Geographical distribution of Samoyedic languages in the 17th (hatching) and 20th (continuous) centuries.
The Samoyedic languages derive from a common ancestral language called Proto-Samoyedic, and they form a branch of the Uralic languages. They are not a diverse group of languages, having separated perhaps in the last centuries BC (Janhunen 1998), and are traditionally considered to be an outgroup, branching off first from the other Uralic languages.
The term Samoyedic is derived from the Russian term samoyed (Russian: самоед) for some indigenous peoples of Siberia. It is sometimes considered derogatory because its etymology has been interpreted as originating from Russian: Samo-yed: "self-eater". Therefore sometimes the word Samodeic is suggested by some ethnologists. Other interpretations of Samoyedic etymology suggest that the term originates from an expression saam-edne, meaning the Land of the Sami peoples.
The language and respective ethnic groups are traditionally divided into Northern (Tundra) and Southern groups, and the latter further into Taiga and Mountain groups; these are areal rather than genealogical groupings.
- Northern / Tundra Samoyed (areal)
- Nganasan (Tavgy, Tavgi, Tawgi, Tawgi-Samoyed)
- Southern Samoyed (areal)
- Selkup / Taiga (Ostyak-Samoyed), divided in divergent dialects:
- Taz Selkup
- Tym Selkup
- Ket Selkup
- Sayan / Mountain Samoyed
Genealogical classifications point to an early divergence of Nganasan and (perhaps to a lesser degree) Mator, with Enets–Nenets–Yurats and Kamas–Selkup forming internal branches. (Janhunen 1998)
At present, Samoyed territory extends from the White Sea to the Laptev Sea, along the Arctic shores of European Russia, including southern Novaya Zemlya, the Yamal Peninsula, the mouths of the Ob and the Yenisei and into the Taimyr peninsula in northernmost Siberia. Their economy is based on reindeer herding. They are contiguous with the trans-Ural Ugric speakers and the cis-Ural Komi to the south, but they are cut off from the Baltic Finns by the Russians in the west. To the east traditionally dwell the northern Turkic Sakha. A substantial Samoyed city grew up at Mangazeya in 16th century as a trade city, but was destroyed at the beginning of the 17th century.
The Southern Samoyedic languages, of which only the Selkup language has survived to the present day, historically ranged across a wide territory in central Siberia, extending from the basin of the Ob River in the west to the Sayan-Baikal uplands in the east. Records up to the 18th century sporadically report several further entities such as "Abakan", "Kagmasin", "Soyot", though there is no clear evidence for any of these constituting separate languages, and all available data appears to be explainable as these having been simply early forms of Kamassian or Mator.
Janhunen, Juha 1998. Samoyedic. In: Daniel Abondolo (ed.), The Uralic Languages, pp. 457–479. London / New York: Routledge.
- The Tenacity of Ethnicity By Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer ISBN 978-0-691-00673-4
- Samodeic @ google books
- Anthropology of the North By Arctic Institute of North America, Translations from Russian Sources
- Janhunen, Juha (1977). Samojedischer Wortschatz. Castreanumin toimitteita 17. Helsinki. p. 8. ISBN 951-45-1161-1. ISSN 0355-0141. |