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The Mansi language (also Vogul, although this is obsolete, and Maansi) is spoken by the Mansi people in Russia along the Ob River and its tributaries, in the Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug and Sverdlovsk Oblast. According to the 1989 census, there were 3,184 Mansi-speaking people in Russia.
The base dialect of the Mansi literary language is the Sosva dialect, a representative of the northern dialect; the discussion below is based on the standard language. Fixed word order is typical in Mansi. Adverbials and participles play an important role in sentence construction. The written language was first published in 1868 and in 1937 was revised using a form of Cyrillic.
Mansi is subdivided into four main dialect groups which are to a large degree mutually unintelligible, and therefore best considered four languages. A primary split can be set up between the Southern group and the remainder. A number of features are also shared between the Western and Easter groups, while certain later sound changes have diffused between Eastern and Northern (and are also found in some neighboring dialects of Northern Khanty to the east).
Individual dialects are known according to the rivers their speakers live(d) on:
Northern Mansi has strong Russian, Komi, Nenets, and Northern Khanty influence. There is no accusative case; that is, both the nominative and accusative roles are unmarked on the noun. */æ/ and */æː/ have been backed to [a] and [aː].
Western Mansi went extinct ca. 2000. It had strong Russian and Komi influences. Long vowels were diphthongized.
Southern Mansi went extinct ca. 1900. It had vowel harmony and a strong Tatar influence and displayed several archaisms such as retention of /y/ (elsewhere merged with */æ/), /tsʲ/ (elsewhere deaffricated to /sʲ/), and /aː/ (elsewhere raised to /oː/).
|/x/  /ɣ/
|/xʷ/  *ɣʷ 
The inventory presented here is a maximal collection of segments found across the Mansi varieties. Some remarks:
- /tsʲ/ was only found in Southern Mansi and corresponds to /sʲ/ in the other varieties.
- /ʃ/ is absent in most dialects of the Northern and Eastern groups, having merged into /s/.
- The voiceless velar fricatives /x/, /xʷ/ are only found in the Northern group and the Lower Konda dialect of the Eastern group, resulting from spirantization of *k, *kʷ adjacent to original back vowels.
- According to Honti, a contrast between *w and *ɣʷ can be reconstructed, but this does not surface in any of the attested varieties.
- The labialization contrast among the velars dates back to Proto-Mansi, but was in several varieties strengthened by labialization of velars adjacent to rounded vowels. In particular, Proto-Mansi *yK → Core Mansi *æKʷ (a form of cheshirization).
The vowel systems across Mansi show great variety. As typical across the Uralic languages, many more vowel distinctions were possible in the initial, stressed syllable than in unstressed ones. Up to 18–19 stressed vowel contrasts may be found in the Western and Eastern dialects, while Northern Mansi has a much reduced, largely symmetric system of 8 vowels, though lacking short **/e/ and long **/iː/:
The first publication of the written Mansi language was a translation of the Gospel of Matthew published in London in 1868. In 1932 a version of Latin alphabet was introduced with little success. The former Latin alphabet:
In 1937, Cyrillic replaced the Latin.
There are two articles in Mansi: definite ань (aɲ), which also means "now" when placed before verbs, and indefinite акв (akʷ), literally "one".
There is no grammatical gender. Mansi distinguishes between singular, dual and plural number. Six grammatical cases exist. Possession is expressed using possessive suffixes, for example -зм, which means "my".
Grammatical cases, declining
Example with: пут /put/ (cauldron)
Missing cases can be expressed using postpositions, such as халнэл (χalnəl, 'of, out of'), саит (sait, 'after, behind'), etc.
Mansi conjugation has three persons, three numbers, two tenses, and four moods. Active and passive voices exist.
Intransitive and transitive conjugations are distinguished. This means that there are two possible ways of conjugating a verb. When the speaker conjugates in intransitive, the sentence has no concrete object (in this case, the object is nothing or something like something, anything). In the transitive conjugation, there is a concrete object. This feature also exists in the other Ugric languages.
Mansi uses suffixes to express the tense. The tense suffix precedes the personal suffix.
|Present||-г (lat. -g)||минагум (lat. minagum – I am going)|
|Past||-с (lat. -s)||минасум (minasum – I went)|
The language has no future tense; the future is expressed in other ways.
Indicative mood has no suffix. Imperative mood exists only in the second person.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
The suffixes are the following:
Thus, the conjugation of the verb мина (lat. mina [go]), in past tense (remember the suffix -с):
|1st||минасум (minasum)||минасумен (minasumen)||минасув (minasuv)|
Verbs have active and passive voice. Active voice has no suffix; the suffix to express the passive is -ве-.
Verbal prefixes are used to modify the meaning of the verb in both concrete and abstract ways. For example, with the prefix эл- (el-) (away, off) the verb мина (mina) (go) becomes элмина (elmina), which means to go away. This is surprisingly close to the Hungarian equivalents: el- (away) and menni (to go), where elmenni is to go away
ēl(a) – 'forwards, onwards, away'
|jōm- 'to go, to stride'||ēl-jōm- 'to go away/on'|
|tinal- 'to sell'||ēl-tinal- 'to sell off'|
χot – 'direction away from something and other nuances of action intensity'
|min- 'to go'||χot-min- 'to go away, to stop'|
|roχt- 'to be frightened'||χot-roχt- 'to take fright suddenly'|
Numbers 1 and 2 also have attributive forms: акв (1) and кит (2); compare with Hungarian két, and Old Hungarian "kit").
ам хул алысьлаӈкве минасум. – I went fishing (literally "I fish catch went").
Comparison with Hungarian
Here are some invented sentences in Northern Mansi (IPA transcription) and Hungarian. They demonstrate well the relationship between Hungarian and Mansi.
|Northern Mansi||Approximate pronunciation using Hungarian spelling||Hungarian||English|
|ˈxuːrəm neː ˈwitnəl ˈxuːlpəl xus xuːl ˈpuːɣi.||Húrem né vitnel húlpel husz húl púgi||Három nő a vízből hálóval húsz halat fog.||Three women are catching twenty fish with a net from the water.|
|ˈxuːrəm-saːt-xus ˈxulax-sam ˈampəm ˈwitn̩ ˈoːli||Húrem-szát-husz hulah-szam ampem viten óli||Háromszázhúsz hollószemű ebem vízen él.||The three hundred and twenty dogs of mine with raven eyes live on water.|
|luː ˈlaːɕal ˈmini toː ˈseːln̩||Lú lásal mini tó szélen||Ló lassan megy a tó szélén.||A horse is slowly walking on the shore of the lake.|
- Nyelvrokonaink. Teleki László Alapítvány, Budapest, 2000.
- A világ nyelvei. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest
- Honti, László (1998). "ObUgrian". In Abondolo, Daniel. The Uralic Languages.
- Kálmán, Béla. 1965. Vogul Chrestomathy. Indiana University Publications. Uralic and Altaic Series, Vol. 46. Mouton, The Hague. [In English.]
- Munkácsi, Bernát and Kálmán, Béla. 1986. Wogulisches Wörterbuch. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest. [In German and Hungarian.]
- Riese, Timothy. Vogul: Languages of the World/Materials 158. Lincom Europa, 2001. ISBN 3-89586-231-2
- Ромбандеева, Евдокия Ивановна. Мансийский (вогульский) язык, Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Linguistics, 1973. [In Russian.]
|Mansi language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
- Mansi at Omniglot
- Mansi language dictionary
- Mansi basic lexicon at the Global Lexicostatistical Database
- Red Book of the Peoples – Mansi history
- Endangered Languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia – Mansi education