Russian dialects in East Siberia and Kamchatka

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           Alexander Krasovitsky, Ph.D.                               
Russian Language Institute
               (Russian Academy of Sciences)

The focus of the project is the situation of the long-term language contact in Russian outpost communities in the tundra area of Siberia and in the Kamchatka Peninsular. The communities in question emerged as result of Russian colonization of northern territories in the 17th century (in Siberia) and in the 18th (in Kamchatka). Large-scale migration from European Russia that in the course of time completely modified the ethnographic and linguistic situation in Siberia and Far East during a long time did not affect small Russian outpost communities in remote and hard-to-reach areas. Old settlers there preserved the lifestyle and the language of their ancestors, namely of the mixed Slavic–indigenous population which inhabited Russian townships and strongholds in the early years of colonization. Each of these communities developed its own variant of the language influenced by environment and social situation.

The problem of contact areas with Slavonic element in Siberia at first caught up my mind in 1997 in the course of the expedition to Russkoye Ustye on lower Indigirka (Yakutia). At that time my professional activities were concentrated around archaic Russian dialects and Professor Christian Sappok (Ruhr University, Germany) invited me to join him in the expedition with the intent to record and to investigate a dialect that should have preserved extremely old features through its isolation from traditional Russian speaking territory for about four centuries. The idea of this expedition was prompted by Professor Leonid kasatkin (Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences). Our work there as well as our posterior expeditions to other Russian townships in Yakutia and Kamchatka ensured me that interethnic contacts to a great extent determined the linguistic history and current state of the language varieties spoken in the communities in question.

The preliminary research of the four varieties with the focus on segmental phonetics and prosody was carried out within the frames of the project “The Language of the Old Settlers of Siberia” at Department of Phonetics of the Russian Language Institute (Russian Academy of Sciences) in collaboration with Seminar fuer Slavistik (Ruhr University, Bochum, Professor Christian Sappok).

In 2003 the project “Russian in Siberia. Acoustic Database and Contact Phenomena” was granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation ( and from November 2003 till November 2004 the research was being implemented at the Seminar fuer Slavistik of the Ruhr University (Germany).


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This page is created by Georgy Krasovitsky. 
Last updated: 10-11-04.