Mordvin is spoken over a broad area of European Russia, lying generally in the middle Volga region and extending as far as the Ural Mountains. There are about one million speakers, about one-third of whom live in the Republic of Mordvinia with its capital at Saransk.
Mordvin belongs to the Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugric languages, which form the main subgroup of the Uralic family. There are really two Mordvin languagesErzya and Mokshathe two being suffi-ciently different that communication sometimes becomes a problem. The basic word "no" for example is aras' in Erzya, but ash in Moksha. The passage below is in Erzya.
Within the Republic of Mordvinia Erzya is generally spoken in the east, while Moksha is spoken in the west. Speakers of the former outnumber those of the latter by about two to one The Mordvin alphabet contains exactly the same letters as the Russian.