|Ethnicity||17,500 Mansi (2010 census)|
|18,000 (2010 census)|
The Mansi languages are spoken by the Mansi people in Russia along the Ob River and its tributaries, in the Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug, and Sverdlovsk Oblast. Traditionally considered a single language, they constitute a branch of the Uralic languages, often considered most closely related to neighbouring Khanty and then to Hungarian.
The base dialect of the Mansi literary language is the Sosva dialect, a representative of the northern language. The discussion below is based on the standard language. Fixed word order is typical in Mansi. Adverbials and participles play an important role in sentence construction. A written language was first published in 1868, and the current Cyrillic alphabet was devised in 1937.
Mansi is subdivided into four main dialect groups which are to a large degree mutually unintelligible, and therefore best considered four languages. A primary split can be set up between the Southern variety and the remainder. A number of features are also shared between the Western and Eastern varieties, while certain later sound changes have diffused between Eastern and Northern (and are also found in some neighboring dialects of Northern Khanty to the east).
Individual dialects are known according to the rivers their speakers live(d) on:
The sub-dialects given above are those which were still spoken in the late 19th and early 20th century and have been documented in linguistic sources on Mansi. Pre-scientific records from the 18th and early 19th centuries exist also of other varieties of Western and Southern Mansi, spoken further west: the Tagil, Tura and Chusovaya dialects of Southern and the Vishera dialect of Western.
The two dialects last mentioned were hence spoken on the western slopes of the Urals, where also several early Russian sources document Mansi settlements. Placename evidence has been used to suggest Mansi presence reaching still much further west in earlier times, though this has been criticized as poorly substantiated.
Northern Mansi has strong Russian, Komi, Nenets, and Northern Khanty influence, and it forms the base of the literary Mansi language. There is no accusative case; that is, both the nominative and accusative roles are unmarked on the noun. */æ/ and */æː/ have been backed to [a] and [aː].
Western Mansi went extinct ca. 2000. It had strong Russian and Komi influences; dialect differences were also considerable. Long vowels were diphthongized.
Eastern Mansi is spoken by 100–200 people. It has Khanty and Tatar influence. There is vowel harmony, and for */æː/ it has [œː], frequently diphthongized.
Southern Mansi was recorded from area isolated from the other Mansi varieties. Around 1900 a couple hundred speakers existed; in the 1960s it was spoken only by a few elderly speakers, and it has since then gone extinct. It had strong Tatar influence and displayed several archaisms such as vowel harmony, retention of /y/ (elsewhere merged with */æ/), /tsʲ/ (elsewhere deaffricated to /sʲ/), /æː/ (elsewhere fronted to /aː/ or diphthongized) and /ɑː/ (elsewhere raised to /oː/).
|/x/  /ɣ/
|/xʷ/  *ɣʷ |
The inventory presented here is a maximal collection of segments found across the Mansi varieties. Some remarks:
The vowel systems across Mansi show great variety. As typical across the Uralic languages, many more vowel distinctions were possible in the initial, stressed syllable than in unstressed ones. Up to 18–19 stressed vowel contrasts may be found in the Western and Eastern dialects, while Northern Mansi has a much reduced, largely symmetric system of 8 vowels, though lacking short **/e/ and long **/iː/:
Main article: Mansi alphabets
The first publication of the written Mansi language was a translation of the Gospel of Matthew published in London in 1868. In 1932 a version of Latin alphabet was introduced with little success. The former Latin alphabet:
In 1937, Cyrillic replaced the Latin.
Mansi is an agglutinating, subject–object–verb (SOV) language.
There are two articles in Mansi: definite ань (aɲ), which also means "now" when placed before verbs, and indefinite акв (akʷ), literally "one".
There is no grammatical gender. Mansi distinguishes between singular, dual and plural number. Six grammatical cases exist. Possession is expressed using possessive suffixes, for example -зм, which means "my".
Missing cases can be expressed using postpositions, such as халнэл (χalnəl, 'of, out of'), саит (sait, 'after, behind'), etc.
Mansi conjugation has three persons, three numbers, two tenses, and four moods. Active and passive voices exist.
Intransitive and transitive conjugations are distinguished. This means that there are two possible ways of conjugating a verb. When the speaker conjugates in intransitive, the sentence has no concrete object (in this case, the object is nothing or something like something, anything). In the transitive conjugation, there is a concrete object. This feature also exists in the other Ugric languages.
Mansi uses suffixes to express the tense. The tense suffix precedes the personal suffix.
I am going
The language has no future tense; the future is expressed in other ways.
There are four moods: indicative, conditional, imperative and precative.
Indicative mood has no suffix. Imperative mood exists only in the second person.
The suffixes are the following:
|3rd person||(no suffix)||-ыг||-эт|
Thus, the conjugation of the verb мина (lat. mina [go]), in past tense (remember the suffix -с):
|1st person||минасум (minasum)||минасумен (minasumen)||минасув (minasuv)|
Verbs have active and passive voice. Active voice has no suffix; the suffix to express the passive is -ве-.
Verbal prefixes are used to modify the meaning of the verb in both concrete and abstract ways. For example, with the prefix эл- (el-) (away, off) the verb мина (mina) (go) becomes элмина (elmina), which means to go away. This is surprisingly close to the Hungarian equivalents: el- (away) and menni (to go), where elmenni is to go away
ēl(a) – 'forwards, onwards, away'
|jōm- 'to go, to stride'||ēl-jōm- 'to go away/on'|
|tinal- 'to sell'||ēl-tinal- 'to sell off'|
χot – 'direction away from something and other nuances of action intensity'
|min- 'to go'||χot-min- 'to go away, to stop'|
|roχt- 'to be frightened'||χot-roχt- 'to take fright suddenly'|
Numbers 1 and 2 also have attributive forms: акв (1) and кит (2); compare with Hungarian két, Old Hungarian kit).
ам хул алысьлаӈкве минасум. – I went fishing (literally "I fish catch went").