Ös in US Geography Bee

As reported in the Seattle Times today, Ös known as Чулымский язык in Russian and Chulym in English (clw) was in one of the questions of the final round of the National Geographic Bee (think spelling bee, but with geography questions).

As posted in the article, the question was: Chulym, an endangered language with fewer than 20 fluent speakers, is still spoken along a river with the same name that flows through the Tomsk Oblast in what large country? See the answer by hovering your mouse here.

The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire provides an introduction to the Chulym Tatars and the language.

Although the Ös or Chulym people traditionally do not have a written language, Vassilij Gabov, one of the few native speakers left, devised one for a journal he kept based on the Cyrillic alphabet. This remarkable feat was brought to light by linguist K. David Harrison, as detailed in the Science & Spirit article “Lost in Translation“. As detailed in the 2002 article, an elementary primer and children’s storybook were planned to be forthcoming. Additionally, a documentary “The Last Speakers” details Harrison’s and Greg Anderson’s work with the Ös.

Harrison and Anderson have also published two texts as “Shaman and bear: Siberian prehistory in two Middle Chulym texts“. Harrison is interviewed in 2004 by NPR’s Robert Siegel in “Disappearing Languages Recorded in Siberia“.

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