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Request for information: Siberia
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Author:  Alon [ Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Request for information: Siberia

Let's say, completely hypothetically, that I was inspired by an XKCD map and a redrawing based on actual geographic projections, and want to set an RPG campaign in that world. It involves people in the far east of the Asian landmass, in Europe and the nearby islands (Wa, Malaya, etc.), traveling to the far west, to China, to trade and obtain exotic goods such as olives. Adjusting Europe and China to this setting is not hard given what I know of both. But in between, there's Siberia, about which I know very little. The language I can get enough tidbits about from articles and online dictionaries that I can come up with city names, but I don't know much about the culture. Everything I've seen is very recent and Russocentric, and a lot of the cultural attributes seem to revolve around the climate, which isn't relevant in this setting. What should I read about indigenous cultures of Siberia to resolve this?

Author:  Vijay [ Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Request for information: Siberia

This is just a crude solution, but for whatever it's worth, I'd like to suggest just reading about the cultures of individual groups of people in Siberia, starting with Wikipedia if nothing else, and also taking a look at this and maybe this.

You could probably look around for songs in the region, or I could probably even show you some because I've probably dug up a bunch of YouTube videos of them anyway. :P

Author:  Alon [ Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Request for information: Siberia

Ooh, do you have links to the YouTube songs?

Author:  Vijay [ Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Request for information: Siberia

Yep! Lemme just dig 'em up...there are all kinds of languages spoken in Russia (including outside of Siberia, e.g. Mordvinic languages, plus all those Caucasian languages), so the hardest part for me is always trying to figure out which ones are from Siberia and which are from parts of Russia that don't count as Siberia. :P (Btw if you haven't already, you might want to look into those cultures as well, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordvins# ... ythologies). For instance, I'm not entirely sure whether Nenets counts as "Siberian," but I'll assume it does since it is spoken in Siberia, too.

(Forest?) Nenets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_nmRwpLAB8
Southern Altai: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WEJxqS91aA
Tuvan (this is probably the only Tuvan song I know of that DOESN'T prominently feature throat singing, lol): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orB-GthCj9o
Khakas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDw9KQ-e_ik
Shor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMwBqrE4qtc
Siberian Tatar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLYz3MbUMQw
Selkup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV6fD8td_Uo
Khanty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpJAfmKGEjo
Mansi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRiDXumd1Og
Nganasan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUJWCKccBwQ
Evenki: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DlWAacQJQQ (NOTE: Although Evenki itself is spoken in Siberia and the pictures in the video are from there, the song is from China and performed by a Mongolian family that's pretty famous there)
Buryat (might have some Khalkha Mongolian, too, although I don't think so): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI1nyFzCiA4
Sakha (3 songs, one rock, one rap, and one folk): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO7Zg5u_9aE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNa038MBgHk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEQxFOY ... e=youtu.be
Nanai: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7VxZ9DUrLw
Udege: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zXee2wbEnQ
Nivkh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y1r6NFkF-c
Oroch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4lqNejmuQ8
Southern Yukaghir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikiB1nOq_iE (gloss, translation, and background story)
Itelmen? (Or maybe just Russian lol): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYQ42vxFmrM
Chukchi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf7hyCjqkLQ
Even: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcPorbhKE14
Koryak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BUJ9l7gosk
Siberian Yupik (video is from Alaska where most speakers live): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQu4tZnd2NY
Aleut (video is from Alaska where most speakers live): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6_dtJHoS3g

Author:  Rory [ Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Request for information: Siberia

What a great idea! Siberia is a fascinating area. I have uploaded maps of the geographic distribution of indigenous Siberian groups here:

The first map is the distribution circa the 17th century, before the Russians had really expanded. The second map shows the situation around the mid 20th century.

The first map just has language families; within each coloured area there are many different languages and groups. The second map has more details of which particular languages and groups were in which areas, as we have better documentation from that time period.

(Incidentally, the Russian expansion into Siberia mirrors very much other European colonizations of indigenous spaces like the US, Canada, Australia, and Mexico.)

Are you close to an academic library? If so, there are several general books I can recommend
Forsyth, James. 1991. A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia's North Asian Colony 1581-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kolga, Margus, Igor Tõnurist, Lembit Vaba & Jüri Viikberg (eds). 2001. The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire. Tallinn: NGO Red Book

The London-based NGO Minority Rights Group International occassionally publishes information on particular peoples (usually relating to their oppression by a local authority), and they have done several on Siberian peoples.

For grammars and other reference texts for more detailed linguistic information on particular languages:
Abondolo, Daniel. 1998. The Uralic languages. London: Routledge.
Bugaeva, Anna. 2004. Grammar and folklore texts of the Chitose dialect of Ainu subtitle (idiolect of Ito Oda). Osaka: ELPR.
De Reuse, Willem Joseph. 1988. Studies in Siberian Yupik Eskimo morphology and syntax. The University of Texas in Austin PhD Dissertation.
Dunn, Michael John. 1999. A grammar of Chukchi. Australian National University PhD Dissertation. Canberra: Australian National University.
Gruzdeva, Ekaterina. 1998. Nivkh. München: Lincom Europa.
Harrison, Kevin David. 2000. Topics in the phonology and morphology of Tuvan. Yale University PhD Dissertation.
Janhunen, Juha (ed.). 2003. The Mongolic languages. London: Routledge.
Johanson, Lars & Csato, Eva (ed.). The Turkic languages. London: Routledge.
Körtvély, Erika (2005). Verb Conjugation in Tundra Nenets. Studia Uralo-altaica, 46. Szeged: Benjamins.
Künnap, Ago. 1999. Kamass. München: LINCOM.
Maslova E. 2003. A grammar of Kolyma Yukaghir. (Mouton Grammar Library 26). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Nedjalkov, Igor. 1997. Evenki / London : Routledge, xxii, 344 p. ; 24 cm. Series: Descriptive grammars
Nikolaeva, Irina & Tolskaya, Maria. 2001. A grammar of Udihe. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Patrie, James. 1982. The genetic relationship of the Ainu language / Honolulu : University Press of Hawaii. Series: Oceanic linguistics special publication ; no. 17
Poppe, N. N. 1960. Buriat grammar / Bloomington : Indiana University. 129 p. ; 22 cm. Series: Uralic and Altaic series ; v. 2
Riese, Timothy. 2001. Vogul / München : Lincom Europa. 87 p. ; 21 cm. Series: Languages of the world. Materials 158.
Salminen, Tapani. 1997. Tundra Nenets inflection. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura.
Salminen, Tapani. 1998. A Morphological Dictionary of Tundra Nenets. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura.
Shibatani, Masayoshi. 1990. The languages of Japan / Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
Vajda, Edward J. 2004. Ket / Muenchen : Lincom Europa. Vi, 99 p : 21 cm. Series: Languages of the World. Materials v.204

(Apologies for the inconsistent citation style!)

There are also some academics who post a lot of their materials online, for example:

If you can read Russian, there's also a lot of Soviet-era documentation of indigenous languages. A note of caution, however: while in English, "Siberia" refers to everything east of the Urals, the Russian term sibir' apparently excludes the easternmost reaches, which have a separate designation.

Author:  hwhatting [ Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Request for information: Siberia

Rory wrote:
A note of caution, however: while in English, "Siberia" refers to everything east of the Urals, the Russian term sibir' apparently excludes the easternmost reaches, which have a separate designation.

Yes, the Easternmost part is called Дальный Восток "Far East"; on this map it's the light orange region along the Pacific coast, while the red and dark orange areas are Siberia proper in the Russian geographical tradition:

Author:  Frislander [ Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Request for information: Siberia

Rory wrote:
I have uploaded maps of the geographic distribution of indigenous Siberian groups here:http://imgur.com/a/MipW7

Wow, the Yukaghir have taken a hit, haven't they.

Author:  mèþru [ Thu Jul 07, 2016 2:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Request for information: Siberia

The area in red on hwatting's map is an administrative region called the Siberian Federal District.

Author:  Nortaneous [ Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Request for information: Siberia

re: music, there's some here http://cambodianfunkyodeler.tumblr.com/tagged/russia

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