This dictionary undertakes to reconstruct the lexis and morphology of the Nivkh proto-language by marshaling and organizing all the data available in published form on the contemporary dialects. It builds upon a considerable body of descriptive and comparative work carried out by scholars who have worked with this typologically unique “Paleosiberian” isolate in the past. Although the time depth between the four “dialects” of Nivkh is relatively shallow, the complex morphophonemics of the language allows for quite deep internal reconstruction. Moreover, the differences between the dialects is considerable. Mutual understanding between speakers of the Amur dialect and the East Sakhalin one is low, and still lower between the Amur and the South Sakhalin dialects, all three of which may in fact be regarded as separate languages. The relationship of Nivkh to anything else either in Asia or the New World is a subject of continuing interest to both linguists and anthropologists. The dictionary does not address this question directly. Reconstructing the proto-language is an essential step, however, to any further comparative work – in particular to sorting out the relationship between Nivkh and the other “Paleosiberian” languages.
ISBN 9783862886876 (Hardbound). Languages of the World/Dictionaries 62. 199pp. 2016.
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