Monthly Archives: February 2007

Ob-Ugric 2: Mansi (Sygva), the mouse tale

In the second class, we read a folk tale in the northern dialect of Mansi (also called Vogul), Sygva, about a mouse. Here are the first few lines of the text, and I’m using the Latin script for ease of recognisability (Cyrillic was introduced in the late 1930s). There’s no upper case:

mātāpriś ōli. χottaľ minuŋk noməlmātas. āmpńēlum tūpsup wārəs, ponalťēr χāpsup wārəs, χāpťēte nāluw(*) nariɣtaste, tūpťēte wis(**), tāləs. ta towi, te ērɣi: āmpńēlum tūpsuptem, pol, pol, pol, ponalťēr χāpsuptem, χaľ, χaľ, χaľ … χosa minas, wāti minas, ēlaľ sunsi: ak pāweln nēɣləs …

The above can be translated into Hungarian with ease (source: Béla Kálmán, Wogulische Texte mit einem Glossar, Budapest, 1976, pp. 180-2):

Egér van. Valahová menni gondolt. Ebnyelv evezőcskét csinált, kendermaghej hajócskát csinált, hajócskáját vízre(*) taszította, evezőcskéjét vette(**), beszállt. Evezett, énekelt: ebnyelv evezőcském, pól, pól, pól, kendermaghej hajócskám, sáv, sáv, sáv … Hosszú ment, rövid ment, előre lát: egy falutól látszott.

It’s really tricky in English. Here’s my best shot:

There is a mouse. He thought of going somewhere. He made dog-tongue oars, he made a hemp-husk boat, led his boat to the river bank, took his oars, sat down in the boat. He rowed, he sang: my little dog-tongue oars, pol, pol, pol, my little hemp-husk boat, shav, shav, shav … He went a long time, he went a short time, he looked ahead: the mouse appeared to a village.

Continue reading

Ob-Ugric 1: Mansi (Sygva)

Hungarian belongs to the Uralic family of languages, which is split between Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic subfamilies. A detailed map of the Uralic languages is available here.

The major languages of the Finno-Ugric are Finnish, Estonian (Balto-Finnic) and Hungarian (Ugric). The closest living relatives to Hungarian are Khanty (also known as Ostyak) and Mansi (also known as Vogul), both of which are indigenous languages of Russia that have many dialects. According to the Russian Federation census of 1990, Khanty has around 15,000 native speakers, while Mansi has only 3,000.

We began the Ob-Ugric classes with Peter Sherwood in 2007, and the first text we studied was in the northern (Sygva) dialect of Mansi, in which a Mansi woman, Evdokija I. Rombandeeva (b. 1928), recounted her trip to Helsinki to attend a conference in 1965.

Continue reading