2.2.2. Syo

Syo is the second general concept of a song and singing and it also refers to a Nenets song in general. The most important songs labelled as "syo" are the personal, owned songs of a person. Etymologically it can be traced to a Uralic word root *sóye-1 'throat', 'voice'.

It is worth noting that opposed to the concepts of hinabts and syo there is a special term for a song other than Nenets (e.g. a Russian song): yánggebts. The word is derived from a verb yánggerts' 'to sing'. The word is interesting in the sense that it is a loan from Khanty (ianggem 'to play (games)'). Pushkarëva (1988) reminds, that yánggebts is not used much by the Eastern Nenets, and it can be assumed that among the Nenets the usage of this word originates from the lower Ob' regions, where the Nenets and Khanty live mixed with each other. As a foreign song in general, the yánggebts has no specific individual character.

Some of the Nenets define the syo as "a short lyric song" and as "one of the categories of Nenets songs". They considered it different to the hinabts (cf. Pushkarëva 1988; Barmich 1988). According to Barmich, the hinabts (hints) among the Western Nenets (which she represents) corresponds the syo genre (Barmich 1988).

One of the main characteristics attached to the songs of the syo type has to do, however, with the ownership of the song. Thus, the word syo refers to a song owned by someone. Either it is a personal song or a drinking song. Also the songs that are sung in the name of animals or natural phenomena (or supernatural entities as in shamanistic songs) are often referred to as a syo.

In the modern (sedentary) Nenets society, which is facing fundamental cultural change from the impact of the ex-Soviet and Russian urban and village culture, the concept of syo serves as a general term for "song", e.g. compositions of the Nenets composer of popular songs, Semën Nyaruy (see below). In the Soviet time there emerged a new tradition to include a concept of "Soviet songs" in classifications of the folklore of the indigenous Siberian people. Thus, the Nenets have "yedey syo" " 'new songs', that were often filled with Soviet patriotism and "all-Siberian" pentatonic musical clichés.

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1Cf. Finnish soida 'to ring', to sound (music); soitin 'musical instrument'; suu 'mouth'.