Mordvinic languages

The Mordvinic languages,[2] alternatively Mordvin languages,[3] or Mordvinian languages (Russian: Мордовские языки, Mordovskiye yazyki, the official Russian term for the language pair),[4] are a subgroup of the Uralic languages, comprising the closely related Erzya language and Moksha language (both spoken in Mordovia).[5] Previously considered a single "Mordvin language",[6] it is now treated as a small language grouping. Due to differences in phonology, lexicon, and grammar, Erzya and Moksha are not mutually intelligible, to the extent that the Russian language is often used for intergroup communications.[7]

Southwestern and Southeastern Russia
Linguistic classificationUralic

The two Mordvinic languages also have separate literary forms. The Erzya literary language was created in 1922 and the Mokshan in 1923.[8]

Phonological differences between the two languages include:[6]

  • Moksha retains a distinction between the vowels /ɛ, e/ while in Erzya, both have merged as /e/.
  • In unstressed syllables, Erzya features vowel harmony like many other Uralic languages, using [e] in front-vocalic words and [o] in back-vocalic words. Moksha has a simple schwa [ə] in their place.
  • Word-initially, Erzya has a postalveolar affricate /tʃ/ corresponding to a fricative /ʃ/ in Moksha.
  • Next to voiceless consonants, liquids /r, rʲ, l, lʲ/ and the semivowel /j/ are devoiced in Moksha to [r̥ r̥ʲ l̥ l̥ʲ ȷ̊].

The medieval Meshcherian language may have been Mordvinic or close to Mordvinic.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Mordvin". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Bright, William (1992). International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-505196-4.
  3. ^ Mordvin languages @ google books
  4. ^ Dalby, Andrew (1998). Dictionary of Languages. Columbia University Press. p. 429. Erza.
  5. ^ Grenoble, Lenore (2003). Language Policy in the Soviet Union. Springer. p. A80. ISBN 978-1-4020-1298-3.
  6. ^ a b Raun, Alo (1988). Sinor, Denis (ed.). The Uralic languages: Description, history and foreign influences. BRILL. p. A96. ISBN 978-90-04-07741-6.
  7. ^ Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, Many Nations. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. A489. ISBN 978-0-313-30984-7.
  8. ^ Wixman, Ronald (1984). The Peoples of the USSR. M.E. Sharpe. p. A137. ISBN 978-0-87332-506-6.