Finno-Ugric (// or //; Fenno-Ugric) or Finno-Ugrian (Fenno-Ugrian), is a traditional grouping of all languages in the Uralic language family except the Samoyedic languages. Its formerly commonly accepted status as a subfamily of Uralic is based on criteria formulated in the 19th century and is criticized by some contemporary linguists such as Tapani Salminen and Ante Aikio as inaccurate and misleading. The three most-spoken Uralic languages, Hungarian, Finnish, and Estonian, are all included in Finno-Ugric, although linguistic roots common to both branches of the traditional Finno-Ugric language tree (Finno-Permic and Ugric) are distant.
|Eastern, Central and Northern Europe, North Asia|
|ISO 639-2 / 5||fiu|
The Finno-Ugric languages
The term Finno-Ugric, which originally referred to the entire family, is sometimes used as a synonym for the term Uralic, which includes the Samoyedic languages, as commonly happens when a language family is expanded with further discoveries.
The validity of Finno-Ugric as a phylogenic grouping is under challenge, with some maintaining that the Finno-Permic languages are as distinct from the Ugric languages as they are from the Samoyedic languages spoken in Siberia, or even that none of the Finno-Ugric, Finno-Permic, or Ugric branches has been established. Received opinion has been that the easternmost (and last-discovered) Samoyed had separated first and the branching into Ugric and Finno-Permic took place later, but this reconstruction does not have strong support in the linguistic data.
Attempts at reconstructing a Proto-Finno-Ugric proto-language, a common ancestor of all Uralic languages except for the Samoyedic languages, are largely indistinguishable from Proto-Uralic, suggesting that Finno-Ugric might not be a historical grouping but a geographical one, with Samoyedic being distinct by lexical borrowing rather than actually being historically divergent. It has been proposed that the area in which Proto-Finno-Ugric was spoken reached between the Baltic Sea and the Ural Mountains.
Traditionally, the main set of evidence for the genetic proposal of Proto-Finno-Ugric has come from vocabulary. A large amount of vocabulary (e.g. the numerals "one", "three", "four" and "six"; the body-part terms "hand", "head") is only reconstructed up to the Proto-Finno-Ugric level, and only words with a Samoyedic equivalent have been reconstructed for Proto-Uralic. That methodology has been criticised, as no coherent explanation other than inheritance has been presented for the origin of most of the Finno-Ugric vocabulary (though a small number has been explained as old loanwords from Proto-Indo-European or its immediate successors).
The Samoyedic group has undergone a longer period of independent development, and its divergent vocabulary could be caused by mechanisms of replacement such as language contact. (The Finno-Ugric group is usually dated to approximately 4,000 years ago, the Samoyedic a little over 2,000.) Proponents of the traditional binary division note, however, that the invocation of extensive contact influence on vocabulary is at odds with the grammatical conservatism of Samoyedic.
The consonant *š (voiceless postalveolar fricative, [ʃ]) has not been conclusively shown to occur in the traditional Proto-Uralic lexicon, but it is attested in some of the Proto-Finno-Ugric material. Another feature attested in the Finno-Ugric vocabulary is that *i now behaves as a neutral vowel with respect to front-back vowel harmony, and thus there are roots such as *niwa- "to remove the hair from hides".
- Compensatory lengthening: development of long vowels from the cluster of vowel plus a particular syllable-final element, of unknown quality, symbolized by *x
- Raising of short *o to *u in open syllables before a subsequent *i
- Shortening of long vowels in closed syllables and before a subsequent open vowel *a, *ä, predating the raising of *ää and *ee
- E.g. *ńäxl+mä → *ńäälmä → *ńälmä "tongue" (→ Northern Sami njalbmi, Hungarian nyelv, etc.)
Sammallahti (1988) further reconstructs sound changes *oo, *ee → *a, *ä (merging with original *a, *ä) for the development from Proto-Finno-Ugric to Proto-Ugric. Similar sound laws are required for other languages as well. Thus, the origin and raising of long vowels may actually belong at a later stage, and the development of these words from Proto-Uralic to Proto-Ugric can be summarized as simple loss of *x (if it existed in the first place at all; vowel length only surfaces consistently in the Baltic-Finnic languages.) The proposed raising of *o has been alternately interpreted instead as a lowering *u → *o in Samoyedic (PU *lumi → *lomə → Proto-Samoyedic *jom).
Janhunen (2007, 2009) notes a number of derivational innovations in Finno-Ugric, including *ńoma "hare" → *ńoma-la, (vs. Samoyedic *ńomå), *pexli "side" → *peel-ka → *pelka "thumb", though involving Proto-Uralic derivational elements.
The Finno-Ugric group is not typologically distinct from Uralic as a whole: the most widespread structural features among the group all extend to the Samoyedic languages as well.
Modern linguistic research has shown that Volgaic languages is a geographical classification rather than a linguistic one, because the Mordvinic languages are more closely related to the Finno-Lappic languages than the Mari languages.
The relation of the Finno-Permic and the Ugric groups is adjudged remote by some scholars. On the other hand, with a projected time depth of only 3,000 to 4,000 years, the traditionally accepted Finno-Ugric grouping would be far younger than many major families such as Indo-European or Semitic, and would be about the same age as, for instance, the Eastern subfamily of Nilotic. But the grouping is far from transparent or securely established. The absence of early records is a major obstacle. As for the Finno-Ugric Urheimat, most of what has been said about it is speculation.
Some linguists criticizing the Finno-Ugric genetic proposal also question the validity of the entire Uralic family, instead proposing a Ural–Altaic hypothesis, within which they believe Finno-Permic may be as distant from Ugric as from Turkic. However, this approach has been rejected by nearly all other specialists in Uralic linguistics.
One argument in favor of the Finno-Ugric grouping has come from loanwords. Several loans from the Indo-European languages are present in most or all of the Finno-Ugric languages, while being absent from Samoyedic; many others also must be for phonological reasons dated as quite old.
According to Häkkinen (1983) the alleged Proto-Finno-Ugric loanwords are disproportionally well-represented in Hungarian and the Permic languages, and disproportionally poorly represented in the Ob-Ugric languages; hence it is possible that such words have been acquired by the languages only after the initial dissolution of the Uralic family into individual dialects, and that the scarcity of loanwords in Samoyedic results from its peripheric location.
The number systems among the Finno-Ugric languages are particularly distinct from the Samoyedic languages: only the numerals "2" and "5" have cognates in Samoyedic, while also the numerals, "1", "3", "4", "6", "10" are shared by all or most Finno-Ugric languages.
Below are the numbers 1 to 10 in several Finno-Ugric languages. Forms in italic do not descend from the reconstructed forms.
|Finnish||Estonian||Võro||Livonian||Northern Sami||Inari Sami||Erzya||Moksha||Meadow Mari||Komi||Mansi||Khanty||Hungarian|
gen. yhden, part. yhtä
gen. ühe, part. üht(e)
gen. kahden, part. kahta
gen. kahe, part. kaht(e)
The number '2' descends in Ugric from a front-vocalic variant *kektä.
The numbers '9' and '8' in Finnic through Mari are considered to be derived from the numbers '1' and '2' as '10–1' and '10–2'. One reconstruction is *yk+teksa and *kak+teksa, respectively, where *teksa cf. deka is an Indo-European loan; notice that the difference between /t/ and /d/ is not phonemic, unlike in Indo-European. Another analysis is *ykt-e-ksa, *kakt-e-ksa, with *e being the negative verb.
Finno-Ugric Swadesh listsEdit
The four largest ethnic groups that speak Finno-Ugric languages are the Hungarians (14.5 million), Finns (6.5 million), Estonians (1.1 million), and Mordvins (0.85 million). Majorities of three (the Hungarians, Finns, and Estonians) inhabit their respective nation states in Europe, i.e. Hungary, Finland, and Estonia, while a large minority of Mordvins inhabit the federal Mordovian Republic within Russia (Russian Federation). The indigenous area of the Sámi people, known as Sápmi, is northern Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia. Some other peoples that speak Finno-Ugric languages have been assigned autonomous republics within Russia. These are the Karelians (Republic of Karelia), Komi (Komi Republic), Udmurts (Udmurt Republic) and Mari (Mari El Republic). The Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug was set up for the Khanty and Mansi of Russia. A once-autonomous Komi-Permyak Okrug was set up for a region of high Komi habitation outside the Komi Republic.
International Finno-Ugric societiesEdit
In the Finno-Ugric countries of Finland, Estonia and Hungary that find themselves surrounded by speakers of unrelated tongues, language origins and language history have long been relevant to national identity. In 1992, the 1st World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples was organized in Syktyvkar in the Komi Republic in Russia, the 2nd World Congress in 1996 in Budapest in Hungary, the 3rd Congress in 2000 in Helsinki in Finland, the 4th Congress in 2004 in Tallinn in Estonia, the 5th Congress in 2008 in Khanty-Mansiysk in Russia, the 6th Congress in 2012 in Siófok in Hungary, the 7th Congress in 2016 in Lahti in Finland, and the 8th Congress in 2021 in Tartu in Estonia. The members of the Finno-Ugric Peoples' Consultative Committee include: the Erzyas, Estonians, Finns, Hungarians, Ingrian Finns, Ingrians, Karelians, Khants, Komis, Mansis, Maris, Mokshas, Nenetses, Permian Komis, Saamis, Tver Karelians, Udmurts, Vepsians; Observers: Livonians, Setos.
In 2007, the 1st Festival of the Finno-Ugric Peoples was hosted by President Vladimir Putin of Russia, and visited by Finnish President, Tarja Halonen, and Hungarian Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány.
The linguistic reconstruction of the Finno-Ugric language family has led to the postulation that the ancient Proto-Finno-Ugric people were ethnically related, and that even the modern Finno-Ugric-speaking peoples are ethnically related. Such hypotheses are based on the assumption that heredity can be traced through linguistic relatedness, although it must be kept in mind that language shift and ethnic admixture, a relatively frequent and common occurrence both in recorded history and most likely also in prehistory, confuses the picture and there is no straightforward relationship, if at all, between linguistic and genetic affiliation. Still, the premise that the speakers of the ancient proto-language were ethnically homogeneous is generally accepted.
Modern genetic studies have shown that the Y-chromosome haplogroup N3, and sometimes N2, is almost specific though certainly not restricted to Uralic- or Finno-Ugric-speaking populations, especially as high frequency or primary paternal haplogroup. These haplogroups branched from haplogroup N, which probably spread north, then west and east from Northern China about 12,000–14,000 years before present from father haplogroup NO (haplogroup O being the most common Y-chromosome haplogroup in Southeast Asia).
A study of the Finno-Ugric-speaking peoples of northern Eurasia (i.e., excluding the Hungarians), carried out between 2002 and 2008 in the Department of Forensic Medicine at the University of Helsinki, showed that the Finno-Ugric-speaking populations do not retain genetic evidence of a common founder. Most possess an amalgamation of West and East Eurasian gene pools that may have been present in central Asia, with subsequent genetic drift and recurrent founder effects among speakers of various branches of Finno-Ugric. Not all branches show evidence of a single founder effect. North Eurasian Finno-Ugric-speaking populations were found to be genetically a heterogeneous group showing lower haplotype diversities compared to more southern populations. North Eurasian Finno-Ugric-speaking populations possess unique genetic features due to complex genetic changes shaped by molecular and population genetics and adaptation to the areas of Boreal and Arctic North Eurasia.
Some of the ethnicities speaking Finno-Ugric languages are:
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- Salminen, Tapani (2002): Problems in the taxonomy of the Uralic languages in the light of modern comparative studies; the clade has also been abandoned by Ethnologue.
- Aikio, Ante (24 March 2022). "Chapter 1: Proto-Uralic". In Bakró-Nagy, Marianne; Laakso, Johanna; Skribnik, Elena (eds.). The Oxford Guide to the Uralic Languages. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198767664.
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- Häkkinen, Jaakko 2009: Kantauralin ajoitus ja paikannus: perustelut puntarissa. – Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Aikakauskirja 92. http://www.sgr.fi/susa/92/hakkinen.pdf
- Aikio, Ante (2012), "On Finnic long vowels, Samoyed vowel sequences, and Proto-Uralic *x", Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia, 264, ISSN 0355-0230
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- especially Angela Marcantonio
- For refutations, see e.g. Aikio 2003; Bakró-Nagy 2003, 2005; De Smit 2003; Georg 2003; Kallio 2004; Laakso 2004; Saarikivi 2004.
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- "The VII (7th) World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples". Fenno-Ugria. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
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- "Finno-Ugric Peoples' Consultative Committee, Members". World Congresses of the Finno-Ugric Peoples. Finno-Ugric Peoples' Consultative Committee. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- "Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura (in Finnish)". Finno-Ugrian Society (in English). Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- "International Festival of the Finno-Ugric Peoples". Press Release from the Kremlin in Russia. 19 July 2007. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- "Press Statements by President Vladimir Putin, leaders of Finland and Hungary". Press Release from the Kremlin in Russia. July 19, 2007. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
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- "Where do Finnish come from?". 19 November 2014.
- Rootsi, Siiri; Zhivotovsky, L. A.; Baldovic, M.; Kayser, M.; Kutuev, I. A.; Khusainova, R.; Bermisheva, M. A.; Gubina, M.; Fedorova, S. A.; Ilumäe, A. M.; Khusnutdinova, E. K.; Voevoda, M. I.; Osipova, L. P.; Stoneking, M.; Lin, A. A.; Ferak, V.; Parik, J.; Kivisild, T.; Underhill, P. A.; Villems, R. (February 2007). "European Journal of Human Genetics – Abstract of article: A counter-clockwise northern route of the Y-chromosome haplogroup N from Southeast Asia towards Europe". European Journal of Human Genetics. 15 (2): 204–211. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201748. PMID 17149388. S2CID 19265287.
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- Some Finno-Ugrian links A more comprehensive link collection
- Swadesh lists for the Finno-Ugric languages (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)
- FAQ about Finno-Ugrian Languages
- Linguistic Shadow-Boxing Johanna Laakso's book review of Angela Marcantonio's "The Uralic language family. Facts, myths and statistics"
- Uralic Linguistics Vs. Voodoo Science! A collection of links about the "new paradigm" debate by Merlijn de Smit
- Numbers in Asian languages Counting to ten in a variety of languages
- Ugri.info Finno-Ugric peoples infobase
- Finno-Ugric Electronic Library by the Finno-Ugric Information Center in Syktyvkar, Komi Republic Interface in Russian and English, texts in Mari, Komi, Udmurt, Erzya and Moksha languages.
- The Finno-Ugrics: The dying fish swims in water The Economist, December 20, 2005
- "Ethnic origins of Finno-Ugric nations and modern Finno-Ugric nationalism in the Russian Federation" by Konstantin Zamyatin