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the language of the Karelians, related to the Balto-Finnic subgroup of the Finno-Ugric languages. It is spoken by 92, 000 persons in the USSR (1970 census). Karelian is divided into three dialects: Karelian, Livonian (or Olonets), and Lude. The Karelian dialect is close to Finnish.
The main features of Karelian are the presence in the phonemic inventory of the voiced b, d, g, and z, the fricatives s and i, and the affricate č (tš), and the presence of vowel harmony, opposition between short and long vowels, and consonant graduation. The morphological system is agglutinative, and derivation is accomplished by means of suffixes. The oldest text in Karelian dates from the 13th century. The Finnish Karelian epic Kalevala was published by E. Lonnrot in 1835 (32 runes) and in 1849 (50 runes). The Karelians began using the Russian and Finnish writing systems in the mid-20th century.