Erzya language

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Erzya
eŕźań keĺ
эрзянь кель
Native to Russia
Region Mordovia, Nizhny Novgorod, Chuvashia, Ulyanovsk, Samara, Penza, Saratov, Orenburg, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan
Native speakers
390,000 (together with Moksha)  (2010 census)[1]
Cyrillic
Official status
Official language in
 Mordovia (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-2 myv
ISO 639-3 myv
Glottolog erzy1239[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

The Erzya language (эрзянь кель) is spoken by about 260,000 people in the northern and eastern and north-western parts of the Republic of Mordovia and adjacent regions of Nizhniy Novgorod, Chuvashia, Penza, Samara, Saratov, Orenburg, Ulyanovsk, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan in Russia. A diaspora can also be found in Armenia, Estonia as well as in Kazakhstan and other newly independent states of Central Asia. Erzya is currently written using Cyrillic with no modifications to the variant used by the Russian language. In Mordovia, Erzya is co-official with Moksha and Russian.

The language belongs to the Mordvinic branch of the Uralic languages. Erzya is closely related to Moksha, but is distinct in its phonetics, morphology and vocabulary.

Phonology[edit]

Vowels[edit]

Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Mid e o
Open a

In inherited vocabulary, /ɨ/ is mainly found after unpalatalized alveolar consonants, /i/ in other positions. Minimal pairs between the two are hence rare, but can be found:

  • /viʃka/ 'small' vs. /vɨʃka/ 'antenna'
  • /mirnesʲ/ 'the little world' vs. /mɨrnesʲ/ 'she meowed'
  • /bɨznɨ/ '[a bumblebee] buzzes" vs. /biznɨ/ '[a mosquito] squeals' (see Rueter 2010: 16, 59-60)

Consonants[edit]

Labial Alveolar Post-
alveolar
Palatal Velar
plain pal.
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡sʲ t͡ʃ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ x
voiced v z ʒ
Trill r
Approximant l j

Minimal pairs between /n/ and /ŋ/ include:

  • /janga/ "along the path (at the declension level, the alveolar /n/ of the stem is retained before the prolative case ending "Ga")" vs. /jaŋga/ "(the connegative form of the verb jaŋgams 'to break')"
  • /jonks/ "good (subject or object complement in "ks" translative)" vs. /joŋks/ "direction; area", (see Rueter 2010: 58)

Vowel harmony[edit]

As in many other Uralic languages, Erzya has vowel harmony. Most roots contain either front vowels (/i/, /e/) or back vowels (/u/, /o/). In addition, all suffixes have two forms: the form to be used is determined by the first syllable of the word.

The rules of vowel harmony are as follows:

  1. If the first syllable of the word contains a front vowel, the front form of the suffix is used: веле (vele) "village", велесэ (velese) "in a village"
  2. If the first syllable of the word contains a back vowel, and it is followed by plain (non-palatalized) consonants, the back form of the suffix is used: кудо (kudo) "house", кудосо (kudoso) "in a house"

However, if the back vowel is followed by a palatalized consonant, vowel harmony is violated and the "front" form of the suffix is used: кудось (kudosʲ) "the house", кудотне (kudotne) "the houses"

Nevertheless, many roots violate vowel harmony, e.g. узере (uzere) "axe", суре (sure) "thread (string)".

Writing[edit]

The modern Erzya alphabet is the same as for Russian:

А
/a/
Б
/b/
В
/v/
Г
/ɡ/
Д
/d/
Е
/je/
Ё
/jo/
Ж
/ʒ/
З
/z/
И
/i/
Й
/j/
К
/k/
Л
/l/
М
/m/
Н
/n/
О
/o/
П
/p/
Р
/r/
С
/s/
Т
/t/
У
/u/
Ф
/f/
Х
/x/
Ц
/t͡s/
Ч
/t͡ʃ/
Ш
/ʃ/
Щ
/ʃt͡ʃ/
Ъ
/-/
Ы
/ɨ/
Ь
/◌ʲ/
Э
/e/
Ю
/ju/
Я
/ja/

The pre-1929 version of the Erzya alphabet included the additional letter Cyrillic ligature En Ge (Ҥ ҥ) in some publications, (cf. Evsevyev 1928).

The highlighted letters were used in loanwords from Russian only, with the specification that the soft sign ь appearing after non-alveolar consonants is a sign of loan words.[citation needed]
А
/a/
Б
/b/
В
/v/
Г
/ɡ/
Д
/d/
Е
/je/
Ё
/jo/
Ж
/ʒ/
З
/z/
И
/i/
Й
/j/
К
/k/
Л
/l/
М
/m/
Н
/n/
нг
/ŋ/
О
/o/
П
/p/
Р
/r/
С
/s/
Т
/t/
У
/u/
Ф
/f/
Х
/x/
Ц
/t͡s/
Ч
/t͡ʃ/
Ш
/ʃ/
Щ
/ʃt͡ʃ/
Ъ
/-/
Ы
/ɨ/
Ь
/◌ʲ/
Э
/e/
Ю
/ju/
Я
/ja/
ä
/æ/
ə
/ə/

A Latin alphabet was officially approved by the government of Nizhne-Volzhskiy Kray in 1932, but it was never used:

a в c ç d ә e f g y i j k l m n o p r s ş t u v x z ƶ ь

The other version of Latin alphabet exists:

a b v g d ě ö ž z ź i j k l l' m n ň o p r ř s ś š t ť u f h c ć č š y e ü ä

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • A.I. Bryzhinskiy, O.V. Pashutina, Ye.I. Chernov. Писатели Мордовии Биобиблиографический справочник. Saransk: Mordovskoye Knizhnoye Izdatelystvo, 2001. ISBN 5-7595-1386-9.
  • Vasilij D'omin. Сюконян тенк... Эрзянь писательде ёвтнемат. Saransk, 2005. ISBN 5-7595-1665-5.
  • Ksenija Djordjevic & Jean-Leo Leonard. Parlons Mordve. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2006, ISBN 2-296-00147-5.
  • Makar E. Evsev'ev. Основы мордовской грамматика, Эрзянь грамматика. С приложением образцов мокшанских склонений и спряжений. Москва: Центральное издательство народов СССР, 1928.
  • Jack Rueter. Adnominal Person in the Morphological System of Erzya. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia 261. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura, 2010, ISBN 978-952-5667-23-3 [print], ISBN 978-952-5667-24-0 [online].
  • D.V. Tsygankin. Память запечатленная в слове: Словарь географических названий республики Мордовия. Saransk, 2005. ISBN 5-7493-0780-8.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Janurik, Boglárka (2013). "Code-switching in an Erzya-Russian bilingual variety: An "endangered" transitory phase in a contact situation". In Mihas, Elena; Perley, Bernard; Rei-Doval, Gabriel et al. Responses to Language Endangerment. In honor of Mickey Noonan. New directions in language documentation and language revitalization. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. p. 180. ISBN 978-90-272-0609-1. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Erzya". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 

External links[edit]