Bjarmian languages
Extinct(date missing)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Bjarmian languages are a group of extinct Finnic languages once spoken in Bjarmia, or the northern part of the Dvina basin.[1] Vocabulary of the languages in Bjarmia can be reconstructed from toponyms in the Arkhangelsk region, and a few words are documented by Norse travelers. Also some Saamic toponyms can also be found in the Dvina basin.[2][3]


There were likely many Finnic languages spoken in Bjarmia, the first one was an archaic Finnic language with the diphthong *ai instead of Finnic ei, lack of consonant gradation and the vowel /ɤ/.

Later a Karelian-like language started to be spoken in Bjarmia, which did not have the Karelian sound shift of /aa/ into /ua/. Some toponyms in Bjarmia also have the sound /ʃ/ instead of /s/.

Janne Saarikivi suggests that some Sámi languages were spoken in Bjarmia alongside Finnic languages.[2]


Many toponyms in the Arkhangelsk oblast are of Finno–Ugric origin, together with the Vologda oblast, according to Aleksandr Matveyev, there are up to 100,000 toponyms of Finno–Ugric origin.[2]

Bjarmian English
*kaski burnt-over clearing
*hattara bush
*lauta board
*palttV slope
*lima slime
*kelta yellow
*petra wild reindeer
*pime dark
*haina hay
*leettek fine sand
*varkas thief
*kicca narrow
*ruske red
*kylmä cold


Some Finnic substrate words can be found in Northern Russian dialects, for example the words: лахта (lahta) 'marsh, moist place, meadow', луда (luda) 'rocky islet', каска (kaska) 'young woods' and щелья (schelja) 'hill or steep bank by a river'. Such words can be found in the Russian dialects around Pinega. Their source is Finnic languages.[2]

Gandvík is a name associated with Bjarmia that appears in Norse poems. The word could have been a Norse translation of a Finnic word, which is "Kantalahti" in Finnish. The word Vína appears in many Norse sagas that refer to Bjarmia; it is likely related to the Finnish word "Vienanmeri" (White Sea). Norse sagas also documented a Bjarmian word "Jómali", which is likely related to Finnish "Jumala" 'God'.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Hauge, Arne (22 November 2018). "Kadonnut, Mystinen Bjarmia". Ruijan Kaiku (in Finnish). Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Saarikivi, Janne. Substrata Uralica: Studies on Finno-Ugrian Substrate in Northern Russian Dialects (PhD). Helsinki, Finland: University of Helsinki. ISBN 978-952-10-4519-6.
  3. ^ a b Koskela Vasaru, Mervi (2016). Bjarmaland (PhD). Acta Universitatis Ouluensis B Humaniora 145. Oulu, Finland: University of Oulu. ISBN 978-952-62-1396-5.

Further reading