Finnic languages

The Finnic languages (Fennic), or Baltic Finnic languages (Balto-Finnic, Balto-Fennic), are a branch of the Uralic language family spoken around the Baltic Sea by Finnic peoples, mainly in Finland and Estonia, by about 7 million people.

Traditionally, eight Finnic languages have been recognized. The major modern representatives of the family are Finnish and Estonian, the official languages of their respective nation states. The other Finnic languages in the Baltic Sea region are Ingrian and Votic, spoken in Ingria by the Gulf of Finland; and Livonian, once spoken around the Gulf of Riga. Spoken farther northeast are Karelian, Ludic and Veps, in the region of Lakes Onega and Ladoga.

In addition, since the 1990s, several Finnic-speaking minority groups have emerged to seek of recognition as distinct languages, and have established separate literary standard languages. Northern Karelian, Tver Karelian and Livvi represent the three main dialect groups of Karelian, which earlier had been an unwritten language. Võro and Seto (modern descendants of South Estonian) are spoken in southeastern Estonia and earlier were considered dialects of Estonian. The Meänkieli dialects and Kven are spoken in northern Sweden and Norway and have the legal status of independent minority languages. They were earlier considered dialects of Finnish and are mutually intelligible with it.

The smaller languages are endangered. The last native speaker of Livonian died in 2013, and only about a dozen native speakers of Votic remain. Regardless, even for these languages, the shaping of a standard language and education in it continues.

The geographic centre of the maximum divergence between the languages is located south of the Gulf of Finland.

The Finnic languages are located at the western end of the Uralic language family. A close affinity to their northern neighbors, the Sami languages, has long been assumed, though many of the similarities (particularly lexical ones) can be shown to result from common influence from Germanic languages and, to a lesser extent, Baltic languages. Innovations are also shared between Finnic and the Mordvinic languages, and in recent times Finnic, Samic and Mordvinic are frequently considered together.

This page was last edited on 28 February 2018, at 21:14.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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