Finno-Ugric languages

Finno-Ugric languages (fĭnˈō-ōˈgrĭk) [key], also called Finno-Ugrian languages, group of languages forming a subdivision of the Uralic subfamily of the Ural-Altaic family of languages (see Uralic and Altaic languages). The Finno-Ugric group of languages can be divided into two subgroups, Finnic and Ugric. These languages have about 24 million speakers distributed in enclaves scattered in a territory that stretches from Norway east to the Ob River of Siberia and south to the Carpathian Mts. About 10 million of these people speak the Finnic tongues, which include Finnish, native to about 5 million in Finland and about 1 million elsewhere; Karelian, used by close to 100,000 in Karelia in NW Russia; Estonian, the mother tongue of more than 1 million in Estonia; Sami (Lapp), native to some 60,000 mainly nomadic people living in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia; Mordovian, spoken by about 1 million in Russia in the neighborhood of the Volga River below its bend; Cheremiss, the mother tongue of 550,000 in the area where the Volga and Kama rivers join (W of the Ural Mountains); and the Permian languages Votyak, native to about 600,000 between the Kama and Vyatka rivers of European Russia, and Zyrian or Komi, spoken by some 400,000 living between the Pechora, Mezen, and Kama rivers (W of the Ural Mountains). The principal member of the Ugric subgroup is Hungarian, with some 13 million speakers, 10 million of whom reside in Hungary and another 3 million in adjacent countries. Ostyak is spoken by about 25,000 in the area of the Ob River of W Siberia, and Vogul is the language of some 5,000 in the neighborhood of the Ob and Irtysh rivers of W Siberia. The Finno-Ugric languages are agglutinative in that they add large numbers of suffixes to an unchanging root (one suffix following the other) to indicate such features as case, number, person, tense, and mood. Derivatives are also frequently formed by suffixes.

See B. Collinder, An Introduction to the Uralic Languages (1965) and Survey of the Uralic Languages (2d ed. 1969); A. Raun, Essays in Finno-Ugric and Finnic Linguistics (1971, repr. 1977).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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