Nganasan language

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ня” njaʔ
Pronunciation [nʲɐʔ]
Native to Russia
Region Taymyr Autonomous Okrug
Ethnicity 860 Nganasans (2010 census)[1]
Native speakers
130 (2010 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 nio
Glottolog ngan1291[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Nganasan language (formerly called тавгийский, tavgiysky, or тавгийско-самоедский, tavgiysko-samoyedsky in Russian; from the ethnonym тавги, tavgi) is a language of the Nganasan people. In 2002 it was spoken by 500 out of 830 Nganasan people in the southwestern and central parts of the Taymyr Peninsula.


Nganasan is the most divergent language of the Samoyedic branch of the Uralic language family (Janhunen 1998). There are two main dialects, Avam (авамский говор, avamsky govor) and Vadeyev (вадеевский говор, vadeyevsky govor). Vocabulary can be traced elements of the unknown substrate origin.


The language has 10 vowels and about 20 consonant phonemes.

Nganasan vowels
Front Central Back
Close i, y ɨ u
Mid e ə o
Open ⁱa ɐ ᵘa

Several bisyllabic sequences of vowels are possible:

-i -y -ɨ -u -ə -ɐ
i- ii
y- yy
ɨ- ɨɨ ɨə ɨɐ
u- ui uu
e- ei ey
ə- əi əu əə
o- oi ou
ⁱa- ⁱai
ɐ- ɐi ɐy ɐu ɐɐ
ᵘa- ᵘaɐ

One of the main features of Nganasan is the consonant gradation, which concerns the consonant phonemes /b, t, k, s (sʼ)/ and their nasal combinations /mb, nt, ŋk, ns/.


The language's Cyrillic-based alphabet was devised in the 1990s:

А а Б б В в Г г Д д Е е Ё ё Ж ж
З з З̌ з̌ И и Й й ’’ К к Л л М м
Н н Ӈ ӈ О о Ө ө П п Р р С с Ҫ ҫ
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 Ә ә Ю ю Я я


  • Wagner-Nagy, Beáta: Chrestomathia Nganasanica. (Studia Uralo-Altaica : Supplementum 10) Szeged, 2002, 306 p. ISBN 963-482-588-5
  • Katzschmann, Michael: Chrestomathia Nganasanica : Texte – Übersetzung – Glossar – Grammatik, Bearbeitung der Нганасанская фольклорная хрестоматия zusammengestellt von Kazis I. Labanauskas unter Berücksichtigung des Словарь нганасанско–русский и русско–нганасанский. Norderstedt, 2008, 604 p. ISBN 978-3-8370-1121-0
  • Kortt, I. R.; Simčenko, Ju. B. (1985). Wörterverzeichnis der Nganasanischen Sprache. Berlin: Systemata Mundi. ISBN 3-925500-00-6. 


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

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