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This term refers to the people, not the language. It consists of the root нивх (Nivx) 'Nivkh; human being' plus the plural suffix -гу (-gu). The Nivkh term is /mer nivx tif/, that is, 'we people language', in the Southeast Sakhalin dialect: /ñiγvn duf/ 'Nivkh language'.
Nivkh has a three-way distinction of stops, which are found in the bilabial, dental, palatal, velar and uvular positions:
- Voiced stops: b d ɟ g ɢ
- Voiceless plain stops: p t c k q
- Voiceless aspirated stops: pʰ tʰ cʰ kʰ qʰ
There are four nasals, with the uvular member not represented: m n ɲ ŋ
Fricatives may be labiodental, alveolar-sibilant, velar, uvular or glottal:
- Voiced: v z ɣ ʁ
- Voiceless: f s x χ h
The other consonants are continuants: There are palatal and lateral members, plus two rhotics: one a voiced trill, the other a fricative similar to a voiceless form of Czech ř.
- Glides: l j rʃ r
There are six vowels:
- High: i u
- Middle: e ə o
- Low: a
Nivkh is written in Cyrillic characters, but contains several letters not encoded in the current Unicode standard. A PDF document displaying the Nivkh alphabet can be found here:
http://ee.www.ee/transliteration/pdf/Nivkh.pdf http://transliteration.eki.ee/pdf/Nivkh.pdf. (updated web address —Coroboy (talk) 18:25, 18 April 2012 (UTC))
Feel free to verify the accuracy of this listing, then post in a format acceptable for Wikipedia articles. LudwigVan 14:24, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)
There are brief phonological notes in the two dictionaries by V. N. Savel'neva and Ch. M. Taksami (the most famous literary figure of the Nivkhs):
"Grammaticheskie tablicï nivxskogo yazïka". In: Savel'neva, V. N. and Ch. M. Taksami. Russko-Nivxskij Slovar'. pp. 469-479.
"Kratkoe grammaticheskoe prilozhenie". In: Savel'neva, V. N. and Ch. M. Taksami. Nivxsko-Russkij Slovar'. pp.504-536.
--220.127.116.11 19:14, 10 August 2005 (UTC)