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(Ostyak Samoyed), the language of the Selkups, spoken in the region between the Ob’ and Enisei rivers by 2,200 persons (1970 census).

Selkup belongs to the Samoyedic group of Uralic languages. It has three main dialects: Taz, which formed the basis for the writing system created in the 1930’s, Tym, and Ket. The Taz dialect has 25 vowel and 16 consonant phonemes. Stress is mobile and usually conditioned by the phonemic and morphemic composition of the word. The language is characterized by hetero-clitic nouns; for example, ten (“vein,” “tendon”) becomes tini-t in the plural. Some verbs are also heteroclitic. Homorganic nasals and obstruents alternate at the ends of morphemes. Nouns have three numbers, approximately ten cases, and personal possessive and predicative forms; the noun paradigm includes regularly formed collective, adjectival, adverbial, comitative, and abessive forms. The verb has four tenses, eight moods, and more than 15 aspects. Transitivity, reflexivity, passivity, and causativity are expressed by affixation or change of conjugation type. The usual word order is subject-direct object-predicate and determinandum-determinatum. In vocabulary and semantics there are numerous traces of contacts with the Khanty (Ostyak) and Ket languages.


Prokof’ev, G. N. Sel’kupskaia grammatika. Leningrad, 1935.
Erdélyi, i. Selkupisches Wörterverzeichnis. Budapest, 1969.