Nivkh (Нивхгу/Nivxgu)

Nivkh or Gilyak is a language isolate spoken by about 1,000 people in Outer Manchuria along the Amgun and Amur rivers and part of Sakhlin Island. There are three main dialects: Amur, East Sakhlin and North Sakhlin, with only limited mutally intelligibilty between them.

Nivkh is unrelated to any other language, though is sometimes included in the Paleosiberian group of languages for convenience. Nivkhs living along the Amur river call themselves Nivh, while those on Sakhlin are known as N'ivhgn-N'igvn, meaning 'man'. The term Gilyak is the name given to the Nivkhs by the neighbouring Manchus.

Nivkh first appeared in writing in the 1880s in a Nivkh-Nanai primer compiled by a missionary. A Latin-based alphabet for Nivkh was used between 1931 and 1953, when a switch was made to the Cyrillic alphabet.

Cyrilic alphabet for Nivkh

Cyrilic alphabet for Nivkh

The blue letters are only used for Russian loanwords.

Information about Nivkh pronunciation compiled by Wolfram Siegel

Sample text in Nivkh

Sample text in Nivkh

Source: Определитель языков мира по письменностям. Академия наук СССР. Москва – 1965.

Sample text supplied by Wolfgang Kuhl


Information about the Nivkh language and people

Sound Materials of the Nivkh Language

Other languages written with the Cyrillic alphabet

Language isolates

Ainu, Basque, Burushaski, Eskayan, Haida, Karuk, Korean, Mapuche, Nivkh, Purepecha, Seri, Sumerian

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