The Nenets language from census to census (according to the data for the Nenets of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District)

Volzhanina E.A. (Tyumen, Russian Federation)


                  page 126137


This article deals with changes in the language situation among the Nenets of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District based on published and unpublished data of the All-USSR and All-Russian Censuses in the second half of the 20th and the first decade of the 21st centuries. Statistical facts allow us to see and analyze the situation in the whole district. According to the historiographic review, such detailed analysis among the Nenets on the base of mass statistical data has not been carried out. The article analyzes knowledge and command of languages among the Nenets, their distribution according to the native languages including the Nenets people living in towns and rural settlements, the distribution of urban and rural Nenets by age groups, native and second languages. The differences between men and women are accentuated. Results of the research demonstrate that the current language situation among the Nenets of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District surely shows a distribution and knowledge of the Russian language in the first decade of the 21st century and a high level of bilingualism. These can be considered as an influence of modern processes of globalization and internationalization, formation of an information society, the growth of urban and sedentary population and of the level of education, appearance of new occupations among them. Involvement of reindeer herders in the world process of economic, political and cultural integration is inevitably accompanied by the acquiring of values and stereotypes of the dominant Russian society and therefore by an increasing number of people who can speak Russian. Sometimes it occurred to the detriment of their native Nenets language. The function of the Nenets language is being narrowed while the ethnic consciousness is preserved at a high level. Nevertheless, we can mention some differences for a local group of the Nenets. The level of proficiency in native language is higher in regions where nomadic reindeer herders live. On the contrary, this level is lower in areas considered as a periphery of the reindeer breeding where fishing traditionally plays a big role in their subsistence, and the way of life is semi-sedentary or sedentary. It can be predicted that the number of the Nenets who know and use the Russian language, including as a mother tongue will only grow. According to the data of the last All-Russian Census, the intensity of linguistic assimilation by the Russian speaking majority has been developing faster in comparison with previous years.


Key words: the Nenets, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, All-Russia census, All-USSR census, language situation, population distribution by sex, age and language.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2018-40-1-126-137




E.A. Volzhanina

Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Malygina st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation