Integrating Finno-Ugric Studies in Europe

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(Erzya) Mordvin

Mordvin is the fourth largest Finno-Ugric language. It is spoken in the Volga area in Russia. So far there are no textbooks or reference grammars available in English for it. Therefore the Erzya e-learning course focuses on describing the basic structure of the language from a synchronic point of view. In the grammatical commentaries the functions of the morphemes are given. As Finno-Ugristics deals with languages that are related to each other, it is important to also document the history of the morphemes and give their cognates in Finnish or other big Finno-Ugric languages when possible. The tasks of the course consist of transcription, morphological and syntactic analysis, translation (from and into Erzya), and reading.

Erzya Mordvin has a very close language sibling in Moksha Mordvin, and they can be considered mutually intelligible. They have a common history and largely common culture, too. Therefore, in the introductory part students are given information on Mordvin (not just Erzya) culture and history including language contacts. The present sociolinguistic situation is also touched upon. Audio-files of the texts are available through the Moodle platform. The output is based on materials already tested at the University of Tartu. The course is for advanced students, but also for beginners with basic linguistic knowledge. Erzya is written with Cyrillic (= Russian) letters. However, command of the Cyrillic alphabet is not an absolute prerequisite, because they and their phonetic equivalents are taught in the phonological section at the beginning of the course. Emphasis of the course lies on the adoption of basic grammar and vocabulary. The texts used help in building practical language skills in Erzya and the exercises strengthen these skills.

Feedback for submitted exercises is provided on an individual base. Copyright-protected supplementary material can be accessed through the University of Vienna Moodle. For access send a mail to