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Yeniseian
Geographic
distribution:
central Yenisei River, Siberia
Genetic
classification
:
Dené-Yeniseian
 Yeniseian
Subdivisions:
Northern (Ket-Yugh)
Southern (Arin-Kott)
Yeniseian map XVII-XX.png

The map of distribution of Yeniseian languages (red) in the XVII century (approximate; hatching) and in the end of XX century (continuous background).

Contents

The Yeniseian language family (sometimes known as Yeniseic or Yenisei-Ostyak;[1] occasionally spelled with -ss-) is spoken in central Siberia.

Family division

0. Proto-Yeniseian (before 500 BC; split around 1 AD)

1. Northern Yeniseian (split around 700 AD)
1.1. Ket (100-500 speakers)
1.2. Yugh (2 or 3 non-fluent speakers in 1991)
2. Southern Yeniseian †
2.1. Kott-Assan (split around 1200 AD)
2.1.1. Kott (extinct by the mid-1800s)
2.1.2. Assan (extinct by 1800)
2.2. Arin-Pumpokol (split around 550 AD)
2.2.1. Arin (extinct by 1800)
2.2.2. Pumpokol (extinct by 1750)

Only two languages of this family survived into the 20th century, Ket (also known as Imbat Ket), with around 1,000 speakers and Yugh (also known as Sym Ket), which is now possibly extinct. The other known members of this family, Arin, Assan, Pumpokol, and Kott, have been extinct for over a century. Other groups – Buklin, Baikot, Yarin, Yastin – are identifiable as Yeniseic-speaking from tsarist fur-tax records compiled during the 17th century, but nothing remains of their languages except a few proper names. It appears from Chinese sources that a Yeniseian group might have been among the peoples that made up the tribal confederation known as the Xiongnu,[2] who have traditionally been considered the ancestors of the Huns, but these suggestions are difficult to substantiate due to the paucity of data.[3]

Family features

The Yeniseian languages share many contact-induced similarities with the South Siberian Turkic languages, Samoyedic languages, and Evenki. These include long-distance nasal harmony, deaffrication, and the use of postpositions or grammatical enclitics as clausal subordinators.[4] Yeniseic nominal enclitics closely approximate the case systems of geographically contiguous families.

The Yeniseian languages have been described as having up to four tones or no tones at all. The 'tones' are concomitant with glottalization, vowel length, and breathy voice, not unlike the situation reconstructed for Old Chinese before the development of true tones in Chinese. The Yeniseian languages have highly elaborate verbal morphology.

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Morphology

Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns in Yeniseian languages
Singular Plural
1. 2. 3.masc. 3.fem. 1. 2. 3.
Ket āˑ(t) ūˑ būˑ būˑ ɤ̄ˑt ~ ɤ́tn ɤ́kŋ būˑŋ
Yugh āt ū ɤ́tn kɤ́kŋ béìŋ
Kott dialects ai au uju ~ hatu uja ~ hata ajoŋ auoŋ ~ aoŋ uniaŋ ~ hatien
Assan aj au bari  ? ajuŋ avun hatin
Arin ai au au  ? aiŋ itaŋ
Pumpokol ad u adu  ? adɨŋ ajaŋ  ?

Vocabulary

Numerals

The following table exemplifies the basic Yeniseian numerals as well as the various attempts at reconstructing the proto-forms:[5]

   Gloss    Yeniseian languages and dialects Available reconstructions
Northern branch Southern branch
Ket dialects Yugh Kott-Assan Arin-Pumpokol
SK Kott Assan Arin Pumpokol Starostin
1 qūˑs χūs huːtʃa hutʃa qusej xuta *xu-sa
2 ɯ̄ˑn ɯ̄n iːna ina kina hinɛaŋ *xɨna
3 dɔˀŋ dɔˀŋ toːŋa taŋa tʲoŋa ~ tʲuːŋa dónga *doʔŋa
4 sīˑk sīk tʃega ~ ʃeːga ʃega tʃaga ziang *si-
5 qāˑk χāk kega ~ χeːga kega qala hejlaŋ *qä-
6 aˀ ~ à àː χelutʃa gejlutʃa ɨga aggɛaŋ *ʔaẋV
7 ɔˀŋ ɔˀŋ χelina gejlina ɨnʲa onʲaŋ *ʔoʔn-
10 qɔ̄ˑ χɔ̄ haːga ~ haga xaha qau ~ hioga hajaŋ *ẋɔGa
20 ɛˀk ɛˀk iːntʰukŋ inkukn kinthjuŋ hédiang *ʔeʔk ~ xeʔk
100 kiˀ kiˀ ujaːx jus jus útamssa *kiʔ ~ giʔ / *ʔalVs-(tamsV)

A few etymologies

The following table exemplifies a few basic vocabulary items as well as the various attempts at reconstructing the proto-forms:[5]

Gloss Yeniseian languages and dialects Available reconstructions
Northern branch Southern branch
Ket dialects Yugh Kott-Assan Arin-Pumpokol
SK NK CK Kott Assan Arin Pumpokol Vajda Starostin Werner
LARCH sɛˀs sɛˀs šɛˀš sɛˀs šet čet čit tag *čɛˀç *seʔs *sɛʔt / *tɛʔt
RIVER sēˑs sēˑs šēˑš sēs šet šet sat tat *cēˑc *ses *set / *tet
STONE tʌˀs tʌˀs tʌˀš čʌˀs šiš šiš kes kit *cʰɛˀs *čɨʔs *t'ɨʔs
FINGER tʌˀq tʌˀq tʌˀq tʌˀχ tʰoχ ?  intoto  tok *tʰɛˀq *tǝʔq *thǝʔq
RESIN dīˑk dīˑk dīˑk dʲīk čik ? ? ? *čīˑk *ǯik (~-g, -ẋ) *d'ik
WOLF qɯ̄ˑt  qɯ̄ˑti   qɯ̄ˑtə  χɯ̄ˑt (boru < Turkic) qut xotu *qʷīˑtʰi *qɨte (˜ẋ-) *qʌthǝ
WINTER kɤ̄ˑt kɤ̄ˑti kɤ̄ˑte kɤ̄ˑt keːtʰi ? lot lete *kʷeˑtʰi *gǝte *kǝte
LIGHT  kʌˀn  kʌˀn kʌˀn kʌˀn kin ? lum ? *kʷɛˀn *gǝʔn- ?
PERSON kɛˀd kɛˀd kɛˀd kɛˀtʲ hit het kit kit *kɛˀt *keʔt ?
TWO ɯ̄ˑn ɯ̄ˑn ɯ̄ˑn ɯ̄n in in kin hin *kʰīˑn *xɨna *(k)ɨn
WATER ūˑl ūˑl ūˑl ūr ul ul kul ul *kʰul *qoʔl (~ẋ-, -r)  ?
BIRCH ùs ùːse ùːsə ùːʰs uča uuča kus uta *kʰuχʂa *xūsa *kuʔǝt'ǝ
  SNOWSLED  súùl súùl šúùl sɔ́ùl  čogar  čɛgar šal tsɛl *tsehʷəl      *soʔol *sogǝl (~č/t'-ʎ) 

Proposed relations to other language families

Until 2008, few linguists accepted that connections had been established between Yeniseian and any other language family, though distant connections have been proposed with most of the ergative languages of Eurasia.

Dene-Yenisean

In 2008, Edward Vajda of Western Washington University presented evidence, backed by rigorous methodology, for a genealogical relation between the Yeneisian languages of Siberia and the Na-Dene languages of North America.[6]. His paper has been favorably reviewed by several experts on Na-Dene and Yeniseic languages, including Michael Krauss, Jeff Leer, James Kari, and Heinrich Werner, as well as a number of other well-known linguists, including Bernard Comrie, Johanna Nichols, Victor Golla, Michael Fortescue, and Eric Hamp.[7]

Karasuk

The Karasuk hypothesis, linking Yeniseian to Burushaski, has been proposed by several scholars, notably by A.P Dulson[8] and V.N. Toporov.[9] George van Driem, the most prominent current advocate of the Karasuk hypothesis, postulates that the Burusho people were part of the migration out of Central Asia that resulted in the Indo-European conquest of India.[10]

Sino-Tibetan

As noted by Tailleur[11] and Werner,[12] some of the earliest proposals of genetic relations of Yeniseian, by M.A. Castrén (1856), James Byrne (1892), and G.J. Ramstedt (1907), suggested that Yeniseian was a northern relative of the Sino-Tibetan languages. These ideas were followed much later by Kai Donner[13] and Karl Bouda.[14]

Dené-Caucasian

Bouda, in various publications in the 1930s through the 1950s, described a linguistic network that (besides Yeniseian and Sino-Tibetan) also included Caucasian, and Burushaski, some forms of which have gone by the name of Sino-Caucasian. The works of R. Bleichsteiner[15] and O.G. Tailleur,[16] the late Sergei A. Starostin[17] and Sergei L. Nikolayev[18] have sought to confirm these connections. Others who have developed the hypothesis, often expanded to Dené-Caucasian, include J.D. Bengtson,[19] V. Blažek,[20] J.H. Greenberg (with M. Ruhlen), [21] and M. Ruhlen.[22] George Starostin continues his father's work in Yeniseian, Sino-Caucasian and other fields.[23]

External links

Footnotes

References

  • ANDERSON, G. (2003) 'Yeniseic languages in Siberian areal perspective', Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 56.1/2: 12–39. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.
  • ANONYMOUS. (1925). The Similarity of Chinese and Indian Languages. Science Supplement 62 (1607): xii. [Usually incorrectly cited as "Sapir (1925)": see Kaye (1992), Bengtson (1994).]
  • BENGTSON, John D. (1994). Edward Sapir and the 'Sino-Dené' Hypothesis. Anthropological Science 102.3: 207-230.
  • BENGTSON, John D. (1998). Caucasian and Sino-Tibetan: A Hypothesis of S. A. Starostin. General Linguistics, Vol. 36, no. 1/2, 1998 (1996). Pegasus Press, University of North Carolina, Asheville, North Carolina.
  • BENGTSON, John D. (1998). Some Yenisseian Isoglosses. Mother tongue IV, 1998.
  • BENGTSON, J.D. (2008). Materials for a Comparative Grammar of the Dene-Caucasian (Sino-Caucasian) Languages. In Aspects of Comparative Linguistics, v. 3., pp. 45-118. Moscow: RSUH Publishers.
  • BLAŽEK, Václav, and John D. BENGTSON. 1995. "Lexica Dene-Caucasica." Central Asiatic Journal 39.1: 11-50, 39.2: 161-164.
  • BLEICHSTEINER, Robert. (1930). "Die werschikisch-burischkische Sprache im Pamirgebiet und ihre Stellung zu den Japhetitensprachen des Kaukasus [The Werchikwar-Burushaski language in the Pamir region and its position relative to the Japhetic languages of the Caucasus]." Wiener Beiträge zur Kunde des Morgenlandes 1: 289-331.
  • BOUDA, Karl. (1936). Jenisseisch-tibetische Wortgleichungen [Yeniseian-Tibetan word equivalents]. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 90: 149-159.
  • BOUDA, Karl. (1957). Die Sprache der Jenissejer. Genealogische und morphologische Untersuchungen [The language of the Yeniseians. Genealogical and morphological investigations]. Anthropos 52.1-2: 65-134.
  • DONNER, Kai. (1930). Über die Jenissei-Ostiaken und ihre Sprache [About the Yenisei ostyaks and their language]. Journal de la Société Finno-ougrienne 44.
  • VAN DRIEM, George. (2001). The Languages of the Himalayas. Leiden: Brill.
  • (DULSON, A.P.) Дульзон, А.П. (1968). Кетский язык [The Ket language]. Томск: Издательство Томского Университета [Tomsk: Tomsk University Press].
  • DYBO, Anna V., STAROSTIN G. S. (2008). In Defense of the Comparative Method, or the End of the Vovin Controversy. // Originally in: Aspects of Comparative Linguistics, v. 3. Moscow: RSUH Publishers, pp. 109-258.
  • GEORG, Stefan. (2007). A Descriptive Grammar of Ket (Yenisei-Ostyak), Volume I: Introduction, Phonology, Morphology, Folkestone/Kent: Global Oriental. 10-ISBN 1-901-90358-3; 13-ISBN 978-1-901-90358-4
  • GREENBERG, J.H., and M. Ruhlen. (1992). Linguistic Origins of Native Americans. Scientific American 267.5 (November): 94–99.
  • GREENBERG, J.H., and M. Ruhlen. (1997). L'origine linguistique des Amérindiens[The linguistic origin of the Amerindians]. Pour la Science (Dossier, October), 84–89.
  • KAYE, A.S. (1992). Distant genetic relationship and Edward Sapir. Semiotica 91.3/4: 273-300.
  • NIKOLA(Y)EV, Sergei L. (1991). Sino-Caucasian Languages in America. In Shevoroshkin (1991): 42-66.
  • PULLEYBLANK, Edwin G. (2002). Central Asia and Non-Chinese Peoples of Ancient China (Collected Studies, 731).
  • RESHETNIKOV, Kirill Yuriy; STAROSTIN, George S. (1995). The Structure of the Ket Verbal Form. // Originally in: The Ket Volume (Studia Ketica), v. 4. Moscow: Languages of Russian Culture, pp. 7-121.
  • RESHETNIKOV, Yuriy Kirill; STAROSTIN, George S. (1995). Morphology of the Kott Verb and Reconstruction of the Proto-Yeniseian Verbal System. // Originally in: The Ket Volume (Studia Ketica), v. 4. Moscow: Languages of Russian Culture, pp. 122-175.
  • RUHLEN, M. (1997). Une nouvelle famille de langues: le déné-caucasien [A new language family: Dene-Caucasian]. Pour la Science (Dossier, October) 68–73.
  • RUHLEN, Merritt. (1998a). Dene-Caucasian: A New Linguistic Family. In The Origins and Past of Modern Humans – Towards Reconciliation, ed. by Keiichi Omoto and Phillip V. Tobias, Singapore, World Scientific, 231–46.
  • RUHLEN, Merritt. (1998b). The Origin of the Na-Dene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 95: 13994–96.
  • RUBICZ, R., MELVIN, K.L., CRAWFORD, M.H. 2002. Genetic Evidence for the phylogenetic relationship between Na-Dene and Yeniseian speakers. Human Biology, Dec 1 2002 74 (6) 743-761
  • SAPIR, Edward. (1920). Comparative Sino-Tibetan and Na-Dené Dictionary. Ms. Ledger. American Philosophical Society Na 20a.3. (Microfilm)
  • SHAFER, Robert. (1952). Athapaskan and Sino-Tibetan. International Journal of American Linguistics 18: 12-19.
  • SHAFER, Robert. (1957). Note on Athapaskan and Sino-Tibetan. International Journal of American Linguistics 23: 116-117.
  • STACHOWSKI, Marek (1996). Über einige altaische Lehnwörter in den Jenissej-Sprachen. In Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia 1: 91-115.
  • STACHOWSKI, Marek (1997). Altaistische Anmerkungen zum “Vergleichenden Wörterbuch der Jenissej-Sprachen”. In Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia 2: 227-239.
  • STACHOWSKI, Marek (2004). Anmerkungen zu einem neuen vergleichenden Wörterbuch der Jenissej-Sprachen. In Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia 9: 189-204.
  • STACHOWSKI, Marek (2006a). Arabische Lehnwörter in den Jenissej-Sprachen des 18. Jahrhunderts und die Frage der Sprachbünde in Sibirien. In Studia Linguistica Universitatis Iagellonicae Cracoviensis 123 (2006): 155-158.
  • STACHOWSKI, Marek (2006b). Persian loan words in 18th century Yeniseic and the problem of linguistic areas in Siberia. In A. Krasnowolska / K. Maciuszak / B. Mękarska (ed.): In the Orient where the Gracious Light... [Festschrift for A. Pisowicz], Kraków: 179-184.
  • (STAROSTIN, Sergei A.) Старостин, Сергей А. (1982). Праенисейская реконструкция и внешние связи енисейских языков [A Proto-Yeniseian reconstruction and the external relations of the Yeniseian languages]. In: Кетский сборник, ed. Е.А. Алексеенко (E.A. Alekseenko). Leningrad: Nauka, 44-237.
  • (STAROSTIN, Sergei A.) Старостин, Сергей А. (1984). Гипотеза о генетических связях сино-тибетских языков с енисейскими и северокавказскими языками [A hypothesis on genetic relations of the Sino-Tibetan languages to the Yeniseian and the North Caucasian languages]. In: Лингвистическая реконструкция и древнейшая история Востока [Linguistic reconstruction and the prehistory of the East], 4: Древнейшая языковая ситуация в восточной Азии [The prehistoric language situation in eastern Asia], ed. И. Ф. Вардуль (I.F. Varduľ) et al. Москва: Институт востоковедения [Moscow: Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences], 19-38. [see Starostin 1991]
  • STAROSTIN, Sergei A. (1991). On the Hypothesis of a Genetic Connection Between the Sino-Tibetan Languages and the Yeniseian and North Caucasian Languages. In Shevoroshkin (1991): 12-41. [Translation of Starostin 1984]
  • STAROSTIN, Sergei A., and Merritt RUHLEN. (1994). Proto-Yeniseian Reconstructions, with Extra-Yeniseian Comparisons. In M. Ruhlen, On the Origin of Languages: Studies in Linguistic Taxonomy. Stanford: Stanford University Press. pp. 70-92. [Partial translation of Starostin 1982, with additional comparisons by Ruhlen.]
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