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Branch of the Uralic language family spoken by about 25 million people in northeastern Europe, northern Asia, and (through immigration) North America. More than 20 million are accounted for by two languages, Finnish and Hungarian. The Ugric subbranch comprises Hungarian and Ob-Ugrian. The latter consists of two language complexes of western Siberia, Khanty and Mansi, spoken by fewer than 15,000 people. The Finnic branch comprises the Sami (Saami, Lappish) languages, the Baltic Finnic languages, Mordvin, Mari, and the Permic languages. Sami is spoken by some 20,000 people in northern Scandinavia and adjacent Russia. Baltic Finnic comprises Finnish, Estonian (with 1.1 million speakers worldwide), and a string of declining languages in Latvia and Russia. Mordvin is spoken by 1.1 million people in scattered enclaves of central European Russia. Mari is also spoken in central Russia and in scattered areas east toward the Ural Mountains; its two major varieties have about 600,000 speakers. The Permic languages, spread over a broad swath of northeastern European Russia, comprise Udmurt (spoken by some 500,000 people) and Komi (spoken by fewer than 400,000 people but with two literary forms). Finno-Ugric languages written in Russia use variants of the Cyrillic alphabet, while those outside Russia use the Latin alphabet.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Finno-Ugric languages, visit Britannica.com.
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