Information about the current research projects of Tapani Salminen


Мой девиз: История нас рассудит (Бегемот в романе Михаила Афанасьевича Булгакова «Мастер и Маргарита»)


My research has been generously supported by the Academy of Finland.


Nenets Encyclopedic and Etymological Database (NEED)

The Nenets Encyclopedic and Etymological Database (NEED) is the most far-reaching of my personal research projects, designed to create an encyclopedic and etymological lexicon of the Nenets languages in an electronic form and to facilitate the publication of digital and printed dictionaries. Currently there exists a large database of Nenets lexical material, which consists of an update to the morphological dictionary of Tundra Nenets published in 1998, and a manuscript of a Forest Nenets dictionary, which is being edited for publication. The idea is to expand this database gradually so that it would first offer a user-friendly access to what is known of Nenets lexicon not only from a linguistic but also cultural as well as historical point of view, and later, in cooperation with several colleagues, cover other Samoyed languages as well. It would be my ultimate hope that the lexicon could in the long run function as a template for ethnolinguistic, etymological and lexicographic research on other indigenous languages in Siberia and beyond.

An ancillary objective of the project is the preparation of a more detailed analysis of Tundra Nenets and Forest Nenets derivational morphology, which could then be incorporated into full reference grammars including already published works on phonology and inflectional morphology and related studies on syntax carried out by my colleagues.


Many results of the project are already available online

Tundra Nenets sample sentence corpus compiled by Tapani Salminen

Tundra Nenets texts collected by Irina Nikolaeva, translated by Irina Nikolaeva and Tapani Salminen, and analyzed by Tapani Salminen in cooperation with Maria Barmich and other colleagues

Pieni metsänenetsi-tundranenetsi-metsäenetsi-tundraenetsi-nganasaani-venäjä-suomi-sanasto [A brief Forest Nenets-Tundra Nenets-Forest Enets-Tundra Enets-Nganasan-Russian-Finnish vocabulary] compiled by Tapani Salminen (an expanded version of Pieni metsänenetsi-tundranenetsi-venäjä-suomi-sanasto which is available on request) and the accompanying list of Forest Nenets inflectional types (which explains the inflectional codes used in the vocabulary)

Tundranenetsi-suomi-perussanasto (kolmas, osittain korjattu laitos) [Tundra Nenets-Finnish basic vocabulary (third, partly revised edition)] compiled by Atte Aholainen & Petri Tapio Heikkonen & Sirpa Hutukka & Jaakko Häkkinen & Kimberli Mäkäräinen & Auli Oksanen & Tapani Salminen

Tundra Nenets lexis with instructions (contains the bulk of the relevant Tundra Nenets data)

Tundranenetsin murteet [Tundra Nenets dialects] (covers all major instances of variation in the language)

Tundra Nenets grammatical sketch by Tapani Salminen (last updated 1 March 2012)


Printed publications related to the project include

Tapani Salminen: Russian vocabulary in Tundra Nenets. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Aikakauskirja 84 (1992): 201–222.

Tapani Salminen: Tundra Nenets inflection. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 227; Helsinki 1997.

Tapani Salminen: A morphological dictionary of Tundra Nenets. Lexica Societatis Fenno-Ugricae 26; Helsinki 1998.

Tapani Salminen: Nenets. — The Uralic languages. Edited by Daniel Abondolo. London & New York: Routledge, 1998. 516–547.

F. Ackerman & T. Salminen: Nenets. — Encyclopedia of language & linguistics. Second edition. Editor-in-chief Keith Brown. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2006. 8: 577–579.

Tapani Salminen: Notes on Forest Nenets phonology. — Sámit, sánit, sátnehámit. Riepmočála Pekka Sammallahtii miessemánu 21. beaivve 2007. Doaimmahan Jussi Ylikoski ja Ante Aikio. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 253; Helsinki 2007. 349–372.

Tapani Salminen: Das tundranenzische Personennamensystem. — Europäische Personennamensysteme: ein Handbuch von Abasisch bis Zentralladinisch. Anlässlich der 65. Geburtstage von Rosa Kohlheim und Volker Kohlheim. Herausgegeben von Andrea Brendler und Silvio Brendler. Hamburg: Baar, 2007. 752–759.

Tapani Salminen: Huomioita lintujen nimityksistä. — Sanoista kirjakieliin. Juhlakirja Kaisa Häkkiselle 17. marraskuuta 2010. Toimittaneet Sirkka Saarinen, Kirsti Siitonen ja Tanja Vaittinen. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 259; Helsinki 2010. 343–358.

Tapani Salminen: Traces of Proto-Samoyed vowel contrasts in Nenets. — Per Urales ad Orientem: Iter polyphonicum multilingue. Festskrift tillägnad Juha Janhunen på hans sextioårsdag den 12 februari 2012. Edited by Tiina Hyytiäinen, Lotta Jalava, Janne Saarikivi & Erika Sandman. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 264; Helsinki 2012. 339–358.

Tapani Salminen: Suomalais-samojedilaisia muotovertailuja. — Juuret marin murteissa, latvus yltää Uraliin. Juhlakirja Sirkka Saarisen 60-vuotispäiväksi 21.12.2014. Toimittaneet Nobufumi Inaba, Jorma Luutonen, Arja Hamari ja Elina Ahola. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 270; Helsinki 2014. 301–317.


My recent teaching in the field includes

autumn 2008 Johdatusta tundranenetsiin [Introduction to Tundra Nenets]

autumn 2010 Tundranenetsin murteita ja kielihistoriaa [Dialectological and historical study of Tundra Nenets]

spring 2011 Metsänenetsin kieltä [Basics of Forest Nenets]

autumn 2011 Metsänenetsin kielioppia ja tekstejä [Forest Nenets grammar and texts]

spring 2012 Samojedin kielihistoriaa [Historical study of the Samoyed languages]

autumn 2012 Luoteis-Siperian kielikontaktit [Language contacts in north-western Siberia]

autumn 2012 Pohjoisten samojedikielten vertailevaa kielioppia [Comparative grammar of the northern Samoyed languages]

autumn 2013 Tundranenetsin kielioppia ja tekstejä [Tundra Nenets grammar and texts]

autumn 2013 till spring 2014 Johdatusta samojedikieliin [Introduction to the Samoyed languages]

autumn 2014 Tundranenetsin kansanrunoustekstejä [Tundra Nenets folklore texts]


Various teaching materials are available on request.


Manuscripta Castreniana Jurak-Samoiedica

Manuscripta Castreniana Jurak-Samoiedica is a research project intended to create critical editions of the invaluable collection of Nenets manuscripts by M. Alexander Castrén covering linguistic, ethnological ja folkloristic data both in digital and printed form. This interdisciplinary project will provide new information about Castrén’s activities and their historical significance, the grammar, lexicon and history of the Tundra Nenets and Forest Nenets languages as well as the content and structure of the Nenets oral literature. The digital edition will complement Castrén’s manuscripts through metadata, thus enabling novel interpretations and opening the material to the international scholarly community and the Nenets people interested in their language and cultural heritage.

My role in the project is to supervise and guide the encoding and editing process as well as to compile extensive analysis and commentary on the linguistic material. Recent publications of mine directly contributing to the project include

Tapani Salminen: A reappraisal of M. Alexander Castrén’s Forest Nenets records. — Remota relata: essays on the history of Oriental studies in honour of Harry Halén; сборник научных статей по истории востоковедения к шестидесятилетию Г. Т. Галена. Edited by Juha Janhunen and Asko Parpola. Studia Orientalia 97; Helsinki: Finnish Oriental Society, 2003. 263–277.

Tapani Salminen: Castrén, Matthias Alexander (1813–1852): suomen kielen ja kirjallisuuden professori. — Suomen kansallisbiografia 2. Studia biographica 3:2; Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2003. 156–160.

Tapani Salminen: Маттиас Александр Кастрен (1813–1852): профессор финского языка и литературы. — Сто замечательных финнов: калейдоскоп биографий. Под редакцией Тимо Вихавайнена. Studia Biographica 5; Хельсинки: Общество Финской Литературы, 2004. 8: 5. 228–235.

Tapani Salminen: Lehtisalo, Toivo (1887–1962): samojedilaisen kieli- ja kansatieteen dosentti. — Suomen kansallisbiografia 5. Studia Biographica 3:5; Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2005. 834–835.

Tapani Salminen: Castrén, Matthias Alexander. — Biografiskt lexikon för Finland. 2, Ryska tiden. Skrifter utgivna av Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland 710:2; Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland & Stockholm: Atlantis, 2009. 146–151.


In its current form, the project has been initiated by Karina Lukin and supported by the Finno-Ugrian Society and its president Ulla-Maija Forsberg together with numerous colleagues including Anna-Leena Siikala, Juha Janhunen and Lotta Jalava. Approximately one fourth of the relevant manuscripts have already been encoded and partly analyzed, but a large amount of work lies ahead. On the basis of the large amounts of highly interesting data especially of Tundra Nenets dialects as well as many unpublished details about other relevant aspects present in the manuscripts, and in particular on the occasion of Castrén’s bicentennial,  I will dedicate a major part of my working time to the project, irrespective of the fact that the exact form of financing is still pending.


Studies in Language Endangerment and Language Classification

On the initiative of the late Stephen Wurm in 1993, I was asked to compile the European section of the Unesco Red Book Report on Endangered Languages, in addition to which I cooperated with Juha Janhunen in the preparation of the parallel Northeast Asian section. The project led to numerous subsequent publications, and an on-going survey of endangered language and the classification of languages in general. Recent publications of mine directly contributing to the project include

Tapani Salminen: The rise of the Finno-Ugric language family. — Early contacts between Uralic and Indo-European: linguistic and archaeological considerations. Edited by Christian Carpelan, Asko Parpola and Petteri Koskikallio. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 242; Helsinki 2001. 385–396..

T. Salminen: Problems in the taxonomy of the Uralic languages in the light of modern comparative studies. — Лингвистический беспредел: сборник статей к 70-летию А. И. Кузнецовой. Москва: Издательство Московского университета, 2002. 44–55.

Tapani Salminen: Languages, language boundaries and language communities in Europe and beyond. — I Seminari Internacional de Llengües Minoritaries: ponencies i comunicacions; Ist International Seminar on Lesser Used Languages: proceedings. Angel V. Calpe Climent, coord. Serie Filologica 26; Valencia: Real Academia de Cultura Valenciana, 2003. 53–62.

Tapani Salminen: Chapter 10: Endangered languages in Europe. — Language diversity endangered. Edited by Matthias Brenzinger. Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 181; Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 2007. 205–232.

Tapani Salminen: Europe and North Asia. — Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages. Edited by Christopher Moseley. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2007. 211–281.

Tapani Salminen: Europe and the Caucasus. — Atlas of the world’s languages in danger. Third edition, entirely revised, enlarged and updated. Editor-in-chief: Christopher Moseley; cartographer: Alexandre Nicolas. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 2010. 32–42.


My recent teaching in the field includes

autumn 2011 Siperian alkuperäiskansojen historia ja nykytila [The history and current status of the indigenous peoples of Siberia]

spring 2013 / autumn 2014 Maailman kielet ja niiden luokittelu [The languages of the world and their classification]


The main online database is the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger in which the entries covering the languages of Europe, Siberia, northern China as well as Japan were prepared by me. I have meanwhile stopped updating the Unesco Red Book Report files at my site but will work on incorporating their contents into the latest Atlas data.


Cooperation with other projects

I am an associate researcher in the project A comparative grammar of the Samoyed languages led by Larisa Leisiö, with Irina Nikolaeva and Anna Urmanchieva as members.

I bring scholarly expertise to the project Morfologisten jäsentimien luominen suomalais-ugrilaisille vähemmistökielille led by Jack Rueter, in particular in cooperation with Sven-Erik Soosaar on the Tundra Nenets subproject.

I act as an adviser to the project Oral History of Empires by Elders at the Arctic Centre, with Florian Stammler, Stephan Dudeck, Roza Laptander, and Rudolf Havelka focusing on the Nenets data.