Võro language

language belonging to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages

Võro language is a Finno-Ugric language spoken primarily in the Võru County of southeastern Estonia. It is also known as Võro kiil, Võru language, or Seto-Võro language. With an estimated 75,000 speakers, Võro language is recognized as a minority language in Estonia, and it has been the subject of ongoing efforts to promote its use and preserve its cultural heritage.

Võru, Võroq, Võro kiil, Võro keel, Voru
võro keel or võro kiil
Native toEstonia
RegionSouthwestern Estonia
EthnicitySeto-Võro Or Voro
Era18th Century
  • Voro
  • Central Võro
  • Haanja Võro
  • Seto-Võro
  • Leelo Võro
Language codes
ISO 639-1vo
ISO 639-3

The Võro language has a complex history, with roots that can be traced back to the Finno-Ugric language family, which includes other languages spoken in northern and eastern Europe. Throughout its history, the Võro language has evolved and changed, influenced by cultural and linguistic factors from the region. Today, it is recognized as an important regional language of Estonia, with its own distinct grammar, vocabulary, and cultural identity.

One of the defining features of the Võro language is its distinctive accent and pronunciation. Võro language has a rich set of vowels and consonants, and its intonation patterns and stress placement are unique compared to other languages. The language also has a rich vocabulary, with many words borrowed from neighboring languages such as Latvian and Russian, as well as its own unique terminology for cultural concepts and traditional practices.

In terms of grammar, Võro language has a complex system of cases, with several different cases used to denote the subject, object, and other grammatical elements in a sentence. The language also has a rich system of verb conjugation and agreement, with different verb forms used to indicate tense, aspect, and mood.

The Võro language has several dialects, which can vary in their pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Some of the main dialects include Central Võro, Haanja Võro, Seto-Võro, and Leelo Võro. Despite these differences, however, speakers of different dialects can usually understand each other without too much difficulty.

Despite being a minority language, the Võro language has played an important role in Estonian cultural heritage. The language has been the subject of numerous works of literature, including poetry, fiction, and drama, and there are many traditional songs and dances that are performed in Võro language. Efforts have been made to promote the use of the language, including the establishment of the Võro Institute in 1995, which is dedicated to the study and preservation of Võro language and culture. In addition, Võro language is taught in some schools in the Võru County, and there are cultural events and festivals that celebrate the language and its heritage.

In conclusion, Võro language is a unique and important part of Estonia's cultural heritage, with its own distinctive grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Despite being a minority language, it has played a significant role in Estonian cultural identity and continues to be the focus of efforts to promote its use and preserve its cultural heritage.

18th Century


During the 18th century, Estonia was part of the Swedish Empire, and the Võru County was located on the eastern border of the empire. The region was sparsely populated, with small villages and farms scattered throughout the countryside. The economy was largely based on agriculture and forestry, with some trade and handicrafts also present.

Given the isolation and relative poverty of the region, it is likely that the Võro language was still very much a rural and traditional language during the 18th century. It would have been spoken primarily by the peasant class, who made up the majority of the population. The language would have been transmitted orally from generation to generation, with little or no formal education in the language.

One of the defining features of the Võro language is its rich set of vowel sounds and its complex system of cases. It is likely that these features were already present in the language during the 18th century, although they may have been somewhat different from their modern forms. The language would also have had a distinct vocabulary, with many words related to traditional agricultural practices, crafts, and other aspects of rural life.

During the 18th century, there were few opportunities for literary expression in the Võro language. It is possible that some traditional songs, poems, and stories were passed down orally, but these would have been largely unknown outside of the local community. It was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that the Võro language began to be used in written form, as part of a wider movement to promote the use and preservation of minority languages.

In conclusion, while there is little direct information available on the Võro language in the 18th century, it is likely that the language was still a rural and traditional language, spoken primarily by the peasant class. Its grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation would have been different from their modern forms, but the language would have had many of the same distinctive features that it has today.



The Võro language has a rich and diverse set of dialects, reflecting the language's long history and the many influences that have shaped it over time. These dialects are typically associated with specific regions within the historical Võrumaa area, and can vary significantly in terms of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.

One of the most distinctive dialects of Võro is Seto, which is spoken in southeastern Estonia and southwestern Russia. Seto has been recognized as a separate language by some linguists, and is notable for its use of a unique writing system known as the "Old Orthography." Other dialects of Võro include Mulgi, spoken in the Mulgimaa region, and Karula, spoken in the Karula National Park area.

Despite the regional variation of the dialects, speakers of Võro can generally understand one another, and there is a strong sense of linguistic unity among the Võro community. However, the dialects are not static, and have been subject to change over time due to factors such as migration, social and cultural shifts, and contact with other languages.

Linguists have identified a number of features that distinguish the different Võro dialects. For example, the Seto dialect is known for its use of the velar fricative /x/ in place of the standard Võro /h/, while the Mulgi dialect is known for its use of the sound /ɨ/ in place of the standard Võro /i/.

Despite the importance of dialect variation within the Võro language, efforts have been made to promote a standard written form of the language, known as "Võro kiil". This standard form is based on the central dialect of Võru, and is used in written materials such as books, newspapers, and online publications. However, many speakers of Võro continue to use their own regional dialect in everyday conversation, and there is a strong sense of pride in the diversity of dialects that make up this unique and vibrant language community.