The Sami languages

October 1, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Posted in Language, Scandinavia | Leave a comment
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It has been a long time ago since I posted about the Sami people, so today it is the turn of the languages. As this is an introductory post, the information comes from the Wikipedia:

The Sami languages

The Sami 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.

During the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age now extinct Sami 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 Historical documents as well as Finnish and Karelian oral tradition contain many mentions of the earlier Sami inhabitation in these areas (Itkonen 1947). Also loanwords as well as place-names of Sami origin in the southern dialects of Finnish and Karelian dialects testify of earlier Sami presence in the area (Koponen 1996; Saarikivi 2004; Aikio 2007). These Sami languages, however, became later extinct under the wave of the Finno-Karelian agricultural expansion.

The Sami languages form a branch of the Uralic language family. According to the traditional view, Sami is within the Uralic family most closely related to the Baltic-Finnic languages (Sammallahti 1998). However, this view has recently been doubted by some scholars, who argue that the traditional view of a common Finno-Sami protolanguage is not as strongly supported as has been earlier assumed, and that the similarities may stem from an areal influence on Sami from Baltic-Finnic.

In terms of internal relationships, the Sami languages are divided into two groups: the western and the eastern ones. 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 to a fair degree mutually intelligible, but two more widely separated groups will not understand each other’s speech. There are, however, sharp and absolute language boundaries, in particular between Northern Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami, the speakers of which are not able to understand each other without learning or long practice.

Western Sami languages

– Southern Sami
– Ume Sami
– Pite Sami
– Lule Sami
– Northern Sami

Eastern Sami languages

– Inari Sami
– Kemi Sami (extinct)
– Skolt Sami
– Akkala Sami (extinct)
– Kildin Sami
– Ter Sami

At present there are nine living Sami languages. The largest six of the languages have independent literary languages; the three others have no written standard, and there are only few, mainly elderly speakers left. The ISO 639-2 code for all Sami languages without its proper code is “smi”.

The other Sami languages are moribund and have very few speakers left. Ten speakers of Ter Sami were known to be alive in 2004, and Pite Sami and Ume Sami likely have under 20 speakers left. The last speaker of Akkala Sami is known to have died in December 2003, and the eleventh attested variety Kemi Sami became extinct in the 19th century.

Of course the data needs to be continuoslly revised as the sociolinguistic situation is always dynamic. Advice an info in that direction would be very appreciated, so if you are Sami and are reading that, do not hesitate to comment!

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Third step: Scandinavia

July 22, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Language, Maps, Naming, Scandinavia | Leave a comment
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I continue with the posts that place the Arctic circle cultures in the map thanks to Ethnologue website. The two previous ones were about Alaska and Canada on the one hand and Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) on the other. will include the Kola peninsula and the territories that border it to have all the Saami languages toghether. I think this will help understanding the family languages.

Finland

Republic of Finland, Suomen Tasavalta. 5,214,512. National or official languages: Finnish, Swedish. Literacy rate: 100%. Also includes English (4,500), Northern Kurdish (1,293), Polish, Romanian (1,000), Russian (10,000), Somali (3,103), Spanish, Standard German, Tatar (1,000), Turkish (1,000), Vietnamese, Arabic, Chinese. Information mainly from M. Stephens 1976; B. Comrie 1987; T. Salminen 1987–1998. Blind population: 3,345. Deaf population: 8,000 to 307,333 (1986 Gallaudet University). Deaf institutions: 44. The number of languages listed for Finland is 13. Of those, 12 are living languages and 1 is extinct.

Saami, North
[sme] 2,000 in Finland (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 3,500 (1995 M. Krauss). Utsjoki, Enontekio, and Sodankyla. Alternate names: Northern Lapp, Davvin, “Lapp”, Saame, Same. Dialects: Ruija, Torne, Sea Lappish. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, Skolt
[sms] 300 in Finland (1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 320. Ethnic population: 500 in Finland (1995 M. Krauss). Northwest of Inari Saami. Also spoken in Russia (Europe). Alternate names: Skolt Lappish, Russian Lapp, “Lapp”, Saame, Same, Lopar, Kolta, Koltta. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern

Norway

Kingdom of Norway, Kongeriket Norge. 4,574,560. National or official language: Norwegian. Literacy rate: 96% to 100%. Also includes Danish (12,000), English, Finnish (5,358), Northern Kurdish (3,000), Russian (3,000), Spanish (6,500), Swedish (21,000), Tibetan, Urdu, Vietnamese (99,000), Chinese (3,000), from Africa (7,000), from Pakistan (17,000). Information mainly from M. Stephens 1976; B. Comrie 1987; I. Hancock 1991; J. Hupli 1998; B. Winsa 1998. Blind population: 4,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf population: 4,000 to 261,618 (1998). Deaf institutions: 12. The number of languages listed for Norway is 11. Of those, all are living languages.

Saami, Lule
[smj] 500 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 1,000 to 2,000 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). 31,600 to 42,600 ethnic Sámi in Norway (1995). Tysfjord, Hamaroy, and Folden, Norway. Alternate names: Lule, Saame. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, North
[sme] 15,000 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 21,000. Ethnic population: 30,000 to 40,000 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). Finnmark, Troms, Nordland, Ofoten. Also spoken in Finland, Sweden. Alternate names: “Northern Lappish”, “Norwegian Lapp”, Saami, Same, Samic, “Lapp”, Northern Saami. Dialects: Ruija, Torne, Sea Lappish. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, Pite
[sje] Between Saltenfjord and Ranenfjord in Norway. Alternate names: “Lapp”, Pite. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern Nearly extinct.

Saami, South
[sma] 300 in Norway (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 600 in Norway. Hatfjelldal and Wefsen, south to Elga. Alternate names: “Northern Lappish”, “Norwegian Lapp”, Saami, Same, Samic. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Southern

Russia (Europe)

Komi-Zyrian
[kpv] 262,200 (1993 UBS). Ethnic population: 345,000. Komi ASSR, 60′ N. Lat., nearly to the Arctic Ocean. South of Yurak, west of the Vogul (Mansi) peoples. Capital is Syktywkar. Alternate names: Komi. Dialects: Yazva. Lexical similarity 80% with Komi-Permyak and Udmurt. Classification: Uralic, Permian, Komi

Saami, Akkala
[sia] 8 (2000 T. Salminen). Ethnic population: 100 (1995 M. Krauss). Southwest Kola Peninsula. Alternate names: Ahkkil, Babinsk, Babino. Dialects: Closest to Skolt. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern Nearly extinct.

Saami, Kildin
[sjd] 800 (2000 T. Salminen). 1,900 Saami in Russia (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 1,000 (1995 M. Krauss). Alternate names: “Kildin Lappish”, “Lapp”, Saam, Saami. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern

Saami, Skolt
[sms] 20 to 30 in Russia. Ethnic population: 400 in Russia (1995 M. Krauss). Northern and western Kola Peninsula around Petsamo. Alternate names: “Skolt Lappish”, “Russian Lapp”, “Lapp”, Saam, Lopar, Kolta, Skolt. Dialects: Notozer, Yokan. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern

Saami, Ter
[sjt] 6 (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 400 population (2000 Salminen). Alternate names: “Ter Lappish”, “Lapp”, Saam. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Eastern Nearly extinct.

Sweden

Kingdom of Sweden, Konungariket Sverige. 8,986,400. National or official language: Swedish. Literacy rate: 99%. Also includes Amharic, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Danish (35,000), Estonian (1,560), Greek (50,000), Kirmanjki, Latvian (450), Lithuanian (310), Northern Kurdish (10,000), Serbian (120,000), Somali, Spanish (35,000), Tosk Albanian (4,000), Turkish (20,000), Turoyo (20,000), Western Farsi (35,000), Chinese, people from Iraq (6,000), Eritrea, North Africa. Information mainly from B. Comrie 1987; I. Hancock 1991; E. Haugen 1992; O. Dahl 1996; B. Winsa 1998. Blind population: 15,716. Deaf population: 8,000 to 532,210 (1998). Deaf institutions: 72. The number of languages listed for Sweden is 15. Of those, all are living languages.

Saami, Lule
[smj] 1,500 in Sweden (1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 2,000. Ethnic population: 6,000 in Sweden. Lapland along the Lule River in Gällivare and Jokkmokk. Also spoken in Norway. Alternate names: Lule, Saami, “Lapp”. Dialects: Lule Saami is quite distinct from other Saami. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, North
[sme] 4,000 in Sweden (1995 M. Krauss). Ethnic population: 5,000 in Sweden (1994 SIL). Karesuando and Jukkasjärvi. Alternate names: Norwegian Saami, “Lapp”, Saame, Same, Samic, Northern Lappish, Northern Saami. Dialects: Ruija, Torne, Sea Lappish. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern

Saami, Pite
[sje] 20 in Sweden (2000 T. Salminen). Ethnic population: 2,000 in Sweden (1995 M. Krauss). Lapland along Pite River in Arjeplog and Arvidsjaur. Also spoken in Norway. Alternate names: Saami, “Lapp”, Pite. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Northern Nearly extinct.

Saami, South
[sma] 300 in Sweden(1995 M. Krauss). Population total all countries: 600. Ethnic population: 600 in Sweden. Vilhelmina in Lapland, in Jämtland, Härjedalen, and Idre in Dalarna. Also spoken in Norway. Alternate names: “Lapp”, Southern Lapp. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Western, Southern

Saami, Ume
[sju] 20 (2000 T. Salminen). Ethnic population: 1,000 (1995 M. Krauss). Lycksele, Mala, Tärna, and Sorsele, along the Ume River. Probably no speakers in Norway. Alternate names: “Lapp”, Saami, Ume. Classification: Uralic, Sami, Southern Nearly extinct.

As you see, this classification is quite confusing, as the Saami languages are repeated in many countries. This is because the political borders, that cut the Saami lands. I will redo the classification in the future having as a starting point Sápmi and not those countries.

Anyway, you can also check the map to make the situation clearer:

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