Sámi languages (/ˈsɑːmi/) are a group of Uralic languages spoken by the Sámi people in Northern Europe (in parts of northern Finland, Norway, Sweden and extreme northwestern Russia). There are, depending on the nature and terms of division, ten or more Sami languages. Several names are used for the Sámi languages: Sámi, Sami, Saami, Saame, Samic, Saamic, as well as the exonyms Lappish and Lappic, or Lapp.
|Native to||Finland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden|
|(30,000 cited 1992–2013)|
Official language in
|Norway; recognized as a minority language in several municipalities of Finland and Sweden.|
Recent distribution of the Sámi languages: 1. Southern Sámi, 2. Ume Sámi, 3. Pite Sámi, 4. Lule Sámi, 5. Northern Sámi, 6. Skolt Sámi, 7. Inari Sámi, 8. Kildin Sámi, 9. Ter Sámi. Darkened area represents municipalities that recognize Sami as an official or minority language.
The Sámi languages form a branch of the Uralic language family. According to the traditional view, Sámi is within the Uralic family most closely related to the Finnic languages (Sammallahti 1998). However, this view has recently been doubted by some scholars, who argue that the traditional view of a common Finno-Samic protolanguage is not as strongly supported as had been earlier assumed, and that the similarities may stem from an areal influence on Sámi from Finnic.
In terms of internal relationships, the Sámi languages are divided into two groups: western and eastern. The groups may be further divided into various subgroups and ultimately individual languages. (Sammallahti 1998: 6-38.) Parts of the Sami language area form a dialect continuum in which the neighbouring languages may be mutually intelligible to a fair degree, but two more widely separated groups will not understand each other's speech. There are, however, some sharp language boundaries, in particular between Northern Sámi, Inari Sámi and Skolt Sámi, the speakers of which are not able to understand each other without learning or long practice. The evolution of sharp language boundaries seems to suggest a relative isolation of the language speakers from each other and not very intensive contacts between the respective speakers in the past. There is some significance in this, as the geographical barriers between the respective speakers are no different from those in other parts of the Sámi area.
The above figures are approximate.
The Sámi languages are spoken in Sápmi in Northern Europe, in a region stretching over the four countries Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, reaching from the southern part of central Scandinavia in the southwest to the tip of the Kola Peninsula in the east. The borders between the languages do not align with the ones separating the region's modern nation states.
During the Middle Ages and early modern period, now-extinct Sámi languages were also spoken in the central and southern parts of Finland and Karelia and in a wider area on the Scandinavian Peninsula. Historical documents as well as Finnish and Karelian oral tradition contain many mentions of the earlier Sámi inhabitation in these areas (Itkonen, 1947). Also, loanwords as well as place-names of Sámi origin in the southern dialects of Finnish and Karelian dialects testify of earlier Sámi presence in the area (Koponen, 1996; Saarikivi, 2004; Aikio, 2007). These Sámi languages, however, became extinct later, under the wave of the Finno-Karelian agricultural expansion.
The Proto-Samic language is believed to have formed in the vicinity of the Gulf of Finland between 1000 BC to 700 AD, deriving from a common Proto-Sami-Finnic language (M. Korhonen 1981). However, reconstruction of any basic proto-languages in the Uralic family have reached a level close to or identical to Proto-Uralic (Salminen 1999). According to the comparative linguist Ante Aikio, the Proto-Samic language developed in South Finland or in Karelia around 2000–2500 years ago, spreading then to northern Fennoscandia. The language is believed to have expanded west and north into Fennoscandia during the Nordic Iron Age, reaching central Scandinavia during the Proto-Scandinavian period ca. 500 AD (Bergsland 1996). The language assimilated several layers of unknown Paleo-European languages from the early hunter-gatherers, first during the Proto-Samic phase and second in the subsequent expansion of the language in the west and the north of Fennoscandia that is part of modern Sámi today. (Aikio 2004, Aikio 2006).
At present there are nine living Sámi languages. The largest six of the languages have independent literary languages; the three others have no written standard, and of them, there are only a few, mainly elderly, speakers left. The ISO 639-2 code for all Sámi languages without its proper code is "smi". The seven written languages are:
The other Sámi languages are critically endangered or moribund and have very few speakers left. Pite Sámi has about 30–50 speakers, and a dictionary and an official orthography is under way. A descriptive grammar (Wilbur 2014) has been published. Ume Sámi likely has under 20 speakers left, and ten speakers of Ter Sámi were known to be alive in 2004. The last speaker of Akkala Sámi is known to have died in December 2003, and the eleventh attested variety, Kemi Sámi, became extinct in the 19th century. An additional Sámi language, Kainuu Sámi, became extinct in the 18th century, and probably belonged to the Eastern group like Kemi Sámi, although the evidence for the language is limited.
Most of the Sámi languages use Latin alphabets, with these respective additional letters.
|Northern Sámi:||Áá Čč Đđ Ŋŋ Šš Ŧŧ Žž|
|Inari Sámi:||Áá Ââ Ää Čč Đđ Šš Žž|
|Skolt Sámi:||Ââ Čč Ʒʒ Ǯǯ Đđ Ǧǧ Ǥǥ Ǩǩ Ŋŋ Õõ Šš Žž Åå Ää, soft sign ʹ , and a separator ʼ|
|Lule Sámi in Sweden:||Áá Åå Ŋŋ Ää|
|Lule Sámi in Norway:||Áá Åå Ŋŋ Ææ|
|Southern Sámi in Sweden:||Ïï Ää Öö Åå|
|Southern Sámi in Norway:||Ïï Ææ Øø Åå|
|Ume Sámi:||Áá Đđ Ïï Ŋŋ Ŧŧ Üü Åå Ää Öö|
The letter Đ is a capital D with a bar across it (Unicode U+0110) also used in Serbo-Croatian etc., and is not the capital eth (Ð; U+00D0) found in Icelandic, Faroese or Old English, to which it is almost identical.
The different characters used on the different sides of the Swedish/Norwegian border merely are orthographic standards based on the Swedish and Norwegian alphabets, respectively, and don't denote different pronunciations.
The Skolt Sámi standard uses ʹ (U+02B9) as a soft sign, but other apostrophes (like ' (U+0027), ˊ (U+02CA) or ´ (U+00B4)) are also sometimes used in published texts.
Kildin Sámi now uses an extended version of Cyrillic (in three slightly different variants): Аа А̄а̄ Ӓӓ Бб Вв Гг Дд Ее Е̄е̄ Ёё Ё̄ё̄ Жж Зз Һһ/ʼ Ии Ӣӣ Йй Јј/Ҋҋ Кк Лл Ӆӆ Мм Ӎӎ Нн Ӊӊ Ӈӈ Оо О̄о̄ Пп Рр Ҏҏ Сс Тт Уу Ӯӯ Фф Хх Цц Чч Шш (Щщ) Ьъ Ыы Ьь Ҍҍ Ээ Э̄э̄ Ӭӭ Юю Ю̄ю̄ Яя Я̄я̄
In Finland, the Sámi Language Act of 1991 granted Sámi people the right to use the Sámi languages for all government services. Three Sámi languages are recognized: Northern, Skolt and Inari Sámi. The Sámi language act of 2003 made Sámi an official language in Enontekiö, Inari, Sodankylä and Utsjoki municipalities.
Adopted in April 1988, Article 110a of the Norwegian Constitution states: "It is the responsibility of the authorities of the State to create conditions enabling the Sámi people to preserve and develop its language, culture and way of life". The Sámi Language Act went into effect in the 1990s. Sámi is an official language of the municipalities of Kautokeino, Karasjok, Gáivuotna (Kåfjord), Nesseby, Porsanger, Tana, Tysfjord, Lavangen and Snåsa.
In Russia, Sámi has no official status. Sámi has been taught at the Murmansk University since 2012; before then, Sámi was taught at the Institute of Peoples of the North (Институт народов севера) in Saint Petersburg (Leningrad).
On 1 April 2000, Sámi became one of five recognized minority languages in Sweden. It can be used in dealing with public authorities in the municipalities of Arjeplog, Gällivare, Jokkmokk, and Kiruna. In 2011, this list was enlarged considerably. In Sweden North and South Sámi are taught at the universities of Umeå and Uppsala, and Umeå University also teaches Ume Sámi.
Ante Aikio (born 1977) is a Finnish-Sami linguist who has been a professor of Sámi languages in Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Koutokeino, Norway since 2015. Prior to this he has been a professor of Sámi language at the Giellagas Institute at the University of Oulu in Finland. In 2009, Aikio also published a dissertation on Sámi loans in Finnish. In addition, Aikio has widely studied the history and etymology of the Uralic languages and the Sámi ethnolinguistic past.Asbjørn Nesheim
Asbjørn Nesheim (14 December 1906 in Trondheim –19 January 1989 in Oslo) was a Norwegian linguist and curator known for his research on the Sámi languages and cultural history, particularly for his collaboration with Konrad Nielsen on volumes four and five of Nielsen's Lapp Dictionary. Nesheim was also responsible for creating and building up a Sámi Department at the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo from the 1950s on.Gollegiella
Gollegiella (Northern Sámi for "golden language", Southern Sami: Gulliegïele, Inari Sami: Kollekielâ, and Skolt Sami: Kåʹllǩiõll) is a pan-Nordic Sámi language award founded in 2004 by the ministers for Sámi affairs and the presidents of the Sámi Parliaments in Norway, Sweden, and Finland with the aim of promoting, developing and preserving the Sámi languages. The biennial award comes with a monetary prize that is currently 15,000 euros.
Individuals and institutions in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russian can nominate candidates. The award can be won by people, groups, organizations, and institutions individually or collectively.Inari Sami language
Inari Sámi (anarâškielâ) is a Sámi language spoken by the Inari Sámi of Finland. It has approximately 300 speakers, the majority of whom are middle-aged or older and live in the municipality of Inari. According to the Sámi Parliament of Finland, 269 persons used Inari Sámi as their first language. It is the only Sámi language that is spoken exclusively in Finland. The language is classified as being seriously endangered as few children learn it, although more and more children are learning it in language nests.Inari Sámi people
Inari or Aanaar Sámi are a group of Sámi people who inhabit the area around Lake Inari, Finland. They speak the Inari (Aanaar) Sámi language, which belongs to the eastern Sámi languages. There are an estimated 700–900 ethnic Inari Sámi in Finland, of whom approximately 300 speak Inari Sámi. They are the only group of Sámi who live within one state and one municipality. Inari Sámi are indigenous peoples of their area.Israel Ruong
Israel Ruong (1903 Arjeplog, Sweden −1986) was a Swedish-Sámi linguist, politician and professor of Sámi languages and culture at the University of Uppsala in Sweden.
Israel Ruong spoke Pite Sámi as his mother tongue. His parents were catechists, who lived on the shores of Lake Labbas in the Sámi village of Harrok. His parents and a number of his siblings succumbed to the Spanish flu that rampaged through Arjeplog in 1920. His upbringing in Harrok is described in detail in his article "Harrok-ett samiskt nybygge i Pite Lappmark", which was published in the Festschrift for Asbjørn Nesheim entitled Kultur på karrig jord : festskrift til Asbjørn Nesheim.
He received his training to become a teacher in Luleå, after which he went on to worked as a teacher in the nomad school in Jukkasjärvi. In 1943, he defended his dissertation entitled Lappische Verbalableitung dargestellt auf Grundlage des Pitelappischen.
From 1947 to 1967, he served as the inspector for nomad schools in Sweden.
Ruong served as associate professor in Sámi languages and Ethnology at the University of Uppsala from 1949 to 1969, at which point in time he was promoted to professor. As a linguist, Ruong worked on various aspects of the Sámi languages, especially on their morphology. Together with Knut Bergsland, he created the Bergsland-Ruong orthography for Northern Sámi in 1948. Thanks to the new orthography, Ruong was able to publish schoolbooks in Sámi. In 1970, he published a grammar book in Northern Sámi called Min sámegiella.
Ruong was also involved in Sámi politics and was one of the founding members of the Svenska samers riksförbund (SSR) in 1950. He served as head of the SSR from 1959 to 1967.
In addition to his political and educational work, Ruong also served as the editor-in-chief of the Sámi newspaper Samefolket from 1960 to 1973.
In 1983, the Israel Ruong Scholarship (Northern Sami: Israel Ruong stipeanda) was established by the Nordic Sámi Institute. Since 2007 it is awarded every other year to a researcher that works in one or more of the fields that Ruong himself was interested in.Kerttu Vuolab
Kerttu Maarit Kirsti Vuolab (May 1, 1951 Utsjoki, Finland) is a Finnish Sámi author, illustrator, translator and songwriter, who has made it her life mission to ensure that the Sámi oral tradition, language and culture are passed on to future generations of Sámi through multiple media types. Her works have been translated into other Sámi languages such as Inari and Skolt Sámi as well as non-Sámi languages such as Swedish, Finnish, and English.Lule Sami language
Lule Sámi language (julevsámegiella) is a Uralic, Sámi language spoken in Lule Lappmark, i.e. around the Lule River, Sweden and in the northern parts of Nordland county in Norway, especially Tysfjord municipality, where Lule Sámi is an official language. It is written in the Latin script, having an official alphabet.Mac OS Sámi
Mac OS Sámi is a character encoding used on the Macintosh to represent the Sámi languages. It is NOT official, but is widely used on various fonts.Each character is shown with its equivalent Unicode code point. Only the second half of the table (code points 128–255) is shown, the first half (code points 0–127) being the same as ASCII.Pekka
Pekka is a Finnish male given name. It was most popular around the middle of the 20th century. As of 2013 there were more than 100,000 people registered with this name in Finland. The nameday is the 29th of June in the Finnish tradition and the 25th of June on the orthodox calendar. It originated as a variation of the name Peter.Notable people with this name include:
Pekka Haavisto (born 1958), Finnish politician and minister
Pekka Harttila (born 1941), Finnish diplomat and a lawyer
Pekka Heino (television presenter) (born 1961), Sweden television host and presenter
Pekka Heino (singer) (born 1976), Finnish metal singer
Pekka Himanen (born 1973), Finnish philosopher
Pekka Huhtaniemi (born 1949), Finnish diplomat
Pekka Koskela (born 1982), Finnish speed skater
Pekka Kuusisto (born 1976), Finnish violinist
Pekka Lagerblom (born 1982), Finnish footballer
Pekka Lehto (born 1948), Finnish film director
Pekka Leskinen (born 1954), Finnish figure skater
Pekka Niemi (skier) (1909–1993), Finnish cross-country skier
Pekka Niemi (weightlifter) (born 1952), Finnish weightlifter
Pekka Pohjola (1952–2008), Finnish multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer
Pekka Pyykkö (born 1941), Finnish chemist
Pekka Rinne (born 1982), Finnish ice hockey goaltender
Pekka Rautakallio (born 1953), Finnish ice hockey defenceman and coach
Pekka Saarinen (born 1983), Finnish racing driver
Pekka Sammallahti (born 1947), Finnish professor of Sámi languagesPekka Sammallahti
Pekka Lars Kalervo Sammallahti (Inari Sami: Sevtil-Piäkká, May 21, 1947 in Helsinki) is a professor of Sámi languages at the Giellagas Institute at the University of Oulu. A prolific writer, he has published more than 100 books and articles related to Sápmi and the various Sámi languages. Sammallahti has also been a driving force in the work done to create official written languages for a number of Sámi languages.
He is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.He is the only brother of photographer Pentti Sammallahti.Pite Sami language
Pite Sámi, also known as Arjeplog Sámi, is a Sámi language traditionally spoken in Sweden and Norway. It is a critically endangered language that has only about 25–50 native speakers left and is now only spoken on the Swedish side of the border along the Pite River in the north of Arjeplog and Arvidsjaur and in the mountainous areas of the Arjeplog municipality.Southern Sami language
Southern or South Sámi (åarjelsaemien gïele) is the southwestern-most of the Sámi languages. It is a seriously endangered language; the strongholds of this language are the municipalities of Snåsa, Røyrvik, Røros and Hattfjelldal in Norway.Sámi anthem
Sámi soga lávlla (English: Song of the Sami Family/People) is the anthem of the Sámi people. The text was written by Isak Saba, and Arne Sørli composed the music. Originally a poem, it was first published in the Sámi newspaper Saǥai Muittalægje on 1 April 1906. Sámi soga lávlla has been translated into most of the Sámi languages.Sámi media
Sámi media refers to media in one of the Sámi languages or media that deals with Sámi-related issues in Norwegian, Swedish, English or some other non-Sámi language. The establishment of Sámi media in Norway coincides with the rise in nationalism there in the late 19th century. Much of the Sámi media has met the same fate over the years and been felled by a lack of funding or by going bankrupt.
By far, the most important medium for the Sámi has been published material such as magazines and newspapers. With the advent of radio, however, radio rose to share the prominence enjoyed by published material.Sámi music
In traditional Sámi music songs (e.g. Kvad and Leudd songs) and joiks are important musical expressions of the Sámi people and Sámi languages. The Sámi also use a variety of musical instruments, some unique to the Sámi, some traditional Scandinavian, and some modern introductions.
Highly spiritual songs called joiks (Northern Sámi: luohti; Southern Sámi: vuolle) are the most characteristic song type. (The same word sometimes refers to lavlu or vuelie songs, though this is technically incorrect.) Joiks may have few or no lyrics, do not rhyme, and have no definite structure. They are typically about any subject of importance to the singer, and vary widely in content. In Northern areas each person often has their own joik, sometimes given to them at birth, which is seen as personal to and representative of them, like a name. Purely folk joiks have declined in popularity over the 20th century, due to the influence of pop radio and religious fundamentalism, especially Laestadianism. Joiking first came to prominence within Sweden and Scandinavia as a whole with the 1959 release of Sven-Gosta Jonsson's "I'm a Lapp", which featured the singer singing about joiking towards heathen stones over a modern, skiffle-like beat. The first commercial recordings of joiking were performed by Nils-Aslak Valkeapää in 1968, in Finland. Valkeapää's recordings, however, differed from traditional hoiking by including both instrumentation and ambient sounds, such as barking dogs and the wind. Nevertheless, joik performers of some fame include Angelit (former Angelin tytöt, Girls of Angeli), Wimme Saari and Nils-Aslak Valkeapää from Finnish Sápmi. Many modern singers are signed to DAT, the premier record label in Sámi music.
The most famous Sámi singer is Mari Boine of Norway, who sings a type of minimalist folk-rock with joik roots. Some non-Sámi artists, including RinneRadio, Xymox, and Jan Garbarek, have used joik and other Sámi styles in their music.
The Finnish folk metal band Sháman (now known as Korpiklaani) introduced what some call "yoik metal" in the late 1990s, drawing attention to Sámi music in the heavy metal scene. Their music incorporated Sámi elements such as yoik singing, Sámi lyrics, and shamanic drum. The vocalist has also yoiked for fellow Finnish folk metal band Finntroll. Also Finnish black metal band Barathrum (On Eerie album's first track) and Swedish black metal band Arckanum have used joik parts in couple of their songs.
In January 2008, the Sámi artist Ann Marie Anderson, singing "Ándagassii" qualified to the finals of Melodi Grand Prix 2008, (the Norwegian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2008), but she did not win. In Mars 2015 the Swedish Sámi artist Jon Henrik Fjallgren came second with his song "Jag ar fri" in the finals in the national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2015. In the October 2018 final episode of the Norwegian televised music contest Stjernekamp, 20-year-old Sámi artist Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen was voted the winner; her final performance on the show was a yoik.Sámi orthography
Sámi orthography refers to the various orthographies used by the seven Sámi languages that have their own literary language: Southern Sami, Ume Sámi, Lule Sami, Northern Sami, Inari Sami, Skolt Sami and Kildin Sami.Sápmi
Sápmi (Northern Sami: [ˈsapmi]) is the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people. Sápmi is located in Northern Europe and includes the northern parts of Fennoscandia. The region stretches over four countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. On the north it is bounded by the Barents Sea, on the west by the Norwegian Sea and on the east by the White Sea.Despite being the namesake of the region, the Sami people are estimated to only make up around 5% of its total population. No political organization advocates secession, although several groups desire more territorial autonomy and/or more self-determination for the region's indigenous population.
The area is often referred to in English as Lapland ().Ter Sámi language
Ter Sámi is the easternmost of the Sámi languages. It was traditionally spoken in the northeastern part of the Kola Peninsula, but now it is a moribund language; in 2004, only ten speakers were left. By 2010, the number of speakers had decreased to two.