Ingrian language

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ižoran keel
Native toRussia
Ethnicity820 Izhorians (1989 census)[1]
Native speakers
142 (379 in total) (2010 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3izh

Ingrian (ižoran keel [ˈiʒoˌrɑn ˈkeːl]), also called Izhorian, is a nearly extinct Finnic language spoken by the (mainly Orthodox) Izhorians of Ingria. It has approximately 142 native speakers left, most of whom are aged. It should not be confused with the Southeastern dialects of the Finnish language that became the majority language of Ingria in the 17th century with the influx of Lutheran Finnish immigrants (whose descendants, Ingrian Finns, are often referred to as Ingrians). The immigration of Lutheran Finns was promoted by Swedish authorities, who gained the area in 1617 from Russia, as the local population was (and remained) Orthodox. Nowadays, in total the language has 360 - 500 speakers.[2][3]


Ingrian is classified, together with Finnish, Karelian (including Livvi), Ludic and Veps, in the Northern Finnic branch of the Uralic languages.


In 1932–1937, a Latin-based orthography for the Ingrian language existed, taught in schools of the Soikino Peninsula and the area around the mouth of the Luga River.[4] Several textbooks were published, including in 1936 a grammar of the language. However, in 1937 the Izhorian written language was abolished and mass repressions of the peasantry began.[4]

Alphabet (1932)[edit]

A a Ä ä B в D d E e F f G g H h
I i J j K k L l M m N n Ö ö P p
R r S s T t U u V v Y y

Alphabet (1936)[edit]

The order of the 1936 alphabet is similar to the Russian Cyrillic alphabet.

A a Ä ä B в V v G g D d E e Ƶ ƶ
Z z I i J j K k L l M m N n O o
Ö ö P p R r S s T t U u Y y F f
H h C c Ç ç Ş ş ь

Alphabet (2005–present)[edit]

The order of the current alphabet matches the Finnish alphabet.

A a B b C c D d E e F f G g H h
I i J j K k L l M m N n O o P p
R r S s Š š T t U u V v Y y Z z
Ž ž Ä ä Ö ö


Four dialects groups of Ingrian have been attested, two of which are probably extinct by now:[5][6]

A fifth dialect may have once been spoken on the Karelian Isthmus in northernmost Ingria, and may have been a substrate of local dialects of southwestern Finnish.[5]


Like other Uralic languages, Ingrian is a highly agglutinative language.

There is some controversy between the grammars as described by different scholars. For example, Chernyavskij (2005) provides the form on ("he/she is") as the only possible third-person singular indicative of the verb olla ("to be"), while the native speaker Junus (1936) as well as Konkova (2014) describe also the form ono.


Ingrian nouns have two numbers: yksikko (singular) and monikko (plural). Both numbers can be inflected in eleven grammatical cases. Any noun may have five stems (both for yksikko and monikko): Nominative stem, Genitive stem, Partitive stem, Illative stem and Essive stem. All other cases are derived from the Genitive stem.[7][8]

Case Yksikko
Basic/grammatical cases
Nominativa (nominative stem) -t Subject
Genetiva (genitive stem) -n -oin, -loin, -iin, -jjen Possession, relation
Partitiva (partitive stem) -a, -t, -ta, -ja -oja, -loja, -ta, -ia Partial object, amount (definite or indefinite)
Interior ("in") locative cases
Inessiva (genitive stem) -Vz,[7] -Vs [8][9] -Vz,[7] -Vs [8][9] In, inside
Illativa (illative stem) -V, -hV, -see, -sse -oihe, -loihe, -ii, -sii, -sse, -loi In, into
Elativa (genitive stem) -st -st Out of
Exterior ("on") locative cases
Adessiva (genitive stem) -(V)l -(V)l On, upon, on top of
Allativa (genitive stem) -lle -lle Onto
Ablativa (genitive stem) -lt -lt Off, from (top, surface)
Other cases
Essiva (essive stem) -(V)n -(V)n Being, acting as, with, by means of
Translativa (genitive stem) -ks -ks Becoming, turning into
  • Following the vowel harmony, ⟨a⟩ and ⟨o⟩ can change into ⟨ä⟩ and ⟨ö⟩ respectively.
  • Some cases are (partially) written with ⟨V⟩. The symbol stands for the vowel on which the preceding stem ends.
  • Chernyavskij (2005) describes the inessive case ending as -Vz, while Junus (1936) and Konkova (2014) describe it as -(V)s.

As Ingrian doesn't have the accusative as a regular case of a noun, nominativa, genetiva and partitiva are used as the object of the verb in various scenarios.

Ingrian also has a high amount of compound words. If so, the last word of which the compound is created will be inflected.

isän (father's) + maa (country) = isänmaa (fatherland, nominativa), isänmaan (genetiva), isänmaata (partitiva).

Like other Finnic languages, Ingrian nouns don't have gender. However, Ingrian does have a few gender-specific suffixes:

ižoran (Ingrian); ižorakkoi (Ingrian woman); ižoralain (Ingrian man).
juuti (Jew); juutakkoi (Jewish woman); juutalain (Jewish man).


Adjectives don't differ from nouns morphologically, that is to say that they are inflected the same as nouns. Adjectives are always attributed to a noun, either directly or with the verb olla (to be).

Comparatives are formed by adding the suffix -mp to the Genitive stem. It is then inflected as usual:

vanha (old, nominativa); vanhan (old, genetiva); vanhemp (older, nominativa); vanhemman (older, genetiva).

The object of the comparison will be set in the partitiva:

vanhemp äijä (the older grandpa); vanhemp äijää (older than a grandpa)

Superlatives are formed by adding the partitiva of the pronoun kaik (all) in either yksikko or monikko:

vanhemp (older); kaikkea vanhemp (oldest); vanhemp kaikkia (older than all)



The Ingrian verbs have two infinitives, both of which can be inflected (much like the nouns) depending on the situation of usage.

The first infinitive comes in the partitiva or inessiva. The partitiva of the first infinitive is used after the verbs kyssyyä (to ask), pyytää (to ask), alkaa (to start), tahtoa (to want), suvata (to love), vässyyä (to tire) and pittää (to have to):

Tahon läätä. (I want to talk.)

The inessiva of the first infinitive acts as a present participle. It denotes an action that happens simultaneously with the acting verb:

Höö männää läätes. (They walk, talking.)

The second infinitive comes in the illativa, inessiva, elativa and abessiva. The illativa of the second infinitive is used to denote a reported act (e.g. after the verb nähhä, to see), to denote a purpose or following the verbs männä (to go), lähtiä (to go) or noissa (to come to pass):

Nään hänt läkkäämää. (I see that he talks.)
Issuu läkkäämää. (Sit in order to talk.)
Hää noisi läkkäämää. (He began talking.)

The inessiva of the second infinitive acts as a continuous clause, introduced by the verb olla (to be). It denotes an action that is happening at the present moment:

Miä oon läkkäämäs. (I am talking.)

The elativa of the second infinitive denotes either the completion of the action or a distancing from its location:

Hää poistui läkkäämäst. (He left there, where he was talking.)

The abessiva of the second infinitive acts as a participle of an incomplete action:

Hää poistui läkkäämätä. (He left not having talked.)

Voice and mood[edit]

Ingrian verbs come in three voices: Active, passive and reflexive:

Hää pessöö (He washes [active voice]); Hää pessää (He is being washed [passive voice]); Hää pessiiää (He washes himself [reflexive voice]).

Both the active and passive voices can be portrayed by the indicative mood (both present and imperfect) and conditional mood, while the imperative can only be set in the active voice:

Miä nään (I see [Present indicative active]); Miä näin (I saw [Imperfect indicative active]); Miä näkkisin (I would see [Conditional active]); Nää! (See [Imperative active])
Miä nähhää (I am seen [Present indicative passive]); Miä nähtii (I was seen [Imperfect indicative passive]); Miä nähtäis (I would be seen [Conditional passive]).


Like in most other Uralic languages, Ingrian negation is formed by adding the inflected form of the verb ei (not) to the connegative of the desired verb:

Miä oon (I am); Miä en oo (I am not)

The connegative differs depending on the tense and mood of the main verb.

Miä en oo (I am not); Miä en olt (I was not)

The conjugation of the negative verb follows:

Yksikko Monikko
First Person en emmä
Second Person et että
Third Person ei evät


The personal pronouns set in nominatiivi are listed in the following table:

Yksikko Monikko
First Person miä möö
Second Person siä söö
Third Person
hää höö

The third personal pronouns hää and höö cannot be applied to indicate an inanimate subject or object. Instead, the demonstrative pronouns se and neet (singular and plural respectively) are used:

Ižorakkoi on kaunis. (The Ingrian woman is beautiful); Hää on kaunis. (She is beautiful).
Taloi on kaunis. (The house is beautiful); Se on kaunis. (It is beautiful).

The demonstrative pronouns set in nominativa are listed in the following table:

Yksikko Monikko
Personal se neet
Proximal tämä (tää) nämät (näät)
Distal too noot

The proximal demonstrative pronouns tämä and nämät can be contracted to tää and näät respectively. Furthermore, their genetiva form tämän can be contracted to tään. Other inflections cannot be contracted.




The Ingrian language has 8 vowels:

Front Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
Close i /i/ y /y/ u /u/
Mid e /e/ ö /ø/ o /o/
Open ä /æ/ a /ɑ/

Each vowel may occur short or long. Long vowels are doubled in writing (e.g. ⟨aa⟩ being /ɑː/). To split two vowels, the grapheme ⟨'⟩ is used (e.g. ⟨a'a⟩ being /ɑ.ɑ/ ~ /ɑʔɑ/). The vowel <ь> (/ɨ/) exists in some Russian loanwords, but is often replaced by /i/.


Ingrian has at least 24 diphthongs:

Diphthongs Ending with /i/ Ending with /e/ Ending with /u/ Ending with /y/ Ending with /o/
Starting with /ɑ/ ai [ɑi̯] ae [ɑe̯] au [ɑu̯] ao [ɑo̯]
Starting with /æ/ äi [æi̯] äe [æe̯] äy [æy̯]
Starting with /o/ oi [oi̯] oe [oe̯] ou [ou̯]
Starting with /e/ ei [ei̯] eu [eu̯] ey [ey̯]
Starting with /ø/ öi [øi̯] öy [øy̯]
Starting with /u/ ui [ui̯] ue [ue̯] uo [uo̯]
Starting with /i/ ie [ie̯] iu [iu̯] iy [iy̯]
Starting with /y/ yi [yi̯] ye [ye̯]

Additionally, the diphthong ([iæ̯]) occurs in the personal pronouns. The diphthongs can, too, be long. This is shown by duplicating the second vowel (e.g. ⟨aii⟩ [ɑːi̯]).


The Ingrian language has 22 consonant sounds:

Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p /p/ t /t/ k /k/
voiced b /b/ d /d/ g /ɡ/
Affricate ts /t͡s/ c /t͡ʃ/
Fricative voiceless f /f/ s /s/ š /ʃ/ h /h/, /x/
voiced z /z/ ž /ʒ/
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ (n /ŋ/)
Lateral l /l/
Rhotic r /r/
Approximant v /ʋ/ j /j/
  • The consonant ⟨h⟩ is realized as [h] when short and as [xː] when long (this distinction isn't present in the Ala-Laukaa dialect).
  • The consonant ⟨n⟩ is realized as [ŋ] when followed by the phoneme /k/ or /ɡ/.
  • Phonetic palatalization [ʲ] may occur among different dialects before close-front vowels /i, y/.
  • The voiced plosives (/b/, /d/, /ɡ/) and fricatives (/z/, /ʒ/), as well as the postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ are not phonemic in the Soikkola dialect's native words.

The Soikkola dialect has a three-way distinction of consonant length (/t/, /tˑ/, /tː/). Both the long and halflong geminates are shown double in writing (⟨tt⟩). Other dialects only differentiate between long (/tː/) and short (/t/) consonants. The long variant of ⟨ts⟩ is written as ⟨tts⟩ (/t͡sː/).


Primary stress in Ingrian by rule comes on the first syllable, while the secondary stresses come on every further uneven syllable.

puu (wood) is realized as /puː/
kana (chicken) is realized as /ˈkɑnɑ/
orraava (squirrel) is realized as /ˈorːɑːˌʋɑ/

In some late borrowings, the primary stress may shift to another syllable:

vokala (vowel) is realized as /ʋoˈkɑlɑ/


The Ingrian language has several morphophonological processes.

Vowel harmony is the process that the affixes attached to a lemma may change depending on the stressed vowel of the word. This means that if the word is stressed on a back vowel, the affix would contain a back vowel as well, while if the word's stress lies on a front vowel, the affix would naturally contain a front vowel. Thus, if the stress of a word lies on an "a", "o" or "u", the possible affix vowels would be "a", "o" or "u", while if the stress of a word lies on an "ä", "ö" or "y", the possible affix vowels to this word would then be "ä", "ö" or "y":

nappi (button, nominativa); nappia (button, partitiva)
näppi (pinch, nominativa); näppiä (pinch, partitiva)

The vowels "e" and "i" are neutral, that is to say that they can be used together with both types of vowels.


  1. ^ a b Ingrian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "Ingrian (Ižoran keeli)".
  3. ^ "Inkerin kieli eli inkeroinen (ižoran keel(i), maakeel(i))".
  4. ^ a b Kurs, Ott (1994). Ingria: The broken landbridge between Estonia and Finland. GeoJournal 33.1, 107–113.
  5. ^ a b Viitso, Tiit-Rein (1998). "Fennic". In Abondolo, Daniel (ed.). Uralic languages. Routledge. pp. 98–99.
  6. ^ Kuznetsova, Natalia; Markus, Elena; Mulinov, Mehmed (2015), "Finnic minorities of Ingria: The current sociolinguistic situation and its background", in Marten, H.; Rießler, M.; Saarikivi, J.; et al. (eds.), Cultural and linguistic minorities in the Russian Federation and the European Union, Multilingual Education, 13, Berlin: Springer, pp. 151–152, ISBN 978-3-319-10454-6, retrieved 25 March 2015
  7. ^ a b c V Chernyavskij (2005). Ižoran keel (Ittseopastaja) (PDF). (in Russian).
  8. ^ a b c O. I. Konkova and N. A. D'yachkov (2014). Inkeroin keel: Учебное пособие по Ижорскому языку (PDF). (in Russian).
  9. ^ a b V. I. Junus (1936). Iƶoran Keelen Grammatikka (PDF). (in Ingrian)


  • Paul Ariste 1981. Keelekontaktid. Tallinn: Valgus. [pt. 2.6. Kolme läänemere keele hääbumine lk. 76 – 82] (in Estonian)
  • A. Laanest. 1993. Ižorskij Jazyk. In V. N. Jartseva (ed.), Jazyki Mira: Ural'skie Jazyki, 55–63. Moskva: Nauka.
  • V. Chernyavskij. 2005. Ižorskij Jazyk (Samuchitel'). Ms. 300pp.

External links[edit]