Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg
Nivkh (otherwise known as Gilyak) is considered genetically isolated, though is traditionally classified as Paleasiberian. Typologically, Nivkh is an agglutinative synthetic nominative language with elements of morphological fusion and some analytical features.
It is the language of a small nationality (4,700 people) presently residing mainly at the lower reaches of the Amur River in the far east on the Asian continent and on Sakhalin Island (Russia). Four dialects of Nivkh are distinguished: Amur, East-Sakhalin, North-Sakhalin and South-Sakhalin. The description is based primarily on the materials of Amur and East-Sakhalin diaelcts of Nivkh, the last not well described yet. The sketch contains five sections, two folklore texts (in both examined dialects of Nivkh) with interlinear translation and an ample bibliography.
The first section describes socio- and geolinguistic data, different hypothesis of Nivkh genesis and principal stages of its studying. The phonology and morphology section deals with the phoneme inventory, prosody, syllable structure and morphological alternations. It pays particlar attention to the system of initial consonant alternations in noun and verb phrases. Principal models of word-formation are discussed in the third section. The fourth section is devoted to the analysis of nominal and verbal morphology, pronominal system, numerals, adverbs, graphic words, connective words and interjections. Special emphasis is laid to the unique system of cardinals consisting of 26 sub-systems, each of those is used for counting objects of special types. The section also focuses on finite verbal forms and their categories, as well as on non-finite verbal forms. Nivkh is well-known for its numerous converbs, which number is about 30. The last section examines syntax of noun and verb phrases, word order, clause structure and clause chaining with special reference to a polypredicative construction. The last is usually represented as a predicate complex whose verbal forms are interlinked by different semantic relations, namely tense, cause, condition, concession, etc.
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