Mansi language



The Mansi languages are spoken by the Mansi people in
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and North Asia, Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the ...
along the
Ob River } The Ob ( rus, Обь, p=opʲ: Ob') is a major river in Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and North Asia, Northern Asia. It is the ...
and its
tributaries A tributary, or affluent, is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem river drain the surrounding drainage b ...
, in the
Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug–Yugra (Russian language, Russian and Mansi language, Mansi: Ханты-Мансийский автономный округ — Югра, ''Khanty-Mansiysky avtonomny okrug — Yugra;'' Khanty language, Khanty: Х ...
, and
Sverdlovsk Oblast Sverdlovsk Oblast ( rus, Свердловская область, Sverdlovskaya oblast) is a federal subjects of Russia, federal subject (an oblast) of Russia located in the Ural Federal District. Its administrative center is the types of inhab ...
. Traditionally considered a single language, they constitute a branch of the
Uralic languages The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family of 38 languages spoken by approximately 25million people, predominantly in Northern Eurasia. The Uralic languages with the most native speakers are Hungarian lan ...
, often considered most closely related to neighbouring Khanty and then to Hungarian. The base dialect of the Mansi
literary Literature is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art Art is a diverse range of human activity, and resulting product, that involves creative or imaginative ...
language is the Sosva dialect, a representative of the northern language. The discussion below is based on the standard language. Fixed
word order In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
is typical in Mansi.
Adverbial In English grammar, an adverbial (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word (an adverb) or a group of words (an adverbial clause or adverbial phrase) that modifies or more closely defines the Sentence (linguistics), sentence or the v ...
s and
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
s play an important role in sentence construction. A
written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be taught to children, who will pick up spoken language or sign language by exposure even i ...
was first published in 1868, and the current
Cyrillic The Cyrillic script ( ), Slavonic script or the Slavic script, is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia. It is the designated national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, ...
alphabet was devised in 1937.


Mansi is subdivided into four main
dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) arou ...
groups which are to a large degree mutually unintelligible, and therefore best considered four languages. A primary split can be set up between the Southern variety and the remainder. A number of features are also shared between the Western and Eastern varieties, while certain later sound changes have diffused between Eastern and Northern (and are also found in some neighboring dialects of Northern Khanty to the east). Individual dialects are known according to the rivers their speakers live(d) on: The sub-dialects given above are those which were still spoken in the late 19th and early 20th century and have been documented in linguistic sources on Mansi. Pre-scientific records from the 18th and early 19th centuries exist also of other varieties of Western and Southern Mansi, spoken further west: the Tagil, Tura and Chusovaya dialects of Southern and the Vishera dialect of Western. The two dialects last mentioned were hence spoken on the western slopes of the
Urals The Ural Mountains ( ; rus, Ура́льские го́ры, r=Uralskiye gory, p=ʊˈralʲskʲɪjə ˈɡorɨ; ba, Урал тауҙары) or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through European ...
, where also several early Russian sources document Mansi settlements. Placename evidence has been used to suggest Mansi presence reaching still much further west in earlier times, though this has been criticized as poorly substantiated. Northern Mansi has strong Russian, Komi, Nenets, and Northern Khanty influence, and it forms the base of the literary Mansi language. There is no accusative case; that is, both the nominative and accusative roles are unmarked on the noun. and have been backed to and . Western Mansi went
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the Endling, last individual of the species, although the Functional ext ...
ca. 2000. It had strong Russian and Komi influences; dialect differences were also considerable. Long vowels were diphthongized. Eastern Mansi is spoken by 100–200 people. It has Khanty and
Tatar The Tatars ()Tatar
in the Collins English Dictionary
is an umbrella term for different Turki ...
influence. There is
vowel harmony In phonology Phonology is the branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds or, for sign languages, their constituent parts of signs. The term can also refer specifically to the sound o ...
, and for it has , frequently diphthongized. Southern Mansi was recorded from area isolated from the other Mansi varieties. Around 1900 a couple hundred speakers existed; in the 1960s it was spoken only by a few elderly speakers, and it has since then gone extinct. It had strong Tatar influence and displayed several archaisms such as
vowel harmony In phonology Phonology is the branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds or, for sign languages, their constituent parts of signs. The term can also refer specifically to the sound o ...
, retention of (elsewhere merged with ), (elsewhere deaffricated to ), (elsewhere fronted to or diphthongized) and (elsewhere raised to ).



The inventory presented here is a maximal collection of segments found across the Mansi varieties. Some remarks: # /ɕ/ is an allophone of /sʲ/. # The voiceless velar fricatives /x/, /xʷ/ are only found in the Northern group and the Lower Konda dialect of the Eastern group, resulting from spirantization of *k, *kʷ adjacent to original back vowels. # According to Honti, a contrast between *w and *ɣʷ can be reconstructed, but this does not surface in any of the attested varieties. # The labialization contrast among the velars dates back to Proto-Mansi, but was in several varieties strengthened by labialization of velars adjacent to rounded vowels. In particular, Proto-Mansi *yK → Core Mansi *æKʷ (a form of transphonologization).


The vowel systems across Mansi show great variety. As typical across the Uralic languages, many more vowel distinctions were possible in the initial, stressed syllable than in unstressed ones. Up to 18–19 stressed vowel contrasts may be found in the Western and Eastern dialects, while Northern Mansi has a much reduced, largely symmetric system of 8 vowels, though lacking short ** and having a very rare long : Remarks: # ы/и /i/ has a velar allophone before г /ɣ/ and after х /x/. # Long ːoccurs as a rare and archaic phonetic variant of /eː/, cf. э̄ти ~ ӣти (‘in the evening, evenings’) # Long /eː/ and /oː/ can be pronounced as diphthongs ͜͜ɛand ͜͜ɔ # у /u/ is found in unstressed (“non-first”) syllables before в /w/, in the infinitive suffix -ункве /uŋkʷe/ and in obscured compound words. # Reduced /ə/ becomes labialized ̹or ̯before bilabial consonants м /m/ and п /p/.


The first publication of the written Mansi language was a translation of the
Gospel of Matthew The Gospel of Matthew), or simply Matthew. It is most commonly abbreviated as "Matt." is the first book of the New Testament of the Bible and one of the three synoptic Gospels. It tells how Israel's Messiah, Jesus, comes to his people and form ...
published in
London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary dow ...
in 1868. In 1932 a version of Latin alphabet was introduced by the Institute of the Peoples of the North with little success. The former Latin alphabet: In 1937,
Cyrillic The Cyrillic script ( ), Slavonic script or the Slavic script, is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia. It is the designated national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, ...
replaced the Latin. The highlighted letters, and Г with the value , are used only in names and
loanword A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word at least partly assimilated from one language (the donor language) into another language. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in two or more languages that are similar because the ...
s. The allophones /ɕ/ and /sʲ/ are written with the letter Щ or the digraph СЬ respectively.


Mansi is an agglutinating, subject–object–verb (SOV) language.


There are two articles in Mansi: definite ань (aɲ), which also means "now" when placed before verbs, and indefinite акв (akʷ), literally "one". Definiteness (determination) can also be expressed by the third (less often second) person singular possession marker, or in case of direct objects, using transitive conjugation. E.g. а̄мп (’dog’) → а̄мпе (’his/her/its dog’, ’the dog’); ха̄п (’boat’) → ха̄п на̄лув-нарыгтас (’he/she pushed a boat in the water’) ≠ ха̄п на̄лув-нарыгтастэ (’he/she pushed the boat in the water’).


There is no grammatical gender. Mansi distinguishes between singular, dual and
plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated pl., pl, or ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical category of number. The plural of a noun typically denotes a quantity greater than the ...
number. Six
grammatical case A grammatical case is a category of nouns and noun modifiers (determiners, adjectives, participles, and Numeral (linguistics), numerals), which corresponds to one or more potential grammatical functions for a nominal group in a wording. In vari ...
s exist. Possession is expressed using possessive suffixes, for example -ум, which means "my".

Grammatical cases, declining

Missing cases can be expressed using postpositions, such as халнэл (χalnəl, 'of, out of'), саит (sait, 'after, behind'), etc.


Mansi conjugation has three persons, three numbers, two tenses, and five moods. Active and passive voices exist. Intransitive and transitive conjugations are distinguished. This means that there are two possible ways of conjugating a verb. When the speaker conjugates in intransitive, the sentence has no concrete object (in this case, the object is ''nothing'' or something like ''something, anything''). In the transitive conjugation, there is a concrete object. This feature also exists in the other Ugric languages.

Personal suffixes

Personal suffixes are attached after the verbal marker. The suffixes are the following:


Mansi uses suffixes to express the tense.

= Intransitive present tense

= In
intransitive verb In grammar, an intransitive verb is a verb whose context does not entail a direct object (linguistics), object. That lack of Transitivity (grammar), transitivity distinguishes intransitive verbs from transitive verbs, which entail one or more o ...
conjugations there is no object present. The tense suffix precedes the personal suffix. The form of the present tense suffix depends on the character of the verbal stem, as well as moods. Tense conjugation is formed with the suffixes -эг, -э̄г, -и, -э, -э̄, -г, or -в. In the following examples, the tense suffix is in bold and the personal ending is in italic. The present tense suffix -э̄г is used if the following personal marker contains a consonant or a highly reduced vowel; the suffix -эг is used if the following personal marker has a stronger vowel, as it is the case in 2nd person dual and plural. 1st person dual has no tense marker but rather a ы between the verb stem and personal ending. Verb stems that end in a vowel, have -г as verbal marker. Verb stems that end with the vowel ''у'' have -в as verbal marker. 3rd person dual has no personal ending. If the verbal stem ends in a vowel, the tense suffix becomes -ыг. 1st person plural personal ending is -в if the verbal stems ends in a consonant; the personal ending becomes -ув if the verbal stem ends in a vowel.


There are four moods:
indicative A realis mood (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a grammatical mood which is used principally to indicate that something is a statement of fact; in other words, to express what the speaker considers to be a known state of affairs, a ...
, conditional,
subjunctive The subjunctive (also known as conjunctive in some languages) is a grammatical mood, a feature of the utterance that indicates the speaker's attitude towards it. Subjunctive forms of verbs are typically used to express various states of unreality s ...
, imperative and precative. Indicative mood has no suffix. Imperative mood exists only in the second person.

Active/Passive voice

Verbs have active and passive voice. Active voice has no suffix; the suffix to express the passive is -ве-.

Verbal prefixes

Verbal prefixes are used to modify the meaning of the verb in both concrete and abstract ways. For example, with the prefix эл- (el-) (away, off) the verb мина (mina) (go) becomes элмина (elmina), which means ''to go away''. This is surprisingly close to the Hungarian equivalents: ''el-'' (away) and ''menni'' (to go), where ''elmenni'' is ''to go away'' ēl(a) – 'forwards, onwards, away' χot – 'direction away from something and other nuances of action intensity'


Numbers 1 and 2 also have attributive forms: акв (1) and кит (2); compare with Hungarian ''két'', Old Hungarian ''kit'').

Sample vocabulary




*''Nyelvrokonaink''. Teleki László Alapítvány, Budapest, 2000. *''A világ nyelvei''. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest * * * * * Munkácsi, Bernát and Kálmán, Béla. 1986. ''Wogulisches Wörterbuch.'' Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest. n German and Hungarian.* Riese, Timothy. ''Vogul: Languages of the World/Materials 158''.
Lincom Europa
2001. * Ромбандеева, Евдокия Ивановна. ''Мансийский (вогульский) язык'',
Russian Academy of Sciences The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS; russian: Росси́йская акаде́мия нау́к (РАН) ''Rossíyskaya akadémiya naúk'') consists of the national academy A national academy is an organizational body, usually operating wi ...
, Institute of Linguistics, 1973. n Russian.

External links

Mansi at Omniglot

Digital version of Munkácsi and Kálmán's dictionary

Mansi language dictionary

Mansi basic lexicon at the Global Lexicostatistical Database

Red Book of the Peoples – Mansi history

* ttp:// OLAC resources in and about the Mansi language
Документация и изучение верхнелозьвинского диалекта
{{DEFAULTSORT:Mansi Language Languages of Russia Uralic languages Mansi Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug Subject–object–verb languages Agglutinative languages Vowel-harmony languages Endangered Uralic languages