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|87,000, including Seto (2011 census)|
|Regulated by||Võro Institute (semi-official)|
Võro language area -- Võromaa (Võro county) in its historical boundaries between Tartu and Seto areas, Russia (Vinnemaa) and Latvia (Lätimaa)
Võro (Võro: võro kiil' ['v?ro k?i:l?], Estonian: võru keel) is a language belonging to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. Traditionally, it has been considered a dialect of the South Estonian dialect group of the Estonian language, but nowadays it has its own literary standard and is in search of official recognition as an indigenous regional language of Estonia. Võro has roughly 75,000 speakers (Võros) mostly in southeastern Estonia, in the eight parishes of the historical Võru County: Karula, Harglõ, Urvastõ, Rõugõ, Kanepi, Põlva, Räpinä and Vahtsõliina. These parishes are currently centred (due to redistricting) in Võru and Põlva counties, with parts extending into Valga and Tartu counties. Speakers can also be found in the towns of Tallinn and Tartu and the rest of Estonia.
Võro is a descendant of the old South Estonian regional language and is the least influenced by Standard Estonian (which is based on Northern Estonian dialects). Võro was once spoken further south and east of historical Võromaa in South Estonian-speaking enclaves Lutsi, Leivu and Kraasna in what is now Latvia and Russia. In addition to Võro, other contemporary variants of South Estonian include the Mulgi, Tartu and Seto dialect.
One of the earliest written evidences of South Estonian is a translation of the New Testament (Wastne Testament) published in 1686. Although the status of South Estonian began to diminish after the 1880s, the language began to undergo a revival in the late 1980s.
The majority of Estonians perceive the Võro language as a modern synonym for South Estonian. Today, Võro is used in the works of some of Estonia's best-known playwrights, poets, and authors (Madis Kõiv, Ülle Kauksi, Jaan Kaplinski, Ain Kaalep, etc.). One newspaper is printed in Võro: the fortnightly Uma Leht (literally Our Own Newspaper). Twenty six public schools offer weekly special classes (mostly extracurricular) in modern Võro.
Võro employs the Latin script, like Estonian and Finnish.
Most letters (including ä, ö, ü, and õ) denote the same sounds as in Estonian, with a few exceptions. The letter q stands for the glottal stop /?/ and y denotes , a vowel very close to Russian ? or Polish y (from 2005 written õ).
Palatalization of consonants is marked with an acute accent (´) or apostrophe ('). In proper typography and in handwriting, the palatalisation mark does not extend above the cap height (except uppercase letters ?, ?, ?, V? etc.), and it is written above the letter if the letter has no ascender (?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, v? etc.) but written to the right of it otherwise (b', d', f', h', k', l', t'). In computing, it is not usually possible to enter these character combinations or to make them look esthetically pleasing with most common fonts, so the apostrophe is generally placed after the letter in all cases. This convention is followed in this article as well.
The vowel harmony system distinguishes front, back and neutral vowels, much like the system found in Finnish. A word cannot contain both front and back vowels; suffixes automatically adapt the backness of the vowels depending on the type of vowels found in the word it is attached to. Neutral vowels can be combined with either type of vowel, although a word that contains only neutral vowels has front vowel harmony. The only neutral vowel is i, like in Votic but unlike Finnish and Karelian, where e is also neutral.
|Close unrounded||i (?*)|
Some examples, with Estonian and Finnish included for comparison:
Endings are shown only in the back vowel harmony variant. The e of the illative ending does not undergo vowel harmony, so it never changes to õ.
Only the more common endings are shown. There are some unusual/irregular endings that are only found in a few words or word types.
|Genitive (umakäänüs)||-i, -(i)dõ||Possession, relation|
|Partitive (osakäänüs)||-?, -d, -t||-i, -id, -it||Atelic/partial object|
|Illative (sissekäänüs)||-?, -he, -htõ||-i, -(i)he, -dõhe||Motion into|
|Inessive (seenkäänüs)||-(h)n||-i(h)n, -(i)dõ(h)n||Being in/inside|
|Elative (seestkäänüs)||-st||-ist, -(i)dõst||Motion out of|
|Allative (päälekäänüs)||-lõ||-ilõ, -(i)dõlõ||Motion onto, towards|
|Adessive (päälkäänüs)||-l||-il, -(i)dõl||Being at, on|
|Ablative (päältkäänüs)||-lt||-ilt, -(i)dõlt||Motion off, from|
|Translative (saajakäänüs)||-s||-is, -(i)dõs||Changing into|
|Terminative (piirikäänüs)||-niq||-iniq, -(i)dõniq||Until, up to, as far as|
|Abessive (ilmakäänüs)||-ldaq||-ildaq, -(i)dõldaq||Without, lacking|
|Comitative (ütenkäänüs)||-gaq||-igaq, -(i)dõgaq||With, in company of, by means of|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2015)
The 3rd person singular of the indicative mood can be either without an ending or, alternatively, with an s-ending:
Võro has a negative particle that is appended to the end of the verb, whereas standard Estonian and Finnish have a negative verb, which precedes the verb. In Estonian and Finnish, the negative verb ei (Finnish en/et/ei/emme/ette/eivät) is used in both present and past negation, whereas in Võro the same is expressed by different particles ending with -i(q) or -s:
|saq anna-aiq||sa ei anna||sinä et anna||You don't give|
|maq tulõ-õiq||ma ei tule||minä en tule||I don't come|
|saq anna-as||sa ei andnud||sinä et antanut||You didn't give|
|maq tulõ-õs||ma ei tulnud||minä en tullut||I didn't come|
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Võro:
As comparison the same sentence in Standard Estonian: