Itelmen is a Chukotko-Kamchatkan with fewer than 100 speakers in
the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia. It is the only surviving member of
the Chukotko-Kamchatkan family. The majority of speakers are
elderly and live in scattered settlements in the Koryak Autonomous
Okrug. The language is no longer passed on within families, but in
recent years there have been efforts to revive it and it is taught
in a few schools, and used to on the radio.
Itelmen is also known as Western Itelmen or Kamchadal and was
once spoken throught Kamchatka. Stepan Petrovich Krasheninnikov
(Степан Петрович Крашенинников
- 1711-1755), a Russian explorer, naturalist and geographer
wrote the first detailed description of the language in the
early 18th century. He identified three dialects which were
mutally intelligible. There are currently two dialects: Sedanka
and Xajrjuzovo (Ukä).
An Latin-based orthography for Itelmen was developed by the
Polytechnic of the Nordic Peoples in Khabarovsk in 1932
and a few textbooks were published using it. This was a time when
Itelmen children were being sent to boarding schools where they
had to speak Russian, so Itelmen was rarely written and this
orthography was abandoned in 1935.
A Cyrillic-based orthography developed by Aleksandr Volodin
(Александр Моисеевич Володин)
has been used since 1986 and a number of primary school textbooks
and a Itelmen-Russian dictionary have been published in it.
Cyrilic alphabet for Itelmen
Information about Itelmen pronunciation compiled by Wolfram Siegel
Sample text in Itelmen
Source: Мэл ланом Луканк нкэлычэ. Евангелие от Луки на ительменском языке. Москва 2002.
Supplied by Wolfgang Kuhl
Information about the Itelmen language and people
Songs in Itelmen with English translations (PDF)
Other languages written with the Cyrillic alphabet