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For the Khants, the Mansi language is the nearest kindred language. The Khants and Mansi languages began to branch off from their common Ob-Ugric proto-language in the 13th century, approximately.
Due to the vast area and sparse population, the Khant language divides into numerous dialects. The two main dialect groups are the western and the eastern dialects.
- The western dialect group consists of a) the Obdorsk dialect, b) the dialect on the River Ob and c) the dialect on the River Irtysh;
- the eastern dialect group is divided into a) Surgut and b) Vakh-Vasyugan dialects.
There are 13 vernaculars. The differences between these dialects are noticeable and they hamper communication.