(Moksha and Erzia), the languages of the Mordovian people, who live in the Mordovian, Bashkir, Tatar, and Chuvash autonomous Soviet socialist republics and in Gorky, Orenburg, Penza, and several other oblasts. The Mordovian languages, which are spoken by approximately 1 million persons (1970 census), belong to the Volga-Baltic group of the Finno-Ugric family.
The Mordovian languages have numerous dialects. The Moksha language, as opposed to the Erzia literary language, has the phonemes a, a, L, L’, R, R’, and J. Stress usually falls on the first syllable and is determined by the quality of the vowels of the word form. Erzia has phrasal and rhythmic stress. The morphology of the Mordovian languages is agglutinative. Postpositions are used with prepositional meanings. Nouns have more than ten cases and three declensions (main, demonstrative, and possessive). There is no gender. The verb has seven moods and two conjugations (objective and nonobjective). Compounding and the use of suffixes are important in word formation. Preposed attributives do not agree with the words they modify. The vocabulary includes many loanwords from Turkic and particularly from Russian.
The earliest known written records in various Mordovian dialects (in the Latin alphabet) date from the late 17th century. A Mordovian writing system based on the Russian alphabet has been in use since the mid-18th century. By the mid-1930’s a Mordovian literary language had developed.
REFERENCESEvsev’ev, M. E. Osnovy mordovskoi grammatiki. Moscow, 1928.
Bubrikh, D. V. Istoricheskaia grammatika erzianskogo iazyka. Saransk, 1953.
Grammatika mordovskikh (mokshanskogo i erzianskogo) iazykov, part 1. Saransk, 1962.
Serebrennikov, B. A. Istoricheskaia morfologiia mordovskikh iazykov. Moscow, 1967.
A. P. FEOKTISTOV