The Negidal Language
Bibliography on the Negidal Language
Wide-spread ethnonym Negidal (негидальцы) originates from word ңегидал (“coastal”, “sea side”); Negidal living by the river are opposed to Evenk, who moved along mountain slopes. Other ethnonyms include Na Beyenin (на бэйэнин “local person”), Yelkan Beyenin (елкан бэйэнин) “person living here” or, according to another interpretation, a name deriving from the name of Ayano-Nelkanskiy District or Amngun beyenin (амңун’ бэйэнин), as named by river Amgun.
Negidal Language belongs to the northern group of Tungus branch of the Manchu-Tungus languages.
Negidal live in Khabarovskiy Region, in the districts of Ulchskiy (the lower reaches of Amur) and in the village by Polina Osipenko (the middle reaches of Amgun). Until the mid-XX century Negidal also lived in the lower reaches of Amgun.
The population – 567 people (2004). According to the recent census, 150 people have a command of the language.
Negidal language has suffered the influence of neighboring Even, Ulchi, Nivkhi languages.
According to some peculiarities of pronunciation, lower (found in lower Amgun reaches) and upper (found in upper Amgun reaches) sub-dialects. Differences between the local vernaculars are minor.
Negidal language is agglutinative, suffixal. The language is characterized by rising vocalic harmony. The vowels can either be long or short. The noun has two numbers, nine cases; the system of possessive forms, with the alienable and inalienable possessiveness. The verb is agreed in the person and in the number; there is an extensive network of tenses and moods; there are several participle and adverbial participle constructions. The neutral word order - SOV, subordinate to the predicate, is arranged, mainly, with non-finite forms.
Socio-linguistic Description of the Language
The language is preserved only in every day life, mainly, among the representatives of the older generation; all Negidal have a command of Russian. The instruction in the language is not conducted; writing is not practiced.
History of Studies of the Language
The first records on Negidal language (around 50 words) belong to A.F. Middendorff who visited the region of Amgun River during his travel across the northern and the eastern parts of Siberia in 1842-1845. In 1910 L.Ya. Sternberg who visited Negidal recorded around 600 words and made some grammatical notes. In 1923 P. Schmidt published Negidal-English dictionary containing 1200 words.
K.M. Mylnikov and V.V. Tsintsius, who collected a significant amount of texts, spent the year of 1926-1927 among Negidal. In 1961 V.D. Kolesnikova and O.A. Konstantinova, who collected extensive lexical materials, visited Negidal.
Sound Samples of the Language
Translated into English by O.A. Povoroznyuk
© IEA RAS, 2005
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