|Region||Taymyr Autonomous Okrug|
|Ethnicity||860 Nganasans (2010 census)|
|125 (2010 census)|
The Nganasan language (formerly called тавгийский, tavgiysky, or тавгийско-самоедский, tavgiysko-samoyedsky in Russian; from the ethnonym тавги, tavgi) is a moribund Samoyedic language spoken by the Nganasan people. In 2010 it was spoken by only 125 out of 860 Nganasan people in the southwestern and central parts of the Taymyr Peninsula.
Nganasan is the most divergent language of the Samoyedic branch of the Uralic language family (Janhunen 1998). There are two main dialects, Avam (авамский говор, avamsky govor) and Vadeyev (Russian: вадеевский говор, romanized: vadeyevsky govor). A part of the vocabulary can be traced to elements of unknown substrate origin, which are roughly twice as common in Nganasan than in other Samoyedic languages like Nenets or Enets, and bear no apparent resemblance to the neighbouring Tungusic and Yukaghir languages. The source of this substrate remains a mystery so far.
The language has 10 vowels and about 20 consonant phonemes.
Several bisyllabic sequences of vowels are possible:
One of the main features of Nganasan is consonant gradation, which concerns the consonant phonemes /b, t, k, s (sʼ)/ and their nasal combinations /mb, nt, ŋk, ns/.[clarification needed]
The language's Cyrillic-based alphabet was devised in the 1990s:
|А а||Б б||В в||Г г||Д д||Е е||Ё ё||Ж ж|
|З з||З̌ з̌||И и||Й й||’’||К к||Л л||М м|
|Н н||Ӈ ӈ||О о||Ө ө||П п||Р р||С с||Ҫ ҫ|
|Т т||У у||Ү ү||Ф ф||Х х||Ц ц||Ч ч||Ш ш|
|Щ щ||Ъ ъ||Ы ы||Ь ь||Э э||Ә ә||Ю ю||Я я|
Nouns in Nganasan have the grammatical categories of number (singular, dual, plural), case (nominative, genitive, accusative, lative, locative, elative, prolative, comitative) and possessivity (non-possessive versus possessive forms). Nganasan lacks determiners; however, the possessive forms of second person singular and third person singular can be used to express definiteness (Katzschmann, 2008).
|Accusative||Ø ~ (-M)||-KI||-J|
|Genitive||Ø ~ (-Ŋ)||-KI||-"|
Nganasan has personal, demonstrative, interrogative, negative and determinative pronouns. Personal pronouns are not inflected: their grammatical case forms coincide and their local case forms are expressed by the corresponding possessed forms of the postposition na-. Other pronouns are inflected like nouns (Helimski, 1998).
|Nom, Gen, Acc||Lative||Locative||Elative||Prolative||Personal pronouns + clitics||Personal emphatic pronouns|
Verbs agree with their subjects in person and number, and have three conjugation types. Like other Samoyedic languages, Nganasan has the opposition of perfective and imperfective verbs.
The subjective conjugation is used when there is no object or the object is focused. The objective conjugation is used with transitive words. The reflexive conjugation is used for some intransitive verbs. Each conjugation type has its own personal endings. There are three subtypes of objective conjugation endings that correspond to object number.
|singular object||dual object||plural object|
|3Sg||ø||-tu||-kəi-j-tu||-j-tu||-ʔ or -tə|
Nganasan has a broad mood paradigm with nine forms: indicative, imperative, interrogative, inferential, renarrative, irrealis, optative, admissive-cohortive, debitive, abessive and prohibitive. Mood forms are mostly built with the help of affixation but special particles are also sometimes used. All mood forms, except the imperative, have the same personal suffixes. Tenses are distinguished in the indicative, imperative and interrogative moods (Tereščenko, 1979).
Aspect and tense
Most corresponding imperfective and perfective stems have the same root, but in rare cases the roots can be different. The aspectual opposition between imperfective and perfective verbs remains semantic in most verbal forms. However, in the indicative mood it is used to express present continuous and present perfect meanings, respectively. In this case, the opposition is present formally: imperfective verbs take imperfective suffixes and the perfective ones have the perfective suffixes (Helimski, 1998). Imperfective verbs can also express future meanings. These forms are not considered tense in the strict sense. The proper tense forms of past and future include past, past perfect, future, future-in-the past (Katzschmann, 2008).
Non-finite verb forms
|Present participle||S1'-NTUə(-NCx)(-Px)||koðutuə "which was killed ~ which has been killed"|
|Preterite participle||S1-SUə-Dʲəə(-NCx)(-Px)||kotudʲüədʲəə "which killed ~ which was killed"|
|Future participle||S1'-ʔSUTə(-NCx)(-Px)||koðuʔsutə "which will kill ~ which will be killed"|
|Future-in-the-past participle||S1'-ʔSUTə-Dʲəə(-NCx)(-Px||koðuʔsutədʲəə "which was to kill ~ which will be killed"|
|Abessive participle||S1-MəTUMA̩ʔ(-NCx)(-Px)||kotumətumaʔa "which has not killed ~ which has not been killed"|
|Preterite abessive participle||S1-MəTUMA̩ʔA̩̥-Dʲəə(-NCx)(-Px)||kotumətumaʔdʲəə "which did not kill ~ which was not killed"|
|Passive participle||S1-Məə(-NCx)(-Px)||kotuməə "killed"|
|Preterite passive participle||S1-Məə-Dʲəə(-NCx)(-Px)||kotuməədʲəə "which was killed"|
|Verbal adverb||S1-SA||kotudʲa 'having killed', nʲisɪ̈ kotudʲa "having not killed"|
|Verbal adverb of immediate precedence||S1-KAJ-SA||kotugasʲa "having just killed"|
|Conditional-temporal verbal adverb||S1-HÜʔ(-Px4)||kotubüʔ "(if ~ when) to kill', kotubɪ̈nə 'if ~ when I kill", etc.|
|Preterite temporal verbal adverb||S1-HÜʔ-ə(-Cx))-Px)||kotubüʔə "when killed', kotubüʔəmə "when I killed", etc.|
|Future conditional verbal adverb||S1-HÜʔ-NÜ-Px2||kotubününə "if I will kill"|
|Imperfective verbal noun||S1-MUN(-Cx)(-Px)||kotumu
sG kotumunə hireə "worth killing"
sLat niimsiəm kotomundə "I was afraid to kill"
sEla + s1 kotumu(ng)ətənə "so that I do not kill", etc.
|Perfective verbal noun||(S3/S1')-ʔMUə(-Cx)(-Px)||koðaʔmuə ~ koðuʔmuə
sLoc + s1 koðaʔmuəntənunə "where I killed", etc.
|Preterite verbal noun||S1'-NTU(-Cx)(-Px)||koðutu
sLat koðutundə "when killed"
koðutundənə "when I killed"
s3 kotunagətu "in order that he killed", etc.
The dominating word order in Nganasan is SOV, similar to other Samoyedic languages. However, Nganasan is considered to exhibit more freedom in word order than other languages of its group. According to Tereščenko (1979), other types of word orders are used for shifting the sentence focus, especially in emphatic speech. The focused constituent usually immediately precedes the verb. Wagner-Nagy (2010) suggests that Nganasan is similar to Hungarian in its behavior, in that its word order is determined by pragmatic factors rather than being fixed.
On the phrase level, the attributes within the noun phrase usually precede the noun and become focused when placed after it. Numerals and adjectives agree with the heads in case, and adjectives also agree with the head in number. The case agreement is only complete in grammatical cases; in locative cases the attribute gets genitive form. There are no prepositions in Nganasan, postpositions are composite parts of words and also require the attributes in genitive cases. Possession is expressed with genitive construction or by a possessive suffix attached to the possessed (Helimski, 1998; Katzschmann, 2008).
Nganasan is a pro-drop language: pronominal subjects are often omitted when the verb conjugation type is subjective (Tereščenko, 1979).
Standard negation is expressed by negative auxiliary (ńi-) followed by the main verb in connegative form marked with ʔ, e.g. ńi-ndɨ-m konɨʔ "I do not go". All inflectional markers are taken by the negation auxiliary (Gusev, 2015). Objects in the form of personal, negative or demonstrative pronouns can be inserted between the negative auxiliary and the main verb (Wagner-Nagy, 2011). There are a few negative verbs other than ni-, such as kasa — "nearly", ləði — "vainly", əku — "maybe", and ŋuəli — "of course", but their functionality is restricted, with only ni- having a full paradigm.
Existential sentences are negated with the negative existential predicate d'aŋku or its derivative stem d'anguj-. D'aŋku can only be used in present indicative as it behaves like a noun: it takes nominal predicative endings. D'anguj- (a composite of d'aŋku and ij- "be") is used for all other tense/mood combinations.
Subordination is typically formed by constructions with non-finite verbal forms. Such constructions are usually placed before the constituents they modify. The relative construction is always placed immediately before the modified constituent, whereas other types of constructions allow other constituents to interfere. The word order in such construction is the same as in simple sentences (Tereščenko, 1973).
Coordination is most often achieved by means of intonation. Sometimes pronominal and adverbial derivatives can be used as conjunctions. For example, adverb ŋonə 'also' can be used as conjunction. The category of conjunctions may be undergoing formation under the influence of Russian (Tereščenko, 1973).