Tundra Enets

Brief Information

1.    Areal and settlement pattern (briefly).
Separate speakers in localities, separate speakers in different camping sites.

2.    What is the number of ethnic group members and language speakers?
According to census data, the number of Enets (Tundra and Forest) is about 200 people. It is not possible to estimate reasonably the size of the ethnic group. 
There are about 15 speakers of TE.

3.    Local varieties (dialects, local varieties of dialects, dialect groups)
There are some differences in speech of Tundra Enets of Vorontsovo and Tundra Enets of Tukhard tundra.

4.    Variants of the language name (autoethnonym, exoethnonym).
Autoethnonym is сомату (Somatu), exoethnonym is маду (Madu)

5.    Traditional lifestyle and religion
Hunting and fishing, reindeer breeding. Religion is shamanism.


Alongside with Forest Nenets, Tundra Nenets, Forest Enets, and Nganasan languages, it belongs to the Northern Samoyedic subgroup of the Samoyedic group of the Uralic family. 
Specifically close to Forest Enets.

Taymyrsky Municipal District of the Krasnoyarsk Krai.

Таймырский муниципальный район Красноярского края

Dialects and their distribution

Language contacts and multilingualism

For the Eastern Tundra Enets TE-Nganasan bilingualism was typical (but at the present moment there are no Eastern TE speakers, in Avamsk Tundra as well)

In Tukhard Tundra Tundra Enets – Nenets bilingualism is typical, Nenets language is the dominant one.

All of the known TE speakers know Tundra Nenets.

In the late 2000s, there were a few elderly people with native Nenets or Nganasan, who spoke the Tundra Enets language, which was the native language of their spouses, but at the present moment no one outside the TE ethnic group speaks it.

Of course, all of the TE speakers know Russian.

Language functioning

Enets as a single language appears as the language of indigenous minorities, but TE as a separate language does not have such status, and Enets language support is usually limited to Forest Enets language support.

There is no writing system.

There is no language standardization.

Dynamics of language usage

The language is spoken only by the elder generation. These are mostly people born in the 1950s-1960s, and only a few representatives of the older generation.

The situation was changing to the reduction of the number of speakers.

Besides the generally known factors of the negative dynamics of the functioning of minority languages, the dispersion of native speakers played a negative role in the case of TE.

Approximately in the 1930s there was a significant migration from the lower reaches of Yenisei river to the East with the following assimilation by the Nganasans.

In the 1970s, the Vorontsov reindeer breeders were sent to the Levinskiye Peski, and then to the Tukhard Tundra, which led to the assimilation by the Nenets. Currently, the Tukhard Tundra Enets do not interact with each other on a daily basis.

Transmission of the language to children was interrupted approximately in the beginning of 1970s.

Language structure


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Исследование языка

Morphology was described by M.A. Castrén (Castrén 1854) based on data gathered in the 1840s.

In the 1970s and 1980s, expeditions were undertaken by I.P. Sorokina, A.I. Kuznetsova and her students, Ya.A. Gluhi and V.A. Susekova (some data on phonetics was gathered during the last ones), K.I. Labanauskas.

In the 1990s the expeditions of E.A. Helimski and A.Yu. Urmanchieva were carried.

In 2008-2010 and 2017 the expeditions of O. V. Khanina and A. B. Shluinsky were conducted.

Language experts

Anna Yu. Urmanchieva

A number of studies on grammar and historical phonetics.

Research centres


Core references

Grammatical descriptions: grammars, sketches

Castrén, M. Alexander. 1854. Grammatik der samojedischen Sprachen. St. Petersburg: Buchdruckerei der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Khanina, Olesya & Shluinsky, Andrey. 2021 (in press). Forest and Tundra Enets // Abondolo, Daniel & Valijarvi, Riitta (eds.), Uralic Languages. London: Routledge.


Helimski, Eugen. Ms. Materialy k slovarju èneckogo jazyka [Materials for an Enets dictionary]. https://www.slm.uni-hamburg.de/ifuu/download/helimski-enzisch.zip

Selected papers on grammatical issues

Grushkina E.V. 1980. Periferiynye komponenty temporal'nosti v enetskom yazyke (na materiale dialekta madu) [Peripheral components of Temporality in the Enets Language (based on the Madu Dialect)] // Aktual'nye problemy strukturnoy i prikladnoy lingvistiki. Moscow: MSU, 55-61.

Urmanchieva A.Yu. 2006. Vremya, vid ili modal'nost'? Glagol'naya sistema enetskogo yazyka [Tense, aspect or modality: the Enets verbal system] // Voprosy yazykoznaniya 4. 84-100.

Labanauskas K. 1982. K izucheniyu proshedshikh vremen nenetskogo i enetskogo yazykov [On studying the past tenses of Nenets and Enets]  // Sovetskoe finno-ugrovedenie 18. 125-134.

Labanauskas K. 1987. Die probabilitiven Formen des Enzischen // Sovetskoe finno-ugrovedenie 23(4). 275-284

Ryzhova E.YU. 1982. Sistema prichastiy v severnom dialekte enetskogo yazyka [System of participles in north dialect of Enets]// Sovetskoe finno-ugrovedenie 18. 201-207.

Khanina O., Shluinsky A. 2014. A rare type of benefactive construction: Evidence from Enets // Linguistics 52(6), 1391–1431, DOI: 10.1515/ling-2014-0025.

Khanina, Olesya. 2018. Documenting a language with phonemic and phonetic variation: the case of Enets. Language documentation and conservation 12, 430-460.

Khanina O., 2016. Sochinitel'nye strategii enetskogo yazyka [Coordination strategies in Enets] // Uralo-altayskie issledovaniya 21, 131-148.

Khanina O., Shluinsky A. Emphatic transcategorial morphology: a cross-linguistically rare phenomenon in Enets // Austin, Peter K., Oliver Bond, David Nathan & Luty Marten (eds.). Proceedings of Conference on Language Documentation and Linguistic Theory 3. 19-20 November 2011, SOAS, London. London: University of London, 2011. P. 171-181. 

Khanina O. V., Shluinsky A. B. Emfaticheskie otritsatel'nye glagoly v enetskom yazyke [Emphatic Negative Verbs in Enets]. // Vestnik Tomskogo gosudarstvennogo pedagogicheskogo universiteta. 2012. 116(1). pp. 115-121.

Khanina O. V., Shluinsky A. B. Imperativnye formy v enetskom yazyke [Imperative forms in Enets] // Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. Works of ILS RAS. Volume XI, part 2. pp. 610-626. 

Khanina, O.V., Shluinsky, A.B. (2015). Pryamoy ob"ekt v enetskom yazyke: ob"ektnoe soglasovanie glagola [Direct object in the Enets language: object matching of the verb], // Tipologiya morfosintaksicheskikh parametrov [Typology of morphosyntactic parameters], No. 2. Ed. E.A. Lyutikova, A.V. Zimmerling, M.B. Konoshenko. М.: MSUH, 2015. 392-410.

Khanina, O.V., Shluinsky, A.B. Enetskiy perfekt: diskursivnye upotrebleniya u evidentsial'no-admirativnogo perfekta [Enets perfect: discursive use in the evidential-admiral perfect], In Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. Trudy instituta lingvisticheskikh issledovanii RAN [Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. Proceedings of the Institute of Linguistic Research RAS], XII(2), 2016. pp. 425-474.

Shluinsky, Andrey. 2018.ontekstnoe deeprichastie v dialektakh enetskogo yazyka [Contextual converb in Enets dialects]. // Uralo-Altayskie issledovaniya [Ural-Altaic studies]. 2018, No. 4. P. 233-246.

Khanina, Olesya & Andrey Shluinsky. 2019. Sistema form s referentsiey k budushchemu v enetskom yazyke [Future reference forms in Enets] // Tomskiy zhurnal lingvisticheskikh i antropologicheskikh issledovaniy [Tomsk Journal of Linguistics and Anthropology] 1(23). 2019, №1 (23). pp. 83-96.

Khanina, Olesya and Andrey Shluinsky. 2019. Intransitive verbs in Enets: A contribution to the typology of split intransitivity. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft. 38(1): 1-36. 

Khanina, Olesya; Shluinsky, Andrey. 2020. Competing ditransitive constructions in Enets // Functions of Language 27(3), pp. 247–279. 

Shluinsky, A.B. 2020. Morfologicheskie osobennosti neleksicheskikh glagolov v enetskom yazyke [Morphological pecularities of non-lexical verbs in Enets]. Acta Linguistica Petropolitana (Trudy instituta lingvisticheskikh issledovanii RAN) XVI(3). 

Shluinsky, Andrey. 2020. Noun phrase in Enets // Eesti ja soome-ugri keeleteaduse ajakiri / Journal of Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics 11(2).

Publications of texts

Labanauskas K. I. 2002. Rodnoe slovo: enetskie pesni, skazki, istoricheskie predaniya, traditsionnye rasskazy, mify [Native word. Enets songs, folktales, historical tales, traditional stories, myths]. SPb, Prosveshchenie.

Sorokina I.P., Bolina D.S. 2005. Enetskie teksty [Enets texts]. SPb. Nauka.

Работы по социолингвистике

Shluinsky, A.B., Khanina, O.V. 2016. Enetskiy yazyk [Enets]. In: Mihal’chenko, V. Yu. (ed.). Yazyk i obshchestvo: entsiklopediya. Moscow: Azbukovnik. P. 588-593.

Khanina O., Koryakov Yu., Shluinsky A. 2018. Enets in space and time: a case study in linguistic geography // Finnisch-Ugrische Mitteilungen 42, Helmut Buske Verlag, 109-135.

Khanina, Olesya & Yuri Koryakov. 2018. Mapping the Enets speaking people and their languages // S. Drude, N. Ostler & M. Moser (eds.), Endangered languages and the land: Mapping landscapes of multilingualism, Proceedings of FEL XXII/2018 (Reykjavík, Iceland), 69–77. London: FEL & EL Publishing. http://www.elpublishing.org/itempage/4011 

Khanina, Olesya & Miriam Meyerhoff. 2018. A case-study in historical sociolinguistics beyond Europe: reconstructing patterns of multilingualism in a linguistic community in Siberia. Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics, 4(2), 221-251. 

Khanina, O. V. 2019. Praktiki mnogoyazychiya v nizov'yakh Eniseya: opyt sotsiolingvisticheskogo opisaniya situatsii v proshlom [Multilingual Practices in the Lower Yenisei Area: a Sociolinguistic Study of the Past]. Tomskiy zhurnal lingvisticheskikh i antropologicheskikh issledovaniy 23, 2019, 9-28.

Khanina, Olesya. 2021. Enets-Russian language contact // Grenoble, Lenore & Forker, Diana (eds.) Language contact in the territory of the former Soviet Union (Studies in Language Variation). New York: Benjamins.

Khanina, Olesya. 2021. Languages and ideologies at multilingual reaches of Lower Yenisei (Siberia). International Journal of Bilingualism, Special issue 'Typology of small-scale multilingualism' guest edited by Nina Dobrushina, Olesya Khanina & Brigitte Pakendorf.

Работы по этнологии

Dolgikh, B. O. 1946. O rodoplemennom sostave i rasprostranenii entsev [On clan composition and distribution of Enets]. Sovetskaya etnografiya 4, 109-124.

Dolgikh B. O. 1949. Kolkhoz im. Kirova Taymyrskogo natsional'nogo okruga [Kirov Collective Farm of the Taimyr National District] // Sovetskaya etnografiya 4, 75-94.

Khelimsky E. A. 1981 / 2000. Etimologicheskie zametki po enetskoy onomastike [Etymological notes on Enets onomastics] // Sovetskoe finno-ugrovedenie 17(2), 119-130. Reprint in Khelimsky E. A. 2000. Komparativistika. Uralistika. M.: Yazyki russkoj kul'tury.

Dolgikh, B.O. (1962). Bytovye rasskazy entsev [Household stories of the Enets]. Moscow: Publication of the AS USSR.

Dolgikh B.O. 1961. Mifologicheskie skazki i istoricheskie predaniya entsev [Mythological folk-tales and historical legends of the Enets people]. Moscow: Publication of the AS USSR.

Vasilyev V.I. 1979. Problemy formirovaniya severo-samodiyskikh narodnostey [Problems of formation of the North-Samoyed peoples]. Moscow: Nauka.

Krivonogov V. P. 2007. Narody Taymyra v nachale XXI veka [Peoples of Taimyr at the beginning of the XXI century]. Krasnoyarsk: KSPU named after V.P. Astafyev. 


Corpora and text collections

Labanauskas K. I. 2002. Rodnoe slovo: enetskie pesni, skazki, istoricheskie predaniya, traditsionnye rasskazy, mify [Native word. Enets songs, folktales, historical tales, traditional stories, myths]. SPb, Prosveshchenie.
Sorokina I.P., Bolina D.S. 2005. Enetskie teksty [Enets texts]. SPb. Nauka.
Collection of texts glossed by O.V. Khanina and A.B. Shluinsky (about 8 hours of spoken language including the recordings made during personal field works as well as the archived ones).
Khanina, O.V. 2017. Vozmozhnosti tsifrovykh tekhnologiy: opisanie allofonov perednikh glasnykh, gortannogo smychnogo i ob"ektnogo soglasovaniya glagola v enetskom yazyke [Advantages of digital technologies: A description of front vowel allophones, of a glottal stop, and of verbal object cross-reference in Enets]. // // Uralo-altayskie issledovaniya 3 (26), 186-207.
Khanina, Olesya. 2017. Digital resources for Enets: a descriptive linguist’s view. Acta Linguistica Academica: an international journal of linguistics (Acta Linguistica Hungarica), 64 (3), 417-433.
Unpublished texts glossed by A. Yu. Urmanchieva 
Unpublished texts glossed by V. Yu. Gusev.
Other electronic resources
Helimski, Eugen. Ms. Materialy k slovaryu enetskogo yazyka [Materials for an Enets dictionary]. https://www.slm.uni-hamburg.de/ifuu/download/helimski-enzisch.zip

Corpora and text collections

Other electronic resources

Helimski, Eugen. Ms. Materialy k slovarju èneckogo jazyka [Materials for an Enets dictionary]. https://www.slm.uni-hamburg.de/ifuu/download/helimski-enzisch.zip

Other electronic resources

Data for this page kindly provided by

Andrey Shluinsky and Olesya Khanina