the minority languages of the volga-kama region
Where is the Volga-Kama region?
travel ca. 600 km due east from
What minority languages are spoken there?
Finno-Ugric languages spoken in the Volga-Kama region
include Mari (previously called Cheremis),
Mordvin and Udmurt
(Votyak). The Turkic languages of the
How many people speak these languages?
to the population census of 1989, there were 670 000 Maris,
746 000 Udmurts and 1.15 million Mordvinians.
There are two variants of the language, Erzya,
spoken by 2/3 of the Mordvinians, and Moksha. The number of
Do the indigenous peoples form a majority in their republics?
Volga-Kama region, we find small republics named
after the indigenous peoples, see the map. These are Marij
El of the Maris, Mordovia
of the Mordvinians, Udmurtia
of the Udmurts, Chuvashia
Do the speakers of the minority languages understand each other?
connection between their languages, the Maris, Mordvinians and Udmurts do not
understand each other. As a matter of fact, the Mordvinians
speak two quite different forms of Mordvin, Erzya and Moksha,
and can understand each other's speech only with training. As to Mari, the
differences between the eastern and the westernmost dialects make mutual
comprehension difficult, and the small group of the Hill Mari speakers
(ca. 5% of all Maris) have developed a separate
literary language. The Udmurt language is internally
quite homogenous and because of this all Udmurts
understand each other. In fact, Udmurt can be
regarded as being a part of a language continuum which it forms with the
northern Komi (earlier called Zyryan) language. The differences between Tatar and Bashkir are minimal and the speakers do not have
difficulties in mutual comprehension, whereas the language of
How did the multilinguality of the Volga-Kama region arise?
The Volga-Kama region is a territory of ancient Finno-Ugric
populations. In connection with the Great Migration, Turkic Bolgars
arrived at the region at latest in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. Further
changes in the national mixture of the district were brought about by the
invasion of Mongols into
Do the Volga-Kama nationalities have similar cultures?
history, the Volga-Kama region has been subject to
cultural influences from many directions, but, on the other hand, their
geographical proximity has tended to bring cultures closer together. As to the
dominant religion, the peoples of the Volga-Kama
region can roughly be divided into three groups: the Tatars and Bashkirs, who are Moslems; the Mordvinians
Maintained by: Jorma.Luutonen_at_utu.fi. Page updated January 3, 2007.