The Negidal Language

General Information

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.

Linguistic Description

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

D.I. Nadeina

  1. Beginning of a legend. The narrator: D.I. Nadeina. The record was made in September 2005 in Vladimirovka village. [mp3 (18 s / 118 Kb) listen]

    Taj Čukčagir boγa-dū-n bi-čā-n omən asī.
    That Chukchagir land-Dat-3Sg быть-Praet-3Sg one woman
    In Chukchagir one woman lived.

    Asī ətikāŋi-či bi-čā-n.
    Woman husband-Poss to be-Praet-3Sg
    She was married.

    Ətikāŋi-nin āčin ō-ča-la-n noŋan-mā-n nəkun-in gəla-l-čā.
    husband-3Sg without to become-PartPraet-Loc-3Sg he-Acc-3Sg younger brother-3Sg to ask-Inch-Praet
    When the husband died the older brother started asking her in marriage.

    Gun-ən: «Ətikāŋla-kal min-dū».
    to say-3Sg to get married-Imp I-Dat
    Says: «Marry me».

  2. The story begins. The narrator: D.I. Nadeina. The record was made in September 2005 in Vladimirovka. [mp3 (23 s / 360 Kb) listen]

    Əńə-m taγjal, ajav-va-n taγjačča.
    mother-1Sg amateur joker -Praes-3Sg to play a joke
    My mother is a joker, likes to play jokes.

    Оmna kolkhoz-to war bi-ŋase-n, kolkhoz-to bi-vač-če-n al the time commissioner.
    Once kolkhoz-Dat war to be-ConvPraet?-3Sg kolkhoz-Dat to be-Habit-Praes-3Sg all the time commissioner.
    Once in the kolkhoz, after the war, a commissioner was visiting the kolkhoz all the time.

    Rayispolkom (the Executive Committee)-dukin əmə-vač-ča-n.
    rayispolkom-Abl to come-Habit-Praet-3Sg
    He used to come from rayispolkom.

    Nuŋən window-lī ičə-jə-n taj commissioner əmə-je-va-n.
    In the window-Prol to see-Praes-3Sg that commissioner to come -PartPraet-Acc-3Sg
    She sees in the window the commissioner coming.

Translated into English by O.A. Povoroznyuk

© IEA RAS, 2005
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