Kerek Language


Kerek is an extinct (“dormant”) Chukotko-Kamchatkan language. Currently, there are no people who can produce a coherent text in Kerek, although descendants of its speakers calling themselves Kereks are still living. It is possible that there are still the so-called “semi-speakers” of Kerek who can recall a few words in the language and understand a few simple sentences in Kerek, but there is no conclusive proof that such people do exist.

Kerek language

Until the end of its existence, Kerek was used purely at homes and apparently only by the elderly people who knew the language. In the 1930s, ethnographers and linguists first began studying Kereks and their idiom, and in the 1950s, Kerek was “raised ” from the continuum of Koryak dialects to the status of a language. Its critical status became immediately apparent, yet there is very little sociolinguistic and historical linguistic information in published research on the circumstances of Kerek’s existence.

The sea coast near Mainypilgyno
General characteristics

Both indirect historical information and ethnographic evidence indicate that once-numerous Kereks had been assimilated by the Chukchi and, to a lesser degree, by Koryaks before the arrival of the Soviet system. After the founding of the USSR, the last Kereks speaking their language turned out to be living in the Chukotka Autonomous Area, an administrative unit dominated by the Chukchi culture and language tradition that was being gradually pushed out by the Soviet Russian-language tradition.

Interactive atlas of indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East