Hunter Gatherer Research

‘The track is never the same’

The fluidity of geographic terminology and conceptualisation of space among Ewenki

Hunter Gatherer Research (2018), 4, (3), 311–337.

Abstract

This paper analyses landscape terminology in Ewenki, one of the Tungusic languages spoken by indigenous hunters and reindeer herders in Siberia, using examples of three key conceptual categories: ‘mountain’ / elevation, flat terrain and river terms. Based on linguistic data obtained from 14 Ewenki communities across a large, diverse geographic terrain, semantic analysis suggests that the system of landscape terminology in Ewenki is heterogeneous with significant variations in the meaning of landscape terms and categories one can observe across the dialect continuum. The uniqueness of the Ewenki landscape terminology lies in the fact that the same term can reference completely different landscape features, remaining semantically linked to all of these objects. This variation in meaning is especially evident in terms for ‘plains’, as this type of landscape is particularly prone to transformations in their Siberia homeland. These changes reflect the Ewenki people’s unique nomadic engagement with the land, their flexible adaptation to new ecosystems and their perception of landscapes as being constantly changing or fluid. The relationships between the meanings of the terms across the dialect continuum are considered within ethnophysiography and ontology of the geographic domain.

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References

Aporta, C 2004. Routes, trails and tracks: trail breaking among the Inuit of Igloolik. Etudes/Inuit Studies 28(2):9–38. Google Scholar

Aporta, C 2005. From map to horizon; from trail to journey: documenting Inuit geographic knowledge. Etudes/Inuit Studies 29(1–2):221–231. Google Scholar

Atknine, V 1997. The Evenki language from the Yenisei to Sakhalin. Northern minority languages: problems of survival. In Shōji, H & Janhunen, J (eds) Senri ethnological studies. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology:109–121. Google Scholar

Basso, KH 1996. Wisdom sits in places: landscape and language among the Western Apache. Alburquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Google Scholar

Boas, F 1934. Geographical names of the Kwakiutl Indians. Columbia University Contributions to Anthropology 20. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Boas, F 1940. Race, language and culture. New York: Macmillan. Google Scholar

Brabyn, L & Mark, DM 2011. Classifying landscape character. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea D (eds) Landscape in language: transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company:395–409. Google Scholar

Brandišauskas, D 2017. Leaving footprints in the Taiga: luck, spirits and ambivalence among the Siberian Orochen reindeer herders and hunters. New York, Oxford: Berghahn. Google Scholar

Burenhult, N & Levinson, SC 2008. Language and landscape: a cross-linguistic perspective. Language Sciences 30:135–150. Google Scholar

Burenhult, N, Hill, C, Huber, J, van Putten, S, Rybka, K & San Roque, L 2017. Forests: the cross-linguistic perspective. Geographica Helvetica 72:455–464. Google Scholar

Census 2010. Vserossiyskaya perepis naseleniya 2010. Vol 1. Chislennost i razmechshenie naseleniya. http://www.gks.ru/free_doc/new_site/perepis2010/croc/perepis_itogi1612.htm. Google Scholar

Cresswell, T 2004. Place: a short introduction. Oxford: Blackwell. Google Scholar

Cruikshank, J 2005. Do glaciers listen? Local knowledge, colonial encounters, and social imagination. Vancouver, Toronto: University of British Columbia. Google Scholar

Davidson-Hunt, I & Berkes, F 2010. Journeying and remembering: Anishinaabe landscape ethnoecology from northwestern Ontario. In Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books:222–240. Google Scholar

Ermolova, NV 2007. Reka v treh mirah evenkiyskoy vselennoy. In Pavlinskaya, LR (ed) Reki i narody Sibiri. St Petersburg: Nauka:87–126. Google Scholar

Feng, C-C & Mark, DM 2017. Cross-linguistic research on landscape categories using GEOnet names server data: a case study for Indonesia and Malaysia. The Professional Geographer 69(4):567–578. Google Scholar

Holton, G 2011. Differing conceptualizations of the same landscape: the Athabaskan and Eskimo language boundary in Alaska. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea, D (eds) Landscape in language. transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company:225–239. Google Scholar

Hunn, ES 1996. Columbia Plateau Indian place names: what can they teach us? Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 6(l):3–26. Google Scholar

Hunn, ES & Meilleur, BA 2010. Toward a theory of landscape ethnoecological classification. In Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books:15–26. Google Scholar

Ingold, T 2000. The perception of the environment: essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. London, New York: Routledge. Google Scholar

Istomin, KV 2011. The land to herd and the space to travel: comparing the categorizations of landscape among Komi and Nenets reindeer herding nomads. In Prager, L (ed) Nomadismus in der ‘Alten Welt’: Formen der Repräsentation in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart. Münster: LIT Verlag:233–256. Google Scholar

Janhunen, J 2012. The expansion of Tungusic as an ethnic and linguistic process. In Malchukov, AL & Whaley, LJ (eds) Turcologica 89. Recent advances in tungusic linguistics. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag:5–16. Google Scholar

Johnson, LM 2010. Trail of story, traveller’s path: reflections on ethnoecology and landscape. UA Press: Athabasca University. Google Scholar

Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) 2010. Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books. Google Scholar

Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES 2010. Introduction. In Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books:1–11. Google Scholar

Jordan, PD (ed) 2011. Landscape and culture in northern Eurasia. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Google Scholar

Kari, J 1989. Some principles of Alaskan Athabaskan toponymic knowledge in general and Amerindian ethnolinguistics. In Key, MR & Hoenigswald, H (eds) Remembrance of Stanley Newman. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter:129–151. Google Scholar

Kari, J (ed) 2010. Ahtna travel narratives: a demonstration of shared geographic knowledge among Alaska Athabascans, told by Jim McKinley, Frank Stickwan, Jake Tansy, Katie John and Adam Sanford. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center. Google Scholar

Kari, J 2011. A case study in Ahtna Athabascan geographic knowledge. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea, D (eds) Landscape in language, transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company:239–260. Google Scholar

Kroeber, AL 1916. California place names of Indian origin. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 12(2):31–69. Google Scholar

Kuhn, W 2011. Ontology of landscape in language. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea, D (eds) Landscape in language: transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company:369–379. Google Scholar

Lavrillier, A & Gabyshev, S 2017. An arctic Indigenous knowledge system of landscape, climate, and human interactions. Evenki reindeer herders and hunters. Fürstenberg/Havel: Kulturstiftung Sibirien. Google Scholar

Mamontova, N 2015. Khosunnye predaniya ilimpiiskikh ewenkov. Zhivaya starina 1:27–30. Google Scholar

Mamontova, N 2016. Language as a systematic foundation: Tungus-speaking groups in the Far East. Asian Ethnicity 17(1):48–66. Google Scholar

Mamontova, N In press. Taiga forest reindeer herders and hunters, subsistence, stewardship. In Thornton, TF & Bhagwat, S (eds) Handbook of Indigenous environmental knowledge: global themes and practice. London: Routledge. Google Scholar

Mamontova, N & Thornton, TF 2019. The multiperspectival nature of place names: Ewenki river naming and walking relationships with animals, spirits, and landscapes. Manuscript in the authors’ possession. Google Scholar

Mark, DM 1993. Toward a theoretical framework for geographic entity types. In Frank, AU & Campari, I (eds) Spatial information theory: a theoretical basis for GIS. Lecture notes in computer sciences no. 716. Berlin: Springer:270–283. Google Scholar

Mark, DM & Turk, AG 2003. Landscape categories in Yindjibarndi: ontology, environment, and language. In Kuhn, W, Worboys, M & Timpf, S (eds) Spatial information theory: foundations of geographic information science COSIT 2003. Kartause Ittingen, Switzerland, 24–28 September 2003. Berlin: Springer-Verlag:28–45. Google Scholar

Mark, DM, Smith, B & Tversky, B 1999. Ontology and geographic objects: an empirical study of cognitive categorization appeared. In Freksa, C & Mark, DM (eds) Spatial information theory: cognitive and computational foundations of geographic information science. Lecture notes in computer science no. 1661:283–298. Google Scholar

Mark, DM, Turk, AG & Stea, D 2010. Ethnophysiography of arid land: categories for landscape features. In Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books:27–45. Google Scholar

O’Meara, C & Bohnemeyer, J 2008. Complex landscape terms in Seri. Landscape Sciences 30(2–3):316–339. Google Scholar

Oetelaar, GA, Anderson, DG & Dawson, PC 2013. The hearth, the home and the homeland: an integrated strategy for memory storage in circumpolar landscapes. In Anderson, DG, Wishart, RP & Vate, V (eds) About the hearth: perspectives on the home, hearth and household in the circumpolar North. New York, Oxford: Berghahn:183–199 Google Scholar

Pennycook, A 2010. Language as a local practice. New York: Routledge. Google Scholar

Pennycook, A 2017. Translanguaging and semiotic assemblages. International Journal of Multilingualism 14(3):269–282. Google Scholar

Safonova, T & Sántha, I 2010. Walking mind: the pattern that connects Evenki land, companionship and person. In Bammé, A, Getzinger, G & Wieser, B (eds) Yearbook 2009 of the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society. München, Wien: Profil:311–323. Google Scholar

Shirokogoroff, SM 1928. Northern Tungus terms of orientation. Rocznik Orientai-istyczny W(IV):167–187. Google Scholar

Thornton, TF 2008. Being and place among the Tlingit. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Google Scholar

Thornton, TF 2011. Language and landscape among the Tlingit. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea, D (eds) Landscape in language: transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company:275–289. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1940. Ocherk grammatiki ewenkiyskogo (tungusskogo) yazyka. Narkompros RSFSR: Leningrad. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1958. Ewenkiysko-russkiy slovar. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoye izdatelstvo inostrannyh i natsionalnyh slovarey. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1963. Drevneyshchie geographicheskie predstavleniya ewenkov i risunki kart. Izvestiya vsesoyuznogo geographicheskogo obshchestva 4. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1965. Geograficheskaya terminologiya tungusskogo proishozhdeniya i tungusskie toponimicheskie suffiksy (archival document). The Archive of the Museum of Ethnology and Anthropology named after Peter the Great, Russian Academy of Sciences. F. 22, l. 1., c. 110. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1969. Ewenki: Istoriko-etnograficheskie ocherki (XVIII – nachalo XX veka). Leningrad: Nauka. Google Scholar

Whaley, LJ, Grenoble LA & Li, F 1999. Revisiting Tungusic classification from the bottom up: a comparison of Evenki and Oroqen. Language 75:286–321. Google Scholar

Williams, M, Kuhn, W & Painho, M 2012. The influence of landscape variation on landform categorization. Journal of Spatial Information Science 5:51–73. Google Scholar

Zalizniak AA, Bulakh, M, Ganenkov, D, Gruntov, I, Maisak, T & Russo, M 2012. The catalogue of semantic shifts as a database for semantic typology. In Koptjevskaja-Tamm, M & Vanhove, M (eds) New directions in lexical typology: linguistics, a special issue 50(3):633–669. Google Scholar

Aporta, C 2004. Routes, trails and tracks: trail breaking among the Inuit of Igloolik. Etudes/Inuit Studies 28(2):9–38. Google Scholar

Aporta, C 2005. From map to horizon; from trail to journey: documenting Inuit geographic knowledge. Etudes/Inuit Studies 29(1–2):221–231. Google Scholar

Atknine, V 1997. The Evenki language from the Yenisei to Sakhalin. Northern minority languages: problems of survival. In Shōji, H & Janhunen, J (eds) Senri ethnological studies. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology:109–121. Google Scholar

Basso, KH 1996. Wisdom sits in places: landscape and language among the Western Apache. Alburquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Google Scholar

Boas, F 1934. Geographical names of the Kwakiutl Indians. Columbia University Contributions to Anthropology 20. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Boas, F 1940. Race, language and culture. New York: Macmillan. Google Scholar

Brabyn, L & Mark, DM 2011. Classifying landscape character. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea D (eds) Landscape in language: transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company:395–409. Google Scholar

Brandišauskas, D 2017. Leaving footprints in the Taiga: luck, spirits and ambivalence among the Siberian Orochen reindeer herders and hunters. New York, Oxford: Berghahn. Google Scholar

Burenhult, N & Levinson, SC 2008. Language and landscape: a cross-linguistic perspective. Language Sciences 30:135–150. Google Scholar

Burenhult, N, Hill, C, Huber, J, van Putten, S, Rybka, K & San Roque, L 2017. Forests: the cross-linguistic perspective. Geographica Helvetica 72:455–464. Google Scholar

Census 2010. Vserossiyskaya perepis naseleniya 2010. Vol 1. Chislennost i razmechshenie naseleniya. http://www.gks.ru/free_doc/new_site/perepis2010/croc/perepis_itogi1612.htm. Google Scholar

Cresswell, T 2004. Place: a short introduction. Oxford: Blackwell. Google Scholar

Cruikshank, J 2005. Do glaciers listen? Local knowledge, colonial encounters, and social imagination. Vancouver, Toronto: University of British Columbia. Google Scholar

Davidson-Hunt, I & Berkes, F 2010. Journeying and remembering: Anishinaabe landscape ethnoecology from northwestern Ontario. In Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books:222–240. Google Scholar

Ermolova, NV 2007. Reka v treh mirah evenkiyskoy vselennoy. In Pavlinskaya, LR (ed) Reki i narody Sibiri. St Petersburg: Nauka:87–126. Google Scholar

Feng, C-C & Mark, DM 2017. Cross-linguistic research on landscape categories using GEOnet names server data: a case study for Indonesia and Malaysia. The Professional Geographer 69(4):567–578. Google Scholar

Holton, G 2011. Differing conceptualizations of the same landscape: the Athabaskan and Eskimo language boundary in Alaska. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea, D (eds) Landscape in language. transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company:225–239. Google Scholar

Hunn, ES 1996. Columbia Plateau Indian place names: what can they teach us? Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 6(l):3–26. Google Scholar

Hunn, ES & Meilleur, BA 2010. Toward a theory of landscape ethnoecological classification. In Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books:15–26. Google Scholar

Ingold, T 2000. The perception of the environment: essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. London, New York: Routledge. Google Scholar

Istomin, KV 2011. The land to herd and the space to travel: comparing the categorizations of landscape among Komi and Nenets reindeer herding nomads. In Prager, L (ed) Nomadismus in der ‘Alten Welt’: Formen der Repräsentation in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart. Münster: LIT Verlag:233–256. Google Scholar

Janhunen, J 2012. The expansion of Tungusic as an ethnic and linguistic process. In Malchukov, AL & Whaley, LJ (eds) Turcologica 89. Recent advances in tungusic linguistics. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag:5–16. Google Scholar

Johnson, LM 2010. Trail of story, traveller’s path: reflections on ethnoecology and landscape. UA Press: Athabasca University. Google Scholar

Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) 2010. Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books. Google Scholar

Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES 2010. Introduction. In Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books:1–11. Google Scholar

Jordan, PD (ed) 2011. Landscape and culture in northern Eurasia. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Google Scholar

Kari, J 1989. Some principles of Alaskan Athabaskan toponymic knowledge in general and Amerindian ethnolinguistics. In Key, MR & Hoenigswald, H (eds) Remembrance of Stanley Newman. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter:129–151. Google Scholar

Kari, J (ed) 2010. Ahtna travel narratives: a demonstration of shared geographic knowledge among Alaska Athabascans, told by Jim McKinley, Frank Stickwan, Jake Tansy, Katie John and Adam Sanford. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center. Google Scholar

Kari, J 2011. A case study in Ahtna Athabascan geographic knowledge. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea, D (eds) Landscape in language, transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company:239–260. Google Scholar

Kroeber, AL 1916. California place names of Indian origin. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 12(2):31–69. Google Scholar

Kuhn, W 2011. Ontology of landscape in language. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea, D (eds) Landscape in language: transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company:369–379. Google Scholar

Lavrillier, A & Gabyshev, S 2017. An arctic Indigenous knowledge system of landscape, climate, and human interactions. Evenki reindeer herders and hunters. Fürstenberg/Havel: Kulturstiftung Sibirien. Google Scholar

Mamontova, N 2015. Khosunnye predaniya ilimpiiskikh ewenkov. Zhivaya starina 1:27–30. Google Scholar

Mamontova, N 2016. Language as a systematic foundation: Tungus-speaking groups in the Far East. Asian Ethnicity 17(1):48–66. Google Scholar

Mamontova, N In press. Taiga forest reindeer herders and hunters, subsistence, stewardship. In Thornton, TF & Bhagwat, S (eds) Handbook of Indigenous environmental knowledge: global themes and practice. London: Routledge. Google Scholar

Mamontova, N & Thornton, TF 2019. The multiperspectival nature of place names: Ewenki river naming and walking relationships with animals, spirits, and landscapes. Manuscript in the authors’ possession. Google Scholar

Mark, DM 1993. Toward a theoretical framework for geographic entity types. In Frank, AU & Campari, I (eds) Spatial information theory: a theoretical basis for GIS. Lecture notes in computer sciences no. 716. Berlin: Springer:270–283. Google Scholar

Mark, DM & Turk, AG 2003. Landscape categories in Yindjibarndi: ontology, environment, and language. In Kuhn, W, Worboys, M & Timpf, S (eds) Spatial information theory: foundations of geographic information science COSIT 2003. Kartause Ittingen, Switzerland, 24–28 September 2003. Berlin: Springer-Verlag:28–45. Google Scholar

Mark, DM, Smith, B & Tversky, B 1999. Ontology and geographic objects: an empirical study of cognitive categorization appeared. In Freksa, C & Mark, DM (eds) Spatial information theory: cognitive and computational foundations of geographic information science. Lecture notes in computer science no. 1661:283–298. Google Scholar

Mark, DM, Turk, AG & Stea, D 2010. Ethnophysiography of arid land: categories for landscape features. In Johnson, LM & Hunn, ES (eds) Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books:27–45. Google Scholar

O’Meara, C & Bohnemeyer, J 2008. Complex landscape terms in Seri. Landscape Sciences 30(2–3):316–339. Google Scholar

Oetelaar, GA, Anderson, DG & Dawson, PC 2013. The hearth, the home and the homeland: an integrated strategy for memory storage in circumpolar landscapes. In Anderson, DG, Wishart, RP & Vate, V (eds) About the hearth: perspectives on the home, hearth and household in the circumpolar North. New York, Oxford: Berghahn:183–199 Google Scholar

Pennycook, A 2010. Language as a local practice. New York: Routledge. Google Scholar

Pennycook, A 2017. Translanguaging and semiotic assemblages. International Journal of Multilingualism 14(3):269–282. Google Scholar

Safonova, T & Sántha, I 2010. Walking mind: the pattern that connects Evenki land, companionship and person. In Bammé, A, Getzinger, G & Wieser, B (eds) Yearbook 2009 of the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society. München, Wien: Profil:311–323. Google Scholar

Shirokogoroff, SM 1928. Northern Tungus terms of orientation. Rocznik Orientai-istyczny W(IV):167–187. Google Scholar

Thornton, TF 2008. Being and place among the Tlingit. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Google Scholar

Thornton, TF 2011. Language and landscape among the Tlingit. In Mark, DM, Turk, AG, Burenhult, N & Stea, D (eds) Landscape in language: transdisciplinary perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company:275–289. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1940. Ocherk grammatiki ewenkiyskogo (tungusskogo) yazyka. Narkompros RSFSR: Leningrad. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1958. Ewenkiysko-russkiy slovar. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoye izdatelstvo inostrannyh i natsionalnyh slovarey. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1963. Drevneyshchie geographicheskie predstavleniya ewenkov i risunki kart. Izvestiya vsesoyuznogo geographicheskogo obshchestva 4. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1965. Geograficheskaya terminologiya tungusskogo proishozhdeniya i tungusskie toponimicheskie suffiksy (archival document). The Archive of the Museum of Ethnology and Anthropology named after Peter the Great, Russian Academy of Sciences. F. 22, l. 1., c. 110. Google Scholar

Vasilevich, GM 1969. Ewenki: Istoriko-etnograficheskie ocherki (XVIII – nachalo XX veka). Leningrad: Nauka. Google Scholar

Whaley, LJ, Grenoble LA & Li, F 1999. Revisiting Tungusic classification from the bottom up: a comparison of Evenki and Oroqen. Language 75:286–321. Google Scholar

Williams, M, Kuhn, W & Painho, M 2012. The influence of landscape variation on landform categorization. Journal of Spatial Information Science 5:51–73. Google Scholar

Zalizniak AA, Bulakh, M, Ganenkov, D, Gruntov, I, Maisak, T & Russo, M 2012. The catalogue of semantic shifts as a database for semantic typology. In Koptjevskaja-Tamm, M & Vanhove, M (eds) New directions in lexical typology: linguistics, a special issue 50(3):633–669. Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Mamontova, Nadezhda

Klyachko, Elena

Thornton, Thomas F