finnisch-ugrischen und samojedischen Sprachwissenschaft, die allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, die Areallinguistik (Supplements to the Areal Relationships of the Morphology of Samoyed Languages.--Die sprachliche Situation bei den uralischen Volkern, Savariae 1997, S.