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Kamass Paperback – 1999


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Kamass is one of the Samoyed languages, extinct to date, relatively little investigated but of considerable interest from the point of view of historical linguistics. The Samoyed and Finno-Ugric languages together form the Uralic family of languages. The Kamass native speakers lived in Siberia, on the northern slopes of the Sayan mountains. Earlier they were reindeer rearers of shamanistic faith. Up to date they have changed to using Russian or some local Turkic language and become agriculturists. The first written records about the Kamass language date back to the year of 1721. The author of this outline is the last gleaner of the Kamass linguistic facts whose last informant died in 1989. Kamass is supposed to have had the Koibal dialect, the latter, however, has left us nothing more in writing than about 600 words. Likewise, the main Kamass dialect itself was divided into two subdialects. The number of the native speakers of Kamass was very small years ago already, perhaps a couple of hundreds only. Kamass never had an alphabet of its own, to say nothing about having its own written language or school instruction. In Kamass a strong phonetical and lexical influence by the neighbouring Turkic languages can be observed. Due to the scarcity of Kamass written records, it is possible to report only an approximate phonological characterization and a few basic features of syntax. On the other hand, a comparatively good picture can be obtained about its morphology and lexicology, there are also a few longer texts available.

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