Dolgan language

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Дулҕан, Dulğan, Һака, Haka
Native toRussia
RegionKrasnoyarsk Krai
Native speakers
1,100 (2010 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3dlg
Yakut and Dolgan languages.png
Yakut (blue) and Dolgan (green)

The Dolgan language is a Turkic language with around 1,000 speakers, spoken in the Taymyr Peninsula in Russia.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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 local language, Dolgan, only a little bit or as a second language and over generations it continues to fade.


Dolgan is a member of the Northern Turkic family of languages along with its closest relative, Sakha (Yakut). Like Finnish, Hungarian and Turkish, Dolgan has vowel harmony, is agglutinative and has no grammatical gender. Word order is usually subject–object–verb.

Sample comparison with Yakut[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 Taimyr 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.


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 Taymyr, as well as schools starting around the time of the 60s.[2] However, now there are only around 1,050 speakers of the 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 ta¯s (1. south 2. east) and muora (1. north 2. west) are representative of the corresponding landscapes.[8] Ta¯s is related to the word stone, and the southeast topography of the native region, Taimyr, is covered by the Putorana Mountains. Similarly, muora denotes "sea" where the western zone of Taimyr 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. In contrast in the Yakut language, 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. 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 iː y yː ɯ ɯː u uː
Mid e eː ø øː o oː
Open a aː


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


Alphabet of Dolgan with its pronunciations

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

mountain : кайа

mother : иньэ

I love you : мин энигин таптыыбын

birthday : төрөөбүт күн

day after tomorrow : өйүүн

dog : ыт

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dolgan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b "Dolgan language, pronunciation and language". Retrieved 2017-02-02.
  3. ^ "Dolgan language, pronunciation and language". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  4. ^ "Dolgan". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  5. ^ Marek, Stachowski. (2010). Considerations on the system and the origins of terms for the cardinal points in the Dolgan language. Incontri Linguistici, 33, 233-243. Retrieved from
  6. ^ "Dolgan facts, information, pictures | articles about Dolgan". Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  7. ^ "The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire". Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  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 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.
  • 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.
  • Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2016. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Nineteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved from
  • Li, Yong-Sŏng. (2011). A study of Dolgan. (Altaic language series, 05.) Seoul: Seoul National University Press.
  • Marek, Stachowski. (2010). Considerations on the system and the origins of terms for the cardinal points in the Dolgan language. Incontri Linguistici, 33, 233-243. Retrieved from
  • 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 redbook/dolgans.shtml.

Further reading[edit]

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