Classification of Uralic languages

A family tree – with the Finno-Ugric languages and the Samoyedic languages as the main branches – has for a long time been used to illustrate how the Uralic languages are related to each other. Current research has, however, largely abandoned the traditional family tree. Take a closer look at the family tree and other visualisation methods.⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

The current view is that the Proto-Uralic language split into either two or three branches. It is suggested that these branches are East Uralic, West Uralic and possibly Central Uralic as the third branch. East Uralic would have later split into Hungarian, Khanty, Mansi and Samoyedic, and West Uralic into Finnic, Saami and Mordvin languages. In this classification, the Central Uralic languages comprise the Permic languages and Mari which, however, may not necessarily have had a shared protolanguage but, instead, they may have split into their separate branches already from the Proto-Uralic language.

Researchers have somewhat differing views on how the languages should be classified and when the Proto-Uralic language split took place. It has traditionally been believed that Proto-Uralic split into two as early as around the year 4000 Before the Common Era. The current view, however, finds it possible that the Proto-Uralic language existed until around the start of the Common Era.


Häkkinen, Jaakko 2009: Kantauralin ajoitus ja paikannus: perustelut puntarissa [Dating and locating Proto-Uralic: Weighing the evidence]. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Aikakauskirja. Journal de la Société Finno-Ougrienne 92. Société Finno-Ougrienne – Finno-Ugrian Society, Helsinki.

Kallio Petri 2006: Suomen kantakielen absoluuttista kronologiaa [On the absolute chronology of the proto-languages of Finnish]. Virittäjä. Journal of the Society for the Study of Finnish.

Korhonen, Mikko 1981: Johdatus lapin kielen historiaan [Introduction to the History of the Language of Lapland]. Finnish Literature Society.