Official list published in 1992 named 63 small ethnoses in the Russian Federation with less than 50 thousand
population. All these ethnoses and their languages are under a threat of
Disappearing Türkic languages:
Headings indicate the latest known population size, and number of
proficient speakers, quantity and percentage.
Chelkandu 900 population ?%
Chelkandu is one of the
Turkic-speaking ethnic groups in the Altai Republic. Chelkandu language belongs to the Khakas
subgroup of the Uigur-Oguz group of the Türkic languages.
Chelkandu are indigenous population of Mountain Altai living along the river Swan and its
tributary Baigol. Their endoethnonym self-name is Chalkandu/Shalkandu, and also Kuu-kiji (Kuu
is Türkic "swan", this name was calqued into Russian now obsolete exoethnonym "Lebedin
Tatars" or "Lebedintsy". Present Russian nomenclature is using term "Chelkantsy"), and a hydronym of the
river Kuu "Swan". Like with the other ethnic groups of modern Altaians, Chelkandu formed of Türkic, Nenets and Ket
tribes, and the Türkic language predominated. A mass migration of the Türks to Altai happened during
the ancient Turkic
time (Mass migration is a baseless political claim, with Stalinist
overtones used to be exploited to justify banishments, deportations and persecutions. No archeological data supports
the claim, and it is known that Altai people participated in 554 AD campaigns of the Türkic
Kaganate. The Late Antique name of the modern Chelkandu was Kuchugur, which consist of the same name
"swan" of the river Kuu and a "gur" for a tribe, The Türkic ethnonym "Kuchugur" is homonymic with
the Türkic "kuchugur" = "dune", complicating toponymic tracing of the ethnonym. Toponym
"Kuchugur" is widely spread in the Eurasian steppe belt, from the N.Pontic to Central Asia. There is
little doubt that Kuchugurs located in Central Siberia, and especially in the Krasnoyarsk Territory,
mark areas associated with the splinters of the Chelkandu Kuchugur ancestors - Translator's Note).
Chelkandu are a small ethnos influenced
by the Altai ethnic groups, and they became surrounded
by significant Russian-speaking population. The traditionally nomadic Chelkandu were settled in villages
Kurmach-Baigol, Suranash, Small Chibechen and Itkuch (and denied access to
their traditional postural routs. There was no unsanctioned passportless roaming under Stalinist
regime - Translator's Note).
Scientific literature in the middle of
1990es stated that Chelkandu number about 2,000 people; a preliminary data of 2002 census
counted population of 900 (Half of the population in these puny 5 villages
disappearing in 5-7 years? These numbers are suspicious - Translator's Note).
The first documentation of Chelkandu language (as "Lebedintsy")
belongs to academician W.W.Radlov, who traveled to
Altai in 1869-1871. A large contribution to the study of the Altai language and its dialects made N.A.Baskakov. In
his works he used materials of his own expedition, and texts and materials recorded earlier about Chelkandu dialect. The toponymy of Chelkandu and Altaians region is described
in general in the O.T.Molchanova fundamental work "Structural types of Mountain Altai Türkic toponyms" (Saratov, 1982) and in
dictionary of Mountain Altai" (Gorno-Altaisk, 1979; more than 5,400 entries).
are bilingual and know Russian well, for many of them it already became a first language. Therefore
the Chelkandu dialect, its application sphere growing narrower, remains alive only at home and
in small enterprises engaged in traditional type of economic activities.
Chulyms 700 population? %
Chulyms are indigenous population in the taiga area in the basin of the river Chulym, along
its middle and lower course, within the limits of the Tomsk Province and Krasnoyarsk Territory.
Their self-name endoethnonyms are "Tadarlar" (Tatars, Türks), "Yus-chony" (their section of the
river Chulym has an alternate name "Yus") = "Yus People", and "Pistin Kijileri" = "Our
People". The present Russian moniker is "Chulymtsy", obsolete monikers were "Chulym Tatars/Melet Tatars/Melets
Tatars", and respective names for their language. (Another Russian moniker was "Yasak people" ("Ясачные")
= "Tribute Payers". In the 17th-18th cc. reports of the encroaching Russian troops the
ingenuous population was listed as Meleses, Basagars, Kyzyls and others, Russian reports
collectively called them by non-ethnic term "Karagas", after a Russian fort established on Karagas
Island, Türkic "Fir-tree Island". The first 1926 census after the creation of the USSR listed
Chulyms in the basins of rivers Chulym and Ket under that colloquial Karagases. -
Chulym is a small Türkic ethnos, their language has
two dialects. Chulym language (Chulym-Türkic) is a language of the Khakas subgroup of the Uiguro-Oguz group of
languages, it is close to Khakas and Shor languages.
The presence of the Chulym language in the
Siberia Turkic-speaking area manifests genetic connections
of its ancestors with the people who participating in Türkisation of the native populations in the
basin, the tribes speaking Türkic languages in the whole of the Sayan-Altai.
outstanding Tomsk linguist, in 1946 began regular study of the Chulym language, he visited all Chulym villages, and described
its phonetical, morphological and
lexical typology and characteristics of its dialects, first of all
of the Lower Chulym dialect. A.P.Dulzon's studies continued his stuydent R.M.Birukovich, who collected volumes
of new field material, and published a monographic
description of the Chulym language typology, with a special attention to Middle Chulym dialect,
and showed its place among the other languages of the Siberia Turkic-speaking areas.
A preliminary data of
2002 census counted a total Chulym population of 700.
Chulyms encountered Russian in the 17th century,
the early Russian lexical loans are
adapted following the laws of Türkic phonetics: porota - vorota (gate), agrat - ogorod (garden),
puska - busy (beads), now all Chulyms a fluent in Russian (Funny, two of
these 3 examples originally were Slavic/Rus borrowing from Türkic, there is a chance that
"gate" and "beads" were
Chulym words to begin with - Translator's Note). The Chulym language retained a number
of common Türkic words, preserving the ancient euphony and semantics, it has very few Mongolian loanwords.
It has distinct terms of relationship, time system,
and toponymic names.
Chulyms' relative isolation and retention of their traditional economy
were a blessing for their language.
Dolgans 7,000 population of 90 %
Dolgan, Тya-kihi, Сahay (Russian
moniker Dolgan) mainly populate autonomous district Taimyr of Krasnoyar province. Religion (if
any) is Russian Orthodox Christianity.
Dolgan language belongs to the Sakha (Yakut) subgroup of Türkic group of the
Altai language group.
is a name of one of the Evenk clans that compise the Dolgan ethnos. In the Russian official
nomenclature this colloquial exoethnonym name is applied to designate all members of that nation.
The endoethnonym (self-name) of the main Dolgan group (Khatan district) is Hака (compare Sakha), and also
Kihitə, Tyalar - tundra people, (western Dolgans). In this case the Türkic word
"tya" ("tau, tuu, too", etc.) - "woody mountain" in the Dolgan language adpted a meaning "tundra".
The nucleus of Dolgan nation is a result of intermix of Evenks, Sakha
(Yakut), migrant Russian tundra peasants, etc. The main communication language between these
groups became the Sakha language, used by Tungus Evenks clans in the Sakha territory
at the turn of the 17-18th centuries. In the historical background is pressumed that
Dolgan language preserved the elements of Sakha language from the period of the first
waves of their settlement in the present Sakha territory, who gradually moved further
northwest under subsequent migrant waves. The Tungus clans subsequently became a nucleus of the Dolgan nation,
together with Sakha they migrated to the territory which became their joint native
land, and adipted their language.
The nation and its language formed in the Taimyr peninsula
from various groups of Evenks, Sakha (Yakut), Russians and their languages. They had an
identical way of life (habitat, economy), geographical position and, mainly, the common language. The modern
Dolgan language, remaining grammatically Sakha,
includes language elements of the peoples of the new ethnos. That is especially reflected in the lexicon.
population in the Taimyr Autonomous Province and Anabar district of Sakha Republic in the
censuses of 1959, 1970, 1979, 1989 and preliminary results of 2002 census was respectively: 3932, 4877, 5053, 6929, 7,000. The greatest
percentage of those who consider Dolgan national language to be their native language was in the census of 1979, 90 percent,
in the following years that number went down. At the same time grows the number of Dolgans who are
fluent in Russian.
Russian is used in official - business sphere, in the media, in intra-ethnic communication, and frequently
at home. A part of Dolgans read books and magazines in Sakha
language, can communicate and correspond, though they experiences difficulties in lexics, grammr and spelling.
The Dolgan national independence is indisputable fact, but the status of their
language as an independent or as a dialect of the Sakha language is disputed. The Tungus clans,
who by virtue of historical circumstances switched to the of Sakha language, did not assimilate, but
in isolation, interacting with different ethnic
groups, obtained new features. Their "special circumstances" were remoteness from the main
body of Sakha, different way of life, and other cultural and economic changes in the life of Dolgans
The first time the idea about separate Dolgan language was expressed in 1940 in
the master's thesis of E.I.Ubrjatova "Language of Norilsk Dolgans". In the last years this
idea was often supported in the research works. The thesis
is isolation of the Dolgan language, at a certain stage of the development and functioning of Sakha
language it being a dialect, but in the long isolated development, with the change in a way of
people's life, and also because of geographical - administrative separation. With time, the Dolgan language kept
separating from the literary Sakha language, where the dialects of the central areas of Sakha
It is important to emphasize that the question on independence of the Dolgan language,
similar languages, cannot be resolved only from the point of view of linguistic. Defining the
linguistic attribution of a dialect, is not enough to appeal only to the structural criteria, it is
necessary to also address the attributes of the sociological order: a presence or absence of a common
literary written language, mutual understanding between populations, and the ethnic consciousness of
the people (corresponding to the attribution of the language by its speakers).
Dolgans do not see themselves as Sakha, nor Evenks, and recognize their language as separate, another language.
It is reasoned by the difficulties in mutual understanding between Sakha and Dolgans, and by the impossibility
of use by Dolgans of the Sakha literary language for cultural use; by the creation of their own
script and teaching Dolgan language at schools (the use of the Sakha school literature is impossible);
publication of art and other literature in Dolgan language. This implies that Dolgan language,
even from a linguistic point of view, though remaining a dialect of the Sakha language, in view
of the complex of historical, social, cultural, anf sociological factors is an independent language.
The script for Dolgan language was created only at the end of 1970es . In the 1978 was sanctioned an alphabet
based on Cyrillic alphabet, which addressed the phonemic features of the typology of the language, and also
with an eye toward the Russian
and Sakha alphabets. Presently, this language is mostly used at home. Now the Dolgan language begins
its unctioning in the media and on the radio. The native language is tought in the elementary school.
The Dolgan language is taught in A.I.Gertsen RGPU to the future teachers students.
Certainly, there are many problems in preservation and development of
the language. First of
all, it is teaching the native language to the children at school. There is a question on insufficient
methodical equipment for teachers, and a small quantity of the literature in the Dolgan
language. The print of newspapers, books in this language should be intensified. Important
aspect is education of children in the family, in the spirit of respect for their own people, traditions and native
Kumandy 3,000 population ? %
Kumandivands, Kuvants, Kuvandyg/Kuvandyh (Russian
moniker Kumandyetses) is one of the Turkic-speaking ethnic groups
in the Altai Republic.
Kumandy language is a dialect of the Altai language or, in opinion of a
number of Turkologists,
a separate language in the Khakas subgroup of the Uigur-Oguz group of Türkic languages.
Kumandy population number, according to the census of 1897 was 4092 population, in 1926 - 6334 population, in the
subsequent censuses they were not accounted; preliminary data of the 2002 census - 3,000 population.
Kumandy live within the limits of Altai territory, in the Kemerovo Province
(of the Russian Federation, outside of the administrative limits of the Altai Republic -
In the ethnogenesis of the Kumandy, like of the other Altai tribes, participated ancient
Nenets, Ket and Türkic tribes. The ancient influences of different Türkic dialects are
now, bringing disputes about linguistic classification of Kumandy language.
Kumandy language by a number of phonetic features
is close to the Shor language, and
partly with Khakas language. It preserved specific features that distinguish it among the Altai
dialects, and even among the Türkic languages.
The middle and senior Kumandy generations use
their native Kumandy language,
but the youth prefers Russian. Practically all Kumandy know Russian, some people consider
it their native language.
The script for the Altai language was developed based on one of its southern dialects,
Teleut, in the middle of the 19th century by the missionaries of an Altai spiritual mission. In that
form it was spread among Kumandy.
In the beginning of 1930es was undertaken an attempt of training Kumandy in
their native language. In 1933 was published an "Kumandy-abc-book". That was the
extent of it. In
the beginning of the 1990es the teaching at schools was conducted in Russian. As a subject was
taught the Altai literary
language, which has a different dialectal base, and the local Kumandy speech appreciably influences
Soiots 1,000 population of ~0 %
Soiots is one of small ethnoses, whose members live compactly in
the territory of Okin
district of the Buryat Republic. According to the 1989 census, their number was from 246 to 506.
A decree of Presidium of
the Buryat Republic Supreme Soviet from April, 13, 1993 formed in
the territory of Buryat Republic Okin district a Soiot national rural council. With the growth of
national consciousness, on one hand, and witha chance to receive an official legal status, on
another, the Soiots addressed the Russian
parliament with a request for a recognition of their independent ethnos, and more than 1,000 citizens
submitted applications requesting to change the nationality (stated in
theit internal passports - Translator's Note) and to identify them as Soiots.
V.I.Rassadin, the Buryatia Soiots (natives from Husugul in Mongolia)
around 350-400 years ago separated, by their account, from Tsaatans, who have the same clans
(Haasuut, Onhot, Irkit) as Soiots. The Soiot language belongs to the Sayan subgroup of the
Siberian Türkic languages, which unites the languages of the Tuvinians Russian, Mongolian, and
the Chinese Monchaks, Tsengel Tuvinians (steppe group) and languages of the Tofalars, Tsaatans, Uryanhai
Uigurs, and Soits (taiga group).
Soiot language does not have its own script, in its development
it underwent a significant influence of the Mongolian language, at the modern stage of the Buryat
and Russian. Nowadays, Soiots almost completely lost their
language: it is remembered only by the senior generation. Soiot language is
was very poorly studied.
Teleuts 2650 population ~2 %
Teleuts/Teleets are the indigenous population around the river Sema (Altai Republic Shebalin
district), Chumysh district of Altai Territory (Territory is an
administrative unit in Russian Republic of Russian federation - Translator's Note) and
along the rivers Large and Small Bachat (Novosibirsk Province). Their endoethnonym self-name, Teleut/Teleet,
goes back to the ancient ethnonym among the inhabitants of Altai
Like other ethnoses of the region,
Teleuts formed by Türkisation of local Nenets or Ket tribes
(long before 2nd c. BC, when they first are recorded in the Chinese dynastic chronicles -
Translator's Note). Studies of toponymy showed that in addition to Nenets or Ket
tribes, a strong influence in their territory had Mongol-speaking tribes. However, the
strongest layer belongs to the Türkic languages, and a part of Türkic names corresponds with
Turkic toponyms, and also with the Kirgiz, Tuva, Kazakh and other neighboring Türkic languages.
To the linguistic attributes Teleut language belongs to the Kirgiz-Kypchak group of the eastern
branch of Türkic languages (N.A.Baskakov) (Western Kypchak belonging
to Eastern branch ?? - Translator's Note), therefore it has features uniting it with
the Kirgiz language.
The Altai language has relatively long history of documentation and study of its dialects.
(Russian) records of
separate Altai words begun from the moment of Russian penetration to Siberia. During the first
academic expeditions (18th century) are collected lexicons and linguistic materials (D.-G.
Messershmidt, I.Fisher, G.Miller, P.Pallas, G.Gmelin). A large contribution to the linguistic studies
made by academician W.W.Radlov, who traveled in 1863-1871 across Altai, and collected texts
for publishing (1866) or used in his "Phonetics" (1882-1883), and also in the "Dictionary of
Teleut language also sighted scientists, it was described in the known "Grammar of
the Altai language" (1869.) Precisely with that dialect was connected the language activity of the Altai
Spiritual Mission, opened in 1828. Its outstanding figures V.M.Verbitsky, S.Landyshev,
M.Gluharyov-Neva developed the first Altai alphabet on the Russian basis, and created a written
language on the basis of the Teleut dialect. The Altai Grammar was one of first and very successful
samples of grammars for the Türkic languages, it did not lose its value unil now. V.M.Verbitsky
compiled a "Dictionary of Altai and Aladag vernaculars of the Türkic language "
Teleut dialect was the first to convert to the script developed by missionaries, it included letters of the Russian alphabet
augmented with special graphems for specific Altai phonemes. manifestly,
with some minor alterations this script exists until now. The revised missionary alphabet was used
till 1931, when was imposed a Latinized alphabet. In 1938 it was again replaced
with the script on Russian base.
In the modern information conditions and under influence of school the dialect
distinctions are levelling, giving way to the norms of the literary language. On another hand, the
Russian is advancing, taking over the majority of Altaians. In 1989, 65,1 percent of Altaians were
fluent in Russian, and while the Altai language is considered to be a native language by 84,3
percent (in Altai Republic - 89,6 percent), only 1,9 percent of the total Altaian population
were fluent in their national language (with linguistically Russian
non-Altaians making 67% of Altai Republic population, and 97% of Altai Territiry
population - Translator's Note).
The small Teleut population is subjected to the same language processes as
the other indigenous
population of Altai Republic. Apparently, the use of the dialectal language will be
limited to home and single nation work collectives engaged in the traditional economy.
Tofalars 1,000 population, 14
persons, 1,9 %
Tofalars (used to be Karagases) mainly live in two rural areas, Tofalar and Upper Gutar, which
are part of Lower Udin district in Irkutsk Province). The district where Tofalars live is
in the mountains covered with larch and cedar stands.
The historical ancestors of Tofalars were East Sayan mountains Ket-speaking
and Arin tribes, and Sayan Nenetstes, with one of which, Kamasins, Tofalars cofederated until recent times.
The substratum of these tribes is deduced from the Nenets and especially Ket toponymy in the Tofalaria.
The Ket substratum was also detected in the phonetical elements and lexicon of the Tofalar language.
The Türkisation of the Sayan mountains native population happened during ancient Turkic time, noted in the modern language
as Oguz and especially ancient Uigur elements.
Deep and extended economic and cultural contacts with medieval Mongols, and later with Buryats are also
reflected in the Tofalar language. From the 17th century begun contacts with
especially they increased after 1930 imposition on Tofalars of a sedentary way of life.
The census data
for Tofalars is 1851 - population 543, 1882 - 456, 1885 - 426, 1927
- 417, 1959 - 586, 1970 - 620, 1979 - 763 ( 476 lived in Tofalaria), in
1989 - 731; preliminary data of the 2002 census gives the number
of Tofalars as a population of 1,000.
Till the 1929-1930 events, the Tofalars had solely nomadic
way of life, and had no stationary settlements
(this must be another primitive falsification, all pastoral people have a summer and a winter village
- Translator's Note).
Their traditional occupation was breeding of domesticated raindeer, used for riding
and transportation of cargo in packs. Another economic activity was hunting for
meat and fur animals, fishery, harvesting wild-growing edible plants. Tofalars were never engaged in agriculture,
but after being restricted to sedentary status, they learned from Russians to grow
potatos and vegetables. Before sedentarisation, they lived were organized by clans. After 1930 in
the Tofalaria territory were constructed villages Alygjer, Nerha and Upper Gutara, in which were
settled Tofalars, Russians also were settled there; since then Russian practically replaced Tofalar.
belongs to the Sayan group of Türkic languages, together with
the Tuva language, Mongolian Uigurs-Hhuryanhais and Tsaatan languages, and also the Monchak language
in Mongolia and China. Comparison with common Türkic shows that Tofalar language,
sometimes alone, sometimes together with other Türkic Sayano-Altai and Sakha languages,
preserved a number of archaic features, some them are comparable with ancientUigur language.
Studies of Tofalar language phonetics, morphology and lexicon showed that it is
an independent Türkic language with specific features, and with features common to all Türkic languages, or
to separate linguistic groups.
Tofalar language did not have its own script. In a scientific
transcription it was documented in the middle of the 19th century by a known scientist M.A.Castern, and at the
end of the 19th century by N.F.Kaftanov. The non-Türkic script was created in 1989 imposing the Russian-based
alphabet. Teaching Tofalar language in elementary grades of Tofalar schools started in 1990.
For that, were composed an alphabet book and
a reading book (1-st and 2-nd grades) …
In their nomadic life, Tofalars had active language connections only with the neighbouring Kamases,
Todjin Tuvinians, and Buryats of Lower Suda and Oka (left-bank
tributary of Angara river- Translator's Note) basins. At that time
their linguistic situation was characterized by mono-linguality of most of the
population, and Tofalar-Russ-Buryat tri-linguality by some adult population.
With the imposition on Tofalars of a sedentary way of life Russification began extensive penetration into
the Tofalars daily life. Schooling in Tofalaria was only in Russian. The native language was gradually pushed aside
to home use, and even that between the older people. In the 1989 Tofalar was named as a native
language by 43 percent of the Tofalars, and only 14
people were fluent in their own language (1,9 percent).
After creation of the
(Russian) script and beginning of teaching Tofalar language in elementary
school, i.e. after gaining of the state support, - writes a researcher of Tofalar language V.I.Rassadin, -
the interest to the Tofalaru language and culture began growing. At the grammar school not only the
Tofalar children, but also pupils of other nationalities began learning Tofalar language. People
increased the use of their native language. Thus,
the preservation and development of the Tofalar language now depends on the degree of the support by
supply of schools with educational and visual aids in native language, financial support of
publications in Tofalar language, and preparations of native language teachers, and also from
the level of traditional forms of economy.
Todiu Tuvinians 36,000 population? %
whose endoethnonym name sounds "Todiu" (Russian moniker Todjintses) is one of small ethnic groups within the
modern Tuva nation; they live compactly in the Todja district of Tuva Republic. Tyva endoethnonym goes back to
The language of Todiu Tuvinians is a dialect of the Tuva language of the Uigur-Türkic
(Ch. Tuku) subgroup of the Uigur-Oguz group of the Türkic languages.
Located in the North-Eastern Tuva,
Todja district occupies a territory of 4,5 thousand square kilometers of hefty mountain terrain in
the East Sayan mountain range, covered with taiga, and the valleys are boggy, the originating in the mountain spurs rivers
flow in the woody Todja depression. The animals and flora of this region are rich and various.
Living in the mountain district isolated Todjin from other Tuva
inhabitants, and affected their language.
The ethnogenesis of Todja Tuvinians includes Nenetstses,
Kets, Mongols and Türks, that is deduced from the clan and tribal names preserved by the modern
Todja inhabitants, and from the ethnonyms, common
among these peoples, the local toponymy also supplies rich material. The Türkic
ethnic component predominated, and as testify different sources, by the 19th century
the Todja population was Turkicized. However, the Todja Tuvinians material and spiritual culture has elements which are going back to
the substrate ethnical cultures.
At the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th centuries Russian
peasants were moved to Todja. Their
descendants continue to live next to Todjins, senior generation quite
often know the Tuva language. The new wave of Russian settlers is connected with the development of natural
a majority of them are experts: engineers, agriculturists, vet technicians, doctors.
the 1931 census, in Todja district lived population of 2115 aboriginals (568 households). In
1994 a linguistic and culture researcher of the Todja Tuvinians D.M.Nasilov
asserted that they totaled about 6,000. A preliminary data of the 2002 census Todja Tuvinians had
36,000 population (!).
Todja language is under a heavy pressure from the literary language, which propagates via schools (Tuva language
is taught in schools from preparatory to 11th grade), mass media, and fiction literature. Up to 99 percent of Tuvinians
in Tuva consider the Tuva language
to be their native, it is one of the highest levels in the Russian Federation in the use of a national
language as thgeir own. On the other hand, however, the preservation of the dialect features in
also facilitated by the stability in the region of the traditional economy: deer and
cattle breeding, hunting fur animals, fishery, in other words linguistic discourse in the conditions of traditional economic
environment, helped by active participation in the workforce of the youth, which is ensuring a linguistic
Thus, the linguistic situation among the Todja Tuvinians is one of the most secure among other small ethnoses in
the Siberian region.
Todja Tuvinians produced known personalities of the Tuva culture. The books of
a writer Stepan Saryg-oola reflected not only the life Todjins, but also the features of
Shors (Shorians) 14,000 population of ~5%
Shors (Shorians) are a small Turkic-speaking ethnos
located in the northern foothills of Altai, in the headwaters
of the river Tom and its tributaries Kondom and Mrassu, within the limits of the present Kemerovo
Province. Their endoethnonym self-name is Shor; in the (Russian) ethnographic literature
they were also called with monikers "Kuznetsk Tatars", "Chernevye Tatars"
(Mountain Taiga Tatars),
"Mrastsy" and "Kondomtsy", or "Mras" and "Kondom" Tatars, "Maturtsy", "Abalary" or "Abintsy".
The term "Shors" and accordingly
the "Shor language" brought into the scientific circulation
academician W.W.Radlov at the end of the 19th century; under this name he united the clan groups of
the "Kuznetsk Tatars", distinguishing them from linguistically related neighboring Teleuts,
Kumandy, Chelkandu and "Abakan Tatars", however the term "Shor language" was finally
accepted only in the 1930es.
Shor language is a language of the Khakas subgroup of the Uiguro-Oguz group of
the Türkic languages, with its relative affinity to other languages of that subgroup - Khakas,
Chulym-Türkic and northern dialects of the Altai language.
In the ethnogenesis of the modern Shors
participated ancient Türks (Ch. Tuku) and later Türkified ancient Nenets Ob-Ugrian tribes (in the 8th c. Shor ancestors
consisted of 7 large Yedre tribes - Translator's Note). The ethnic heterogeneity of
the Shors, and
the influence of substrate languages caused a presence in the Shor language of noticeable
dialectal distinctions and complications in forming a uniform spoken language.
(The Shors were mentioned in the army of Istemi-yabgu during the campaign of 554. They should
have been extremely slow not to have coalesced their language before the sprouting of the Kyiv Rus.
However, A.P.Dulzon states the opposite conclusions: "By the time of the first ancient Türkic
written monuments, where we find <Ket word>, the assimilation process had already been completed".
However, over the millennia, the Shors were neighboring Ket and Nenets tribes, who spoke
typologically different languages and blends, and all intermediate vernaculars display this
linguistic symbiosis - Translator's Note).
Ко времени появления древнетюркских
пись- менных памятников, в которых мы встречаем слово юл' в значении чрека», процесс ассимиляции был
From 1926 to 1939 in the territory of the present Tashtagol, Novokuznetsk, Mezhdurechensk
(Interfluvial) districts ,
Mys, Osinnik and parts of Novokuznetsk city councils existed Mountain Shor
National District. At the time when the administrative National District was created, the
Shors lived compactly and constituted about 70
percent of its population. In the 1939 the national autonomy administration was liquidated, and
executed a new administrative-territorial division. Recently, because of intensive
industrial development of the Mountain Shoria and influx of foreign-speaking population, the
density of the indigenous population catastrophically decreased: for example, in the city of
Tashtagol the Shors constitute 5 percent, in Mezhdurechensk - 1,5 percent, in Mys - 3,4%; the
majority of the
Shors lives in cities and settlements - 73,5 percent, in a countryside live 26,5 percent.
total number of Shors in the 1959-1989 censuses grew insignificantly: 1959 - 15,274
people, 1970 - 16,494, 1979 - 16,033, 1989 - 16,652 (of them in the territory annexed to the Russian Federation
lived 15,745). The preliminary data of the 2002 census lists14 thousands Shors in Russia.
The last decades
saw the quantity of people fluent in their native Shor language also decreasing: in 1989 only
998 people - 6 percent of the population. About 42 percent of the Shors named Russian their first
fluent in it were 52.7 percent, which means that about 95 percent of the modern ethnic Shors know Russian either as
a first or a second language, the overwhelming majority became bilingual. In the Kemerovo Province
the number of Shor language speakers in respect to the total population was about 0.4
Russian language increases its influence on the Shor language: the lexical loanwords are increasing,
the phonetic system and syntactic typology are changing. At the time of the first records in the middle of
the 19th century the Shor language (Kuznetsk Tatars) was a conglomerate of Türkic dialects and
the dialect distinctions were not small in oral speach. The organization of the Mountain Shor National
District created preconditions for a common Shor language, emerged a national statehood in a common
ethnic territory with compact population
and economic integrity. The literary language was formed based on the Lower Mras vernacular of the Mras
dialect. It was used for textbooks, original literature, were published translations from Russian,
existed a newspaper. The Shor language was studied in the elementary and high school. In 1936, for
example, out of 100 elementary schools 33 were national, out of 14 middle schools 2 were national, by 1939
out of 209 schools
in the National District 41 were national. In the Kuzedeevo village was opened a pedagogical
colledge for 300 students, 70 of them were reserved for the Shorians. Was growing a local
intelligentsia, these were teachers, writers, culture professionals, the common Shor national consciousness
grew stronger. In 1941 was published a first
large scientific grammar of the Shor language, written by N.P.Dyrenkova, in 1940 she
published a volume of "Shor folklore".
After the dissolution of the Mountain Shor National
District were closed the pedagogical colledge and cancelled publication of the
national newspaper, were closed village clubs, school teaching and office-work was swithed to
Russian only; the development of the literary Shor language was interrupted, and likewise
interrupted was its
influence on the local dialects.
The history of the Shor language script
(during Russian dominance period) number more than 100 years: in 1883 was
published a first book in Cyrillic alphabet in Shor language, the "Sacred history", in 1885 was
composed a first (Cyrillic) alphabet book. Till 1929 the new script was based on
the Russian alphabet, with addition of graphems for specific
Türkic phonemes. From 1929 to 1938 was imposed a Latin alphabet. In 1938 the Russian alphabet
was reimposed again.
were published textbooks and reading books for elementary school, textbooks for the 3rd-5th grades,
prepared Shor-Russian and Russian-Shor dictionaries, created works of art, are printed folklore texts. In Novokuznetsk pedagogical institute
was opened a branch of Shor language and literature (first addmission in 1989). However, the parents
are not eager to teach children their native
language. In a number of settlements are created folklore ensembles, whose primary goal is a preservation
of song inheritance, revival of national dances.
The volonteer national movements (Association of Shor
People, "Shoria" Society, and others) raised the subject of revival of the traditional economy, restoration of national
autonomy, about addressing social problems, especially for inhabitants of taiga settlements,
of creation of ecological zones.