Komi language

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Komi language
коми кыв
komi kyv
Native toRussia
RegionKomi Republic, Nenetsia, Permyakia, Yamalia, Yugra, elsewhere in Russia
Native speakers
99,609 (2020 census)[1]
Cyrillic, Old Permic (formerly)
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1kv
ISO 639-3kpv
Komi is classified as Definitely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2010)
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The Komi language (Komi: коми кыв, komi kyv), also known as Zyran, Zyrian or Komi-Zyryan (Komi: зыран коми кыв, zyran komi kyv),[2] is one of the two regional varieties of the pluricentric Komi language, the other regional variety being Permyak.

Komi is natively spoken by the Komi peoples native to the Komi Republic and other parts of Russia such as Nenetsia and Yamalia. There were 285,000 speakers in 1994, which decreased to 160,000 in 2010. Komi has a standardized form.

It was written in the Old Permic alphabet (Komi: 𐍐𐍝𐍑𐍣𐍒‎, Анбур, Anbur) for liturgical purposes in the 14th century, though very few texts exist in this script. The Cyrillic script was introduced by Russian missionaries in the 17th century, replacing the Old Permic script. A tradition of secular works of literature in the modern form of the language dates back to the 19th century.


Komi has ten dialects: Syktyvkardin (Sysola), Lower Ežva (Vychegda), Central Ežva (Vychegda), Upper Ežva (Vychegda), Luz-let, Upper Sysola, Pećöra, Iźva, Vym, and Udora dialects. Syktyvkardin 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 /v/ and /l/:[3]

  • Older */l/ remains unchanged in Upper Ežva and Pećöra dialects (also in most dialects of Komi-Permyak).
  • In Central dialects, /*l/ changed to /v/ syllable-finally; for instance, in literary Komi */kɯl//kɯv/ "tongue".
  • In Northern dialects, changes of /l/ continued with complete vocalization of syllable-final /l/, resulting in long vowels.

The start of the change date 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; though it fully occurred before Russian loanwords that 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/.[3]

Komi language

Writing system[edit]

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
Trilingual (Russian, Komi, and English) sign in a hotel in Ukhta, Komi Republic

The Old Permic script is the first writing system for Komi. It was invented in the 14th century by the missionary Stepan Khrap. The alphabet resembled medieval Greek and Cyrillic. The script was also known as Anbur (Komi: 𐍐𐍝𐍑𐍣𐍒‎, Анбур), named for the first 2 letters of the script, "an" & "bur" (𐍐 & 𐍑, respectively). It is no longer in use today, though it has received Unicode Support as "Old Permic" in recent times.[4] The script saw use in Komi-inhabited areas, primarily the Principality of Great Perm and parts of Bjarmaland.

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 the Molodtsov alphabet, which also derived from Cyrillic. In the 1930s, during the Latinisation in the Soviet Union, Komi was briefly written with a version of the Latin script. Since the 1940s it uses the Russian-based Cyrillic alphabet with additional letters І, і and Ӧ, ӧ.

Komi alphabet (Коми анбур)[5]
Anbur Cyrillic Cyrillic (Molodtsov) Latin IPA Letter name Notes
𐍐 А а A a /a/ а
𐍑 Б б B b /b/ бе
𐍮 В в V v /v/ ве
𐍒 Г г G g /g/ ге
𐍓 Д д Ԁ ԁ

Ԃ ԃ

D d
Ď ď
/ɟ/ before е, ё, и, ю, я, ь
𐍖 Дж дж Җ җ Dž dž // дже
𐍘 Дз дз Ԇ ԇ Dź dź // дзе
- Е е - Je je
E e
[je] word-initially and after vowels
/e/ after /c, ɟ, ɕ, ʑ, ɲ, ʎ/
- Ё ё - Jo jo

O o

[jo] word-initially and after vowels
/o/ after /c, ɟ, ɕ, ʑ, ɲ, ʎ/
𐍕 Ж ж Ž ž /ʒ/ же
𐍗 З з З з

Ԅ ԅ

Z z
Ź ź
/ʑ/ before е, ё, и, ю, я, ь
𐍙 И и - I i /i/
/i/ after /c, ɟ, ɕ, ʑ, ɲ, ʎ/
небыд и ("soft i")
𐍙 І і I i /i/ after /t, d, s, z, n, l/ чорыд и ("hard i") Non-palatalizing form of и.
𐍙 Й й Ј ј J j /j/ дженьыд и
𐍚 К к K k /k/ ка
𐍛 Л л Л л

Ԉ ԉ

L l
Ľ ľ
/ʎ/ before е, ё, и, ю, я, ь
𐍜 М м M m /m/ эм
𐍝 Н н Н н

Ԋ ԋ

N n
Ń ń
/ɲ/ before е, ё, и, ю, я, ь
𐍞𐍩 О о


O o





"open o"

Open "o" is absent in the literary Komi language.
- Ӧ ӧ Ö ö /ɘ/ ӧ
𐍟 П п P p /p/ пе
𐍠 Р р R r /r/ эр
𐍡 С с С с

Ԍ ԍ

S s
Ś ś
/ɕ/ before е, ё, и, ю, я, ь
𐍢 Т т Т т

Ԏ ԏ

T t
Ť ť
/c/ before е, ё, и, ю, я, ь
𐍤 Тш тш Щ щ Č č // тше
𐍣 У у U u /u/ у
𐍫 Ф ф - F f /f/ эф In loanwords.
𐍬 Х х - H h /x/ ха In loanwords.
𐍭 Ц ц - C c /ts/ це In loanwords.
- Ч ч Ć ć // че
𐍥 Ш ш Š š /ʃ/ ша
𐍦 Щ щ - Šč šč /ʃtʃ~ʃː/ ща In loanwords.
𐍯 Ъ ъ - - - чорыд пас ("hard sign") Same usage as Russian.
𐍨 Ы ы Y y /ɨ/ ы
𐍰 Ь ь - - /ʲ/ небыд пас ("soft sign") Same usage as Russian.


Э э


Ее E e





"open e"

Non-palatalizing form of "е".

Open "e" is absent in the modern Komi language.

𐍳 Ю ю - Ju ju

U u

/u/ after /c, ɟ, ɕ, ʑ, ɲ, ʎ/
𐍴, 𐍵 Я я - Ja ja

A a

/a/ after /c, ɟ, ɕ, ʑ, ɲ, ʎ/

Letters particular to the Molodtsov alphabet include ԁ, ԃ, ԅ, ԇ, ԉ, ԋ, ԍ, ԏ, most of which represent palatalized consonants.

The Molodtsov alphabet
А а Б б В в Г г Ԁ ԁ Ԃ ԃ Е е Ж ж Җ җ З з Ԅ ԅ Ԇ ԇ
І і Ј ј К к Л л Ԉ ԉ М м Н н Ԋ ԋ О о Ӧ ӧ П п Р р
С с Ԍ ԍ Т т Ԏ ԏ У у Ф ф Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш Щ щ Ы ы



Consonant phonemes of Zyrian
Labial Dental Post-
Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ
Plosive voiceless p t c k
voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡ʃ
voiced d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless s ʃ ɕ
voiced v z ʒ ʑ
Trill r
Approximant lateral l ʎ
central j


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

There are no diphthongs, although vowel sequences can occur at morpheme boundaries.

The phoneme /ɨ/ is phonetically [ɯ̈], and /a/ is phonetically [ä]. There is noticeable positional allophony, depending on the surrounding consonants, however no allophone overlaps with another vowel phoneme.[6]


Komi has 17 cases, with a rich inventory of locative cases. Like other Uralic languages, Komi has no gender. Verbs agree with subjects in person and number (sg/pl). Negation is expressed with an auxiliary verb, which is inflected for person, number and tense.

Komi is an agglutinative language and adheres to a subject–object–verb order.[7] Most modern texts, however, possess a subject-verb-object word order, due to heavy Russian language influence and the resulting calques.

Sample text[edit]

The following sample text displays the Anbur, Cyrillic (modern) and Latin lyrical text from the Komi-Zyryan folk song "Kačaśinjas" (Daisies).

The first verse of the song and the refrain, as written in the Anbur Script:

𐍚𐍩𐍠𐍚𐍩 𐍣𐍗𐍛𐍐𐍝𐍝𐍯𐍓 𐍩𐍝, 𐍚𐍐𐍤𐍐𐍥𐍙𐍝𐍙𐍐𐍡, 𐍜𐍯𐍙𐍛𐍐 𐍮𐍩𐍥𐍡𐍐𐍩𐍥 𐍟𐍯𐍠 𐍢𐍙𐍙𐍐𐍝 𐍥𐍙𐍝𐍙𐍐𐍡; 𐍜𐍔𐍝𐍩 𐍟𐍯𐍠 𐍡𐍩𐍜𐍯𐍝 𐍢𐍙 𐍓𐍙𐍝𐍩 𐍝𐍣𐍩 𐍛𐍯𐍓𐍢𐍩𐍜 𐍘𐍩𐍠𐍙𐍘𐍩𐍝 𐍢𐍯𐍠 𐍚𐍩𐍜𐍙 𐍜𐍣𐍩 𐍚𐍐𐍤𐍐𐍥𐍙𐍝𐍙𐍐𐍡, 𐍚𐍐𐍤𐍐𐍥𐍙𐍝𐍙𐍐𐍡, 𐍜𐍯𐍙𐍛𐍐 𐍮𐍩𐍥𐍡𐍐𐍩𐍥 𐍟𐍯𐍠 𐍢𐍙𐍙𐍐𐍝 𐍥𐍙𐍝𐍙𐍐𐍡;

The second verse and refrain, as written in the Zyryan Cyrillic Alphabet:

Эмöсь лунвылын мичаджык муяс, Сэнi кывтöны визувджык юяс. Сöмын мыйлакö пыр медся матыс Эзысь лысваöн дзирдалысь асыв. Катшасинъяс, Катшасинъяс, Мыйла восьсаöсь пыр тiян синъяс?

The third and final verse and refrain, as written in the modern Latin Alphabet:

Una śylankyv tatyś mi kyvlim, Kodös śiöny raďejtan nyvly. Lovja dźoridźyś myj burys śurö Syly puktyny kudria jurö. Kačaśinjas, Kačaśinjas, Myjla vośsaöś pyr tijan śinjas?


  1. ^ "Росстат — Всероссийская перепись населения 2020". rosstat.gov.ru. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  2. ^ Komi language Britannica.
  3. ^ a b Bartens 2000, p. 47-49
  4. ^ Everson, Michael (2012-04-26). "Revised proposal for encoding the Old Permic script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Everson, Michael (2012-04-26). "Revised proposal for encoding the Old Permic script in the SMP of the UCS" (PDF). unicode.org. Retrieved 2022-07-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Лыткин В.И. (ред.) Современный коми язык. Часть первая. Фонетика. Лексика. Морфология". www.studmed.ru. Retrieved 2023-09-02.
  7. ^ Grenoble, L. A. (31 July 2003). Language Policy in the Soviet Union. ISBN 9781402012983.


  • Bartens, Raija (2000). Permiläisten kielten rakenne ja kehitys (in Finnish). Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. ISBN 952-5150-55-0.
  • Abondolo, Daniel (2015). The Uralic Languages. Routledge
  • R. M. Batalova. 1993. Komi(-Zyryanskij) Jazyk. In V. N. Jartseva (ed.), Jazyki Mira: Ural'skie Jazyki, 214–229. Moskva: Nauka.
  • Feďuňova, G.V. Önija komi kyv ('The Modern Komi Language'). Morfologija/Daśtöma filologijasa kandidat G.V.Feďuňova kipod ulyn. Syktyvkar: Komi ňebög ledźanin, 2000. 544 pp. ISBN 5-7555-0689-2.

External links[edit]