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Andrew Shimunek, Fulbright Fellow, Indiana University-Bloomington

Khamnigan: Documenting and Describing the Endangered Language of a Northern Mongolic People

December 3rd, 2009, 5pm Room 305, Building No. 5 NUM

Andrew Shimunek
Andrew Shimunek
Khamnigan, also known as Khamnigan Mongol, is a highly endangered Mongolic language spoken today by perhaps less than 50 people in northeastern Mongolia, the majority of whom are over the age of 70. Previously, a certain portion of the Khamnigan ethnic group in Khentii and Dornod was characterized by bilingualism in this Mongolic language, and one or more uniquely Khamnigan dialects of the Tungusic language Ewenki. The Khamnigans of Selenge, until very recently, also spoke a Tungusic language, although this language, Yöröö Khamnigan, seems to have been very different from the Khamnigan Ewenki spoken in Khentii and Dornod.

This talk aims to present some results from recent fieldwork undertaken in northern Khentii and Selenge, discussing, among other things, the geographic distribution of Khamnigan-speaking communities in Mongolia, lexical and morphological innovation in Khamnigan Mongol, conservative phonological characteristics aligning the language with Middle Mongol, Tungusic substratal elements in its lexicon, the internal dialectal diversity of Khamnigan Mongol, an attempt to devise a practical Cyrillic orthography for writing this previously unwritten language, and a treatment of what little is known about the recently extinct Yöröö Khamnigan language of Selenge.

Andrew Shimunek is a Fulbright Fellow in Mongolia, conducting fieldwork on the Khamnigan Mongol language. He holds a dual M.A. in Linguistics and Mongolian Studies (Indiana University, 2007), and is currently pursuing a dual Ph.D. in Linguistics and Mongolian Studies at Indiana University. His academic interests lie in linguistic fieldwork, historical linguistics, Mongolic, Tungusic, Sinitic, and Turkic languages, as well as Chinese language pedagogy.

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