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 using the Cyrillic alphabet. The first book in Veps, a primer, was published in 1932, and about 30 other books, mainly textbooks for schools, were published.
The Latin alphabet was used for Veps from 1931 to 1937. 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.
In 1988, Veps started to be written again with a verison of Cyrillic alphabet, which became the official alphabet for Veps. The Latin alphabet was also used from 1989, and since 2007, the Latin alphabet has been the only official alphabet for Veps.
Since 1989 efforts have been made to revive the Veps language and culture, with only limited success so far.
Ф, ц, щ, ъ and ы were only used in names and loanwords.
The letters f, q, w, x and y are only used in names and loanwords.
Details provided by Wolfram Siegel and Michael Peter Füstumum
Каик мехед сÿндуба ёудайин и кохтаижин, ÿхтейиччин ичезе арвокахудес и оиктусиш. Хеиле ом анттуд мель и хуиктусентунд и хеиле тариж кожуда тоине тоиженке кут вельлькундад.
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)
Information about the Veps language
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Page last modified: 15.05.21
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