Komi-Zyrian language (Коми кыв Komi kyv) or simply Komi, Zyrian or Zyryan, is one of the two regional varieties of the pluricentrical Komi language, the other regional variety being Komi-Permyak.
It is disputed whether Zyrian is a separate language or a dialect of Komi, because of its affinity to the Komi-Permyak language.
Komi-Zyrian is spoken by the Komi-Zyrians' ethnic group in Komi Republic and some other parts of Russia. In 1994, Komi-Zyrian had about 285,000 speakers. The Komi-Zyrian language has a standard form.
It was written in the form of Old Permic alphabet for liturgical purposes as early as the 14th century in the Old Permic script. Said alphabet was replaced by Cyrillic in the 17th century. A tradition of secular works of literature in the modern form of the language dates back to the 19th century.
Komi-Zyrian has ten dialects: Prisyktyvkarsky, Lower Vychegdan, Central Vychegdan, Luzsko-letsky, Upper Sysolan, Upper Vychegdan, Pechoran, Izhemsky, Vymsky, and Udorsky. Prisyktyvkarsky is spoken in the region of Syktyvkar and forms the model for the generic standard dialect of the language. Dialects are divided based primarily on their use of the v and l phonemes:
Original *l remains unchanged in upper Vychegdan and Pechoran dialects (also in most dialects of Komi-Permyak).
*l has syllable-finally changed to /v/ in central dialects, and this is also the representation of standard literary Komi (for example, older *kɨl → /kɨv/ "tongue").
In northern dialects, the process has continued with complete vocalization of syllable-final *l, resulting in long vowels.
The change has been dated to the 17th century. It is not seen in the oldest Komi texts from the 14th century, nor in loanwords from Komi to Khanty, dated to the 16th; but it has fully occurred before loanwords from Russian entered the language in the 18th century, as /l/ remains unchanged in these.
Some dialects are further distinguished based on the palatalized alveolars /dʲ tʲ/, which have unpacked in syllable-final position as clusters /jd jt/.
A sample of the Komi language words. Upper "Улица Коммунистическая" is in Russian, lower "Коммунистическӧй улича" is in Komi. Both mean "Communist street". This picture was taken in Syktyvkar, the capital of Komi Republic
The first writing system, the Old Permic script, was invented in the 14th century by the missionary Stepan Khrap, apparently of a Komi mother in Veliky Ustyug. The alphabet shows some similarity to medieval Greek and Cyrillic. In the 16th century this alphabet was replaced by the Russian alphabet with certain modifications for affricates. In the 1920s, the language was written in Molodtsov alphabet, also derived from Cyrillic. In the 1930s it was switched to Latin. Since the 1940s it uses the Russian alphabet plus the additional letters І, і and Ӧ, ӧ.