Udmurt language

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удмурт кыл udmurt kyl
Native to Russia
Region Udmurtia
Ethnicity Udmurts
Native speakers
340,000 (2010 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Udmurtia (Russia)
Language codes
ISO 639-2 udm
ISO 639-3 udm
Glottolog udmu1245[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Udmurt (удмурт кыл, udmurt kyl) is a Uralic language, part of the Permic subgroup, spoken by the Udmurt natives of the Russian constituent republic of Udmurtia, where it is co-official with Russian. It is written using a Cyrillic alphabet, including five characters not used in the Russian alphabet: Ӝ/ӝ, Ӟ/ӟ, Ӥ/ӥ, Ӧ/ӧ, and Ӵ. Together with Komi and Komi-Permyak languages, it constitutes the Permic grouping. Among outsiders, it has traditionally been referred to by its Russian exonym, Votyak. Udmurt has borrowed vocabulary from the neighboring languages Tatar and Russian.

Ethnologue estimates 550,000 native speakers (77%) in an ethnic population of 750,000 in the former USSR (1989 census).[3]


Udmurt varieties can be grouped in three broad dialect groups:

A continuum of intermediate dialects between Northern and Southern Udmurt is found, and literary Udmurt includes features from both areas. Besermyan is more sharply distinguished.[citation needed]

The differences between the dialects are regardless not major, and mainly involve differences in vocabulary, largely attributable to the stronger influence of Tatar in the southern end of the Udmurt-speaking area. A few differences in morphology and phonology still exist as well, e.g.

  • Southern Udmurt has an accusative ending -ыз /-ɨz/, contrasting with northern -ты /-tɨ/.
  • Southwestern Udmurt distinguishes an eight vowel phoneme /ʉ/.
  • Besermyan has /e/ in place of standard Udmurt /ə/ (thus distinguishing only six vowel phonemes), and /ɵ/ in place of standard Udmurt /ɨ/.


The Udmurt alphabet is based on the Russian Cyrillic alphabet:

Udmurt alphabet

Uppercase Lowercase Transliteration[4] IPA Letter name
А а a [ɑ] а
Б б b [b] бэ
В в v [v] вэ
Г г g [g] гэ
Д д d [d]; palatal [dʲ] when followed by я, е, и, ё, ю or ь дэ
Е е e, ye [je]; [ʲe] when preceded by д, т, з, с, л, or н е
Ё ё yo [jo]; [ʲo] when preceded by д, т, з, с, л, or н ё
Ж ж zh [ʒ] жэ
Ӝ ӝ dzh [dʒ] ӝэ
З з z [z]; palatal [ʑ] when followed by я, е, и, ё, ю or ь зэ
Ӟ ӟ j [dʲʑ] ӟе
И и i [i]; [ʲi] when preceded by д, т, з, с, л, or н и
Ӥ ӥ ï [i] точкаен и, точкаосын и ("dotted i")
Й й y [j] вакчи и ("short i")
К к k [k] ка
Л л l [ɫ]; palatal [lʲ] when followed by я, е, и, ё, ю or ь эл
М м m [m] эм
Н н n [n]; palatal [nʲ] when followed by я, е, и, ё, ю or ь эн
О о o [o] о
Ӧ ӧ ö [ʌ] ~ [ə] ӧ
П п p [p] пэ
Р р r [r] эр
С с s [s]; palatal [ɕ] when followed by я, е, и, ё, ю or ь эс
Т т t [t]; palatal [tʲ] when followed by я, е, и, ё, ю or ь тэ
У у u [u] у
Ф1 ф f [f] эф
Х1 х kh [x] ха
Ц1 ц ts [t͡s] цэ
Ч ч ch [t͡ɕ] чэ
Ӵ ӵ tsh [t͡ʃ] ӵэ
Ш ш sh [ʃ] ша
Щ1 щ shch [ɕ], [ɕː] ща
Ъ2 ъ чурыт пус ("hard sign")
Ы ы y [ɨ] ~ [ɯ] ы
Ь ь [ʲ] небыт пус ("soft sign")
Э э e [e] э
Ю ю yu [ju]; [ʲu] when preceded by д, т, з, с, л, or н ю
Я я ya [jɑ]; [ʲa] when preceded by д, т, з, с, л, or н я
  • 1 Only used in Russian loanwords and names.
  • 2 Silent, but required to distinguish palatalized consonants (/dʲ tʲ zʲ sʲ lʲ n/) from unpalatalized consonants followed by /j/ if followed by a vowel; for example, /zʲo/ and /zjo/ are written -зё- and -зъё-, respectively.


The language does not distinguish between long and short vowels and does not have vowel harmony.

Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar
plain lat. plain lat.
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless (t͡s) t͡ʃ t͡ɕ
voiced (d͡z) d͡ʒ d͡ʑ
Fricative voiceless (f) s ʃ ɕ (x)
voiced v z ʒ ʑ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Approximant l j ʎ
Trill r

The consonants /f x t͡s/ are restricted to loanwords, and are traditionally replaced by /p k t͡ɕ/ respectively.

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


Main article: Udmurt grammar
Udmurt language textbook, 1898 (in Russian)

Udmurt is an agglutinating language. It uses affixes to express possession, to specify mode, time, and so on.


Depending on the style, about 10 to 30 percent of the Udmurt lexicon consists of loanwords. Many loanwords are from the Tatar language, which has also strongly influenced Udmurt phonology and syntax.

A bilingual sign proclaiming "welcome" in Russian "добро пожаловать" /dɐbˈro pɐˈʐaləvətʲ/ (upper) and Udmurt "гажаса ӧтиськом" /gaʒasa ətʲiɕkom/ (lower). This picture was taken in Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurtia.

Media in Udmurt[edit]

Eurovision runners-up Buranovskiye Babushki, a pop group composed of Udmurt grandmothers, sing mostly in Udmurt.[5]

The romantic comedy film Berry-Strawberry, a joint Polish-Udmurt production, is in the Udmurt language.

The Bible was first completely translated into Udmurt in 2013.[6]


  • Kel'makov, Valentin; Sara Hännikäinen (2008). Udmurtin kielioppia ja harjoituksia (in Finnish) (2nd ed.). Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. ISBN 978-952-5150-34-6. 
  • Moreau, Jean-Luc (2009). Parlons Oudmourte. Paris: L'Harmattan. ISBN 2-296-07951-2. 


  1. ^ Udmurt at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Udmurt". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Ethnologue code=UDM[dead link]
  4. ^ "BGN/PCGN romanization of udmurt". Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Omelyanchuk, Olena (7 March 2012). "Buranovskiye Babushki to represent Russia in Baku". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "First Bible in Udmurt – arrives this week!". United Bible Societies. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 

External links[edit]