The Mordvin languages are a subgroup of Uralic languages. Mordvin comprise of 2 languages. These are the Erzya and Moksha languages. Mordvin was previously considered to be one language but due to the differences in the phonology and grammar of the languages they are now considered to be separate languages. Erzya and Moksha are considered to be mutually unintelligible. Most Erzya’s and Moksha’s communicate to each other using the Russian language. The separation of the Erzya’s and Moksha’s into separate language groups began in the 1st century. By the 12 th century, the 2 language groups had evolved such that they appeared to be 2 separate entirely different entities. They developed different cultures and languages. Some linguists have made efforts to unify the 2 languages again but this has not been successful so far. In many historical sources, the 2 languages have been referred to as a single people group using various names such as the Merens and the Mordens.
Erzya is spoken in the western part of the Mordovian Republic and in some parts of China. There are approximately 500, 000 people who speak the language. Other Erzya speakers can be found in Estonia, Armenia, Kazakhstan and in some parts of Central Asia. The Erzya literary language was created in 1922.There are approximately 500,000 people who speak the Moksha language. Speakers can be found in the eastern parts of the Mordovian Republic, in Russia and in the USA and in Armenia. The Moksha literary language was created in 1923.
The Mordvin’s comprise one of the largest minority languages in Russia. Most Mordvin’s are fluent in the Russian language. Speakers of the Moksha and Erzya language groups have been known to identify themselves as 2 distinct languages. The 2 people group do not have a common name to refer to their language. The term Mordvin is primarily used by outsiders. The Mordvin language is closely related to the Mari language. Most Mordvins today live in villages in rural areas. Their houses are made of wood. Each house normally has a sauna or a bath house. They mostly use herbal medicines and traditional remedies due to the poor health-care system that does not meet their needs.