A dash and a smile. Nenets language can acquire twenty new letters
16:06 19 февраля 2019
Категории: News in English
The Nenets alphabet can acquire twenty new letters. A diacritical mark over vowels in the form of a hyphen (a dash) is used to indicate their longness and a half-sphere (a smile) — to indicate their shortness.
The big discussion with participation of deputies, editors of the ethnic newspaper, philologists and experts of Nenets language took place in the parliament of Yamal. The initiator of such changes, doctor of historical sciences Yelena Pushkaryova assures that the language will only benefit from this — it will become easier, clearer and will avoid confusion between literal and semantic meanings of words and expressions. After all, the meaning of absolutely identical words in Nenets language depends on longness and shortness of vowels. For example, the word “khan” depending on the length of a vowel can mean “narty – nomadic sleighs” and “a sacrifice”, the same story with many other words. “Mad” can be both “barking” and “a mountain pass”.
“My proposals are already being used, for example, on Taymyr; their newspaper is published with such marks. It is elementary: three hundred years ago Russian language had melodic accents, now – tonic accents. Nenets language has melodic accents – long, short and normal vowels. If to look deeper there are even ultra-short vowels and the meaning of a word depends on it”, as Yelena Pushkaryova commented.
In her endeavors Pushkaryova is not alone; however, she also has opponents. After all, introduction of the marks only above one letter will give two new full letters, and it is planned to change ten at once.
A deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Yamal Edward Yaungad, perhaps, is the only legislator, who is fluent in native language. He communicates with reindeer herders and fishermen in tundra and on ethnic trading stations. However, he speaks for detailed discussion – after all, such changes will require to revise dictionaries and introduce the marks into text editors.
“The first books in Nenets language were published in the late 19th century. They used the Russian alphabet without several letters. In 1931 the alphabet was created on the Latin basis, thus, mass publication of textbooks, newspapers and fiction literature was started. In 1937 the Nenets alphabet, like alphabets of other ethnic groups, was translated into Cyrillic. Scientific thought and activity never stands still. Of course, this issue requires deep and detailed discussion”, said the chairman of the committee of the Legislative Assembly of Yamal on state structure, local self-government and public relations and the president of the Association “Yamal is for descendants” Edward Yaungad.
The idea to change the length of vowels does not look easy. The mechanism of bringing in changes to dictionaries is not written at the legislative level today. Regions can take their own decisions, but Nenets people also live far beyond the region and read books of different book publishers. One thing remains — to negotiate and to adopt a law one for all.