Karelian is a Finnic language spoken by about 118,000 people mainly in the Russian Republic of Karelia, and also in Finland. Karelian is official considered a dialect of Finnish in Karelia, though there are moves to have it recognised as a second language. East Karelian dialects have little mutual intelligibility with Finnish.
The earliest known example of written Karelian, and of writing in any Finnic language, is a birch bark letter found at Novgorod in 1957 which dates from the early 13th century. It was written in the Cyrillic alphabet and the language is thought to be an archaic form of Olonets Karelian, which is also known as East Karelian or Liwi and is spoken along the Olonka River in the Republic of Karelia.
A number of Cyrillic-based spelling systems were developed during the Soviet period, though none of them took off due to Stalin's suppression and outlawing of Karelian. Today Karelian is written with a version of the Finnish alphabet, which was revised in 2007.
Information about Karelian pronunciation compiled by Wolfram Siegel
Kai rahvas roittahes vällinny da taza-arvozinnu omas arvos da oigevuksis. Jogahizele heis on annettu mieli da omatundo da heil vältämättäh pidäy olla keskenäh, kui vellil.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with
reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Oldest Karelian text
Online Karelian lessons
Online Karelian dictionary (Vepsian-Karelian-Finnish-Voro)