Competitive Exams: Linguistic Group

Linguistic Groups

  • Uighurs: Live for the most part in northwestern China, in the Uighur Autonomous Region of Sinkiang; a small number live in the Central Asian republics. Their principal food crops arc wheat, corn (maize), kaoliang (a form of sorghum), and melons. The chief industrial crop is cotton, which has long been grown in the area. Many Uighur are employed in petroleum extraction, mining, and manufacturing in urban centres. The chief Uighur cities are Urumchi, the capital of Sinkiang, and Kashgar. The Uighur of Sinkiang are Sunnite Muslims.
  • Kirghiz: Also spelled Kirgiz, or Kirghiz, Turkic speaking people of Central Asia, most of whom live in Kyrgyzstan. Small numbers reside in Afghanistan, in western China, and in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkey. The people are Muslim in religion. From 1926 to 1959 there was a heavy influx of Russians and Ukrainians into the area, and the proportion of Kyrgyz in the total population fell from about 66 percent to 40 percent. The development of agriculture and heavy industry, along with the growth of cities, did much to change the traditional Kyrgyz way of life.
  • Kazaks: Also spelled Kazakh, an Asiatic Turkic speaking people inhabiting mainly Kazakhstan and the adjacent parts of the Uighur Autonomous Region of Sinkiang in China. The Kazaks are the second most numerous Turkic speaking people in Central Asia after the Uzbeks. The Kazaks were traditionally pastoral nomads, dwelling year round in portable, dome shaped tents (called yurts) constructed of dismountable wooden frames covered with felt. The Kazaks migrated seasonally to find pasturage for their livestock, including horses, sheep, goats, cattle, and a few camels. The diet consisted largely of milk products supplemented by mutton. Fermented mare's milk (koumiss) and horse flesh were highly esteemed but usually available only to the prosperous. Their nomadic life was gradually curtailed by the encroachment of settled agriculture on the pasturelands. In the 19th century an increasing number of Kazaks along the borders began to plant some crops. Most Kazaks are now settled farmers who raise sheep and other livestock and grow crops. In Sinkiang, however, many nomadic groups remain.
  • Vupik: Also called Asiatic, or Asian, Eskimo, Western Eskimo group of Siberian Asia and of Saint Lawrence Island and the Diomede Islands in the Bering Sea and Strait. They are culturally related to the Chukchi. The traditional economic activity of the Yupik speaking Eskimo was the hunting of sea mammals, especially seals, walrus, and, until the latter half of the 19th century, whales. Trade with the Russians developedattheendofthel9th century. The Yupik also traded with neighbouring reindeer breeders and with Alaskan Eskimo. Kayaks (one person, closed skin boats), bidarkas (open, flat bottomed boats), and whaleboats provided coastal transportation; dog teams and sleds were used on land.
  • The Yupik practiced shamanism and believed in benign and harmful spirits. Under Soviet and Russian administration, new equipment was made available for sea hunting, and new occupations (e. g. processing products from skins and cooperating with Chukchi in reindeer breeding) were introduced, but such measures as forced exile from “unproductive” traditional settlements have disrupted if not destroyed a once highly efficient and self reliant culture.
  • Eskimo Aleut Language: Family of languages spoken in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and eastern Siberia by the Eskimo and Aleut peoples. Aleut is a single language with two surviving dialects. Eskimo consists of two divisions: Yupik, spoken in Siberia and southwestern Alaska, and Inuit, spoken in northern Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. Each division includes several dialects. Eskimo and Aleut are related but quite distinct languages; they have no known outside relatives.
  • Ibos: Also called Ibo people living chiefly in southeastern Nigeria who speak Igbo, a language of the BenueCongo branch of the Niger Congo language family. The Igbo may be grouped into the following main cultural divisions: Northern (Onitsha), southern (Owerri), western (Ika), eastern (Cross River), and northeastern (Abakaliki). Before European colonization, the Igbo were not united as a single people but lived in autonomous local communities. By the mid20th century, however, a sense of ethnic identity was strongly developed, and the Igbodominated Eastern region of Nigeria tried to unilaterally secede from Nigeria in 1967 as the independent nation of Biafra. By the turn of the 21st century the igbo numbered some 20 million. Most Igbo traditionally have been subsistence farmers, their staples being yams, cassava, and taro. Trading, local crafts, and wage labour also are important in the Igbo economy, and a high literacy rate has helped many Igbo to become civil servants and business entrepreneurs in the decades after Nigeria gained independence. It is notable that Igbo women engage in trade and are influential in local politics.
  • Yorubas: One of the three largest ethnic groups of Nigeria, concentrated in the southwestern part of that country. Much smaller, scattered groups live in Benin and northern Togo. They speak a language of the BenueCongo branch of the Niger Congo language family. Most Yoruba men are fanners, growing yams, com (maize), and millet as staples and plantains, peanuts (groundnuts), beans, and peas as subsidiary crops; cocoa is a major cash crop. Others are traders or craftsmen.
  • Hausa: People found chiefly in northwestern Nigeria and adjacent southern Niger. They constitute the largest ethnic group in the area, which also contains another large group, the Fulani, perhaps one half of whom are settled among the Hausa as a ruling class, having adopted the Hausa language and culture. The language belongs to the Chadic group of the Afro Asiatic (formerly Hamito Semitic) family and is infused with many Arabic words as a result of Islamic influence, which spread during the latter part of the 14th century from the kingdom of Mali, profoundly influencing Hausa belief and customs. A small minority of Hausa, known as Maguzawa, or Bunjawa, remained pagan.
  • The Hausa economy has rested on the intensive cultivation of sorghum, com (maize), millet, and many other crops grown on rotation principles and utilizing the manure of Fulani cattle Agricultural activity has yielded considerably more than subsistence, permitting the Hausa to practice such craft specializations as thatching, leatherworking, weaving, and silver smithing. The range of craft products is large, and trading is extensive, particularly in regularly held markets in the larger towns. The Hausa have settled in cities (of pre European origin, such as Kano), towns, and hamlets; but the great majority of the population is rural, for the headman of the compound.