Towards a typological profile of the North Siberian substrate

2021. №5, 26-58

Valentin Yu. Gusev
Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia;


The paper deals with a number of typologically rare features present in the languages of Northern Siberia (Nenets, Enets, Nganasan, Ewenki, Neghidal, Ewen, to some extent also Yukaghir and Chukchi); these features are: interrogative mood of the verbs, intraclitics, nominal tense, polysemy ‘real’ / ‘autochtonous’. They are absent in the languages spoken to the south, including other Uralic and Tungusic languages, thus being of clearly areal character. On the other hand, none of the existing languages can be regarded as a source of these features, so that their origin must be due to a common substrate. Interestingly, all the four features are well attested in the Eskaleut languages. These features allow us to make some hypotheses about the typological profi le of the languages spoken in Northern Siberia about 1000–2000 years ago. They must have been diff erent from the Uralo-Altaic type, but probably were typologically close to the present-day Eskaleut (Unangan-Yupik-Inuit).

For citation:

Gusev V. Yu. Towards a typological profile of the North Siberian substrate. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2021, 5: 26–58.


Research underlying this paper was supported by Russian Science Foundation grant No. 17-18-01649.