Northern Mansi

The Mansi (Vogul) language belongs to the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic language family. Together with Khanty and Hungarian, they make up the so-called Ugric sub-branch of the language family. Within this sub-branch, Mansi and Khanty constitute a separate group. Due to their speakers' dwelling site along the river Ob, the two are called the Ob-Ugric languages. Mansi is an indigenous language of West Siberia with a total of 938 native speakers based on the latest census data from 2010 (PEREPIS 2010). This number makes up only 7.6% of those declaring themselves to be Mansi (12,269). Northern Mansi is the last remaining dialect of the language. The Southern (Tavda) dialect became extinct in the 1950s, the Western dialect somewhat later (Bíró–Sipőcz 2006; Horváth 2013). Despite some sporadic reports about existing speakers of Eastern Mansi, this variety, too, can be considered extinct. Due to the complex geographic structure of the territory, Mansi dialects differ to a great extent from one another with regard to phonological, morphological and syntactic features. It must be emphasized that this database deals only with the Northern dialect.

The Mansi people live in West Siberia, Russia, mostly within the territory of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District ‒ Yugra. The Northern dialect is spoken mainly in the villages along the rivers Sosva and Losva, although even there, the majority of speakers belong to the elderly generation (cf. Skribnik–Koshkaryova 1996; Horváth 2012). On the urban population, see Sipőcz (Ob-Babel). On Fishman's Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale, Mansi is estimated to be at stage 7 (Horváth 2013; Levis et al. 2015); according to the UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, it is a severely endangered language (Bíró–Sipőcz 2006).

The Northern dialect itself can be divided into four sub-dialects (Sigva, Sosva, Upper Losva and Ob). The standard literary language was developed in the 1930s based on the Sosva sub-dialect (Kálmán 1976). The orthography, first using a Latin-based alphabet and later changed to Cyrillic, has been standardized (Rombandeeva 2006), however differences turn up in some cases. (Regarding the transcription used in our database, see the menu point “Instructions”.)