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Language Information

Mari, also known as Cheremis, is spoken principally in the Russian Republic of Mari El (capital: Yoshkar Ola), located in central European Russia directly north of the Chuvash Republic and Tatarstan. About 300,000 speakers live here, with another 100,000 in the Bashkortostan to the east, and another 100,000 scattered about in neigh-boring regions.

Mari is one of the Finno-Ugric languages. There are two main dialects—Meadow and Hill—the former spoken by about 80 percent of the total.


Mari is spoken/used in the following countries:
Bashkortostan, Chuvash, Russia.

Language Family
Family: Uralic
Subgroup: Finno-Ugric
Branch: Finnic

Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Writing Sample

Writing Sample


Floating logs and rolling timber is more difficult on the Ilet than on other rivers of the Mari region. The Ilet is very turbulent. As it flows along, like a ferocious animal, it knaws and eats away its own shores. If a two-hundred-ear-old pine tree should be standing on the shore, the river pushes it—roots and all—into the water. The Ilet gnaws at one shore, but on the other it deposits sand as if trying to decorate it with various designs. And as if this were not enough, if the river is too lazy to flow as before—wriggling along, then cutting straight across, correcting its bed—it strikes out in another direction, while bays are formed over the old bed. Sometimes such a bay is rather large and deep, and various fishes spawn there.


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