The Evenki language is one of the Tungusic family, a group of tongues spoken by people-groups across Russia and thought to possibly be part of the tentatively hypothesized Altaic family. As far as I can tell from my research, Evenki only gave one word to the English language: shaman, that spiritual priest in native cultures in Asia and American. This was borrowed into English in the 1690s by route of Russia through Germany, where the words were shaman and schamane, respectively. Russian picked it up from the greater Tungus language, where it was saman, and that's essentially the same as the Evenki word. Beyond, that etymologists can only guess at the proper origin, but some think it could be from Chinese sha men, meaning "Buddhist monk", or from sramanas, meaning "Buddhist ascetic". These reconstructions, however, can only be guessed at. We do, however, know that usage of the word shaman has steadily been increasing since its initial adoption.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd