Tomsk State Pedagogical University

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Traditional Event Showcases Fairy Tales in Vanishing Languages of Russian Peoples

On March 21st, the Department of Languages of the Peoples of Siberia hosted the annual event «Tales in the languages of the peoples of Russia over a cup of tea». Participants from various cities across the country, including Tomsk, Asino, Kemerovo, and Moscow, convened online to share and discuss fairy tales in endangered languages and dialects, highlighting their cultural significance and potential for preservation. 

Originating in 2019 within a small circle of scholars at the Department of Languages of the Peoples of Siberia of the Institue of Foreign languages and International Communication of TSPU, the «Tales in the Languages of the Peoples of Russia» event has evolved to attract a broader audience over the years. It serves not only as a platform for experiencing the rich linguistic diversity of Russia's minority groups but also as a catalyst for language study and revitalization efforts. 

Токмашев«Russia is a mosaic of diverse cultures, each with its own distinct yet interconnected heritage. Despite the growing interest in Siberia's minority groups, their languages remain largely understudied, — remarks Denis Tokmashev, Senior Researcher at the Department of Languages of the Peoples of Siberia. — Our event aims to introduce audiences to captivating fairy tales from across our nation, fostering a deeper understanding of their culture. Ultimately, this endeavor contributes to a sense of patriotism rooted in cultural appreciation». 

In addition to featuring works in Ket, Chulym, Selkup, and Khanty languages, the recent gathering showcased fairy tales in Khakass and Shorian at the meeting. Among the captivating narratives were tales such as a story about a hare in Ket, «The Golden Jug» in Khakass, «Ide chasing a moose» in Selkup, a traditional tale in Taimyr pidgin (the language of ethnic groups), and «The flint and the wok» in Shorian. Attendees even had the privilege of listening to archival fairy tales unearthed during scientific expeditions, including "The Tale of Malafey" in Chulymsk and "Sevsiki" in Khanty. 

These events, held in the languages of Russia's diverse peoples, constitute an integral part of the university's extensive efforts to study and revitalize "dormant" languages and cultures. TSPU scientists are actively engaged in addressing both general and specific issues related to the internal variation and evolution of grammatical systems within the lesser-known languages of Russia, including Finno-Ugric, Samoyedic, Yenisei, and Altaic languages. The outcomes of their research are regularly published in esteemed academic journals such as the Tomsk Journal of Linguistic and Anthropological Research.

In a significant development, TSPU scientists secured funding in 2023 for the grant project titled "Integral description of Chulym-Turkic language based on the electronic corpus of language data". This leader of this project is the deputy director of the Institute of Foreign Languages and International Cooperation, Associate Professor Valeria Mikhailovna Lemskaya.

Not to be outdone by their mentors, students at the Institute, particularly members of the Student Scientific Association, are actively contributing to linguistic scholarship. Currently, they are in the process of preparing for the publication of the "Chuvash-Russian-German-English-Chinese Dictionary of Linguistic Terms," demonstrating their dedication to the advancement of linguistic studies across multiple language