Itelmen is a Chukotko-Kamchatkan with fewer than 100 speakers in the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia. It is the only surviving member of the Chukotko-Kamchatkan family. The majority of speakers are elderly and live in scattered settlements in the Koryak Autonomous Okrug. The language is no longer passed on within families, but in recent years there have been efforts to revive it and it is taught in a few schools, and used to on the radio.
Itelmen is also known as Western Itelmen or Kamchadal and was once spoken throught Kamchatka. Stepan Petrovich Krasheninnikov (Степан Петрович Крашенинников - 1711-1755), a Russian explorer, naturalist and geographer wrote the first detailed description of the language in the early 18th century. He identified three dialects which were mutally intelligible. There are currently two dialects: Sedanka and Xajrjuzovo (Ukä).
An Latin-based orthography for Itelmen was developed by the Polytechnic of the Nordic Peoples in Khabarovsk in 1932 and a few textbooks were published using it. This was a time when Itelmen children were being sent to boarding schools where they had to speak Russian, so Itelmen was rarely written and this orthography was abandoned in 1935.
A Cyrillic-based orthography developed by Aleksandr Volodin (Александр Моисеевич Володин) has been used since 1986 and a number of primary school textbooks and a Itelmen-Russian dictionary have been published in it.
Information about Itelmen alphabets provided by Wolfram Siegel and Michael Peter Füstumum
Source: Мэл ланом Луканк нкэлычэ. Евангелие от Луки на ительменском языке. Москва 2002.
Supplied by Wolfgang Kuhl
Information about the Itelmen language and people
Songs in Itelmen with English translations (PDF)