This article was written by Prof. E. A. Tsypanov from the Syktyvkar State University for his self-instruction book of the Komi language, published in Syktyvkar in 1992. I've translated it only with small abridgements, and, because I'aint a linguist, a historian and Komi speaker, there may be errors by writing and transcribing of Komi words and by translating of some historical terminology. I beg visitor's pardon for this.

The Finno-Ugric language family

Komi language is included into the Finno-Ugric language family and forms a Permic group of the Finno-Ugric languages with the Udmurt language, which is the closest to Komi. Totally 16 languages are included into Finno-Ugric family, which were developed from the united basic language in the deepest antiquity: Hungarian, Mansi, Khanty (The Group of the Ugric languages), Komi, Udmurt (Permic group), Mari, two Mordvin languages - Erzya and Moksha, Balto-Finnic languages - Finnish, Karelian, Izhora, Veps, Vod, Estonian, Liv languages. The Saami language takes a special place in the Finno-Ugric language family, it's very different from other cognate languages.

The Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic languages form the Uralic language family. Nenets, Enets, Nganasan, Selkup, Kamas are related to the Samoyedic languages. The people speaking these languages habit in the western Siberia, except the Nenets, living in the European North.

The scientists are interested in the question of the forehomeland of the old Finno-Ugrians very long time. They searched the old forehomelandin the Altai region, in Upper Ob, Irtysh and Jenisei, and in the coast of the Arctic Ocean. The modern scientists came to the conclusion on the base of their researches in the area of the Finno-Ugric vocabulary related to the flora, that the forehomeland of the Finno-Ugrianswas located in the region of the rivers Volga and Kama on the both sides of Urals. Later Finno-Ugric tribes and languages separated, got apart and the ancestors of the present Finno-Ugric peoples left the old forehomeland. The first annalistic records about the Finno-Ugric peoples already catch them on the places of their present habitation.

Hungarians moved to the territory surrounded by Karpats more than one thousand years ago. Own name for themselves of the Hungarians "Modjor" is known since V century A.D. The scripture appeared in the end of XII century A.D. The Hungarians have the rich literature. Totally there are about 17 millions Hungarians. In the addition to Hungary they habit in Czech, Slovak, Romania, Austria, Ukraine and the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

Mansi (Voguls) habit in the Khanty-Mansi district of the Tjumen oblast. The Russian annals called them Jugra together with Khanty. The Mansi use scripture on the base of Cyrillic graphic and have own schools. Totally there are more than 7000 Mansi, but only a half of them consider Mansi as their natal language.

Khanty (Ostjaks) habit in the Jamal Peninsula, Upper and Middle Ob. The scripture in Khanty appeared in the thirties of XX century, but the dialects of the Khanty language are so different, that the intelligibility between the representatives of the different dialects is often difficult. A lot of the borrowings from Komi language penetrated into Khanty and Mansi languages. Totally there are 21000 Khanty. Traditional occupation of the Ob' Ugrians - reindeer, hunting, fishing.

Udmurts moved from the territory of the Finno-Ugric forehomeland in the minimal degree. They habit in Lower Kama, Vjatka and live in the addition to the Udmurt Republic in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, the Republic Mari-El and Kirov oblast, too. In 1989 there are 713696 Udmurts totally. The scripture appeared in XVIII century. The capital of the Udmurt Republic is Izhyevsk.

Mari habit on the left bank of Volga. In the Republic Mari-El there are about a half of the Mari, the others habit in Bashkortostan, Tatarstan and the Udmurt Republic. The scripture of Mari appeared in XVIII century, there are two variants of the Mari language - Mari-Hills (Mari-High) and Mari-Woods (Mari-Low). They have differences mostly in phonetic. Totally there are 621961 Mari (1989). The capital of the Republic Mari-El is Joshkar-Ola.

Mordvins take the third place in the total number among the Finno-Ugric peoples. There are more than 1200000 habitants, but they live very widely and scattered. It's possible to find their more compact groups on the banks of the rivers Moksha and Sura in the Mordvin Republic, in Pensa, Samara, Orenburg, Uljanovsk, N.Novgorod oblasts. There are two very close Mordvin languages: Erzya and Moksha, but representatives of these languages speak to each other in Russian. scripture in the Mordvin languages appeared in XIX century. The capital of the Mordvin Republic is Saransk.

Balto-Finnic languages and peoples are so closed, that speakers in these languages can talk to each other without a translator.

Among the languages of the Balto-Finnic group Finnish is the most widespread, about 5000000 persons speak Finnish. The own name for themselves of the Finns is Suomi. In the addition to Finland the Finns habit in St. Petersburg oblast of Russia. The scripture appeared in XVI century, the period of the modern Finnish has been started since 1870. The epic poem "Kalevala" sounds in Finnish, the rich literature was created. About 77000 Finns habit in Russia.

Estonians habit in the East Coast of the Baltic Sea. The number of the Estonians was 1027255 habitants in 1989. The scripture exists since XVI century, two literary languages had developed by XIX century - these were North-Estonian and South-Estonian. These two languages converged on the base of the Middle-Estonian dialects in XIX century.

Karelians habit in Karelia and Tver oblast of Russia. There are 138429 Karelians (1989) totally, a bit more than a half of them considers Karelian as a native language. Karelian consists of many dialects. In Karelia the Karelians study and use the Finnish literary language. The oldest samples of the Karelian scripture relate to XIII century, this is the second script of age (after Hungarian).

Izhora language has no scripture, about 1500 persons speak Izhora. The Izhora habit in the South - East Coast of the Finnish Gulf, along the river Izhora, which is a tributary of Neva. It's admitted to distinguish the independent Izhora language, although the Izhora call themselves the Karelians.

Veps habit on the territory of 3 administrative units: Vologda, St.Petersburg oblasts and Karelia. There had been about 30000 Veps in thirties, in 1970 there were 8300 persons. The Veps language differs very much from other Balto-Finnic languages, because of the heavy influence of Russian.

The Vod language is on the verge of disappearance, because not more than 30 speakers remained only. The Vod habit in several villages, which are located between the North - East part of Estonia and St. Petersburg oblast. Vod has no scripture.

Liv habit in several seaside fishermen' villages in the North of Latvia. Their number reduced very much because of the devastation during the World War II. Now the number of the Liv speakers is about 150 persons only. The scripture has been developed since XIX century, but nowadays the Liv turn to Latvian.

Saami language forms the separate group of the Finno-Ugric languages, because there are many specific features in its grammar and vocabulary. The Saami habit in the northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland and in the Kola Peninsula, too. There are 40000 Saami totally, including about 2000 in Russia. The Saami language has many common features with the Balto-Finnic languages. The Saami scripture develops on the base of different dialects using Latin and Cyrillic graphic system.

The modern Finno-Ugric languages differ from each other so much, that they seem absolutely unbound with each other on the face of it. However, more careful study of sounds, grammars and vocabulary shows, that these languages have a lot of common features, which prove the former common origin of the Finno-Ugric languages from the same old pre-language.

About the Komi language

Traditionally three Komi languages (Zyrian, Komi-Permjak and Jazva) are understood as the Komi language. Many scientists abroad don't separate Komi-Zyrian and Komi-Permjak languages. However, the Russian ethnography distinguishes two peoples: the Komi-Zyrians and the Komi-Permjaks and their two languages in the linguistic. The Komi-Zyrians and the Komi-Permjaks speak to each other freely in their own languages not using Russian. Thus, the Komi-Zyrian and the Komi-Permjak literary languages are very closed.

This similarity is noticed well by the comparison of the following two sentences:

1. The Komi-Zyrian literary language

2. The Komi-Permjak literary language

"A fox looked around and saw a squirrel, which stored up mushrooms before winter at the top of the tall fir."

Generally the learning of the Komi-Zyrian literary language gives an opportunity to read everything written in the Komi-Permjak literary language and to speak to the Komi-Permjaks freely.

The place of the habitation and the number of the Komi

The Komi Jazva people are the special ethnic group of the Komi, their language differs from the modern Komi-Zyrian and Komi-Permjak dialects very much. The Komi Jazva habit in the Krasnovishera rayon of the Perm oblast in Middle and Upper Jazva, which is the left tributary of the Vishera river flowing onto Kama. Their total number is about 4000 and nowadays the assimilation by Russians continues rapidly.

So-called "Zjuzdin" Komi habit in the Afanasjevka rayon of the Kirov oblast, their dialect is like a intermediate one between the Komi-Zyrian and the Komi-Permjak languages. In the fifties there were more than 5000 Zjuzdin Komi, but after this their number started to reduce.

The Komi-Zyrians habit in the Komi Republic in the basins of the rivers Luza, Vychegda and their tributaries Sysola, Vym, in the basins of Izhma, Pechora, Mezen, flowing into the White Sea and its tributary Vashka.

Accordingly, the ethnic groups of the Komi are separated according the rivers: the Luza Komi, the Sysola Komi etc. About 10% out of the Komi habit outside the Komi Republic-in the Nenets national district of the Arkhangelsk oblast, in the North of the Tumen oblast, in very many villages in Lower Ob and its tributaries, in the Kola Peninsula (Murmansk oblast), in Omsk, Novosibirsk and other oblasts of Siberia.

The Komi-Permjaks habit separately from the Komi-Zyrians, further to the South, in the Perm oblast, in the area of Upper Kama and its tributaries Kota, Inva. The capital of the Komi-Permjak autonomous district is Kudymkar.

The total number of the Komi population (the Komi-Zyrians and the Komi-Permjaks) increased constantly according the data of the census:













The demographers noticed the tendency of the strong deceleration of the Komi population's growth in the latest tens.

Between 1959-1970 its growth numbered 44000, in the period 1970-1979 - 3000 only. In the former USSR there were 326700 Komi-Zyrians and 150768 Komi-Permjaks in 1979, 280797 Komi-Zyrians lived in the Komi Republic, what numbered 25.3% of the population of the Republic. In 1989 the Komi numbered 23% of the population of the Republic. In the former USSR 345007 Komi-Zyrians and 152074 Komi-Permjaks lived in 1989.

But the number of the Komi speakers decreases. In 1970 82.7% of Komi-Zyrians and 85.8% of the Komi-Permjaks called Komi as their native language. In 1979 76.2% of the Komi-Zyrians only and 77.1% of the Komi-Permjaks called Komi as the native language. The language community reduced 3000 persons during 10 years. The decreasing of the number of the Komi speakers continues. In 1989 70% of the Komi people in the former USSR called Komi as the mother language, i. e. nowadays every third person doesn't speak the native language already.

The ethnonyms "Komi" and "Zyrians"

The ethnonyms, or names of the peoples, their ethnic groups (the greek 'ethnos' - 'population' and 'onima' - 'name') are of great importance by the interpretation the of history of peoples and their languages. The ethnonym "Komi" is the own name for themselves both of the Komi-Zyrians and of the Komi-Permjaks. The scientists advanced different points of view apropos of the origin of this word. The word "Komi", undoubtely, is bound historically with the name of the old forehomeland of the Komi-Zyrians and the Komi-Permjaks. "Kommu" - "homeland". The common component 'Kom' is explained on the different way. Very often an opinion is widespread among the scientists, that the word "Komi" originated from the name of the existed in the former times tribe "kom" - "grayling". Supposedly the tribe was called with the word, which meant grayling - the totem of this tribe. It's very difficult to prove such possible explanation, because there aren't exact proofs of such an old Komi tribe's existence.

In the Finno-Ugric science there are two basic points of view, explaining the origin of the word "Komi":

1. They believed the word "Komi" originated from the name of the river Kama. "Komi mort" - "the person from Kama, the habitant of the Kama area".The Finnish scientists Vihmann and Uotila gave as a proof the Udmurt name of Kama "Kam" and the Finnish word "Kumi" - "river". But later many scientists began to doubt the connection between the words "Kama" and "Komi". The professor V. Lytkin believes the name "Kama" is Ob-Ugric originally with the meaning "light", "white", "clear". It penetrated from the Ob-Ugric languages into Russian, too. The Tatars, Bashkirs, Chuvashs, living on this river, called it "Itel" in the Middle Ages, and Volga, too. And now the Chuvashs and the Tatars call Kama "Shur Atal" - " White river", the Bashkirs - "Ak Izel". Nowadays one of the tributaries of Kama is called in Russian "Belaja" - "The White".

2. According the second point of view the base "Kom" has no relations to the name of Kama. The word "Kom" is very old, Finno-Ugric, and means "a tribesman". There are similar meanings: in Udmurt "Sara-kum" -"the Zyrians", "persons from the tribe 'Sara'"., "vyzhy-kum" - "relatives"; in Mansi "Kum" - "a person", in Hungarian "him" - "a human". Many Finno-Ugric ethnonyms were formed from the vocabulary base with the meaning "a person", on the same way - the Mari, the Mordvin, the Udmurt. In the word "Komi" it's necessary to distinguish the base "kom" and the suffix "-i".

The word "Zyrians" isn't the own name for themselves of the Komi, this word appears in the Russian annals in 1396 as a form "serjane" and penetrated from Russian into other languages: English "Zyrian", German "Syrjne", Hungarian "Srjen", Finnish "Syrjni".

Evidently, there isn't other Komi ethnomym, which would provoke so many different opinions in the question of the historical origin. In XIX century the scientists explained the origin of the word "Zyrian" from the Komi words "Sur" - "Beer" and "Syl" - "Melted". An opinion was widely spread, according which the word "Zyrian" originated from the "Zyrem jez" - "the ejected people". Now this explanation isn't objective, because the Komi had lived in the North already by the moment of the first historical records.

Several explanations are most possible:

1. Since XIX century the opinion was very popular that the word "Zyrian" appeared in the Balto-Finnic languages and meant "The border habitants", the comparison with the Finnish "Syrjlinen", where "Syrja" - "border", "limit", "lainen" - "tribesman". According this point of view this word penetrated into the Russian annals from the Balto-Finnic languages.

2. According another point of view the root "Sirene" came into Russian from the Ob-Ugric languages, because the Khanty and the Mansi call the Komi "Saran" and "Saran-Jakh". The Nenets call the Komi "Sanor" and the Udmurts - "Sara-kum". Now the well-known Hungarian scientist Peter Haidu holds such an opinion.

3. The Hungarian researcher of Komi Erik Vasoi believes that the hydronyms - the names of the rivers Surja, Zarja, Serja, which are located in the Kama area, are the base of the ethnonym "Zyrian". According Vasoi, the name "Zyrian" originated from the name of the Komi tribes, which had lived in the areas of these rivers.

4. Annu-Reet Hausenberg, a researcher of the Komi languages from Estonia adduced another point of view at the history of the ethnonym "Zyrian". According her opinion the Komi word "sir" - "pike" was in the base of the enthonym, which was the name of a Komi tribe lived in Upper Sysola and Upper Kama. The name of the tribe totem could become the tribe name, after this it could develop in the annals from the name of a people group to the whole population.

5. The well-known Komi researcher of the toponymic A. I. Turkin formed his own opinion apropos of the origin of the ethnonym "Zyrian". He believes the old Permian word "Sara" ("a man") is set in the base of the word "Zyrian", which is the Indo-Iranian borrowing in the Finno-Premian languages. A. I. Turkin believed that the old root "sar" saved in the name "Sura Poganaja" in Pinega in the annals, in the old Komi name "Zyrian", in the toponyms "Saran iz"("a ridge" - in Upper Kozhymju), "Suranjel" - a river near the village Kuratovo. According A. I. Turkin the word "Saran" penetrated into Udmurt and the Ob-Ugric languages. These versions are the most valid and possible.

The periods of the Komi literary language development.

The pre-Permian language (Middle of II millenium B.C. - IX century A.D.

An ancestor of the modern Komi and Udmurt languages, the contacts with the Indo-Iranians, ancient Bolgars

The ancient Komi language (IX - XIII centuries)

The independent development of Komi, the time of using the ancient Komi scripture (XIV - XVII centuries), the contacts with the Veps, Mansi, beginning the mutual influence Komi with Nenets and Russian.

1372 - year of the ancient Komi scripture's birth and creating the alphabet "abur" by St. Stephen the Permian

The transitional period from the ancient Komi to the modern Komi (XVIII -Middle of XIX century)

The development of the modern Komi dialects, the script tradition, starting of the scientific studies of the Komi language.

The modern Komi (from Middle of XIX)

Creating the united rules of the literary language and their development, the time of the development of the professional Komi national culture

1918 - year of creating the united rules of the modern Komi literary language (teacher's conference in the village Ust-Vym)

The basic pre-Permian language

It's possible to speak exactly about the development of the basic Komi language only concerning the pre-Permian period, when the common Permian pre-language existed, which was an ancestor of the modern Komi and Udmurt. The ancient population, the ancestors of the Komi and Udmurts had its own forehomeland and existed during the determined historical period. Then this pre-language disintegrated in separated independent languages. The ethnic community, which spoke pre-Permian, was called the Permians. The enormous number of resemblances in the modern Komi and Udmurt languages gives on opportunity to believe as indisputable the former existence of the pre-Permian basic language. For example, about 80% of the Komi and Udmurt words form the historically united vocabulary. Examples:







sour cream

The scientists believed the ancient Permians lived in Lower Kama, agriculture, cattle-breeding, hunting and fishing were developed. The archeological discoveries showed the smelting of copper and bronze was developed, they supported the trade contacts with the southern neighbors: the Iranians, and later with the ancient Bolgars.

The pre-Permian period continued more than one and a half thousand years from Middle of II millenium B.C. to IX century A.D. However, the opinion wass expressed in the newest archeological works the ancestors of the Komi and Udmurts separated much earlier. But the separating process in the languages could start after the separating of the ethnic groups. The language similarity could be kept rather long. Besides, the closest similarity of Komi and Udmurt is evident even for non-specialists after more than one thousand years since the languages had separated. Compare two sentences written in the modern Udmurt (1) and modern Komi (2) languages:



"First of all, fox-cubs were given the following names: One, Two, Three, Four."

So long existence of the pre-Permians couldn't remain unnoticed in the ancient sources (ancient Greek, Arabian). The fullest count of the European peoples, lived to the North from the ancient Greek colonies in the Black Sea Coast, is given in the work of the ancient Greek historian Herodotes, "The Father of History" (between 490-480 B.C. - about 425 B.C.). The scientists believe the ancestors of the Finno-Ugric peoples are presented in the list of the peoples, given by Herodotes. It's possible, Herodotes' "Jirks" are the ancestors of the modern Hungarians, "Tissagets" - the ancestors of the Mansi, "Budins" - the Permians, "Helanhlens" - ancestors of the Mari. Herodotes writes about the Budins, as following:

"The Budins are the large and numerous tribe, everybody has light-blue eyes and red hair. The wooden town Gelon is located in their area. The houses and sanctuaries have been built of wood, too. The Budins, the indigenes are nomads. These are only people in this area, which eat pike cones. The Gelons, however, occupy agriculture, cultivate gardens and eat bread. All their area is covered with the dense forests of the different kind. In the center of the thicket there is an enormous lake surrounded with moors and thicket of reed. They catch otters, beavers and other animals in this lake. The Budins sew their fur-coats using the fur of these animals." The period, which is related this description written by Herodotes about the Budins to, - I millenium B.C.

The academic P.Haidu comments the words of Herodotes on the following way: in I millenium B.C. the Permians (the Budins) lived in the closed neighborhood with the Scythians (the Gelons). In that time the Budins, hunting and fishing, started already to adopt the agriculture from their southern neighbors: the Kimmerians, Scythians, Alani: Nearer to the end of the pre-Permian period one of the Turkic tribes - the Old Bolgars, which were the ancestors of the modern Chuvashs, moved to Volga. They created a powerful state in VII century A.D., which the southern part of the Permians, the ancestors of the modern Udmurts, depended on. The common Permian vocabulary can tell how much the economy and family life of the ancient Permians were developed, what kind of contacts they had with their neighbors. The vocabulary reflects the level of the society development in the pre-Permian period.

The ancient Uralic and Finno-Ugric vocabulary strata were the base of the ancient Permian vocabulary. The words included in these strata meant the most important and actual phenomena of the reality.



















Parts of body









Terminology of relationship
























































The ancient Finno-Ugrians started to contact with the ancient Indo-Europeans, which habited to the South in the steps in the pre-Permian period. Such words penetrated into the Finno-Ugric pre-language from the Indo-Iranians as "ma" - "honey", ""koin" - "wulf", "sov" - "salt". Then the Indo-Europeans separated into the independent groups: pre-Slavonic, pre-Germanic, pre-Iranian etc. The pre-Indo-Iranians, the ancestors of the Scythians and Alani habited in the neighborhood with the Finno-Ugrians. Such words as: Komi "se" - "hundred", "sju" - "rye", "sjurs" - "thousand" were borrowed from them.

In the pre-Permian period the Permians started the contacts directly with the Scythians and Alani. They were skilful agriculturalists and nomads. Herodotes called them "the Scythians-ploughmen". The words, which penetrated into the pre-Permian language, were bound with:

1. Agriculture: Komi "ken" - "hemp", "zer" - "oats", "sju" - "rye", "majeg" - "shaft"

2. Cattle-breeding: Komi "pors" - "pig", "kureg" - "hen", "esh" - "bull", "kein" - "wulf" or "dog", "turun" -"grass", "vurun" - "fleece", "gen" - "fluff"

3. Metallurgy: "emdon" - "steel", "zarni" - "gold", "kert" - "iron", "ezys" - "silver"

4. Family and abstract categories: "mort" - "human", "zon" - "fellow", "sjem" - "money", "njebny" - "buy", "vuzavny" - "sell", "dyr" - "time", "ideg" - "angel", "shud" - "happiness", "nebeg" - "book".

The Permians contacted with the Scythians and Alani during more than one thousand years, adopted from them the agriculture, cattle-breeding, metallurgy, enriched the cultural and historical experience.

The contacts between the Permians and the Indo-Iranians became weaker since the beginning of I millenium A.D. In that time the Turkic tribes (the Bolgars, Avars, Khazars, Pechenegs) began to move to the southern steps from the East. They settled in Volga and Don areas and assimilated the Scythians and Alani, which had lived on this territory before.

In VII century one of the Turkic peoples - the Bolgars raised to Middle Volga and created a rich state - Volga Bolgar. It had existed by XIII century, when Mongols destroyed it. The Bolgars contacted actively with the Permians and after the separating them into the Komi and the Udmurts - with the latter. From the Bolgars such words came in the Permian languages as: Komi "bus" - "dust", "karta" - "cattle-shed", "kolta" - "sheaf", "kech" - "hare", "kushman" - "black radish", "serkni" - "turnip", "tus" - "grain", "charla" - "sickle", "chipan" - "hen", "zep" - "pocket", "kud" - "punnet", "kan" - "king", "gob" - "mushroom".

The old Komi language

The period of the independent development

In VIII or IX century one group of the Komi (the ancestors of the Komi-Perjaks) remained in the territory of the Kama basin, and its tributaries, the other group of the Komi moved to the North (or to the mind of an archeologist E. A. Saveljeva, they moved to the Vym and Vychegda areas much earlier - in VIII-IX centuries). Since IX century the Russian annals call the old Komi with one word "Perm" both of the Komi groups - living in Kama area and in Vym and Vychegda area. The language of these two groups differed very little, it was almost the same.

The Komi-Zyrians, settling in the northern territories, started the contacts with the peoples living in the neighborhood: the Veps, Karelians, Mansi, Nenets and Russians.

1. The Komi-Zyrians, developing the basins of Luza, Sysola, Lower Vychegda, Vym and later Vashka, began to contact with the Veps and Karelians, living there. These contacts started since X-XI centuries or earlier and continued by XIV-XVI centuries. There is the name "Ves" in the Arabian sources of X century. The Volga Bolgars meant "Ves" the habitants of so-called "Zavolochskaja Chud" from the Russian annals (the northern territories), the Veps.

The legends, existing in many places of the Komi Republic about "Chud", "Chud's pit holes", numerous substrata toponyms (for example, Raj - the name of the village in the Sysola rayon), tell about the old contacts with the Veps and the Karelians. The old name of the Vym was "Kaj", that meant "bird" in Veps. A range of the borrowings came from Karelian and Veps in Komi: "agas" - "harrow", "jema" - "hag", "karta" - "house", "kas" - "cat", "ludik" - "bug", "pach" - "oven", "sabri" - "stack". There are especially many borrowings in the Udora dialect, for example: "ljuska" - "spoon", "marja" - "berry", "karandys" - "tub" and others. Then the Karelians and Veps, which had lived in the neighborhood and among the Komi merged with Russian or Komi population and were assimilated.

2. The Mansi habited in the neighborhood with the old Komi in Kama, Upper Vychegda and Pechora. The relations between the Komi and the Mansi were hostile very often in the Middle Ages, the Mansi raided on the Komi settlements and cloisters. Such borrowings as: "kyn" - "polar fox", "jaran" - "the Nenets" penetrated from the Mansi language into Komi. There are a lot of the toponyms of the Ugric origin in the Komi Republic, for example: Vychegda originated from Mansi "vich" - "moist meadow" and "jegda" - "river": the name of the Vym river - from Mansi "jem" - "holy".

The Komi population, in its turn, had a large cultural and economic influence on the Mansi, there are above 300 Komi borrowings in the Mansi language.

3. Since XII - XIV centuries, first sporadically, then the more and more often the Komi started to contact with the Nenets, which lived in the North. The intensive development of the basins of Izhma and Pechora by the northern Komi continued in XVI - XVIII centuries and the Izhma dialect of the Komi language has been formed. There were the intensive contacts between the Komi and the Nenets in the economy area: the Komi adopted from the Nenets reindeer and improved it. That's why the majority of the Nenets borrowings in the Komi language is bound with reindeers, for example: "pimi" - "fur boots", "parka" - "fur coat from a reindeer fur", "ljampa" - "ski", "ajbarch" - "raw reindeer meat", "njartala" - "trap", "kharej" - "punt-pole for driving the reindeer relay". There are many toponyms of the Nenets origin in the Komi Republic, for example, Vorkuta - from Nenets "varkuta" - "place with bears".

4. But most intensively the Komi contacted and contact now with the Russians, the mutual influence Komi and Russian is the strongest. The Russians started to develop the North - East of the European part of Russia since IX century, when Novgorod merchants discovered the way to the Ugric territories behind the Urals through the Komi area. However, the contacts between the Komi and the Russians became more intensive since XIV century, the time of the baptizing of the Komi population. Though the Permians knew about the Russians since the time of Volga Bolgar State, the existence of the common Permian ethnonym "roch" (Udmurt "ruch") tells about.

Since XI century the Russian borrowings penetrated into Komi, there are thousands words of the Russian origin in the modern Komi language. The oldest Russian borrowings came in XI - XIV centuries, for example, "chas" - "bowl", "lyz" - "ski", "amys" - "ploughshare" (from the Old Russian "omezh" - "ploughshare"), "cheljad" - "children", "pamet" - "memory", "prenik" - "spice-cake", "vist" - "news" (from the Russian "vest" - "news").

Many borrowings had come by XIX century: "kesh" - "scoop", "ges" - "guest", "ver" - "thief", "geles" - "voice", "melet" - "hammer", "ulich" - "street", "velega" - "food", "keljesa" - "wheel", "gach" - "trousers", "bekar" - "plate".

The mass penetration of the Soviet words into Komi happens in XX century: "revolutsija" - "revolution", "sevet" - "Soviet", "pravitelstvo" - "government", and, besides, the words of very different meanings: "avans" - "money advance", "shoper" - "driver", "brigada" - "brigade" and many others.

In that way, Russian became one of the most important sources of the enrichment of the Komi vocabulary, especially a lot of the words from Russian or the international vocabulary through Russian penetrate nowadays. The cultural development and the attachment to the world cultural achievements happen on this way.

In its turn, Komi enriched the Russian vocabulary with a range of words, too, for example, "pelmeni" - Komi "pelnjan" etc.

Komi dialects

The Komi language had been an aggregate of dialects by XIX century. The Komi literary language exists since 1918, it's the general way of the ethnic consolidation and repository of the national culture. The Komi dialects existing in the oral form, enrich the literary language actively, especially its vocabulary. However, the dialects keep their originality steady, there aren't causes to believe the dialects disappear or dissolve themself in the literary language.

There are 10 Komi-Zyrian dialects totally: Luza - Letka (villages in the Luza and Letka rivers area), Upper Sysola (Kojgorodok rayon), Middle Sysola (Sysola and a part of Syktyvdin rayon to the village Lozym), Syktyvkar (Syktyvkar city and Syktyvdin rayon), Upper Vychegda (the Vychegda basin, Kortkeros and Ust-Kulom rayons), Lower Vychegda (Vychegda river from Syktyvkar city to the village Mezhog), Vym (the villages in Vym river's area), Udora (the villages in Mezen and Vashka rivers' area), Izhma (the villages in Izhma, Pechora, Usa rivers' area), Pechora (Upper Pechora and Troitsko-Pechorsk rayon). Despite the determined differences in each dialect, they differ from each other few to the mind of the leading Finno-Ugrists. Repositories of all dialects can speak to each other in Komi freely without a language-mediator, for example, Russian. And what's more, the Komi-Zyrians can speak in the native language freely with the Komi-Permjaks, and they are able to understand Udmurt, although not completely.

In 1918 the Syktyvkar dialect was chosen as a base for the Komi literary language, because it was the central dialect among the Komi ones geographically and linguistically. The modern Komi literary language is quite understandable for all Komi dialect speakers.

The development of the Komi literary language and the Old Komi scripture XIV - XVII centuries.

Komi is the old script language, the scripture appeared in the second half of XIV century. Literary texts of the Old Komi scripture take the third place of their age among the Finno-Ugric languages after Hungarian (XII century) and Karelian (XIII century).

In XIV century Komi area was joined to the Moscow principality, by this moment the Komi had paid tribute to Novgorod. The missioner Stephen Khrap (the Permian), which had been from the town Ustjug originally (about 1345 - 1396) and which was canonized later, became the conductor of the Moscow policy. Probably, he saw the Komi since childhood, because, in that time the Komi could habit in the vicinity of Ustjug. In 1372 Stephen, being a monk of the Rostov cloister, invents his original Permian alphabet containing 24 letters, translates general divine service texts into Komi. He called the alphabet "abur" according the names of the starting two letters.

1372 is the year of the birth of the Komi scripture.

In 1379 Stephen went to the village Emdin (Ust-Vym now), which was a center of so- called "Perm Malaja" (Perm the Small) of the Russian annals and established his residence there. The baptizing was carried out by both means of persuasion and by using force. Stephen and his followers organized a church service in Komi and teaching Komi scripture in the cloisters in the villages Ust-Vym and Votcha. In 1383 an eparchy was established in Ust-Vym, Stephen himself became the bishop. The population of the "Perm Velikaja" (Perm the Great), the ancestors of the Komi-Permjaks), was baptized, too. The missioners, which used the same scripture, told about the high similarity of the Komi-Zyrians and Komi-Permjaks ancestors' languages.

However, only a few part of the texts in the Old Komi language remained nowadays, 6 samples totally: alphabets, a comment of Kyltysev in the book "Novokanon", a notice on the Icon "Сошествие of the holy Ghost", the comment in the Gregory Sinait's book, the signature of the Bishop Philopheos the Permian. Totally 236 words of bound text remained. Besides, the literary texts, written in Russian scripture, the Cyrillic, remained, too, for example, "The Divine Service in the Permian language. Mass", totally these are about 600 words of bound text.

The softness of consonants was marked with the special diacritical mark.

The scientists noticed the Stephen's letters were closed to the Old Slavonic and Iranian alphabets and there were features alike some letters of the Scandinavian runes. The pronunciation of the Old Komi language included 9 vowels and 26 consonants, the grammar differed from the modern one very much. The level of the development of the original Komi vocabulary, the using by Stephen the original Komi Church terminology tells about the high degree of the development of the Old Komi literary language. The old Komi scripture became the base for the subsequent development of the modern Komi literary language. The old Komi alphabet had been used by XVIII century. In that time the priests began to write in Komi using the Russian letters, the Cyrillic. In XVIII century hand-written translating activity develops, psalms, hadiographies, liturgies etc. were translated. The Old Komi Stephen's scripture was forgotten gradually.

Komi in XIX - beginning of XX centuries

A real scientific study of Komi and compiling of dictionaries begins in XIX century. A. Flerov wrote the first but very imperfect grammar of Komi in 1813. Then the grammars of P. I. Savaitov, G. S. Lytkin, I. A. Kuratov, a German scientist H. K. Habelenz, a Finn M. A. Kastren, a Swede A. I. Sjogren, an Estonian F. I. Wiedemann appeared. The first printed dictionary, published by the Captain N. P. Popov in the second half of XIX century, remains the fullest dictionary of Komi till now.

The translating activity develops in XIX century, the secular literature appears, which includes state acts, medical instructions, tales, poetry, children stories, the Russian classical literature in translations.

The Komi original fiction appears in middle of XIX century. This is bound with the creation of the founder of the Komi literature I. A. Kuratov (1839-1875). In the same time many teachers and scientists wrote and translated into Komi. Beginning of XX century a new tide in the study of Komi, collecting folklore raised, M. Lebedev, V. Lytkin, V. Chistalev composed their poetry in that time. However, by the October revolution (1917) the united literary language hadn't been formed yet, there hadn't been united scripture, orthography. The books and poetry were written in different dialects. But the base of the Komi literary language was created in XIX - beginning of XX century.

Creating and development of the Komi literary language

The October revolution (1917) and presentation the state organization to the Komi population, the autonomy gave new opportunities for the development of the Komi language and national culture. The base of the Komi literary language was created on the teacher's conference in the village Ust-Vym in August 1918. The Syktyvkar dialect was taken as a base. The Komi alphabet was taken, which the Komi scientist V. A. Molodtsov suggested. The direction to the enrichment of the Komi literary language at the expense of the resources of all other Komi dialects was proclaimed officially. In the twenties of XX century very many ideas were realized in the national policy by the national intellectuals, which were supported by the Communist Party's structures:

1. Manuals in Komi were published, teachers of Komi were prepared, Komi national schools appeared.

2. Almanacs, a magazine "Ordym", newspapers in Komi started to be published. In the end of the thirties 12 newspapers out of 18 ones totally were published in Komi.

3. Komi has received the state of the official state language on the territory of the Komi region. The direction of the presentation Komi in the state structures led to the active using of Komi in the area of business and society.

4. A range of Komi writers appeared. V. Savin, V. Lytkin, M. Lebedev, V. Chistalev created the classical works of the Komi literature.

5. The Komi musical art and the Komi theatre were developed, the base of the Komi professional art was created.

6. The serious study of the Komi language, folklore, ethnography, history was started, beginning of the twenties "Society of the Komi studies" was established (the society of scientists), which published own magazine "Komi mu".

However, the process of the national and cultural development didn't continue without contradictions. In the thirties Komi alphabet was changed three times, that prevented the whole process of the development of the Komi language, of course. The Molodtsov's alphabet on the base of Cyrillic was substituted with Latin scripture in 1931. This substitution had been carried out completely by 1936. However, the Latin scripture was substituted with Molodtsov's alphabet again, then it substitution with the modern alphabet had been carried out by 1939. In the end of the thirties many writers, scientists became subjects to repression, Komi lost the state of the official language. In the forties and fifties the vocabulary of the Komi literary language was influenced strongly by Russian, that expressed in the ignorance of own Komi linguistic resources and excessive penetration of Russian words.

Beginning of the sixties the publishing of Komi books reduced very much, the publishing of the translated literature stopped, the newspapers in many locations began to be printed in Russian. In the seventies Komi stopped to be a language of studying in elementary schools. Practically the existence of the national schools stopped in it real meaning. The using of Komi in the area of the people education, culture and society of the Komi Republic reduced strongly. Accordingly, the authority of the national language decreased.

Nowadays the policy is carried out to restore Komi national school, "Bill of State languages", passed in 1992, must to increase using of Komi in the state administration. All habitants of the Komi Republic have to learn Komi in the future.