I'm making a table of features related to language families that exist in Northeast Asia, but I can't find out if I'm not good at searching.

What is the word order in the relative clauses (WALS 90A) of Koryak, Nganasan, Selkup, and West Greenlandic?

1 Answer 1


As for Nganasan, see A Grammar of Nganasan, 2018, BRILL, by Beáta Wagner-Nagy. In short, it says that the relative clauses are usually participial constructions, the adverbial clauses stick to the usual Nganasan SOV word order.
The same goes about Selkup, if it it is really a clause, the word order is SOV. The only grammar that deals with the Selkup subordinate clauses I have is the 1935 Soviet Селькупский (остяко-самоедский) язык. часть 1 - Селькупская грамматика by Прокофьев Г. Н. (“The Selkup (Ostyak-Samoyed) Language. Part 1 – A Selkup Grammar”, 1935, Prokofyev G. N.), §141 pp. 98–100, in Russian and Selkup in the then Latin-based orthography. The author maintains that subordinate clauses are pretty rare in Selkup and that participial constructions are more preferred.

Unfortunately, I have no data on the other two languages you have mentioned.

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    West Greenlandic is polysynthetic and may well not have relative clauses either, nor for that matter any syntactic S, O, or V order. The distinction between word and clause is fairly week. Oh, and West Greenlandic is not a language of Northeast Asia.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 14:25
  • @jlawler - Koryak can be related to West Greenlandic in the long perspective, and surely the speakers of West Greenlandic came from Northeast Asia.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 14:48
  • All North American Indian languages came from Northeast Asia at one time or another over the last 20K years. The Dene family does seem to have relatives among Siberian languages, but not the Eskimo-Aleut family. It's almost circumpolar.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 15:12
  • @jlawler - Western Greenlandic is a part of the Eskimo–Aleut language family which directly contacts the Koryak language, at least geographically. If they have no genealogic connections, the areal contact features are surely to be found.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 21:24

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