Development of the dialectal areas of Vepsian: “Vepsian Linguistic Atlas”

2018. №6, 85-103

Nina G. Zaitseva @, Irma I. Mullonen
Institute of Linguistics, Literature and History, Karelian Research Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences (ILLH KarRC RAS), Petrozavodsk, Russia; @


The paper reports new results from the study of the dialectal division of the Vepsian language, obtained while working on the “Vepsian Linguistic Atlas” which comprises about 200 linguistic maps showing the distribution ranges of phonetic and morphological traits, as well as dialectal lexis. The Vepsian dialectal map was taking shape through a complex and prolonged process, where both purely linguistic and extralinguistic circumstances played important roles. We show that Vepsian dialectal ranges differentiate by the degree to which they have preserved the Baltic-Finnic linguistic heritage and, accordingly, by the amount of Vepsian innovations implemented in the dialectal ranges in the course of their individual development. Another factor has been the external linguistic contacts of various origins and contents. We highlight Karelian and Russian contacts, which have contributed their specific features to the northern and southern Vepsian dialects, respectively. Priority among the extralinguistic factors belongs to landscape-geographic settings. They directed the land development pathways, shaped the boundaries of the ranges and the administrative borders. The administrative division of Vepsian territories resulted in the preservation of some specifically Vepsian language features within individual administrative units (Olonets or Novgorod provinces), on the one hand, and predetermined the focal points and directions of foreign-language influence, on the other. The paper offers a reconstructed model of the historical Vepsian language range and its subdivision.

For citation:

Zaitseva N. G., Mullonen I. I. Development of the dialectal areas of Vepsian: “Vepsian Linguistic Atlas”. Voprosy Jazykoznanija. 2018. No. 6. Pp. 85–103. DOI: 10.31857/S0373658X0002021-2.


The article is written as a part of the target research topic of ILLH KarRC RAS «Baltic-Finnic languages in the North-West of Russia: linguistic research in a sociocultural context», АААА-А18-118012490344-5.