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Dolgan language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Дулҕан, Dulğan, Һака, Haka
Native toRussia
RegionKrasnoyarsk Krai
Native speakers
1,100 (2010 census)[1]
  • Western Dialect (Norilsk, Yenisey)
  • Central Dialect (Avam)
  • Eastern Dialect (Khatanga)
Language codes
ISO 639-3dlg
Yakut Language (blue) and Dolgan Language (green)
Dolgan is classified as Definitely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

The Dolgan language is a critically endangered Turkic language with 930 speakers,[2] spoken in the Taymyr Peninsula in Russia.[3] The speakers are known as the Dolgans. The word "Dolgan" means 'tribe living on the middle reaches of the river'. This is most likely signifying the geographical location of the Dolgan tribe.[4] Its closest relative is Sakha.

The language is very local and restricted to a certain area and has declined in usage over the years. As of 2010 there are only about 1,050 speakers of the language.[1] The language has expressed a few changes since the beginning of its formation, such as alphabet and phrasing terms. The issue as of recently has become the weak integration of this local language within families with mixed marriages. Instead of speaking either of the parents' local languages, the family incorporates Russian as the more dominant language to ease interfamilial and external communication.[5] This results in children learning the language only slightly or as a second language. Over generations, the language continues to fade.


Dolgan, along with its close relative Sakha (Yakut), belongs to the North Siberian subbranch of the Turkic language family. Like most other Turkic languages, Dolgan has vowel harmony, agglutinative morphology, subject-object-verb word order, and lacks grammatical gender. Dolgan is linguistically relatively close to its nearest relative Sakha (also known as Yakut), which has led researchers for a long time to account for it as a variety of the latter, cf. Dolgich's (1963: 129) statement in his well-known paper on the origin of the Dolgans: " ... долганский язык является диалектом якутского языка." ‘[ ...] the Dolgan language is a dialect of the Yakut language.’. Only in 1985 did Elizaveta Ubryatova account for Dolgan as a separate language, namely in her monograph on the language of the Norilsk Dolgans.

Sample comparison with Yakut (in Latin)[edit]


"Uskuolaga üörenebin."
"Dulğanlī kepsetebin."
"Tuogunan hir barıta habıllınna?"


"Oskuolaga üörenebin."
"Saxalī kepsetebin."
"Tugunan sir bar(ı)ta sabılınna?"

Literal English translation:

"(I am) studying at school."
"(I) speak Yakut (Dolgan)."
"What covered the ground?"

Geographical distribution[edit]

Official status[edit]

Dolgan is established as a dominant language in the Taymyr Peninsula.


Three Dolgan subgroups:

All dialects are understood among each other, despite subtle differences. Yakut is also understood among all since it is so similar.[citation needed]


The Dolgan language started out having a Latin alphabet in the early 20th century. Over time, the Cyrillic alphabet was implemented instead since it is the same alphabet used by the related language, Yakut. Evenki's influence on Dolgan can explain, in part, why it is considered a separate language from Yakut.[7] Dolgan has made appearances in newspapers, such as the Taymyr, as well as schools starting around the time of the 60s.[3] However, now there are only around 1,050 speakers of the Dolgan language.

Certain words in the language were developed from geographical implications that have been present since the start of the Dolgan language. For instance, the directional terms tās (1. south 2. east) and muora (1. north 2. west) are representative of the corresponding landscapes.[8] Tās is related to the word stone, and the southeast topography of the native region, Taymyr Peninsula, is covered by the Putorana Mountains. Similarly, muora denotes "sea" where the western zone of Taymyr has access to the sea shore.

However, this is not true for all directional terms, nor all words of the Dolgan language. Southwest, uhä, and northeast, allara, have no significance in geographical terms relative to Taymyr.



The composition of morphological categories in the noun is: case, number, possession, and in the verb is: voice, aspect, mode, time, person and number. Dolgan language exhibits eight grammatical cases. In contrast in the Sakha language (i.e. Yakut), the partitive is used in the possessive declension to address the accusative case, and joint case serves to structure two similar parts of a sentence. Another notable difference from Sakha is that Dolgan does not have comitative case. In conjugation of a verb in the common form of -ааччы, the paradigms of Dolgan inclination were preserved with the word баар.



Front Back
Close i y ɯ ɯː u
Mid e ø øː o
Open a


Bilabial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t c k
voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Fricative s ɣ h
Affricate voiceless
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Liquid r
Approximant l j


Dolgan has the following phonetic characteristics:

  • Diphthongisation of the Turkish medium vowels [o, e, ö] in the root syllable
  • Labial and palatal vowel harmony in the native words
  • Transition of the initial Turkish c- into h- , loss of the uvular x, ҕ: Yakut ; саха ~ Dolgan hака (self)


  • Much of the old Yakut Language was lost.
  • Lack of modern political and scientific terminology.
  • Change in the meaning of words under the influence of the Turkish semantic system.
  • Extensive borrowing from the Russian language.

Writing system[edit]

Over time, the language itself has changed and adapted. Even during the time period when it had a Cyrillic alphabet, it changed over the years. The first version of alphabet of the language had the following appearance: А а, Б б, В в, Г г, Д д, Дь дь, Е е, Ё ё, Ж ж, З з, И и, Иэ иэ, Й й, К к, Л л, М м, Н н, Ӈ ӈ, Нь нь, О о, Ө ө, П п, Р р, С с, Т т, У у, Уо уо, Ү ү, Үө үө, Ф ф, Х х, Һ һ, Ц ц, Ч ч, Ш ш, Щ щ, Ъ ъ, Ы ы, Ыа ыа, Ь ь, Э э, Ю ю, Я я.[10]

The current Dolgan alphabet is still Cyrillic and looks as follows:

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


  • Hello: Дорообо [doroːbo] (from Russian Здорово)
  • Mountain: Кайа [kaja]
  • Mother: Иньэ [inˈe]
  • I love you: Мин энигин таптыыбын [min eniɡin taptɯɯbɯn] (таптыыбын, shared by Sakha, is a loan from Mongolian)
  • Birthday: Төрөөбүт күн [tørøøbyt kyn]
  • Day after tomorrow: Өйүүн [øjyyn]
  • Dog: Ыт [ɯt]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dolgan at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Pakendorf, Brigitte; Stapert, Eugénie (2020). "Sakha and Dolgan, the North Siberian Turkic languages". The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. Oxford University Press. pp. 430–445. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198804628.003.0027. ISBN 978-0-19-880462-8.
  3. ^ a b "Dolgan language, pronunciation and language". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Dolgan language, pronunciation and language". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  5. ^ Lewis, E. Glyn (1971). "Migration and Language in the U.S.S.R." (PDF). The International Migration Review. 5 (2): 147–179. doi:10.2307/3002797. JSTOR 3002797.
  6. ^ "Dolgan facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Dolgan". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  7. ^ "The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire". www.eki.ee. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  8. ^ Stachowski, Marek (November 2010). "Considerations on the System and the Origins of Terms for the Cardinal Points in the Dolgan Language". Incontri Linguistici. 33: 233–244.
  9. ^ Androsova, 1997, p.236
  10. ^ Аксенова О. Е. Бэсэлээ буквалар. — Красноярск: Красноярское кн. изд-во, 1990. — 16 с.


  • Ager, Simon. (2011). Dolgan. Omniglot. Retrieved from http://www.omniglot.com/writing/ dolgan.htm.
  • Dolgikh, B. O. (1963). Proiskhozhdenie Dolgan (Origin of the Dolgan). Trudy Instituta, Etnografii AN SSSR 84:92-141.
  • Grachyova, Galina. (1990). Dolgan. In Collis, Dirmid R. F. (ed.), Arctic Languages: An Awakening, 112-114.
  • Grenoble, Lenore A. and Lindsay J. Whaley. (2006). Saving Languages: An Introduction to Language Revitalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Johanson, Lars (2021). Turkic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 20, 24.
  • Lewis, E. Glyn. (1971). Migration and Language in the USSR. The International Migration Review: The Impact of Migration on Language Maintenance and Language Shift, 5(2), 147-179.
  • Li, Yong-Sŏng. (2011). A study of Dolgan. (Altaic language series, 05.) Seoul: Seoul National University Press.
  • Pakendorf, Brigitte; Stapert, Eugénie (2020). "Sakha and Dolgan, the North Siberian Turkic Languages". In Robbeets, Martine; Savalyev, Alexander (eds.). The Oxford Guide to the Transeurasian Languages. Oxford University Press. pp. 430–45. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198804628.003.0027. ISBN 978-0-19-880462-8.
  • Stachowski, Marek (1993). Dolganischer Wortschatz. Krakow: Uniwersytet Jagielloński. (in German)
  • Stachowski, Marek (2010). "Considerations on the system and the origins of the terms for cardinal points in the Dolgan language" (PDF). Incontri Linguistici. 33: 233–242. JSTOR 3002797.
  • Marten, H.F., Rießler, M., Saarikivi, J., Toivanen, R. (2015). Cultural and Linguistic Minorities in the Russian Federation and the European Union: Comparative Studies on Equality and Diversity. Switzerland: Springer.
  • Minahan, James B. (2014). Dolgan in Ethnic Groups of North, East, and Central Asia: An Encyclopedia. (63-67). Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, LLC.
  • Vahtre, Lauri. (1991). The Dolgans. The Red Book. Retrieved from https://www.eki.ee/books/ redbook/dolgans.shtml.

Further reading[edit]

  • Stachowski, M.: Dolganischer Wortschatz, Kraków 1993 (+ Dolganischer Wortschatz. Supplementband, Kraków 1998).
  • Stachowski, M.: Dolganische Wortbildung, Kraków 1997.

External links[edit]

  • Dolgan DoReCo corpus compiled by Chris Lasse Däbritz, Nina Kudryakova, Eugénie Stapert and Alexandre Arkhipov. Audio recordings of narrative texts with transcriptions time-aligned at the phone level, translations, and time-aligned morphological annotations.