Alyutor language

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Native to Russia
Region Kamchatka
Ethnicity 2,000 Alyutors (1997)[1]
Native speakers
25 (2010 census)[1]
  • Alutor
  • Palana Koryak
Language codes
ISO 639-3 alr
Glottolog alut1245[2]
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Alyutor or Alutor is a language of Russia that belongs to the Chukotkan branch of the Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages.

Sociolinguistic situation[edit]

The Alutor are the indigenous inhabitants of the northern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The language is unwritten and moribund; in the 1970s residents of the chief Alutor village of Vyvenka under the age of 25 did not know the language. In recent[clarification needed] years the Vyvenka village school has started teaching the language. Until 1958 the language was considered the "village" (settled) dialect of the Koryak language, but it is not intelligible with traditionally nomadic varieties of Koryak. The autonym [ˈnəməlʔən] means "villager".


А а Б б В в В’ в’ Г г Г’ г’ Ғ ғ Д д
Е е Ә ә Ё ё Ж ж З з И и Й й К к
Ӄ ӄ Л л М м Н н Ӈ ӈ О о П п Р р
С с Т т У у Ф ф Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш
Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я


Alutor is a polysynthetic language.

ŋan(.ina) ulʲlʲaʔu.tku=ʔuttə-k na-n.illitə-tkə-ni-na…
that+3PL walk.into.woods.masked=stick-LOC LOW.A-hang-IPF-3.SG.A+3P-3PL.P
'Those things on a stick, which wear masks, hung ...'[dubious ]

The morphology is agglutinative, with extensive prefixes and suffixes.

qəlʲippə tətu-kki ɣeqə⟩masla⟨ta a-mal-ka.
bread+NOM+SG eat.with.something-INF ASSOC⟩butter⟨ASSOC good
'Bread (eaten) with butter is excellent.'

The argument structure is ergative.

ə-nannə ɣəmmə ina-ɣal-e.
he-ERG me+ABS 1SG.P-walk.past-3SG.A
'He walked past me.'

The word order is variable, and it is difficult to say which typology is basic. The verb-absolutive orders AVO and VAO are perhaps most common.

tita·qa qutkinʲnʲaqu-nak maŋ.ki·ʔana ɣa⟩laʔu⟨lin ənnə-ʔən.
once (name)-ERG+SG somewhere RES⟩see⟨RES+3SG.P fishABS+SG
'Once Qutkinnyaqu saw a fish somewhere.'
ɣa⟩nvə⟨lin qutkinʲnʲaqu-nak təlɣə-lŋən ŋan.tiŋ.
RES⟩poke⟨RES+3SG.P (name)-ERG+SG finger-ABS+SG there
'Qutkinnyaqu stuck his finger there.'



Alyutor has six vowels, five of which may be long or short. The /ə/ is a schwa, and cannot be stressed.

Front Central Back
Close i iː u uː
Mid e eː ə o oː
Open a aː


There are 18 consonants in Alyutor.[citation needed]

Bilabial Labio-
Dentalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Epiglottal Glottal
Plosive p t  tsʲ k q ʡ ʔ
Fricative v ɣ
Nasal m n  nʲ ŋ
Approximant w l  lʲ j
Trill r


Stress is generally on the second syllable of the word. However, it cannot fall on a schwa or the last syllable, so in two-syllable words stress is transferred to the first syllable, as long as that vowel is not a schwa. In cases where it is a schwa, a third syllable is added to the word,[clarification needed] and the second syllable is stressed.

Examples: /ˈmi.məl/ 'water', /qə.ˈla.vul/ 'husband', /pə.ˈla.kəl.ŋən/ 'a mukluk (boot)', /ˈta.wə.ja.tək/ 'to feed'.

Syllable structure[edit]

All Alyutor syllables begin with a single consonant. If the vowel is short, including a schwa, they may also close with a single consonant.

Examples are /vi.ˈta.tək/ 'to work', /ˈtil.mə.til/ 'eagle', /ˈʔit.ʔən/ 'parka'.

Alyutor word boundaries always coincide with syllable boundaries.


Alyutor has the following parts of speech: nouns, adjectives, numerals, pronouns, verbs, participles, adverbs, postpositions, conjunctions, and "particles".


Nouns are inflected for number, case, definiteness, and grammatical person.

There are three grammatical numbers: singular, dual and plural.

There are eleven cases: absolutive, ergative, locative, dative lative, prolative, contactive, causative, equative, comitative, and associative.

Number and case are expressed using a single affix. A suffix is used for all cases except the comitative and associative, which are expressed using circumfixes. There are two declensions, taught as three noun classes. The first class are nonhuman nouns of the first declension. Number is only distinguished in the absolutive case, though verbal agreement may distinguish number when these nouns are in the ergative. The second class are proper names and kin terms for elders. They are second declension, and distinguish number in the ergative, locative, and lative cases, as well as the absolutive. The third class are the other human nouns; they may be either first or second declension.

1st declension 2nd declension
sg. du. pl. sg. du. pl.
[clarification needed]
-jpəŋ/-ɣəpəŋ (-e ~ -i)
-jit ~ -jita
-kjit ~ -kjita

Case roles[edit]

  • The absolutive case is the citation form of a noun. It is used for the argument ("subject") of an intransitive clause and the object of a transitive clause, for "syntactic possessives",[clarification needed] and for the vocative.
  • The ergative is used for the agent ("subject") of a transitive verb, as an instrumental case, and as the argument of an antipassive clause.
  • The locative is used for position and direction (essive and lative cases), as well as arguments which are "driven away" [clarification needed]
  • The dative is used for recipients, benefactors, directional objects (allative case), and subjects of experiential verbs
  • Lative is used for motion toward a goal
  • Prolative is used for movement along and movement from (perlative and elative cases)
  • Equative is used with the meanings 'like X', 'as X', usually with verbs like 'to become', 'to turn into', 'to work as,' etc.
  • Contactive is used for objects that make contact
  • Causative is used for noun phrases that cause or motivate an action
  • Comitative is used for ...[clarification needed]
  • Associative is used for ...[clarification needed]. It is only attested in the declension of nouns of the first declension, usually inanimate.

Grammatical person[edit]

Grammatical first and second person suffixes on nouns are used to equate a noun with participants in the discourse. They only appear in the absolutive, with an intervening j on nouns ending in a vowel and an i on nouns ending in a consonant.

sg. du. pl.
1st person -j-ɣəm -muri -muru
2nd person -j-ɣət -turi -turu
  • …ʡopta am-ʡujamtawilʔ-ə-muru "yes we the people"
  • japlə=q ʡujamtawilʔ-iɣəm "and I'm a man"


Alyutor has simple numerals for the numbers one to five, ten, and twenty. All other numbers are compounds based on these numerals.

ənnan one
ŋitaq two
ŋəruqqə three
ŋəraqqə four
məlləŋin five
ənnanməlləŋ(in) six (one-five)
ŋitaqməlləŋ(in) seven (two-five)
ŋəruqməlləŋ(in) eight (three-five)
ŋəraqməlləŋ(in) nine (four-five)
mənɣətkin ten
mənɣətək ənnan eleven
qəlikkə twenty (a score)
qəlikək ənnan twenty one
ŋəraqmənɣətkin forty (four tens)
ŋəraqmənɣətkin ŋəraqqə forty four
ŋitaqməlləŋin mənɣətkin seventy (seven tens)
mənɣətək mənɣətkin hundred (ten tens)


There are finite (conjugated) and non-finite verbs. There are several conjugations.

Polypersonal conjugation[edit]

Finite verbs agree in person and number with their nuclear arguments; agreement is through both prefixes and suffixes. Transitive verbs agree with both arguments (ergative and absolutive), whereas intransitive verbs agree with their sole (absolutive) argument.

Verbs distinguish two aspects, perfective, the bare stem, and imperfective, using the suffix -tkə / -tkən / -tkəni. There are five moods, indicative, imperative, optative, potential (marked by the circumfix ta…(ŋ)), and conjunctive (prefix ʔ-/a-).

Monopersonal conjugation[edit]

Monopersonal verbs[clarification needed] include two declensions, one with the third-person singular in ɣa-...-lin, and the other in n-...-qin.

Impersonal conjugation[edit]

For impersonal forms of conjugation include verbal predicate (formed with the circumfix a…ka) and imperative (formed by circumfix ɣa…a/ta). Non-finite forms Impersonal forms include the verbal predicate[clarification needed] with the circumfix a…ka, and the imperative in ɣa…a/ta.

Non-finite forms[edit]

These include the infinitive, supine, gerunds, and participles.


  1. ^ a b Alyutor at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Alutor". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 


  • Kibrik, A.E., S.V. Kodzasov, I.A. Murav'eva. 2000. Jazyk i fol'klor aljutorcev. Moscow: IMLI RAN Nasledie. ISBN 5-9208-0035-6
  • Nagayama, Yukari. 2003. Ocherk grammatiki aljutorskogo jazyka (ELPR Publication Series A2-038). Osaka: Osaka Gakuin University.

External links[edit]