Group of four unrelated language families spoken in northeastern Asia. Believed to have covered much larger areas of Siberia and perhaps Manchuria in the past, they have lost ground to Uralic and Altaic languages and more recently to Russian (see Siberian peoples). Of the Yeniseian languages, the only survivors are Ket, spoken by fewer than 500 people, and the virtually extinct Yug. The two extant Yukaghir languages (which are believed by some specialists to belong to the Uralic languages), North, or Tundra, Yukaghir and South, or Kolyma, Yukaghir, together have fewer than 100 speakers. The Chukotko-Kamchatkan (Luorawetlan) family includes Chukchi, with about 10,000 speakers in extreme northeastern Siberia; Koryak, with fewer than 5,000 speakers south of Chukchi; and Itelmen, spoken on the Kamchatka Peninsula by fewer than 100 people. The two Nivkh (Gilyak) varieties, Amur Nivkh and Sakhalin Nivkh, together have fewer than 1,000 speakers.
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