Chukchi is a Chukotko-Kamchatkan language spoken in eastern Siberia, mainly in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. According to the 2010 census there are about 5,000 speakers of Chukchi, which is also known as Chukchee, Chukot, Chuchi, or Chuchee. The Chukchi call themselves Ԓыгъоравэтԓьэн (Lyg'oravetl'en), which means "the real people". The name Chukchi is an Anglicized version of a Russian adaptation of Čävča (a man who is rich in reindeer), which is what the Chukchis' Tungusic-speakers neighbours call them.
There are two groups of Chukchi: the Tundra or Interior Chukchi (Chavchu - reindeer men) and the Costal Chukchi (Ankalyn - costal men). The majority of Chavchu speak Chukchi and resit Russian language and culture, while most of the Ankalyn under 50 speak Russian in addition to Chukchi. Many Chukchi also speak Yakut, Lamut, and/or Yukaghir.
Chukchi was first written at the beginning of the 20th century. Before then one Chukchi man named Tenevil had devised a pictographic script, however this was only used in his camp. The first official script for Chukchi was a version of the Latin alphabet devised in 1931 by Vladimir Bogoraz, a Russian revolutionary exiled to Chukotka. He also wrote a grammar of Chukchi, and an ethnographic study of the Chukchi. In 1937 the Latin alphabet for Chukchi was replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet. This was revised in the 1950s and 1980s.
A few books and newspapers in Chukchi have been published. Chukchi is can also be heard on radio and television for about an hour a day, and is used as a medium of instruction in primary schools.
The letters Бб, Дд, Жж, Зз, Сс, Фф, Хх, Цц, Шш and Щщ are only used for loanwords.
Information about Chukchi pronunciation compiled by Wolfram Siegel, with corrections by Captain Lokason.
Photos of the Chukchi people
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