Enel Põld

New database of Uralic languages was presented in Spring School of Finno-Ugric Studies

The 2022 Spring School of Finno-Ugric Studies is taking place this week, from 4 to 9 April at the University of Tartu. The Spring School brings together students and researchers of Finno-Ugric Studies from several universities in Europe and beyond. The event is the tenth in  the series which began as winter schools, first held in 2013. This year’s winter school has turned into Spring School due to COVID.

An important part of all the winter schools has been a course in one Uralic language. In previous years, Moksha and Nganasan have been taught. This year, participants have the rare opportunity to learn Old Komi. The Old Komi course is taught by Gerson Klumpp, Professor of Finno-Ugric languages at the University of Tartu. “In this course students get acquainted with Europe’s most north-eastern literary language developed in the course of Christianization and one of the earliest literacies among the Uralic languages”, he said.

This year, the focus of lectures and workshops is on interdisciplinary collaboration and digital methods that have been developed by researchers in Turku, Tartu and Uppsala, most of whom are part of the BEDLAN research initiative. For example, Kristiina Tambets, Professor of Archaeogenetics at the University of Tartu, held the opening lecture on the genetic background of Uralic peoples. Meeli Roose ja Timo Rantanen, PhD students in Geography at Turku University introduced map making; Michael Dunn, Professor of General Linguistics, and postdoc Yingqi Jing, from Uppsala University, are running a workshop on digital methods.

The digital methods workshop is based on a large database of Uralic languages, Uralic Areal Typology Online, or UraTyp (accessible here, that was published just before the Spring School. The database currently contains information on 360 features in 35 Uralic languages. The database was developed in cooperation between researchers from the Universities of Tartu, Turku and Uppsala. The coordinator of the project is Miina Norvik, researcher of Balto-Finnic languages at the University of Tartu. The idea of the database originated in collaboration with the developers of Grambank ( Out of 360 features, 160 will be available in both databases. Many linguists have helped to gather data on Uralic languages for the database. “UraTyp will significantly raise the visibility of Uralic languages, and appearing on Grambank widens the context even further”, said Dr. Norvik.

The Spring School is sponsored by the REMODUS project (, funded by the Erasmus+ programme. The database development has been funded by the University of Turku, Finnish Academy, Kone Foundation and University of Tartu.

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