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Udmurt is spoken by more than 550.000 people. The vast majority of the speakers live in the Udmurt Autonomous Republic in the Russian Federation. A significant minority of presumably more than 15.000 lives in Kazakhstan.

Udmurt belongs to the Permic sub-group of the Finno-Ugric languages, which form a top-level constituent of the Uralic language family. Udmurt is closely related to the other Permic languages Komi-Permyak and Komi-Zyrian.

Udmurt is also known under the name of Votyak.

The first extensive publications in the Udmurt language appeared in the middle of the nineteenth century.A unified literary language was developed after the Russian Revolution in the twenties and thirties of the 20th century.

A characteristic feature of the vowel system is the presence of mid and high unrounded back vowels.

The consonantism of the Udmurt language is characterised by a series of palatalised consonants.

The lexical accent is dynamic and generally falls on the last syllable.

Udmurt does not feature vowel harmony.

The morphology of the Udmurt noun has primarily agglutinative structure, viz morphemes have clear-cut boundaries, grammatical morphemes bear mostly one single meaning, the word stem is not modified by internal inflection like 'umlaut' or 'ablaut'.The verb, however, uses fusional endings, i.e. they convey several grammatical meanings simultaneously, i.e. one ending can encode person and number of the subject. Nominal and verbal inflexion are mostly made up of suffixes.

Noun and verb have two numbers: singular and plural.

The inflexional paradigm of the noun consists of 15 cases: nominative, genitive, ablative, accusative, instrumental, abessive/caritative, inessive, elative, illative, approximative, egressive, transitive, terminative and adverbial.

Adjectives, that are used as attributes, usually do not agree with their head nouns. However, agreement in number is possible. Adjectives, that act as definite nouns, are inflected like nouns.

The personal pronoun has nine cases: nominative, genitive, ablative, dative, accusative, instrumental, abessive/caritative, adverbial and approximative.

Udmurt - like many other Uralic languages - has a set of suffixed pronouns, which indicate person and number of the possessor. These suffixed pronouns are attached directly to the stem preceding the case suffixes.

The Udmurt verb has three moods: indicative, imperative and conditional. Four tenses(present, future, preterite and perfect) are used in the indicative.

There are several infinite forms of the verb: one infinitive, four participles (imperfective, perfect, necessitive and potential)that are used both as predicates and attributes, finally various gerunds, that indicate cause, result.

The Udmurt language mostly uses postpositions.

Adjectives precede the head noun and regularly do not agree with it. Possessors stand in the genitive or ablative case and precede the head noun as well. Additionally a suffixed pronoun, which indicates person and number of the possessor, is attached to the head noun.

Indefinite direct objects stand in the nominative case, whereas definite direct objects are marked by the accusative.

The unmarked order of constituents in simple transitive sentences is SOV. Other orders are possible in particular in interrogative and exclamatory sentences.Variation of the basic order can also be induced by pragmatic factors.

Co-ordinated clauses are linked by co-ordinating conjugations.
Subordinated clauses are either formed with infinite forms of the verb (inifinitives, participles and gerunds) or with finite verbs and subordinating conjunctions.

The lexical stock of Udmurt contains several layers of loan words. The older layer comprises words of Chuvash and Tatar origin. Modern loan words are mainly borrowed from Russian.

Bernhard Scheucher

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