Veps is a Finnic language spoken mainly in the Republic of Karelia and the Vologda Oblast in the Russian Federation by about 6,000 people. It is closely related to Karelian and Finnish.
There are three main Veps dialects: Northern or Äänis-Veps, which is spoken at Lake Onega; Central Veps, which is spoken around St Petersburg and the Vologda Oblast; and Southern Veps, which is spoken in the St Petersburg region. These dialects are more or less mutally intelligible. The Veps call themselves vepslaine, bepslaane, lüdinik or lüdilaine.
At the beginning of the 20th century schools for Veps were set up, and a written version of Veps, based on the Central-Veps dialect, was devised by the Department of Minorities in the Leningrad District Council. The first book in Veps, a primer, was published in 1932, and about 30 other books, mainly textbooks for schools, were published.
From 1937 however, a policy assimilating the minorities in the Soviet Union, including the Veps, started and schools teaching in minority languages were closed, textbooks were burned and teachers were thrown in prison. This lead to many Veps abandoning their villages and moving to towns, where they were surrounded by Russian speakers and started speaking Russian in favour of Veps.
Since 1989 efforts have been made to revive the Veps language and culture, with only limited success so far.
Information about Veps pronunciation compiled by Wolfram Siegel
Kaik mehed sünduba joudajin i kohtaižin, ühtejiččin ičeze arvokahudes i oiktusiš. Heile om anttud mel’ i huiktusentund i heile tariž kožuda toine toiženke kut vel’l’kundad.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with
reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
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