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.

Nivkh alphabet and pronunciation

Nivkh alphabet and pronunciation

The letters Ё, Щ and Ь are only used for Russian loanwords.

Download alphabet charts for Nivkh (Excel)

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

Sample video in Nivkh


Information about the Nivkh language and people

Sound Materials of the Nivkh Language

Other languages written with the Cyrillic alphabet

Language isolates

Adaizan, Ainu, Basque, Burushaski, Candoshi-Shapra, Chitimacha, Eskayan, Haida, Karuk, Keres, Kuot, Kutenai, Natchez, Nihali, Nivkh, Páez, Purepecha, Seri, Sumerian, Ticuna, Tiwi, Tunica, Urarina, Wardaman, Washo, Yuchi/Euchee, Zuni

Green Web Hosting - Kualo

Why not share this page:


If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.

If you like this site and find it useful, you can support it by making a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or by contributing in other ways. Omniglot is how I make my living.


Note: all links on this site to, and are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.