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Karelian (Karjalan kieli)

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. In 2014 the letter C (cee) became part of the Karelian alphabet.

Karelian alphabet (2014 version)

Karelian alphabet

Karelian pronunciation

Karelian pronunciation


Download an alphabet chart for Karelian (Excel)

Information about Karelian pronunciation compiled by Wolfram Siegel, with additions by Michael Peter Füstumum

Sample text in Karelian

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)

Sample videos in Karelian

Information about Karelian | Numbers


Information about the Karelian language and people

Oldest Karelian text

Online Karelian lessons

Online Karelian dictionary (Vepsian-Karelian-Finnish-Voro)

Online Karelian radio

Finnic languages

Estonian, Finnish, Karelian, Kven, Livonian, Ludic, Seto, Veps, Võro, Votic

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.

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