Khanty language: Wikis


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хӑнты ясӑң khănty yasăņ
Spoken in Russia
Region Khantia-Mansia
Total speakers 12,000
Language family Uralic
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 fiu
ISO 639-3 kca
The Khanty language is spoken primarily in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug in western Siberia

Khanty or Xanty language, also known previously as the Ostyak language, is a language of the Khant peoples. It is spoken in Khanty-Mansi and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous okrugs, as well as in Aleksandrovsky and Kargosoksky districts of Tomsk Oblast in Russia. According to the 1994 Salminen and 1994 Janhunen study, there were 12,000 Khanty-speaking people in Russia. The Khanty and Mansi languages are the Ob Ugric (Ob Ugrian) members of the Uralic languages.

The Khanty language is known to have a large number of dialects. The western group of dialects includes the Obdorian, Ob, and Irtysh dialects. The eastern group of dialects includes the Surgut and Vakh-Vasyugan dialects, which, in turn, are subdivided into thirteen other dialects. All these dialects significantly differ from each other by their phonetic, morphological, and lexical features - to the extent that the three main "dialects" (the northern group as the third) are mutually unintelligible. Thus, based on their significant multifactorial differences western and eastern Khanty could be considered individual but closely related languages.



Cyrillic (version as of 2000)

А а Ӓ ӓ Ӑ ӑ Б б В в Г г Д д Е е
Ё ё Ә ә Ӛ ӛ Ж ж З з И и Й й К к
Қ қ Л л Ӆ ӆ Ԓ ԓ М м Н н Ң ң Ӈ ӈ
О о Ӧ ӧ Ө ө Ӫ ӫ П п Р р С с Т т
У у Ӱ ӱ Ў ў Ф ф Х х Ҳ ҳ Ц ц Ч ч
Ҷ ҷ Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы Ь ь Э э Є є
Є̈ є̈ Ю ю Ю̆ ю̆ Я я Я̆ я̆

Cyrillic (version as of 1958)

А а Ӓ ӓ Б б В в Г г Д д Е е Ё ё
Ә ә Ӛ ӛ Ж ж З з И и Й й К к Ӄ ӄ
Л л Л’ л’ М м Н н Ӈ ӈ О о Ӧ ӧ Ө ө
Ӫ ӫ П п Р р С с Т т У у Ӱ ӱ Ф ф
Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ч’ ч’ Ш ш Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы
Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я


A a B в D d E e Ә ә F f H h Һ һ
I i J j K k L l Ļ ļ Ł ł M m N n
Ņ ņ Ŋ ŋ O o P p R r S s Ş ş S̷ s̷
T t U u V v Z z Ƶ ƶ Ƅ ƅ

History of the literary language

The Khanty written language was first created after the October Revolution on the basis of the Latin script in 1930, and then with the Cyrillic alphabet (with the additional letter <ң> for /ŋ/) from 1937. Khanty literary works are usually written with the use of three dialects, such as the Kazym, Shuryshkar, and middle-Ob dialects. Newspaper reporting and TV and radio broadcasting are usually done in the Kazymian dialect.



The Vakh dialect

The Vakh dialect is divergent. It has rigid vowel harmony and a tripartite (ergative-accusative) case system: The subject of a transitive verb takes the instrumental case suffix -nə-, while the object takes the accusative case suffix. The subject of an intransitive verb, however, is not marked for case and might be said to be absolutive. The transitive verb agrees with the subject, as in nominative-accusative systems.

The Ob’ dialect

The Ob’ phonemic inventory is p t tʲ k, s ʃ ɕ x, m n ɲ ŋ, l ɾ j w, short vowels i a o u, long vowels eː aː oː uː, and a reduced vowel ə which is never word-initial. Unlike Vakh, it does not have vowel harmony.


The noun

The nominal suffixes include dual -ŋən, plural -(ə)t, dative -a, locative/instrumental -nə.

For example:

xot "house" (cf. Hungarian ház, Finnish koti "home")
xotŋəna "to the two houses"
xotətnə "at the houses" (cf. Finnish kotona "at home", an exceptional form using the old, locative meaning of the essive case ending -na).

Singular, dual, and plural possessive suffixes may be added to singular, dual, and plural nouns, in three persons, for 33 = 27 forms. A few, from məs "cow", are:

məsem "my cow"
məsemən "my 2 cows"
məsew "my cows"
məstatən "the 2 of our cows"
məsŋətuw "our 2 cows"


The personal pronouns are, in the nominative case:

1st person ma min muŋ
2nd person naŋ nən naŋ
3rd person tuw tən təw

The cases of ma are accusative manət and dative manəm.

The demonstrative pronouns and adjectives are:

tamə "this", tomə "that", sit "that yonder": tam xot "this house".

Basic interrogative pronouns are:

xoy "who?", muy "what?"


Khanty numerals, compared with Hungarian, are:

# Khanty Hungarian
1 yit, yiy egy
2 katn, kat kettő, két
3 xutəm három
4 nyatə négy
5 wet öt
6 xut hat
7 tapət hét
8 nəvət nyolc
9 yaryaŋ (short of ten?) kilenc
10 yaŋ tíz
20 xus húsz
30 xutəmyaŋ (3 tens) harminc
100 sot száz

Except for "ten" (which used to be "van" instead of "tíz" - c.f. sixty: hatvan or eighty: nyolcvan) and the compound forms, these are quite similar in the two languages. Note also the regularity of [xot]-[haːz] "house" and [sot]-[saːz] "hundred".


Both Khanty and Mansi are basically nominative-accusative languages, but have innovative morphological ergativity. In an ergative construction, the object is given the same case as the subject of an intransitive verb, and the locative is used for the agent of the transitive verb (as an instrumental) . This may be used with some specific verbs, for example "to give": the literal anglicisation would be "by me (subject) a fish (object) gave to you (indirect object)" for the equivalent of the sentence "I gave a fish to you". However, the ergative is morphological (marked using a case) only, not syntactic, so that, in addition, these may be passivized in a way resembling English. For example, in Mansi, "a dog (agent) bit you (object)" could be reformatted as "you(object) were bitten, by a dog(instrument)".



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