Uralic Family
of Languages

Hungarian Finnish Estonian

Not all European languages are Indo-European.

There are three European languages that are members of the Uralic Family. The family is named from the Ural mountains. The people speaking these languages originated from the Siberian side of the Urals. Over 1500 years ago they migrated to Europe and have become entirely Europeanised. Their languages tell the story of their migrations.

In the Finnic Branch, Finnish and Estonian are closely related. There are also a group of closely related dialects called Karelian (spoken in the Karelia region of Finland and Russia).

Languages in the Ugric Branch (like Hungarian) are very different having separated from the Finnic ones around 3000 years ago. Hungarian's closest relatives (Ostyak, Vogul) are found in central Siberia.

The majority of the languages in this family are spoken in the Ural Mountains in Western Russia (Mordvin, Komi, Nenets) apart from Sámi which is spoken in Lapland (northern Scandinavia). The name Lapps is a derogatory term for the Sámi people which should not be used.

Yukaghir (spoken in eastern Siberia) uses a pre-literate form of pictograms similar to those of some native Americans. Some linguists consider this language to belong to another, older language family.

The Uralic Languages have many suffixes. Finnish, for example, behaves as if it had 15 noun cases, Hungarian has 17. Country names in Finnish are difficult to recognise. Finland, for example, is Suomi. Mordvin has complex verbs varying for subject and object over four tenses and 7 moods.

Finnic Branch
Finnish : Estonian : Mordvin : Udmurt
Mari : Votyak : Komi : Sámi : Karelian
Ugric Branch
Hungarian : Ostyak : Vogul
Samoyed Branch
Nenets : Selkup : Nganasan : Enets : Kamas
Yukaghir Branch

Books From and

External Uralic Links

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A Hungarian language course.