Uralic languages

The Uralic languages ​​form a family of about 30 languages ​​spoken by approximately 25 million people. The distribution area extends across much of northern Eurasia from Scandinavia to the Urals on the Taimyr Peninsula. In addition, the Hungarian part of Central Europe to this family.

Typological have the Uralic languages ​​have a large bandwidth. Some properties are prevalent, or at least widespread: a rich agglutinative morphology, particularly a rich case system with up to 20 cases. The negation occurs in most languages ​​by a flektierbares auxiliary verb, vowel harmony is available in several languages ​​. The home of the common mother tongue of all Uralic languages ​​, so the Proto - Uralic, probably lay in the central or southern Urals. These adopted homeland was decisive for the naming of the language family. About six thousand years ago, the separation of individual Uralic groups and their migration began in the later settlements.

The science of the Uralic languages ​​and the associated culture is called Uralic or - in the case of the restriction to one of the two main branches of the Ural - Finno-Ugric and Samojedistik.

  • 3.1 Genealogical structure
  • 3.2 Classification of Uralic languages
  • 4.1 Uralic sound correspondences
  • 6.1 Uralic and Jukagirisch
  • 6.2 Ural - Indo-European
  • 6.3 Ural - Altaic
  • 6.4 Uralic to Nostra table or Eurasia table?
  • 7.1 Early attempts
  • 7.2 Strahlenberg and Schlozer
  • 7.3 Sajnovics and Gyarmathi
  • 7.4 Castrén and Halász
  • 7.5 Outline Recent Theses
  • 7.6 Collinder, Austerlitz, Voegelin and Harms
  • 7.7 Janhunen and Abondolo
  • 7.8 majority consensus and new theories
  • 9.1 Typological Features
  • 9.2 Reconstruction of the Proto - Uralic
  • 9.3 Phonology 9.3.1 phonemes consonants
  • vowels
  • 9.5.1 case
  • 9.5.2 Proto - Uralic Primärkasus
  • 9.5.3 Secondary Uralic case
  • 9.5.4 number and gender
  • 9.5.5 possessive endings
  • 9.5.6 Nominal chains

Main languages

The most important and richest speaker Uralic languages ​​are:

  • Hungarian or Magyar 14.5 million speakers, the national language of Hungary and the Hungarian language of the autochthonous Hungarian minorities in Croatia ( Osijek - Baranja v. a ), Austria ( esp. Burgenland), Romania ( Transylvania), the Slovakia (former upper Hungary ), Serbia (Vojvodina ) and Ukraine ( Transcarpathia )
  • Finnish or Suomi, 6 million, the national language of Finland
  • Estonian, 1.1 million, the national language of Estonia
  • Mordvin, 1.1 million, Russia, Mordovia ( varieties Ersjanisch and Moksha )
  • Mari or Tscheremissisch, 600,000, Russia, Republic of Mari El
  • Udmurt, 550,000, Russia, Udmurtia
  • Komi, 400,000, Russia, the Republic of Komi ( Komi varieties Syrjänisch and Komi - Permjakisch )

Main branches and distribution areas

The two main branches

The Ural is divided into two distinct main branches that have allegedly separated years ago at least 6000:

  • The larger western branch of Finno - Ugric today with more than 99% of the Uralic speakers and a total of 24 languages
  • The smaller north and east of the Urals -based branch of the Samoyedic with four living languages ​​, which are spoken by a maximum of only 30,000 people in large sparsely populated areas of northern Siberia.

The linguistic distance between Finnish and Hungarian - both are members of the Finno -Ugric branch - can be compared with that between German and Russian; the differences between individual Finno-Ugric and Samoyed languages ​​are still considerably larger.

The Finno- Ugric languages

The most common Finno-Ugric languages ​​are Hungarian (14,5 million speakers), Finnish (6 million) and Estonian ( 1.1 million). These three are also the only Uralic languages ​​have the status of a national language.

The Sami ( the former name " Lapp " is perceived as discriminatory ) is a group of ten languages ​​with 35,000 speakers, which are mainly spoken in Norway and Sweden, but also in Finland and Russia on the Kola Peninsula. The Liv is an almost extinct, the Finnish closely related language in Latvia. All other Uralic languages ​​have their distribution areas in today's Russia.

First, close to Estonian in Russia in a wide zone to the Kola Peninsula the languages ​​Votic, Ingrisch (both almost extinct), Vepsian (8,000 speakers) and Karelian ( 70,000, Autonomous Republic of Karelia ) to. Vepsian and Karelian are spoken almost exclusively by older speakers. In the central Volga region are found in their own autonomous republics the Mordvinian ( with 1.1 million speakers, the largest Uralic language Russia ), the Czech Mari or draw Forensic ( 600,000 speakers ), and the Udmurt ( 600,000 ). Further north, the Komi with the varieties Syrjänisch and Permjakisch closes, which together have about 500,000 speakers. Some authors consider Syrjänisch and Permjakisch as separate languages.

East of the Urals are in the area Whether the two Ob-Ugric languages ​​Khanty (or Ostyak, 15,000 speakers) and Mansi (or Wogulisch, 5,000 speakers) in a separate Autonomous District ( Okrug ) of the Khanty -Mansi spoken. They are the closest relatives had advanced far to the west Hungarian and, with this, the Ugric subgroup.

The Samoyed languages

The spite of Soviet location policy partly nomadic Samoyed remaining inhabit the north of Russia, a vast area from the White Sea to the Taimyr Peninsula. The approximately 41,000 Nenets or Juraken make up the vast majority of the Samoyed. You put in three autonomous districts, the titular nation ( Nenets Autonomous District, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District and the former Autonomous District Taimyr ), also about 1,200 forest - Nenets Autonomous District of the Khanty -Mansi and about 8,000 in the Arkhangelsk Oblast. 27,000 people, or about 70 % of the Nenets, Nenets speak their ancestral language. The closely related Enzen on the Yenisei estuary count only about 230 people, of whom around 100 elderly tribal members still speak the Enzische.

North and east close to the Nganasans of which speak about 1,000 Nganasan, and the southeast living in the territory of the middle Whether Selkups with 2,000 speakers of Selkupischen. The south- Samoyed languages ​​Mator and Kamas are extinct. Transformer was replaced in the early 19th century by a Turkic language; but it has been previously developed by intensive linguistic fieldwork. The last Kamas spokesman died 1989.

The Uralic languages ​​and their classification

The history and current discussion of the genetic classification of the Uralic languages ​​is described in detail below. Since the current scientific discussion divergent approaches to the internal organization of the Uralic languages ​​offers - especially for the Finno- Ugric branch - here largely the "traditional" classification shall be that which is favored by most researchers.

However, by agreement of most Finnougristen the unit Volga Finnish ( Summary of Mordvin and Mari ) must be abandoned. Also, a previously accepted Finno- Sami unit is no longer represented by some researchers, so that both represent separate groups within the Finno - Permian. One then obtains the following genetic structure of the Uralic language family:

Genealogical structure

  • Uralic Finno - Ugric Finno - Permian Baltic Finnish
  • Sami
  • Mordvin
  • Mari
  • Permian
  • Hungarian
  • Ob- Ugric
  • Nordsamojedisch
  • Südsamojedisch

Classification of Uralic languages

Bold type for genetic units, normal pressure used for individual languages ​​; Dialects and varieties are in italics. The numbers of speakers come from Ethnologue 2005, current statistics and the countries listed below as a web link article. A † indicates extinct languages.

  • Uralic 31 languages ​​, including 4 †, a total of 24 million speakers Finno - Ugric languages ​​25, 2 †, 24 million speakers Finno - Permian Baltic Finnish ( 7 languages ​​, 7.2 million speakers) Finnish ( Suomi) ( 6 million) Dialects: Southwest, Häme, Southern, Central, Northern and Upper Ostrobothnia, Savo, South East
  • Karelian ( 130,000 ) Dialects: North = Viena, South, Aunus = Livvi = Olonetzisch, Lüdisch
  • Vepsian (6,000)
  • Ingrisch ( Ischorisch ) (300, ethnic 15,000 )
  • Estonian ( 1.1 million) dialects: Tallinn, Tartu, Mulgi, Võru, Seto
  • Votic (almost †)
  • Liv (almost †)
  • Westsamisch Northern Sami ( Norwegian Sami ) (20,000, ethnic 40,000 )
  • Lule ( 2000 )
  • Pite (almost †)
  • Southern Sami (600)
  • Ume (almost †)
  • Inari (300)
  • Skolt (300)
  • Akkala †
  • Kildin (1,000)
  • Ter (almost †)
  • Kemi †
  • Mordvin ( 1.1 million) varieties: Ersjanisch ( 700,000 ), Moksha (400,000 )
  • Mari ( Tscheremissisch ) ( 600,000 ) varieties: Eastern Mari -Mari or meadows, mountain -Mari
  • Udmurt ( Wotjakisch ) ( 550,000, 750,000 ethnic ) Dialects: Bessermjanisch (North ), South
  • Komi (400,000 ) varieties: Syrjänisch, Permjakisch, Jaswa
  • Ob- Ugric Khanty ( Ostyak ) ( 12,000, ethnic 20,000 ) dialects: North, East, South, wax
  • Mansi ( Wogulisch ) ( 3,200, 8,500 ethnic ) dialects: Northern ( Sos'va ), South ( Tavda ), West ( Pelym, Wagily ), East ( Konda )
  • Hungarian ( Magyar ) ( 14.5 million) Dialects: West - Hungarian, Transdanubisch, South Hungarian, Tisza, Palots, Northeast Hungarian, Mezőség, Székely
  • Nordsamojedisch Nganasan ( Tawgy - Samoyed ) (500, Ethnic 1300. ) Dialects: Awamisch, Wadeisch
  • Enzisch ( Yenisei - Samoyed ) (100, Ethnic 200. ) Dialects: Forest Enzisch, Tundra Enzisch
  • Nenets ( Samoyed - Jurak ) ( 27,000, Ethnic 35,000. ) Dialects: Tundra Nenets ( 25,000 ), Forest Nenets (2,000)
  • Selkup ( Ostyak Samoyed ) ( 1600, 4000 Ethnic. ) Dialects: Tas, Tym, Narym, Western Ob- Ket
  • Kamassisch ( Koibalisch ) †
  • Matorisch ( Motorised; taiga, Karagassisch ) †

An even finer classification with all its dialects provides the external link below " Table of the Uralic languages ​​and dialects " from the " Database of Uralic Typology Project".

Uralic and Finno- Ugric word equations

An impression of the degree of relationship of individual Uralic languages ​​offer the following tables with selected Uralic word equations. They show at first glance that Finnish and Estonian are very closely related and that the Samoyed Nenets - despite recognizable relationship - it is very different. The particular near the Chanty for Hungarian - both are Ugric languages ​​- reveals itself not readily apparent from the table, but only occurs when using subtle linguistic techniques to light.

The main sources of these tables are the Uralic etymological dictionary of Károly Rédei (1988) and the below web link. In the second line, the alternative language names or their abbreviations frequently used are given. The indication " ( FU) " behind the reconstructed shape means that this word equation is not busy just in the Finno - Ugric in Samoyedic, so it is a reconstructed Proto- Finno- Ugric form. Total Uralic word equations are relatively rare; yet the affiliation awareness of the Samoyed languages ​​for Ural is undisputed.

Note: 1 foot

On a außeruralische relationship indicate the following proto- Uralic forms:

  • * Kwala fish, Germanic * hwala
  • * kota hut, Indo-European * kata
  • * sene tendon, artery, Germanic * sinwo
  • * Wete water, Germanic * watar, Indo-European * wodr̥
  • * ki who, Indo-European * kwis
  • * sata hundred, Indo-European * km̥tom, indian * satem

Uralic sound correspondences

The etymologies given leave some Uralic sound correspondences recognize, for example, when comparing the Finnish and Hungarian words of a word equation:

  • Anlautendes Finnish / p / corresponds Hungarian / f / (eg puu: fa)
  • Anlautendes Finnish / k / corresponds to before / a / and / o / Hungarian / h / ( kala eg: hal ), or Hungarian / k / (eg Kasi: Kez )
  • Inlautendes Finnish / t / corresponds Hungarian / z / (eg sata: száz )
  • Inlautendes Finnish / nt / corresponds Hungarian / d / (eg tunte: tud )
  • Anlautendes Finnish / s / corresponds Hungarian / sz / and / Ø / (eg silmä: szem, Syli: oil ), suggesting that the dates Finnish / s / of two different s- sounds whose difference in Hungarian is clear yet.

For these and other observations, the phonemes of Proto - Uralic can be largely reconstructed. The Uralic assumes that the Finnish received the proto- Uralic consonants essentially - ie the Hungarian represent innovations, while the original vowels are most likely to find in the Sami languages ​​.

Oldest evidence and written languages

The Hungarian is the Uralic language with the oldest written documents. After the first scattered individual words in different language texts is a funeral oration from the end of the 12th century, the earliest textual evidence. It consists of 38 rows and has a circumference of 190 words. It follows by 1300 an old Hungarian Lament of Mary, an artistically valuable paraphrase of a Latin text, as it were the first Hungarian poem.

The oldest Karelian language monument dates from the 13th century and is a very short written on birch bark text. Altpermisch, an early form of Komi, was in the 14th century by the missionary Stephen of Perm with the altpermischen writing their own alphabet based on the Greek and Cyrillic alphabet. The oldest Estonian book was printed in 1525, but has not been preserved; the first surviving Estonian text are 11 pages of a 1535 printed religious calendar. The Finnish literature begins in 1544 with the Rukouskirja Bibliasta of Mikael Agricola, in 1548 followed by his translation of the New Testament. The oldest Sami texts date from the 17th century.

Besides the above mentioned languages ​​with relatively early language monuments now have almost all Uralic languages ​​have a written form found if a proper literary production has taken place only in the larger languages. The Uralic languages ​​in Russia use suitable modifications of the Cyrillic alphabet, the Western languages ​​the Latin alphabet.

Other relationship?

As with any relationship assumptions remains to examine at each stage, whether it is in each case is inherited in common and thus arguments for a genealogical relationship, or whether long-term contacts have resulted in the form of a " language Bunds" to these similarities. Such decisions are of course more difficult the further reaches the respective relationship.

Uralic and Jukagirisch

A serious hypothesis is that of the relationship of the Ural with the otherwise classified as isolated Paleo-Siberian language Jukagirisch. Jukagirisch is spoken by a few hundred people in northeastern Siberia. According to Ruhlen (1987 ) prove work of Collinder (1965) and Harms ( 1977) the relationship of the Jukagirischen with the Uralic languages. Collinder states: " The similarities of Jukagirischen and Uralic are so numerous and characteristic that they are the remains of an original unit. The case system of Jukagirischen is almost identical to that of the North Samoyedic. The imperative is formed with the same suffixes as in South Samoyedic and the most conservative Finno-Ugric languages. Jukagirisch has half a hundred common words with the Ural, without the loanwords. One should notice that all Finno- Ugric languages ​​in the case inflection more from Samoyedic different than the Jukagirische. "

It would then quite possible to speak of a Ural- jukagirischen language family. Obtained for this case, the following classification:

  • Ural- Jukagirisch Jukagirisch
  • Uralic Samoyed
  • Finno - Ugric Ugric
  • Finno - Permian

Ural - Indo-European

A more next relationship is seen by many researchers with the Primitive Indo-European, not least because of the millennia -long neighborhood, but also because of suspected lexical and grammatical relations

Ural - Altaic

An even more kinship not only look Finnougristen in the Ural-Altaic language family. The following table shows some consonantal Formantia (usually suffixes ) which are widely used both in the Uralic languages ​​, in Jukagirischen and in the Altaic languages ​​( Turkic, Mongolian, Tungusic ) (after Marcantonio 2002 and Greenberg 2000).

Dissemination consonantal Formantia in Uralic, Altaic and Jukagirischen

Uralic to Nostra table or Eurasia table?

An extension of the Indo-European and altaiischen relationship leads to the nostra tables or even Eurasian macro family. The following table gives an overview of the reconstructed proto -language personal and possessive endings in some Eurasian language families.

Reconstructed personnel and Possivendungen in Eurasian language families

Again, still more distant relationship is even investigated by the Siberian language families.

History and current discussion of the classification

Early approaches

Strahlenberg and Schlozer

1730 classified the Swede Johan Philip of Strahlenberg the Finno- Ugric languages ​​up to the Sami, 1770 adds the German historian August Ludwig von Schlozer Strahlenberg's classification to the Sami component. Thus, the still accepted essentially outline of the Finno -Ugric language family already six years before William Jones ' famous speech is present, which lays the foundation for an Indo-European linguistics.

Sajnovics and Gyarmathi

Further steps are consolidating the work of Hungary János Sajnovics 1770 and Sámuel Gyarmathi 1799 show that the Hungarian is the closest relative of the Khanty and Mansischen and these three has its own branch, the Ugrian account. ; they occupy by valid word equations, the relations of the Ugric Finnic languages ​​and summarize the then known Samoyed languages ​​to a special group.

Castrén and Halász

1840 opens the Finn Matthias Alexander Castrén through field studies, the Samoyedic systematically clarifies the internal north-south division of the Samoyedic and established the division of the total family in a Samoyed and Finno -Ugric branch. The work Castren be provided by the Hungarian Halász Ignácz 1893 by 245 total - Uralic word equations finally on safe ground. ( Today it is about 150 accepted total - Uralic word equations. )

Newer subdivision theses

Despite this early classification performance all the problems of the internal structure of the Ural are solved today by no means. As the division of the Finnish - Ugric in a Finno- Ugric and Permian component - - Especially in recent years, seemingly safe findings have been questioned. Another problem is the classification of the Sami. As a generally accepted following statements can apply:

  • The Uralic languages ​​form a family that decays primarily into a Finno -Ugric and Samoyed a branch.

Other valid genetic subunits of the Finno - Ugric are

  • Baltic Finnish ( with Finnish, Estonian, Karelian, Vepsian, Ingrisch, Votic, Liv )
  • Sami ( with 10 languages ​​or dialects )
  • Permian ( Udmurt and Komi with ) and
  • Ugric ( with Hungarian and Ob - Ugric Khanty and Mansi with )

The linguistic evidence of the Ugric unit has thereby emerged as extremely difficult and has recently again denied by Marcantonio 2002.

Often - but not all researchers - were Mari and Mordvin combined into one unit Wolgaisch and the Baltic Finnish with Sami Sami to Finnish. The Finno -Ugric languages ​​that do not belong to the Ugric were, and are considered by most researchers as a genetic unit Finno - Permian. Such classifications so go with the following basic structure of the Ural from:

  • Uralic Finno - Ugric Finno - Permian
  • Ugric

They differ only by the fine structure of the Finno- Permian group. Pretty much all the possible variants have been proposed, important work on the structure of the Finno - Permian came to the following conclusions:

Collinder, Austerlitz, Voegelin and Harms

Collinder (1965 ) classified Baltic Finnish, Sami, Mordvin, Mari and Permian as equal subunits of the Finno - Permian. Austerlitz (1968 ) summarizes Mordvin and Mari together to Wolgaisch. Come to more complex structures Voegelin (1977) and Harms ( 1998):

  • Finno - Permian ( Voegelin 1977) Finno - Wolgaisch Sami - Finnish
  • Wolgaisch Mordvin
  • Mari
  • Western Finno - Permian Sami - Finnish
  • Mordvin

Janhunen and Abondolo

Janhunen 2003 takes into account the order of the spin-offs from the Finno - Ugric, which leads to a binary tree that has only two-tiered branches. He starts from the cleavage sequence 1 Ugric, 2nd Permian, 3 Mari, 4th and 5th Mordvin Sami. The residual 6 remains the Finnish Baltic Sea.

  • Finno - Ugric ( Janhunen 2003) Ugric
  • Finno - Permian Permian ( Udmurt and Komi )
  • Mari - Mordvin - Finnish Sami Mari
  • Mordvin - Finnish Sami Mordvin
  • Sami - Finnish Sami
  • Baltic Finnish

In contrast, takes Abondolo 1998 just the reverse spin-off scenario and thus denies the existence of a genetic unit Finno - Permian compared with the Ugric. He sees the following cleavage sequence from the Finno - Ugric: 1 Sami - Finnish, Mordvin 2, 3 Mari, 4th Permian. What remains is the Ugric as the core.

Majority consensus and new theories

As a "majority opinion " of the partially divergent current conceptions results in the following classification: The Finno - Ugric decomposes into the Ugric and Finno - Permian, which is from the peer groups ( Baltic Sea ), Finnish, Sami, Mordvin, Mari and Permian formed. The traditional unit Wolgaisch or Volga Finnish omitted. We thus obtain the structure of the classification presented above in this article.

Future research will show whether the traditionally recorded here against Abondolo 1998 subunit Finno - Permian is linguistically relevant. Wolgaisch as a unit of Mordvin and Mari found in the recent discussion hardly trailers.

The classification of the Ural is again very recently in the discussion (see Angela Marcantonio 2002), in extreme cases, lead to the abandonment of the genetic units Ugric, Finno - Ugric and Uralic as a whole. The question is discussed whether the Uralic is ever described by a family tree model. Against these far-reaching theses but the majority of uralistischen researcher has spoken.

Homeland and spread of Uralic languages

As just shown, corresponds to a particular classification variant closely with a hypothesis about the spread of the respective language group from an assumed original home in its present geographic area. The determination of the original home of the Proto - Uralic is a difficult task due to the high age of the proto-language. It is generally assumed that they can be localized in the central or southern Urals with a center -west of the mountain range. The first separated the ancestors of today's Samoyeds and moved eastward. This separation took place before at least 6000, if not 7000 years, which is from the relatively small number (about 150 ) to include total - Uralic word equations. The splitting of Samoyedic in today's languages ​​probably began only about 2000 years ago.

The Finno-Ugric group was the larger of the beginning by far. First splits this group go back to at least the 3rd millennium BC. As mentioned above, the order of the spin-offs and thus the course of the expansion of the Finno -Ugric languages ​​now ( since about 1970 ) is debatable. Since thunder 1879 it was generally believed that the Ugrian separated as the first group of Finno - Ugric and left behind as the rest of the Finno- Permian unit. The more recent results ( Sammallahti 1984 and 1998, Viitso 1996), however, see the Sami - Finnish group as a peripheral unit that BC moved away from the Finno-Ugric core first time already in the 3rd millennium. This was followed by the Mordvinian and Mari (around 2000 BC), and finally the Permian in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. BC as the core remained the languages ​​from which developed the Ugrian. Probably around 1000 BC you can start at the separation of the Hungarian by the Ob-Ugric languages. The Hungarians ( Magyars self-designation ) taken place since 500 AD together with Turkish tribes moved west and reached and captured the lightly populated Carpathian Basin 895 AD (The name comes from the Hungarian Chuvash - Turkic or Bolgar of on- Ogur = ten Ogur strains ).

Linguistic characteristics of the Uralic languages

Typological characteristics

Typological have the Uralic languages ​​have a large bandwidth. However, some properties are prevalent, or at least widespread: a rich agglutinative morphology with mono semantic suffixes, especially a rich case system with up to 20 " cases ", word order SOV ( in the western Uralic languages ​​by foreign influence often SVO), negation flektierbares by a auxiliary verb, originally a low tendency to number - marking, vocal richness, vocal harmony and Konsonantenstufung. These features will be explained in more detail below.

Reconstruction of Proto - Uralic

The Proto - Uralic could be reconstructed using the methods of comparative linguistics to a certain degree. Particular difficulties makes up the large distance of the Finno - Ugric from Samoyedic, and ultimately the great age of the Proto - Uralic, which is estimated to be at least 7000 years, the virtual absence of "common " morphological markers ( case suffixes, plural markers, verb endings ) in today's Uralic languages ​​and the lack of traditional older texts (see above). Even the remaining similarities of the Uralic languages ​​can not all be regarded as heritage from the Proto - Uralic: some language universals reflect resist, others the influence of neighboring non- Uralic language groups. Here are primarily Indo-European (especially Iranian, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic ), but also the Altaic languages ​​( Turkic, Mongolian and Tungusic ) in question.

The reconstruction of the original proto- Uralic morphemes for Kasusbildung, possessive suffixes, among other things is not without problems because of their relatively low penetration in today's Uralic languages. Furthermore, it appears that these Formantia were widely used " outside of the Uralic languages ​​" in the Eurasian region and are (see the above section " External relations of the Uralic languages ​​").

Below are some selected linguistic features Uralic languages ​​are compiled, which deserve special attention in comparison to Indo-European languages ​​. A comprehensive description of Proto - Uralic are Hajdú 1987.



For the representation of the reconstructed consonants and very rich vowel system of Proto - Uralic is to further reading ( Abondolo 1998, Hajdú 1987) directed. As an example, the phoneme inventory of Finland was used.


The marking v or -v (with occlusive and fricative ) represents the voiced or voiceless form of the consonants.

In the Baltic Finnish and some other Finno-Ugric languages ​​is the length of consonants / m, n, p, t, k, s, l, r, j / innervokalisch distinctive. After nasals and cash and cash is also the length of / p, t, k, s / distinctive ( Abondolo 1998, p 153). For the proto- Uralic you can distinctive consonant length at most for intervocalic / p, t, k / start, this approach is, however, rejected by other researchers ( Hajdú 1987, p 186).


The vowels are the Finnish / i, u, u; e, ö, o; ä, a /. They come in short and long form; this difference is phonemic significance, see the examples. The vowel length is expressed in Finnish by double reduction ( for example, / uu / ), in Hungarian by an accent (eg ház ).

  • Finnish: Tulen of "fire" vs. Tuulen " the wind"
  • Hungarian: Szel " cut " vs. Szél "wind"

Whether the quantity opposition of short and long vowels from the Proto - Uralic comes, can not be defined clearly: in some groups - Mordvin, Mari, Permian - he is not detectable.

Vowel harmony and vowel assimilation

Vowel harmony is the qualitative dependence of Suffixvokals from the root vowel, in a broader sense, the qualitative approximation between the vowels of a word. Both are widely used in the Uralic languages. Whether it is a proto- uralisches feature is controversial: here there may be Turkic influence. The Suffixvokal depends on the quality of the root vowel; this form / a, o, u / one hand and / ä, ö, ü / other hand disjoint classes:

Examples from Finnish:

  • Talo 'house', talo - ssa 'in house'
  • Kynä "pen", kynä - seh " in the pen "

Translated from the Hungarian:

  • Asztal "table", asztal -ok "Tables "
  • Föld "country", föld -ek " countries"

Similar rules apply not only in the Finnish and Hungarian, but also in some dialects of Mordovian, Mari, the Ob-Ugric languages ​​and the Samoyed Kamas. In other Uralic languages ​​, however, the vowel harmony is completely absent.

Strictly speaking, be separated from the vowel harmony is the vowel assimilation. For example, assimilated unstressed suffix -e in Finnish to the previous vowel:

  • Talo ing > taloon " in the house " ( the h is omitted in addition )
  • Talo i hen > taloihin " in the houses "

In Hungarian, the Suffixvokal the ending- hez qualitatively assimilated (in its round ) for the preceding vowel:

  • Ház - hoz " to the house "
  • Kez - hez " at hand "
  • Betu - Hoez " to the letter"

Konsonantenstufung ( stage change)

In Sami - Finnish "hard" consonants by voiced, fricative or liquid variants are replaced defused double consonants to single consonants when the following syllable is closed by a suffix ( for example, when the genitive suffix -n). This process is called Konsonantenstufung or level change.

Examples from Finnish:

  • Mato "worm" > madon " the worm "
  • Matto "carpet" > maton " the carpet "
  • Poika " boy " > Pojan " the boys "
  • Lintu " bird" > linnun " the bird "

In Finnish, generally following transitional rules apply:

  • Pp> p, tt> t, kk> k; mp > mm; t> d, p > v, k > ʔ

Whether traces of Konsonantenstufung can also be found in the Samoyed languages ​​is controversial. Most researchers assume a Sami - Finnish Innovation.

Agglutinative morphology

The Uralic languages ​​use to form the shapes of the nouns and verbs agglutination (Latin for " Anleimung "). Each morpheme (word -forming element ) corresponds to a unique feature of importance (eg case, number, tense or person), the individual morphemes are - taking account of vowel harmony (see above) - just strung together. The morphemes are thus semantically mono (support only one meaning) and juxtaponierend ( anneinanderreihend ). In inflected languages ​​, the endings usually carry several meanings, such as German love -t: here has the ending- t both toward the third person, the singular and the tense present tense. (Samples for agglutination under nominal education and verbal education. )

There is no doubt that this was the Proto - Uralic from agglutinating language type. However, there is in today's Uralic languages ​​few common morphological markers. Most case suffixes, plural marker and verb endings are innovations that have formed independently in the individual Uralic languages. This process can be partially or historical pursue, such as the formation of the Hungarian case suffixes from their old Hungarian predecessors. In contrast to the Indo-European can be reconstructed no comprehensive common morphology, which we might call proto- Uralic for the Uralic thus. This has led to the question of whether the " comparative- historical method " could ever apply to the Uralic languages ​​( Marcantonio 2002).

Nominal Education


The case of the noun are formed in the Uralic languages ​​exclusively through suffixes, never prefixes. Adjective attributes, demonstratives and numerals originally showed no congruence in case and number with the associated noun, were therefore not ' mitdekliniert '.

  • Hungarian: a Négy nagy ház -ban " in the four great houses "

However, the Finno- Sami group has passed under the influence of their Indo-European environment congruence, as the following examples from the Finnish show:

  • Pieni poika " little boy "
  • Piene -t -t Poja " little boys " (plural, pojat with Konsonantenstufung )
  • Neljä - seh iso- ssa talo - ssa " in the four great houses " (with vocal harmony in the locative - ssa )

The Proto - Uralic had at least one nominative (unmarked ), accusative, ablative, locative and relatively ( direction case). This proto- Uralic case are called " Primärkasus " means, all neoplasms in the various modern languages ​​as " Sekundärkasus ". The number of cases is sufficient in modern Uralic languages ​​of the Khanty three, six in the Sami languages ​​, 15 in Finland up to 16 ( or even 21) in Hungarian. The following table shows some typical Kasusbildungen in four Uralic languages ​​:

As these few examples show, most are case suffixes - in this example for locative and ablative - obviously not uralisches Gemeinsgut, but they have individually been formed in later stages of language.

Proto - Uralic Primärkasus

The following table shows the Uralic case endings, which are considered in the Uralic as proto- Uralic similarities. You have today - with the exception of endingless nominative, genitive and accusative - only a peripheral importance in the modern Uralic languages. However, many "modern" case suffixes are formed from them.

Abondolo 1998 shows essentially the same schema as Hajdú, but summarizes some of the similar-sounding Formantia together. Marcantonio extended in 2002 to this list by two lative / -a, -a / and / s / and an ablative / l /, which, however, exist only in certain subgroups of the Ural. It should be noted that almost all consonantal Formantia for Uralic Primärkasus in außeruralischen Eurasian languages ​​occur in the same or a similar function (see the table konsonatischer Formantia in the above section " External links ").

Secondary Uralic case

Most case endings of the modern Uralic languages ​​are not inherited from a common proto-language, but on the contrary relatively young individual linguistic neoplasms. There are two processes substantially. First, the use of primary Formantia to form more complex new endings, secondly, the use and conversion of nouns to post positions and finally to case endings. Both processes are to be shown by a few examples.

So / -na /, / ta /, / l / and / n /, the following cases have been in Finland from primary Formantia with locative functions * / -s /, formed:

The article Finnish language gives a comprehensive overview of the Finnish Kasusschema. Translated from the Hungarian origin of the following examples of the use and transformation of nouns to post positions and Kasusmarkern:

Number and gender

The number (singular, plural and dual ) is not a proto- Uralic category, which can be seen from the fact that the plural marker ( morphemes to mark the plural ) are extremely diverse in the modern Uralic languages. A Dual now exist in the Sami, Ob-Ugric and Samoyed languages. The category of gender ( grammatical gender ) does not exist in the Uralic languages.

Possessive endings

The Uralic languages ​​express by possessive suffixes reference to a person from ( in German " my ", "your ", etc.). Same extensions are often used for verb conjugation ( see below). The following table shows the proto- Uralic reconstructed forms, the possessive suffixes of the Finnish and the personal pronouns in Hungarian.

Nominal chains

More complex noun phrases (nominal chains) are formed in the Uralic languages ​​according to very different principles, the rules for this are but firmly into any language. As an example, the Finnish was again used. In Finnish, a nominal chain has the structure: stem [ plural marker ] Kasusmarker [ Possessivmarker ].

  • Finnish: talo -i - ssa -ni
  • Finnish: talo -i - sta -si " from your houses"

Gesamturalisch applies to possessive constructions, the order, Owner on property ':

  • Finnish: isä -n talo " Father's house ", "the house of the Father "
  • Hungarian: János ház -a " Janos house - be " ( lit.): " Janos ' house"

Verbal Education

The Uralic categories of the verb are

  • Tempus aspect: present - future tense ( "non- past" ), completed a present -future and past ( imperfect, perfect, pluperfect )
  • Mode: indicative, imperative and conditionalis - potentialis
  • Individual: 1st, 2nd and 3rd person
  • Number: singular and plural ( later category, not proto- Uralic )

The diathesis ( active, passive, medium ) is no pan - Uralic category. Constructions with auxiliary verbs are - arose only under the influence of Germanic languages ​​- for example, in Finland. Some examples to get Verbal education from Finnish:

The past tense is formed by present stem i personal ending. This leads to contractions and assimilations, for example,

  • Laula -i -n> Laulo -i -n " I sang "
  • Laula - i-a > Laulo -i " he, she sang it "

By insertion of - isi - between the verb stem and the ending conditionalis is marked:

  • Puhu - isi -n " I would speak "

Negative verb

The negation is expressed by a konjugierbares negative verb, similar to the description in English I do not go. For example, in Finnish:

  • Mene- n " I go "
  • En mene " I - do - not go " ( lit.) → " I do not go "
  • Mene- t " you go "
  • E-t mene " do not you "

Euphemism for " have "

"To have" is "to be" by the auxiliary verb expressed with a local cases.

  • Finnish: isä - llä on talo " father - in is house" ( lit.) → " father has a house "
  • Hungarian: János - nak van egy ház -a " Janos - in is a house be - " ( lit.) → " Janos has a house "

Word order

The original Uralic word position in the sentence is SOV ( subject - object - predicate or verb). She is still at the Samoyed and Ob-Ugric languages ​​the rule, common in the central Finno- Ugric languages ​​in Russia and Hungary, though not mandatory. In the Baltic-Finnic languages ​​it has changed under the influence of Indo-European in the position SVO.