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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.
REFERENCESIazyki 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.
E. A. KHELIMSKII