Udege language

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Native toRussia
RegionRussian Far East
Ethnicity1,500 Udeges (2010 census)[1]
Native speakers
100 (2010 census)[1]
  • Udegheic
    • Udege Group
      • Udege
Language codes
ISO 639-3ude
Lang Status 20-CR.png
Udege is classified as Critically Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
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The Udege language (also Udihe language, Udekhe language, Udeghe language) is the language of the Udege people. It is a member of the Tungusic family.


Previously an oral language, in 1931 an alphabet was created for writing Udege as a part of latinisation in the Soviet Union.[2] In 1938 the policy of latinisation was reversed and the written Udige language was banned by Soviet authorities. Books in Udihe were collected and burned. Evgeny Schneider [ru], an Udige language author and translator was declared an enemy of the people and executed.[3]


Udege contains a variety of loanwords from the closely related Nanai language, which have supplanted some older Udege vocabulary, such as:

  • [banixe] (thank you), from Nanai [banixa], instead of Udege [usasa][check spelling]
  • [dœlbo] (work), from Nanai [dœbo], instead of Udege [etete]
  • [daŋsa] (book) from Nanai [daŋsa], itself a loanword from Chinese: 檔子 (Pinyin: dāngzi), which actually means "file, records, archives"

In general, a large degree of mutual assimilation of the two languages has been observed in the Bikin region. Udege has also exerted phonological influence on the Bikin dialect of Nanai, including monophthongisation of diphthongs, denasalisation of nasal vowels, deletion of reduced final vowels, epenthetic vowels preventing consonant final words, and the deletion of intervocalic [w].[4]


1932 Udege latin alphabet primer giving each letter. Each letter is shown in print and handwritten styles. ⟨’⟩ is not included.
1931-1937 Alphabet
A a Ā ā B в Є є D d Ӡ ӡ E e Ē ē
Æ æ F f G g H h I i Ī ī J j K k
L l M m N n Ņ ņ Ŋ ŋ O o Ō ō Ө ө
P p R r S s T t U u Ū ū W w X x
Y y Z z

Udege is currently written in two versions of the Cyrillic alphabet, known as the "Petersburg" and the "Khabarovsk" versions. The Khabarovsk version is used more often.[5]

Cyrillic alphabet (Khabarovsk version)
А а ʻА ʻа А̄ а̄ А̂ а̂ Б б В в Г г Ғ ғ Д д Ӡ ӡ И и Ӣ ӣ И̂ и̂
Й й К к Л л М м Н н Њ њ Ӈ ӈ О о ʻО ʻо О̄ о̄ О̂ о̂ П п Р р
С с Т т У у Ӯ ӯ У̂ ŷ Ф ф Х х Ч ч ь Э э ʻЭ ʻэ Э̄ э̄ Э̂ э̂

A few older letters that were used in this language: Ж ж, З з, Љ љ, Ц ц, Ш ш, Щ щ, Ъ ъ, Ы ы, ‘Ы ‘ы, Ы̄ ы̄, Ы̂ ы̂, Ю ю, ‘Ю ‘ю, Ю̄ ю̄, Ю̂ ю̂, Я я, ‘Я ‘я, Я̄ я̄, Я̂ я̂


Udege Vowels
Front Central Back
Close i iː y yː u uː
Mid ø øː ə əː o oː
Open æ æː a aː
Udege Consonants
Bilabial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t t͡s k
voiced b d d͡z ~ z[a] ɡ
Fricative s x
Approximant w l j
  1. ^ /z/ is an allophone of /d͡z/.[6]


The beginning of the fairy tale "Selemege":[7]

E. R. Snejder's (Schneider) alphabet Omo jəgdig’ə bagdehæni, mam’asaxi-da. Mam’asani gə̄nʒi bisini. Tu bisiti. Bimi-də mam’asatigī digaŋkini:

— Bi Sələməgə guniəiwəti isənəʒəmi, — guŋkini.

"Khabarovsk" Cyrillic alphabet (alphabet by M. D. Simonov and V. T. Kyalundzyuga) Омо йэгдэғ’э багдиэ̂ни, мам’асахи-да. Мам’асани гэ̅нʒи бисини. Ту бисити. Бими-дэ мамас’атиғи̅ диғаңкини:

— Би Сэлэмэгэ гунэивэти исэнэʒэми, — гуңкини.

"Leningrad" Cyrillic (alphabet by E. V. Perekhvalskaya) Омо йəгдəг’ə багдиəни, мам’асахи-да. Мам’асани гə́нʒи бисини. Ту бисити. Бими-дə мамас’атигий диаңкини:

— Би Сəлəмəгə гунəйwəти исəнəʒəми, — гуңкини.

A. A. Kanchuga's alphabet Омо егдигэ багдиэни, мамасахида. Мамасани гээнди бисини. Ту бисити. Бимидэ мамасатиги диаңкини:

— Би Сэлэмэгэ гунэивэти исэнэзэми, — гуңкини.

English translation Once upon a time there was one fellow, he was married. The child's wife was expecting. It was. After a while, he says to his wife:

— I'll go and take a look at this Selemege who is being talked about, — he said.


  1. ^ a b Udege at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Алфавит Октября. Итоги введения нового алфавита среди народов РСФСР [October alphabet. The results of the introduction of a new alphabet among the peoples of the RSFSR] (in Russian). 1934. p. 159.
  3. ^ Belikov, Vladimir (February 1994). Rifaa, Adel (ed.). "Language Death in Siberia" (pdf). Unesco Courier. Unesco. p. 35. Retrieved 2022-05-25.
  4. ^ Nikolaeva & Tolskaya 2001, p. 24
  5. ^ М. Д. Симонов, В. Т. Кялундзюга (1998). Словарь удэгейского языка (хорский диалект). Препринт [Dictionary of the Udege language (Khor dialect). Preprint] (in Russian). Vol. I. pp. 3–6, 59.
  6. ^ Nikolaeva, Tolskaya. 2001.
  7. ^ ПостНаука 2020.


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