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South Saami language

South Saami is spoken by appr. 1000 native speakers in the Central Scandinavia in Sweden and in Norway. It consists of two main dialect groups, the southern and the northern dialect. The neighbouring Saami language in the North is Ume Saami with very few speakers. In the southern side South Saami is surrounded by the Scandinavian language (Swedish, Norse).

Characteristic features in the phonology that distinguish South Saami from North Saami are especially the lack of the consonant gradation (common to all other Saami languages), the abundancy of diphtongs in the unstressed syllables (gåetie vs NSaa goahti tent ) and the heavy »Umlaut» where the alternation of vowel of the unstressed syllable has influence on the first syllable vowel (vedtieh go! vs. vadtam I go , gietjie end, geatjan to the end, bissem I wash, bæssa s/he is washing ). The final vowels have preserved better than in North Saami andthe also many grammatical endings have more archaistic forms (for instance, the Accusative and Genitive are separate while they in NSaa have fallen into one and lost the original suffix; also the Inessive and Elative (Ablative) cases are separate due to better preserved sound structure).


The noun in South Saami has 8 case endings:

Sg. Pl.
Nominative gåetie gåetieh
Accusative gåetiem göötide, gåetide
Genitive gåetien gööti, gåetiej
Illative gåatan göötide, gåetide
Inessive gåetesne göötine, gåetine
Elative (Ablative)gåeteste göötijste, gåetiste
Comitative göötine, gåetine göötiguimie, gåetiejgujmie
Essive göötine, gåetine

The possessive suffixes are used very seldom and only with some words characteristically referring to a personal relation, as the words for relatives, e.g. daktramme my daughter, daktaradth your daughter ; tjædtjeme my father, tjædtjedh your father, tjidtjese his/her father (all nominative forms, others are used sporadically).

The beginning of the South Saami literary language was the Ume saami old »swedish Lappish» from 1660 s: the catechism and a clerical handbook Manuale lapponicum. This literary language was called the South Lappish literary language from the 18th century onwards. The first who wrote in the actual South Saami language was a swedish priest called Jonas A. Nensén (1792 1881) who did some writing in the 1820 s. The hungarian scholar Ignácz Halász published texts and grammar of this dialect in the end of the 19th century. The first book in South Saami was Sámien lukkeme-gärjá by Knut Bergsland and Gustav Hasselbrink (1957).A textbook by Bergsland and Ella Holm Bull to be used in schools is called Lohkede sæmien was first published in 1968, second edition in 1974. Knut Bergsland's grammar Sydsamisk grammatikk was published in 1994 ja dictionary Åarjelsaemien-daaroen baakoegaerja. Sydsamisk-norsk ordbok in 1993 together with Lajla Mattson Magga. Fiction in South Saami was published as late as 1970's in Čállagat-collection. Laila Mattson (later Mattson Magga) published the first children's book Dågkangaerja-Dåkkagirji (Doll book) in 1978. The first poem book Gaaltjie (1987) was written by Gaebpien Gåsta, Gustav Kappfjell at his age of 74.


Other Saami languages

Table of contents: Languages and naming

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