August 8, 2022

Nivkh (Nivkhgo) or Gilyak (sometimes Nivkhic, self-proclaimed: Нивхгу диф Nivxgu Dif [ɲivxɡu dif]) is spoken in Outer Manchuria, the basin of the Amgun River (a tributary of the Amur River), the lower Amur River (Heilongjiang River), and northern Karafuto. A small linguistic family consisting of two or three mutually incomprehensible languages ​​native to the inhabiting Nivkh people, often considered an isolated language. It is also called the Amurian family (Amuric). Included in Old Asian languages ​​for convenience. Gilyak ``Gilyak'' is a Russian expression, derived from Tungusic ``Gileke'' and Manchu-Chinese ``Gilemi'' (Gilyami), referring to the culturally similar people of the Amur River (Heilongjiang) region. used in Western literature to refer to the Nivkh. Over the past century, the Nivkh population has remained stable, standing at 4,549 in 1897 and 4,673 in 1989, but the percentage of Nivkh native speakers has increased from 100% to 23.3% over the same period. In 1989, just over 1,000 people spoke it as their first language, and the 2010 census recorded only 200. Heilongjiang dialects are endangered languages ​​classified as 'extremely critical' and Karafuto dialects as 'grave danger' by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Proto-Nivkh(ic), the proto-modern language, was reconstructed by Fortescue (2016).

Language name alias

Gilyak - Nivkh is also referred to as Gilyak because it was once called Gilyak. Nivkh


In linguistics, it is an isolated language family for which no systematic relationship with other languages ​​can be found. Many words in Nivkh have some similarities with words of similar meaning in other Old Siberian, Ainu, Tungusic, and Korean languages, but there are rules that systematically describe the vocabulary of these various language families. Lexical similarities may be due to chance or borrowing, since no meaningful phonetic matches have been found. Nivkh is included on the fringes of Joseph Greenberg's Eurasian Great Language Family hypothesis. In 1998, Michael Fortescue suggested that Nivkh may be related to the Mosanian languages ​​of North America, and later in 2011, to the Chukchi-Kamchatka family, which included Nivkh. The Chukchi-Kamchatka-Amur language family" hypothesis was put forward, but Glottolog judged that the basis was "insufficient". More recently, Sergey Nikolayev, in two papers, points out the relationship between Nivkh and the North American Argic and Wakashan languages. Hudson & Robbeets (2020) postulate that languages ​​with typological characteristics such as Nivkh were once distributed on the Korean peninsula and formed the basis of the Korean language family.


Nivkh is a dialect continuum. There is considerable variation in Nivkh usage between villages, clans, and even individual speakers. Dialects are traditionally grouped into four geographical clusters. These are the Lower Heilongjiang dialect, the North Karafuto dialect (spoken on the mainland and the coastal areas around Amur Liman, including Karafuto), the East Karafuto dialect (including around the Tuimi River), and the South Karafuto dialect (spoken around the Poronai River). is done). The lexical and phonological differences between these dialects are sufficient for experts to classify them into two or three languages, but for linguistic reconstruction among already divided subpopulations, Nivkh is generally presented as a single language due to fear of further division consequences. Gruzdeva (1998) points out that speakers from Eastern Karafuto and the Lower Amur River cannot understand each other,