EASTERN KHANTY, RUSSIA
The Eastern Khanty were traditionally subsistence hunters and fishermen and their culture was born in and is especially adapted to the middle taiga and swamp ecosystem, while in most cases now it is more assimilated to a mainstream rural Russian life-style. Although according to the 2003 comprehensive census approximately 30% of Khanty in Tomsk Region (total 700 prs.) maintain some level of mother tongue proficiency, the census of 2010 does not show more than 10 Khanty speakers out of 718 ethnic Eastern Khanty in the region. This corresponds to our own field surveys (2000-2014) showing that Eastern Khanty of Tomsk region effectively has ceased to be used as a means of daily communication. The proposed Eastern Khanty dialects currently total not more than 20 speakers distributed among 2 river dialects, and hardly any multimedia documentation exists for these dialects. Only speakers over 50 have preserved a degree proficiency in the language, numbering less than 5-7 speakers. The number of so called semi-speakers, capable of remembering words and maintaining very restricted basic conversations in Khanty does not exceed 40, principally placing these dialects in the group of languages in the imminent danger of extinction within a single generation, i.e. ‘moribund’. For the prevailing majority of the Eastern Khanty dialects the situation of neglect and discrimination has been a reality. Speakers have been ridiculed by the mainstream majority, children are not taught the language, and in some cases were persecuted for speaking their mother tongue in boarding schools. The common ethnonym ostyak is often perceived as pejorative, while the stereotypes about Khanty among the general public remain uninformed. All Khanty speakers are bilingual with Russian being the language of daily communication across ethnic groups. Khanty is undergoing a steady decrease of the functional sphere, reserved exclusively for occasional family use, rare peer communications and extremely rare traditional religious (shamanism) contexts.