Table of contents

Note: you are free to use the material on this website for academic research purposes or for teaching. However, you do NOT have permission to use this material for any commercial purpose whatsoever.

This is a website for linguists interested in learning something about the grammatical structure of Chukchee and who either don't read Russian or have difficulty gaining access to Russian-language sources.

The following chapters are an expanded version of notes I prepared when teaching Chukchee for one year on a one-year masters degree scheme at the (then) Polytechnic of Central London. The degree scheme included a compulsory course 'Structure of a Selected Language' and I offered to teach Chukchee when the teacher who was to have delivered that course, teaching an entirely different language, fell seriously ill. The notes were therefore put together rather hastily. They were based on some of the rather sparse English-language research literature which deals with Chukchee (including Bogoras's 1922 grammar), but they are mainly based on the two-volume descriptive grammar of the language published by P. Ja. Skorik (1961, 1977). Throughout these sketches, where you see page references of the kind I:139 or II:201 these refer to volumes one and two respectively of Skorik's grammar. These pages are essentially a re-cycled handout, so you will find that they sometimes lack any but the most basic annotation or explanation. However, I hope to gradually edit them into better shape as time goes by.

Much of the information presented here, especially in the earlier chapters, is also to be found in Bogoras (1922). However, since I had this material to hand on files I have not tried to edit out redundancies nor have I done an explicit comparison of the two grammars. In part this is because Bogoras (1922) will not be easily accessible to a good many Internet users, and in part because it is useful in any case to have as much of the grammar on one set of web pages. In addition, the Bogoras grammar is written in a transcriptional system which is a little more difficult to decipher than the one used here (which is more 'morphophonemic' than 'narrow phonetic'). Also, some of the grammatical explanations in Bogoras's grammar cleave too closely to standard European descriptions (especially where certain tense/aspect forms and the antipassive constructions are concerned). Nonetheless, readers with a serious interest in Chukchee should definitely consult Bogoras since it still retains its usefulness and is full of interesting observations and examples. All of Bogoras's examples, as far as I can tell, are taken from his field notes and from folk tales he collected.

I must stress that I have never had an opportunity to do field work on Chukchee and I have had only the most limited experience with native speakers. I do not speak the language myself, so that my knowledge of Chukchee is entirely structural. There is therefore nothing original on these pages, and all the information here is due to the painstaking work of those linguists who have actually worked on the language, first and foremost (apart from Skorik himself) to V. P. Nedjalkov, of the Institute of Linguistics at the Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg.

It is necessary to make a few remarks about my primary grammatical source. Skorik's grammar is remarkable for its scope and for the wealth of grammatical detail it provides and also for the sheer number of linguistic examples cited. There are, of course, a few misprints, though comparatively few as far as I can tell. A large number of the example sentences Skorik provides appear to have been constructed, and it is not clear to what extent these reflect contemporary usage. However, most of the constructions Skorik discusses also appear in what seem to be naturalistic examples (that is, examples which from their content appear to have been taken from attested texts of some sort, or which contain conversational particles, of the kind which are very frequent in the language, but which are entirely missing from the constructed examples). Moreover, the overall structure of the language as described by Skorik is very different from either literary or colloquial Russian. Nonetheless, users of these grammatical sketches should bear in mind that there is considerably difficulty in ascertaining "the facts" of language in cases such as Chukchee, which has been undergoing rapid change.

I would, of course, welcome comments about these pages, especially their readability on various kinds of browsers. I will shortly make available .pdf files which will include slightly better formatting and phonetic symbols.


You can find links to other chapters as well as to this homepage at the bottom of each chapter.



Chapter 1. Introduction

chapter 1 table of contents

Chapter 2. Phonology

chapter 2 table of contents

Chapter 3. Noun inflection (declension)

chapter 3 table of contents

Chapter 4. Verb inflection (finite conjugation)

chapter 4 table of contents

Chapter 5. Transitivity and transitivity alternations

chapter 5 table of contents

Chapter 6. Further transitivity alternations

chapter 6 table of contents

Chapter 7. Verb morphology (non-finite forms)

chapter 7 table of contents

Chapter 8. Analytic constructions

chapter 8 table of contents

Chapter 9. Verb derivation

chapter 9 table of contents

Chapter 10. Noun derivation

chapter 10 table of contents






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This page created on 11 July 1999.

Last modified 16 July 1999.