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Languages

Udmurt

The Udmurt language (or, by an earlier exonym, Votyak) is a member of the Uralic language family, a somewhat endangered indigenous language in Russia. It is spoken in the area between the Vyatka, Cheptsa and Kama rivers, about 1,200 kilometers (about 750 miles) east of Moscow but west of the Ural mountains, in the Udmurt Republic (or, informally, Udmurtia). Additionally, Udmurts also live in greater numbers in Kazakhstan, and dispersed in many cities and towns of Russia. According to the latest, 2010, Russian census, 552,299 people profess to be of Udmurt ethnicity and 324,338 to be speakers of the Udmurt language. (Both figures have been decreasing from census to census in recent decades.)

Most of the Udmurts of Russia (about 410,000 people) live in Udmurtia, but large numbers of them live in administrative units neighboring it: 23,000 in the Republic of Tatarstan, 21,000 in the Republic of Bashkortostan, 21,000 in the Perm Krai, and 13,000 in the Kirov Oblast. About 247,000 speakers of Udmurt live in Udmurtia.

Four dialect groups of the Udmurt language have traditionally been differentiated. The Besermyan variety, belonging to the northern dialect group and spoken by about 3,100 people, has been considered a separate language since the 2002 Russian census. The northern dialect group has been heavily affected by contact with the Russian language, while the central, southern and peripheral dialects by contact with with the Tatar and Bashkir languages. The Udmurt language has a standard (or literary) variety.

Today, the Udmurt language is used mostly within the family and among friends, and even though it is an official language in Udmurtia, but it has limited power and rights. It is not used in the legislature or political life. However, it is present in the media, education, and the cultural sphere, as well as enjoying a growing presence on the internet.


Mansi

The Mansi language (or, by an earlier exonym, Vogul) is a member of the Uralic language family, a severely endangered indigenous language in Russia. It is spoken primarily in the Khanti-Mansi Autonomous Okrug of Western Siberia. According to the latest, 2010, Russian census, 12,269 people profess to be of Mansi ethnicity and 938 to be speakers of the Mansi language. (The former figure has been increasing from census to census in recent decades, while the latter decreasing.)

Most of the Mansis of Russia (10,977 people) live in the Khanti-Mansi Autonomous Okrug (or, informally, Yugra), while some live in administrative units neighboring it: 637 elsewhere in the Tyumen Oblast, 251 in the Sverdlovsk Oblast, and 8 in the Komi Republic.

Four dialect groups of the Mansi language originally existed, but by far not all of them have survived to this day. The southern Mansi dialect became extinct, most likely, in the 1950s, and the western dialect even more recently. The eastern dialect is often claimed to have become extinct, however, recent fieldwork has demonstrated that there are still living speakers of it who are able to serve as language consultants. The northern dialect (more specifically, its Sosva variety) of Mansi serves as the basis of the standard variety of the language.

Today, the Mansi language is used mostly within the family and among friends. It has no official status or economic value associated with it. It is not used in the legislature or political life. However, it is present in the media, education, and the cultural sphere, as well as enjoying a growing presence on the internet.