Southern Yukaghir language

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Southern Yukaghir
Native to Russia
Region Yakutia and Magadan Oblast
Ethnicity 1,600 all Yukaghir people (2010 census)[1]
Native speakers
370 all Yukaghir (2010 census)[1]
  • Southern Yukaghir
Language codes
ISO 639-3 yux
Glottolog sout2750[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

The Southern, Kolyma or Forest Yukaghir language is one of only two Yukaghir languages.

Last spoken in the forest zone near the sources of the Kolyma, divided between the Sakha Republic and the Magadan Oblast (around 65°N 153°E / 65°N 153°E / 65; 153), previously in the wider area of the upper Kolyma region.

Classification and grammatical features[edit]

The relationship of the Yukaghir languages with other language families is uncertain, though it has been suggested that they are distantly related to the Uralic languages, thus forming the putative Uralic–Yukaghir language family.[3]

Kolyma and Tundra Yukaghir are the only two remnants of what used to be one of the dominant languages/language families of northeastern Siberia, spreading from the River Anadyr in the east to the River Lena in the west.[4] On the basis of the evidence of early sources, it can be assumed that there existed a Yukaghir dialect continuum, with what is today Kolyma Yukaghir and Tundra Yukaghir at the extremes.[5]

Kolyma Yukaghir and Tundra Yukaghir are not mutually intelligible. Kolyma Yukaghir has residual vowel harmony and a complex phonotactics of consonants, rich agglutinative morphology and is strictly head-final. It has practically no finite subordination and very few coordinate structures. Kolyma Yukaghir has a split intransitive alignment system based on discourse-pragmatic features. In absence of narrow focus, the system is organised on a nominative–accusative basis; when focused, direct objects and subjects of intransitive verbs are co-aligned (special focus case, special focus agreement).


  • Чч /t͡ʃ/
  • Җҗ /d͡ʒ/
  • Сь сь [ç], a positional variant of c' in non-initial contexts
  • Ҕҕ /ɣ/
  • Ққ /q/
  • Зз /z/
  • Ҥҥ /ŋ/
  • Шш /ʃ/
  • Ль ль /ʎ/
  • Нь нь /ɲ/
  • Өө /ø/
  • Әә (short non-high underspecified vowel which occurs after the first foot and is either pronounced [ə] or harmonized to other vowels)
  • Ы ы /ɯ/ (occurs in loanwords)

Other phonemes (not listed) are written the same as in Russian. Long vowels are written as digraphs: аа, ии, оо, уу, (э)


An interlinear glossed sample:


Recorded by Ljudmila Zhukova from Ljubov' Demina in 1988.[1]

пэ аан-дә-пә-гәт йарқә поҗольә-гәт пойньаа-сьии-л туде оозии-гәлә Йарқәдән емей ой миидә чурууҗә қон-таа-сьии-ну-м.
mountain under-3-PL-ABL ice shining-ABL white-DEL-AN
AN=action nominalizer
he.GEN water-ACC Yarqadan
(*йарқә-д-ун lit. "ice river")
mother stream along quietly go-TR-DEL-IMPF-TR.3SG
"From the bottom of the mountains, from the whiteness of the ice our mother Yarqadan quietly carries its shining water downstream."


  1. ^ a b Southern Yukaghir at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Southern Yukaghir". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Collinder, Björn (1940) Jukagirisch und Uralisch. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell.
  4. ^ Dolgikh, Boris O. (1960) Rodovoj i plemennoj sostav narodov Sibiri v XVII v. Moskva: Izdatel'stvo Akademii Nauk SSSR
  5. ^ Nikoleava, Irina (2008) Chuvan and Omok languages? In: A. Lubotsky et al. (Eds.) Evidence and Counter-Evidence. Festschrift Frederik Kortland. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 313-336.
  • Vakhtin, N. B. 1991. The Yukaghir language in Sociolinguistic Perspective. Steszew, Poland: International Institute of Ethnolinguistic and Oriental Studies.
  • Krejnovich, Eruhim A., Jukagirskij jazyk. Moscow / Leningrad: Nauka (1958).
  • Maslova, Elena, A Grammar of Kolyma Yukaghir, Mouton Grammar Library, 27 (2003).
  • Maslova, Elena, Tundra Yukaghir, LINCOM Europa. Languages of the World/Materials 372 (2003).

External links[edit]