Itelmen language

Обложка ительменского букваря

The Itelmen language belongs to the Chukchi-Kamchatka family of languages. It distinguishes Sedankin, Khairuzov, Napan dialects. The modern vocabulary is influenced by the Koryak and Russian languages. At present, the people are bilingual. Russian is the language of internal and inter-ethnic communication and education. Only 18.8% of the population, mainly representatives of the older generation, consider the Itelmen language as their native language.

Currently, a linguistic discussion is underway on revising the belonging of the Itelmen language to the Chukchi-Kamchatka group. Special studies of the vocabulary, phonetic system, sound structure of the Itelmen language in comparison with the Chukchi and Koryak languages make it possible to assert that it reveals areal correspondences with them (a consequence of ethnocultural contacts), and not genetic ties (common origin). Nevertheless, the relation of the Itelmen language to the Paleo-Asian, even at the level of its classification isolation, is beyond doubt.

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