The Samoyedic languages are spoken on both sides of the Ural mountains, in northernmost Eurasia, by perhaps 30,000 speakers altogether.
The Samoyedic languages derive from a common ancestral language called Proto-Samoyedic, and together with the Finno-Ugric languages the Samoyedic languages form the Uralic language family.
The term Samoyedic
is derived from the Russian term samoyed
(самоед) for some indigenous peoples
. It is sometimes considered derogatory because its etymology
has been interpreted as originating from Samo-yed: "self-eater". Therefore sometimes the word Samodeic
is suggested by some ethnologists
. Other interpretations of Samoyedic etymology suggest that the term originates from an expression same-edne
, meaning the Land of the Sami peoples
The language and respective ethnic groups include:Northern Samoyedic
- Enets (Yenets, Yenisei-Samoyed), the tribe by the Yenisei River, spoken by the Enets people
- Nenets (Yurak), spoken by the Nenets people
- Nganasan (Tavgy, Tavgi, Tawgi, Tawgi-Samoyed), spoken by the Nganasan people
- †Yurats, a now extinct language that was spoken in the Yenisei River regionSouthern Samoyedic
- †Kamassian (Kamas), a now extinct language
- †Mator (Motor), a now extinct language
- †Koibal, a now extinct language
- Selkup (Ostyak-Samoyed), spoken by the Selkups
At present, Samoyed territory extends from the White Sea to the Laptev Sea, along the Arctic shores of European Russia, including southern Novaya Zemlya, the Yamal Peninsula, the mouths of the Ob and the Yenisei and into the Taimyr peninsula in northernmost Siberia. Their economy is based on reindeer herding. They are contiguous with the trans-Ural Ugric speakers and the cis-Ural Permic Finns to the south, but they are cut off from the Baltic Finns by the Russians in the west. In the east dwell traditionally the north Turkic Yakut. A substantial Samoyed city grew up at Mangazeya in 16th century as a trade city, to be destroyed at the beginning of the 17th century.
The Southern Samoyedic languages historically ranged across a wide territory in central Siberia, extending from the basin of the Ob River in the west to the Sayan-Baikal uplands in the east. Of these languages, only the Selkup language has survived to the present day.