Skip navigation

Erzya Language Day

Эрзянь келень чи марто!

Happy Erzya Language Day!

The Erzya Language Day is celebrated on 16 April. The date is after the birth anniversary of Anatoly Ryabov (1894–1938), creator of the Erzya literary language, linguist, society figure and the first professor of the Erzya language. The tradition of the anniversary was initiated by the A.P. Ryabov Foundation for Saving the Erzya Language in Saransk, Mordovia in 1993, later it spread to other Erzya communities in Russia. Ryabov was repressed in 1938.

The Erzya literary language was created in 1925, the Moksha literary language in 1933. Up to the end of the 19th century, the Erzyas and Mokshas used their own indegenous proto-writing to transmit different kinds of information.

The Erzya language along with Moksha is a member of the Mordvinic branch of the Uralic languages. The Mordvin languages are similar to each other, but there are differences on all levels of language: in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary. At times there have been efforts to create a common literary language, which according to linguists would, however, lead to the extinction of both languages.


The Erzyas along with their close relatives, the Mokshas, are grouped as the Mordvins and they are one of the largest Finno-Ugric nations in Russia. According to the 2010 census, there were over 600,000 Erzyas in the Russian Federation. Currently there are c. 300,000 speakers of “Mordvin” and 50,000 speakers of “Erzya-Mordvin”.