Proto-Chukotko-Kamchatkan language

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Proto-Chukotko-Kamchatkan is the hypothetical common ancestor of the Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages. It is purported to have broken up into the Northern (Chukotian) and Southern (Itelmen) branches around B.C.E. 2000, when western reindeer herders moved into the Chukotko-Kamchatkans' homeland and its inland people adopted the new lifestyle.[1]

A reconstructed version of the language is presented by Michael Fortescue in his Comparative Dictionary of Chukotko-Kamchatkan (2005).


According to Fortescue, Proto-Chukotko-Kamchatkan had the following phonemes, expressed in IPA symbols.


labial alveolar palatal velar uvular
Stops p t c k q
Fricatives v ð ɣ ʁ
Nasals m n ŋ
Approximants w l j
Rhotic r

*/c/ is a true voiceless palatal stop (not the affricate č). Note that Proto-Chukotko-Kamchatkan had only voiceless stops, no voiced stops (such as /b d g/). However, there is a series of voiced fricatives, */v ð ɣ ʁ/. These have no voiceless counterparts (such as /f θ x/).

*/v/ is a voiced labiodental fricative (like v in English). */ɣ/ is a voiced velar fricative (like the g in Dutch ogen, modern Greek gamma, Persian qāf, etc.). */ʁ/ is a voiced uvular fricative (like r in French).

The entire */t ð n l r/ series is alveolar — i.e. */t ð n/ are not dentals.


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə o
Open æ a


It is generally accepted that Proto-Chukotko-Kamchatkan had an eleven-case system for nouns, but Dibella Wdzenczny has hypothesised that these evolved from only six cases in Pre-Proto-Chukotko-Kamchatkan.[1] Below is the reconstructed case system of Proto-Chukotko-Kamchatkan.[2]

Case Declension 1 (singular) Declension 2 (singular) Declension 1 (plural)1 Declension 2 (plural)
absolutive -∅/-(ə)n/-ŋæ/-lŋǝn -(ǝ)n -t -(ǝ)nti
dative -(ǝ)ŋ -(ǝ)naŋ -(ǝ)ðɣǝnaŋ
locative -(ǝ)k -(ǝ)næk -(ǝ)ðǝk
instrumental -tæ -(ǝ)næk -(ǝ)ðǝk
comitative kæ- -tæ - -
associative ka- -ma - -
referential -kjit -(ǝ)nækjit -(ǝ)ðǝkækjit
ablative -ŋqo(rǝŋ) -(ǝ)naŋqo(rǝŋ) -(ǝ)ðǝkaŋqo(rǝŋ)
vialis -jǝpǝŋ -(ǝ)najpǝŋ -(ǝ)ðǝkajpǝŋ
allative -jǝtǝŋ -(ǝ)najtǝŋ -(ǝ)ðǝkajtǝŋ
attributive -nu -(ǝ)nu -(ǝ)ðɣǝnu

1Note that the (mostly inanimate) nouns of the first declension only marked plurality in the absolutive case.

The protolanguage is thought to have been a nominative-accusative language, with the current Chukotko-Kamchatkan ergative aspects coming later in the (Northern) Chukotian branch, possibly through contact with nearby Eskimo-Aleut-speaking peoples. This would explain why Itelmen, spoken further south than any Eskimo-Aleut speaking peoples visited, lacks ergative structures. Some linguists, however, maintain that Proto-Chukotko-Kamchatkan began as an ergative language and lost that feature over time.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dibella Wdzenczny. "The Case for Fewer Cases in Pre-ChukotkoKamchatkan: Grammaticalization and Semantics in Internal Reconstruction". Retrieved 2016-04-03. 
  2. ^ Cultural Studies. "Proto-CK (and Proto-C) inflections : Comparative Chukotko-Kamchatkan Dictionary". Retrieved 2016-04-03. 
  3. ^ Fortescue, Michael. 2005. Comparative Chukotko-Kamchatkan Dictionary. Trends in Linguistics 23. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.