Mansi Language
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Mansi Language
Native toRussia
Ethnicity12,300 Mansi (2010 census)[1]
Native speakers
940 (2010 census)[1]
  • Southern
  • Eastern
  • Northern
  • Western
Language codes
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Mansi languages (previously, Vogul and also Maansi) are spoken by the Mansi people in Russia along the Ob River and its tributaries, in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, and Sverdlovsk Oblast. Traditionally considered a single language, they constitute a branch of the Uralic languages, often considered most closely related to the neighbouring Khanty languages and then to Hungarian. According to the 2010 census, there were only 940 Mansi-speaking people in Russia out of an ethnic population of 12,000.

The base dialect of the Mansi literary language is the Sosva dialect, a representative of the northern language. The discussion below is based on the standard language. Fixed word order is typical in Mansi. Adverbials and participles play an important role in sentence construction. A written language was first published in 1868, and the current Cyrillic alphabet was devised in 1937.


Dialects of Mansi (and Khanty).
  Northern Mansi
  Western and Southern Mansi
  Eastern Mansi

Mansi is subdivided into four main dialect groups which are to a large degree mutually unintelligible, and therefore best considered four languages. A primary split can be set up between the Southern variety and the remainder. A number of features are also shared between the Western and Eastern varieties, while certain later sound changes have diffused between Eastern and Northern (and are also found in some neighboring dialects of Northern Khanty to the east).

Individual dialects are known according to the rivers their speakers live(d) on:[2]


Southern Mansi (Tavdin) (+)

Core Mansi
Central Mansi
Western Mansi (+)


North Vagilsk

South Vagilsk

Lower Lozva

Middle Lozva

Eastern Mansi (Kondin)

Lower Konda

Middle Konda

Upper Konda


Northern Mansi

Upper Lozva




The sub-dialects given above are those which were still spoken in the late 19th and early 20th century and have been documented in linguistic sources on Mansi. Pre-scientific records from the 18th and early 19th centuries exist also of other varieties of Western and Southern Mansi, spoken further west: the Tagil, Tura and Chusovaya dialects of Southern[3] and the Vishera dialect of Western.[4]

The two dialects last mentioned were hence spoken on the western slopes of the Urals, where also several early Russian sources document Mansi settlements. Placename evidence has been used to suggest Mansi presence reaching still much further west in earlier times,[5] though this has been criticized as poorly substantiated.[6]

Northern Mansi has strong Russian, Komi, Nenets, and Northern Khanty influence, and it forms the base of the literary Mansi language. There is no accusative case; that is, both the nominative and accusative roles are unmarked on the noun. */æ/ and */æ:/ have been backed to [a] and [a:].

Western Mansi went extinct ca. 2000. It had strong Russian and Komi influences; dialect differences were also considerable.[7] Long vowels were diphthongized.

Eastern Mansi is spoken by 100-200 people. It has Khanty and Tatar influence. There is vowel harmony, and for */æ:/ it has , frequently diphthongized.

Southern Mansi was recorded from area isolated from the other Mansi varieties. Around 1900 a couple hundred speakers existed; in the 1960s it was spoken only by a few elderly speakers,[7] and it has since then gone extinct. It had strong Tatar influence and displayed several archaisms such as vowel harmony, retention of /y/ (elsewhere merged with */æ/), /ts?/ (elsewhere deaffricated to /s?/), /æ:/ (elsewhere fronted to /a:/ or diphthongized) and /?:/ (elsewhere raised to /o:/).


Mansi consonants[8]
Labial Alveolar (Alveolo-)
Plain Labialized
Nasals /m/
Stops /p/
Affricate /ts?/ [1]
Fricatives /s/
/?/ [2]
/x/ [3] /?/
? ?
/x?/ [3] * [4]
Semivowels /j/
?, ?
Laterals /l/
Trill /r/

The inventory presented here is a maximal collection of segments found across the Mansi varieties. Some remarks:

  1. /ts?/ was only found in Southern Mansi and corresponds to /s?/ in the other varieties.
  2. /?/ is absent in most dialects of the Northern and Eastern groups, having merged into /s/.
  3. The voiceless velar fricatives /x/, /x?/ are only found in the Northern group and the Lower Konda dialect of the Eastern group, resulting from spirantization of *k, *k? adjacent to original back vowels.
  4. According to Honti, a contrast between *w and * can be reconstructed, but this does not surface in any of the attested varieties.
  5. The labialization contrast among the velars dates back to Proto-Mansi, but was in several varieties strengthened by labialization of velars adjacent to rounded vowels. In particular, Proto-Mansi *yK -> Core Mansi *æK? (a form of transphonologization).

The vowel systems across Mansi show great variety. As typical across the Uralic languages, many more vowel distinctions were possible in the initial, stressed syllable than in unstressed ones. Up to 18-19 stressed vowel contrasts may be found in the Western and Eastern dialects, while Northern Mansi has a much reduced, largely symmetric system of 8 vowels, though lacking short **/e/ and long **/i:/:


The first publication of the written Mansi language was a translation of the Gospel of Matthew published in London in 1868. In 1932 a version of Latin alphabet was introduced with little success. The former Latin alphabet:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, ?, I, J, K, L, ?, M, N, ?, ?, O, P, R, S, S, T, ?, U, V, Z, ?

In 1937, Cyrillic replaced the Latin.

The highlighted letters, and ? with the value /?/, are used only in names and loanwords.

/?/, /?/


/l/, /?/
/n/, /?/








Mansi is an agglutinating, subject-object-verb (SOV) language.[9]


There are two articles in Mansi: definite (a?), which also means "now" when placed before verbs, and indefinite (ak?), literally "one".[10]


There is no grammatical gender. Mansi distinguishes between singular, dual and plural number. Six grammatical cases exist. Possession is expressed using possessive suffixes, for example -, which means "my".

Grammatical cases, declining

Example with: /put/ (cauldron)

case sing. dual plural


loc. ?


lat. ?




- -


Missing cases can be expressed using postpositions, such as (?aln?l, 'of, out of'), ? (sait, 'after, behind'), etc.


Mansi conjugation has three persons, three numbers, two tenses, and four moods. Active and passive voices exist.

Intransitive and transitive conjugations are distinguished. This means that there are two possible ways of conjugating a verb. When the speaker conjugates in intransitive, the sentence has no concrete object (in this case, the object is nothing or something like something, anything). In the transitive conjugation, there is a concrete object. This feature also exists in the other Ugric languages.


Mansi uses suffixes to express the tense. The tense suffix precedes the personal suffix.

Tense Suffix Example
Present -? (lat.[11] -g) ?? (lat. minagum - I am going)
Past -? (lat. -s) ?? (minasum - I went)

The language has no future tense; the future is expressed in other ways.


There are four moods: indicative, conditional, imperative and precative.

Indicative mood has no suffix. Imperative mood exists only in the second person.

Personal suffixes

The suffixes are the following:

Person Singular Dual Plural
1st - -? -
2nd - - -
3rd (no suffix) - -

Thus, the conjugation of the verb ? (lat. mina [go]), in past tense (remember the suffix -?):

Person Singular Dual Plural
1st ? (minasum) (minasumen) ? (minasuv)
2nd ? ? ?
3rd ? ?

Active/Passive voice

Verbs have active and passive voice. Active voice has no suffix; the suffix to express the passive is --.

Verbal prefixes

Verbal prefixes are used to modify the meaning of the verb in both concrete and abstract ways. For example, with the prefix - (el-) (away, off) the verb ? (mina) (go) becomes (elmina), which means to go away. This is surprisingly close to the Hungarian equivalents: el- (away) and menni (to go), where elmenni is to go away

?l(a) - 'forwards, onwards, away'

j?m- 'to go, to stride' ?l-j?m- 'to go away/on'
tinal- 'to sell' ?l-tinal- 'to sell off'

?ot - 'direction away from something and other nuances of action intensity'

min- 'to go' ?ot-min- 'to go away, to stop'
ro?t- 'to be frightened' ?ot-ro?t- 'to take fright suddenly'


# Northern Mansi Hungarian
1 ? (ak?a) egy
2 (kiti?) kett?
3 (xu:r?m) három
4 ? (?ila) négy
5 (at) öt
6 (xo:t) hat
7 (sa:t) hét
8 (?ollow) nyolc
9 (ont?low) kilenc
10 (low) tíz
20 (xus) húsz
100 (sa:t/jani?sa:t) száz
1000 (so:t?r) ezer

Numbers 1 and 2 also have attributive forms: (1) and (2); compare with Hungarian két, Old Hungarian kit).


?. - I went fishing (literally "I fish catch went").


  1. ^ a b Mansi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Honti 1998, pp. 327-328.
  3. ^ Gulya, Janos (1958). "Egy 1736-ból származó manysi nyelvemlék". Nyelvtudományi Közlemények (60): 41-45.
  4. ^ Kannisto, Artturi (1918). "Ein Wörterverzeichnis eines ausgestorbenen wogulischen Dialektes in den Papieren M. A. Castréns". Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Aikakauskira (30/8).
  5. ^ Kannisto, Artturi (1927). "Über die früheren Wohngebiete der Wogulen". Finnisch-Ugrische Forschungen (XVIII): 57-89.
  6. ^ Napolskikh, Vladimir V. (2002). ""Ugro-Samoyeds" in Eastern Europe?". Finnisch-Ugrische Mitteilungen (24/25): 127-148.
  7. ^ a b Kálmán 1965, pp. 4-5.
  8. ^ a b Honti 1998, p. 335.
  9. ^ Grenoble, Lenore A (2003). Language Policy in the Soviet Union. Springer. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-4020-1298-3.
  10. ^ ? (?) ?, ?. 200
  11. ^ *lat.: With Latin script.


  • Nyelvrokonaink. Teleki László Alapítvány, Budapest, 2000.
  • A világ nyelvei. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest
  • Honti, László (1998). "ObUgrian". In Abondolo, Daniel (ed.). The Uralic Languages.
  • Kálmán, Béla (1965). Vogul Chrestomathy. Indiana University Publications. Uralic and Altaic Series. 46. The Hague: Mouton.
  • Kulonen, Ulla-Maija (2007). Itämansin kielioppi ja tekstejä. Apuneuvoja suomalais-ugrilaisten kielten opintoja varten (in Finnish). XV. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. ISBN 978-952-5150-87-2.
  • Munkácsi, Bernát and Kálmán, Béla. 1986. Wogulisches Wörterbuch. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest. [In German and Hungarian.]
  • Riese, Timothy. Vogul: Languages of the World/Materials 158. Lincom Europa, 2001. ISBN 3-89586-231-2
  • , ? . ? (?) ?, Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Linguistics, 1973. [In Russian.]

External links

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