Komi-Zyrian language

Komi-Zyrian language (Коми кыв Komi kyv) or simply Komi, Zyrian or Zyryan, is one of the two regional varieties of the pluricentric Komi language, the other regional variety being Komi-Permyak.

Коми кыв
Native toRussia
RegionKomi Republic
Native speakers
160,000 (2010 census)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3kpv

It is disputed whether Zyrian is a separate language or a dialect of Komi, because of its affinity to the Komi-Permyak language.

Komi-Zyrian is spoken by the Komi-Zyrians' ethnic group in Komi Republic and some other parts of Russia. In 1994, Komi-Zyrian had about 285,000 speakers. The Komi-Zyrian language has a standard form.

It was written in the form of Old Permic alphabet for liturgical purposes as early as the 14th century in the Old Permic script. Said alphabet was replaced by Cyrillic in the 17th century. A tradition of secular works of literature in the modern form of the language dates back to the 19th century.


Komi-Zyrian has ten dialects: Prisyktyvkarsky, Lower Vychegdan, Central Vychegdan, Luzsko-letsky, Upper Sysolan, Upper Vychegdan, Pechoran, Izhemsky, Vymsky, and Udorsky. Prisyktyvkarsky is spoken in the region of Syktyvkar and forms the model for the generic standard dialect of the language. Dialects are divided based primarily on their use of the v and l phonemes:[3]

  • Original *l remains unchanged in upper Vychegdan and Pechoran dialects (also in most dialects of Komi-Permyak).
  • *l has syllable-finally changed to /v/ in central dialects, and this is also the representation of standard literary Komi (for example, older *kɨl → /kɨv/ "tongue").
  • In northern dialects, the process has continued with complete vocalization of syllable-final *l, resulting in long vowels.

The change has been dated to the 17th century. It is not seen in the oldest Komi texts from the 14th century, nor in loanwords from Komi to Khanty, dated to the 16th; but it has fully occurred before loanwords from Russian entered the language in the 18th century, as /l/ remains unchanged in these.

Some dialects are further distinguished based on the palatalized alveolars /dʲ tʲ/, which have unpacked in syllable-final position as clusters /jd jt/.[3]

Writing system

The first writing system, the Old Permic script, was invented in the 14th century by the missionary Stepan Khrap, apparently of a Komi mother in Veliky Ustyug. The alphabet shows some similarity to medieval Greek and Cyrillic. In the 16th century this alphabet was replaced by the Russian alphabet with certain modifications for affricates. In the 1920s, the language was written in Molodtsov alphabet, also derived from Cyrillic. In the 1930s it was switched to Latin. Since the 1940s it uses the Russian alphabet plus the additional letters І, і and Ӧ, ӧ.

Komi alphabet (Коми анбур)

UppercaseLowercaseTransliterationIPALetter name
Ддd[d]; as palatal, [ɟ]дэ
Ееe[je]; [e] after C except [t, d, s, z, n, l]е
Ёёë[jo]; [o] after [c, ɟ, ɕ, ʑ, ɲ, ʎ]ё
Ззz[z]; as palatal [ʑ]зэ
Ииi[i], [ʲi]небыд и "soft i"
Ііï[i] after [t, d, s, z, n, l]чорыд и "hard i"
Ййj[j]и краткӧй
Ллl[ɫ]; as palatal [ʎ]эл
Ннn[n]; as palatal [ɲ]эн
Ссs[s]; as palatal [ɕ]эс
Ттt[t]; as palatal [c]тэ
Щщšč[ɕ], [ɕː]ща
Ъъ -чорыд знак "hard sign"
Ьь'[ʲ]небыд знак "soft sign"
Ююju[ju]; [u] after [c, ɟ, ɕ, ʑ, ɲ, ʎ]ю
Яяja[jɑ]; [a] after [c, ɟ, ɕ, ʑ, ɲ, ʎ]я

Letters particular to the Molodtsov alphabet include ԁ, ԃ, ԅ, ԇ, ԉ, ԋ, ԍ, ԏ, most of which represent palatalized consonants.

The Molodtsov alphabet
А аБ бВ вГ гԀ ԁԂ ԃД дЕ еЖ жԄ ԅԆ ԇ
И иЈ јК кЛ лԈ ԉМ мН нԊ ԋО оП пР р
С сԌ ԍТ тԎ ԏУ уФ фХ хЧ чШ шЩ щЫ ы



Consonant phonemes of Zyrian
Labial Dental Post-
Palatal Velar
Plosive voiceless p t c k
voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡ʃ
voiced d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless s ʃ ɕ
voiced v z ʒ ʑ
Nasal m n ɲ
Trill r
Approximant lateral l ʎ
central j


    Front Central Back
    Close i ɨ u
    Mid e ə o
    Open a


    1. Zyrian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Komi-Zyrian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
    3. Bartens 2000, p. 47-49


    • Bartens, Raija (2000). Permiläisten kielten rakenne ja kehitys (in Finnish). Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. ISBN 952-5150-55-0.
    • Abondolo, Daniel (2015). The Uralic Languages. Routledge
    • Fed'un'ova, G.V. Önija komi kyv ('The Modern Komi Language'). Morfologia/Das’töma filologijasa kandidat G.V.Fed'un'ova kipod ulyn. Syktyvkar: Komi n’ebög ledzanin, 2000. 544 pp. ISBN 5-7555-0689-2.
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