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Documentation of Negidal, a nearly extinct Northern Tungusic language of the Lower Amur


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Natalia Aralova , Brigitte PAKENDORF

Cadre de l'étude et objectifs

This project, which is funded by an ELDP grant from the ARCADIA Foundation (Major Documentation Project MDP0346, 2016-2019), focuses on the documentation of Negidal. This highly moribund Northern Tungusic language comprises two dialects, Upper and Lower Negidal, which are/were spoken on the Amgun' and Lower Amur rivers in the Far East of the Russian Federation, respectively. To our knowledge, the Upper dialect is still spoken with varying degrees of proficiency by only seven women, of whom the youngest was born in 1955 and the oldest in 1915 or 1916. These speakers all live in the village of Vladimirovka or the nearby district centre Polina Osipenko village. The Lower Negidal dialect, in contrast, is no longer actively spoken, as we found during a trip to several villages along the Lower Amur river in August 2017 (Pakendorf & Aralova 2018 ).
The project will result primarily in an extensive corpus of interlinearized texts from the Upper dialect together with accompanying audio and some video recordings, which are being deposited in the ELAR Archive. The bulk of these recordings were made by a team of Russian linguists in 2005-2010 and are now being annotated by us. In the course of our project we are adding some new recordings, including videos. On the one hand, these involve speakers not included in the prior corpus; on the other, they cover genres that are as yet underrepresented, especially procedural texts.


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