Tundra Nenets Grammar
Tapani Salminen, Finno-Ugrian Society
Major Documentation Project. Duration: 2003-2006. £39,000
Tundra Nenets belongs to the Samoyed branch of the Uralic language family. It is spoken by approximately 25,000 people in Arctic Russia and north-western Siberia.
The grammar of Tundra Nenets, especially its syntax, is not well documented, and no collection of glossed texts is available. The purpose of the project is to develop a book-length description of Tundra Nenets in a transparent and theory-neutral manner, augmented with annotated texts and a vocabulary.
The team consists of Tapani Salminen, a researcher in Nenets and other Samoyed languages, Irina Nikolaeva, with a special field of expertise in typology and Uralic languages, and Farrell Ackerman, a theoretical linguist with a focus on Uralic languages.
Ongoing project description:
We will invite Tundra Nenets teachers to Helsinki for work meetings at least twice a year, as well as obtain data during fieldtrips to Siberia.
In its three and half years of activity, the Tundra Nenets grammar team had nine meetings in Finland, of which five were primarily aimed at investigating syntax, one was focused on morphological and lexical questions, and three large ones addressed a broad range of grammatical issues. Furthermore, two field sessions in the Tundra Nenets country were organized, and two of the Tundra Nenets participants continue to be active in collecting necessary data in the field. We believe that we were able to cover the issues that we promised to address in a satisfactory manner.
Especially the many lacunae in our understanding of Tundra Nenets syntactic structures are now largely filled, and the phonological, morphological and lexical corpora are more or less complete. The cooperation among the professional linguists and the native specialists in our team was smooth and highly fruitful. The work of our team has been widely publicized in Tundra Nenets media, but the impact of our activity on Tundra Nenets society can obviously be fully assessed only after our publications are ready and distributed. The final outcomes of our project will include two publications, a monograph whose working title is "Tundra Nenets grammar with a focus on syntax", which we intend to have published in an internationally renowned series of academic grammars and which will also include a thematic vocabulary and a bibliography, and an electronic publication, fully available in a CD format and for applicable parts on the web, which consists of recorded texts and their glossed transcriptions and translations as well as an electronic multilingual dictionary, photographs, maps, and related essays and presentations.