Sami is a general name for a group of Finno-Ugric languages spoken in parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, in Northern Europe. Very often Sami is erroneously referred as one language for all Lappic people.
|Spoken in:||Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia|
|Total speakers:||Approximately 20,000|
|Ranking:||Not in top 100|
Ural-Altaic languages (disputed)
|Official language of:||None. Official in some parts of Norway (Recognized as a minority language in several, Swedish and Finnish municipalities.)|
|ISO 639-1||se (Northern Sami)|
|ISO 639-2||sma, sme, smi, smj, smn, sms|
|SIL||LKS, LPB, LPC, LPD, LPI, LPL, LPK, LPR, LPT, LPU, SIA|
The Sami languages belong to the Finno-Ugric languages group.
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 Sami people to preserve and develop its language, culture and way of life." The Sami Language Act went into effect in the 1990s.
In Finland, the language law of 1992 grants Sami people the right to use the Sami languages for all government services.
See also: Sami parliaments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden
Languages and dialects
In 2001 there were around ten known Sami languages. Six of these have a standard written language, the four others are literally not in use – i.e. there are fewer than 100 people that speak them. The ISO 639-2 code for all Sami languages without its proper code is "smi". The six written dialects are:
- Northern Sami (Norway, Sweden, Finland): With an estimated 15,000 speakers, this accounts for probably more than 75% of all Sami speakers in 2002. ISO 639-1/ISO 639-2: se/sme
- Lule Sami (Norway, Sweden): The second largest group with an estimated 1,500 speakers. ISO 639-2: smj
- Southern Sami (Norway, Sweden): ISO 639-2: sma
- Inari Sami (Enare Sami) (Inari, Finland): SIL code: LPI, ISO 639-2: smn
- Skolt Sami (Näätämö and the Nellim-Keväjärvi districts, Inari municipality, Finland, also spoken in Russia, previously in Norway) SIL code: LPK, ISO 639-2: sms
- Kildin Sami (Kildin Island , Russia) SIL code: LPD
The remaining living 4 Sami languages have very few speakers and are in danger of extinction. It is believed that they have fewer than 500 speakers combined. They are Akkala (Babino) Sami , Ter Sami , Pite Sami and Ume Sami . Another Sami language, Kemi Sami, has been extinct for over 100 years.
The Sami languages in the Scandinavian Peninsula form a continuum where dialects from areas close to each other are mutually intelligible but the distance in language increases with geographical distance. Therefore dialect from Southern or Northern reaches of the continuum are actually separate languages without a clearly defined border. By contrast Inari Sami and Skolt Sami are completely separate languages with clearly defined linguistic and geographical borders.
The Lule Sami dialect has a common grammar but with fewer special characters, only a-acute and n-acute. The character n-acute (Ń/ń) is the eng sound found in the Norwegian word "sang". Instead of n-acute (found in Unicode, but not in ASCII), many use ñ or even ng.
- a-acute (Á/á)
- c-caron (Č/č)
- d-stroke (Đ/đ)
- eng (Ŋ/ŋ)
- s-caron (Š/š)
- t-stroke (Ŧ/ŧ)
- z-caron (Ž/ž)
Lule Sami very few special characters, only a-acute and n-acute. Southern Sami uses written using Norwegian or Swedish characters, some variants of Swedish (ä, ö) or Norwegian (æ, ø) characters. Inari Sami uses seven special characters. Kildin Sami uses cyrillic typesetting, Russian characters with some special characters.
- Sami alphabets: Basics (in Norwegian) and references - from Skolelinux, in Norwegian
- Lappic language tree - at ethnologue.org
- Dictionaries - at University of Tromsø
- Samisk språkråd - Sami language department of the norwegian Sami parliament (in Norwegian and Northern Sami)
- North Sami Wikipedia (no content yet)
- Finland - Sámi Language Act