Finno-Ugric Studies

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Finno-Ugric Studies


an interdisciplinary field devoted to the study of the languages and cultures of the Finno-Ugric peoples. In a broader sense, the term may refer to the study of all peoples of the Uralic language family, including the Samoyeds, in which case it is synonymous with the term “Uralic studies.”

The study of the Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, and Lapp languages was undertaken earlier than that of other Finno-Ugric languages. Comparative Finno-Ugric studies began with two linguistic hypotheses: in the 15th century Enea Piccolomini (Pope Pius II) hypothesized a linguistic relationship between the Hungarians and the Ob’ Ugrians, and in the 17th century a linguistic relationship between the Finns and Hungarians was suggested by the Swedish scholar B. Skytte and the German scholar M. Fogel. By the late 18th century, the boundaries of the Finno-Ugric language family had been established, and the Hungarian scholars J. Sajnovics and S. Gyarmathi had published works substantiating a relationship between the languages. This advance was largely due to the work of Western European and Russian scholars, including the Dutch scholar N. Witsen, the Swedish scholar von Strahlenberg, and the Russian scholars G. F. Miller, V. N. Tatishchev, I. E. Fisher, and P. S. Pallas, who pioneered the study of the languages of the Volga and Ural regions and Siberia.

In the mid-19th century, A. Sjögren, F. I. Videman, and M. A. Castren published their classic descriptions and dictionaries of most of the Uralic languages. In the late 19th century, the Finnish scholar O. Donner and the Hungarian scholar J. Budenz compiled Finno-Ugric etymological dictionaries, and the Finnish scholars A. Genetz and E. Setälä and the Hungarian scholar I. Halász published works that relied on strict comparative historical methods.

In the early and mid-20th century, Finno-Ugric studies were enriched by several works combining the synchronie and diachronie approaches to individual Uralic languages; these studies included works by the Finnish scholars H. Ojansuu, L. Kettunen, and L. Posti on the Balto-Finnic languages; by the Finnish scholar H. Paasonen on Mordovian; by the Hungarian scholar Ö. Beke on Mari; by the Finnish scholars Y. Wichmann and T. Uotila and the German scholar D. Fokos-Fuchs on Udmurt and Komi; by the Finnish scholars J. A. Kannisto and M. Liimola and the German scholar W. Steinitz on Vogul (Mansi); by W. Steinitz and the Finnish scholar K. Karjalainen on Khanty; by the Finnish scholar T. Lehtisalo on Nenets; and by the Finnish scholar K. Donner on Selkup and Kamasin.

The Proto-Uralic consonant system was reconstructed in its entirety by the Finnish scholars H. Paasonen, Y. Wichmann, and Y. Toivonen, and a detailed etymology was worked out by Y. Toivonen and the Hungarian scholars Z. Gombocz and J. Melich. J. Szinnyei, T. Lehtisalo, P. Ravila, and D. Fokos-Fuchs wrote on comparative morphology and syntax. Developments in Finno-Ugric studies have been summarized in the works of B. Collinder.

D. V. Bubrikh played a particularly important role in the creation of Soviet Finno-Ugric linguistic studies. In the USSR, research in Finno-Ugric studies is being conducted by P. A. Ariste, V. I. Lytkin, B. A. Serebrennikov, I. S. Galkin, L. P. Gruzov, K. E. Maitinskaia, and others. In Soviet Finno-Ugric linguistic studies, the major focus is on gathering new materials, studying dialects, refining the reconstruction of the Proto-Uralic vowel system, in particular the vowels of syllables not in initial position, and compiling complete etymological dictionaries. Also important are problems of genetic and areal relationships between the Uralic languages and the Indo-European, Altaic, and Yukaghir languages. Soviet scholars also concentrate on identifying where and when the Uralic and Finno-Ugric parent languages were spoken.

In the study of this last problem and of problems relating to the ethnogenesis of the Uralic peoples, Finno-Ugric archaeology and anthropology have played a major role. Leading figures in Finno-Ugric archaeology include the Finnish scholars J. Aspelin, A. Tallgren, and J. Ailio, the Russian scholar A. A. Spytsyn, and the Soviet scholars A.V. Shmidt, S. P. Tolstov, P. N. Tret’iakov, and V. N. Chernetsov. Prominent anthropologists include the Soviet scholars V. P. Alekseev, G. F. Debets, K. lu. Mark, and N. N. Cheboksarov. Important results have been achieved in the comparative musicology of the Finno-Ugric cultures by the Finnish scholar A. Launis and the Hungarian scholars Z. Kodály and Szomjas-Schiffert. Research on the history and culture of the Finno-Ugric peoples, long subordinate to Finno-Ugric linguistic studies, is emerging as an independent discipline.

The principal centers of Finno-Ugric studies in the USSR are Tartu and Tallinn in the Estonian SSR and Moscow, Leningrad, and the capitals of autonomous republics—Petrozavodsk, Saransk, Ioshkar-Ola, Izhevsk, and Syktyvkar. Considerable progress in contemporary Finno-Ugric studies has been made in Hungary and Finland. Research is also conducted in Sweden, West Germany, the USA, the German Democratic Republic, France, Norway, and Japan. International congresses of Finno-Ugric scholars are held periodically, most recently in Budapest in 1960, Helsinki in 1965, Tallinn in 1970, and Szeged in 1975.

Major periodicals devoted to Finno-Ugric studies include Sovetskoe finno-ugrovedenie (Soviet Finno-Ugric Studies; Tallinn, since 1965), Acta Linguistica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae (Budapest, 1951), Finnisch-ugrische Forschungen (Helsinki, 1901), Nyelvtudományi Közlemények (Budapest, 1862), Suomalais-ugrilaisen Seuran aikakauskirja (Helsinki, 1886), Suomalais-ugrilaisen Seuran toimituksia (Helsinki, 1890), Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher (Wiesbaden, 1952), and Virittäjä (Helsinki, 1897).


Osnovy finno-ugorskogo iazykoznaniia, vol. 1: Voprosy proiskhozhdeniia i razvitiia finno-ugorskikh iazykov. Moscow, 1974.
Iazyki narodov SSSR, vol. 3. Moscow, 1966.
Hajdú, P. Finnugor népek és nyelvek. Budapest, 1962.
Hajdú, P. The Samoyed Peoples and Languages. Bloomington, Ind.-The Hague, 1963.
Lakó, G. “Mittel und Wege in den finnisch-ugrischen Wissenschaften.” In the collection Congressus Quartus Internationalis Fenno-Ugristarum, part 1. Budapest, 1975.
Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher, vol. 41. Wiesbaden, 1969. (Contains surveys of Finno-Ugric studies.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
As the discipline of Finno-Ugric Studies seeks new alternatives in a world of dynamically fluctuating relations among the nations of Estonia, Finland and Hungary, it grows even more urgent for today's scholars to reexamine what precedents were set and what eminent works were achieved by those who went before us.
Halfway between the last International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies (CIFU) 2015 in Oulu and the following one, 2020 in Vienna, it may be a good time to recall past events.
There can be no doubt that Finno-Ugric Studies in the 21st century include a multitude of contemporary research fields and CIFU is a vivid fair, from which everybody benefits who has an agenda in one or several of these research fields.
The next International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies, CIFU XIII, will be held in 2020 in Vienna.
1979 "Raspredelenie glasnych fonem v mansijskoj poezii", Soviet Finno-Ugric Studies XV, 3: 164-167.
The so-called Second Kamchatka Expedition (1733-43) was of importance for Finno-Ugric studies as well (the expedition, similarly to the first one between 1725 and 1728, was led by the Danish Vitus Bering, who the narrows between Russia and Alaska were named after).
Her last visit took place last August before the 11th International Congress for Finno-Ugric Studies held at Piliscsaba, where she participated with an invited talk (jointly with Karl Pajusalu) on the prosodic studies of Finno-Ugric languages.
In 1949 Paul Ariste became Professor of Finno-Ugric Studies at the University of Tartu.
In 1965 the Institute of Language and Literature in Tallinn started to publish on Paul Ariste's initiative the journal "Sovetskoe finno-ugrovedenie" (Soviet Finno-Ugric Studies), now "Linguistica Uralica" (the original title did not reflect Paul Ariste's wish).
During my studies in Munich in the 1980s and early 1990s it was quite common to combine Finno-Ugric studies with other linguistic subjects, and it was (and still is) mandatory to attend introductory classes in theoretical and general linguistics.
This question leads directly to another problem: the exact definition of what Finno-Ugric Studies and general/theoretical linguistics are if one is not satisfied with the rudimentary picture sketched above.
It is obvious that this system does not benefit small disciplines such as Finno-Ugric studies, where both professorial positions and grants are rare.