- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
96

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
are dogs, and sometimes also horses. (5) Finally there
are the Kamassintses, who live on the northern slope
of the Sayan Mountains as an isolated Samoyede tribe.
The languages of these main stems are different,
and they are again divided into smaller tribes, which
speak different dialects. The Samoyede languages are
chiefly known through Castrén’s pioneer work, but
since his time little attention has been paid to them
until within the last few years, when the young Finnish
philologist, Kai Donner, has travelled in the districts
adjoining the Obi and Yenisei, and has at present
chiefly studied the language of the Ostiak-Samoyedes.
He informs me that these Samoyedes, who may be
about 3000 in number, speak more than twenty different
dialects. Since the various Samoyede tribes have lived
scattered over such immense tracts of country, and
since we may further reckon, as he says, that they
must have separated from each other at least 2000
years ago, it is not to be wondered at that there should
be a good deal of difference among them and their
languages.
The reason for the Samoyede languages no longer
håving so great a diffusion on the south as they once
had may be assumed to be that other cultures with
other languages have forced their way in and super
seded the earlier culture. Then the Samoyede-speaking
peoples, have either been driven away, or rather,
perhaps, have adopted by degrees the other culture and
its language, in the same way as wc know certain
Samoyede tribes, such as the Tubins and Mators, to
have tåken to speaking Turkish or Tatar, with the
result that they are now counted as Turks and Tatars.
The Samoyedes are, of course, among the primitive
races who are not benefited by contact with European
civilization, and who are therefore on the decline. It
96

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