Southern Sami: Wikis


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Southern Sami
åarjelsaemien gïele
Spoken in Norway, Sweden
Total speakers ~500
Language family Uralic
Writing system Latin alphabet
Official status
Official language in Norway Snåsa
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 sma
ISO 639-3 sma
Southern Sami is 1 on this map.

Southern Sami is the south-westernmost of the Sami languages. It is a seriously endangered language; the last strongholds of this language are the municipalities of Snåsa and Hattfjelldal in Norway. There are approximately 2000 people considered ethnically Southern Sami in Norway and Sweden, but only approximately 500 of them can fluently speak the language.


Writing system

Southern Sami is one of the six Sami languages that has an official written language, but only a few books have been published for the language, one of which is a good-size Southern Sami-Norwegian dictionary.

Southern Sami uses the latin alphabet: A/a, B/b, D/d, E/e, F/f, G/g, H/h, I/i, (Ï/ï), J/j, K/k, L/l, M/m, N/n, O/o, P/p, R/r, S/s, T/t, U/u, V/v, Y/y, Æ/æ, Ø/ø, Å/å

An alternative orthography replaces Æ/æ with Ä/ä and Ø/ø with Ö/ö. The variants Ä/ä, Ö/ö are used in Sweden, Æ/æ, Ø/ø in Norway, in accordance with the usage in Swedish and Norwegian. The Ï/ï represents a back version of I/i, many texts do not distinguish between the two.

C/c, Q/q, W/w, X/x, Z/z are used in words of foreign origin.


Southern Sami has two dialects, the northern and the southern dialect. The phonological differences between the dialects are relatively small; the phonemic system of the northern dialect is explained below.



The vowel phonemes of the northern dialect are the following; orthographic counterparts are given in brackets:

front central back
Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded Unrounded Rounded
close i (i) y (y) ɨ (ï/i)1 ʉ (u) u (o)
mid e (e) o (å)
open ɛ (æ/ä)2 ɑ (a)

1The distinction between the vowels i and ɨ is normally not indicated in spelling: both of these sounds are written with the letter i. However, dictionaries and other linguistically precise sources use the character ï for the latter vowel.

2The letter æ is used in Norway, and ä in Sweden.

The non-high vowels e, ɛ, o and a contrast in length: they may occur as both short and long. High vowels only occur as short.

The vowels may combine to form ten different diphthongs:

front front to back central to back central to front back back to front
close to mid ie (ie) yo (yø/yö) ʉe (ue), ɨe (ie/ïe) uo (oe)
close to open ʉa (ua)
close oe (øø/öö)
mid to open (ea) oa (åa) (åe)



Sound alterations

A typical feature of Southern Sami is the alternation of first-syllable vowels through Umlaut in the declension and conjugation of words. Often there are three different vowels that alternate with each other in the paradigm of a single word, for example as follows:

  • ae ~ aa ~ ee: vaedtsedh 'to walk' : vaadtsam 'I walk' : veedtsim 'I walked'
  • ue ~ ua ~ øø: vuelkedh 'to leave' : vualkam 'I leave' : vøølkim 'I left'

On the other hand, Southern Sami is the only Sami language that does not have consonant gradation. Hence consonants in the middle of words never alterate in Southern Sami, even though such alterations are frequent in other Sami languages. Compare, for instance, Southern Sami nomme 'name' : nommesne 'in the name' to Northern Sami namma : namas, with the consonant gradation mm : m.


Southern Sámi has 8 cases:

Case Singular ending Plural ending
Nominative - -h
Genitive -n -i / -j
Accusative -m -jte / -ite / -idie
Inessive -sne / -snie -ine / -jne / -inie
Elative -ste / -stie -jste / -jstie
Illative -n / -se / -sse -jte / -ite / -idie
Comitative -ine / -jne / -inie -igujmie / -jgujmie
Essive -ine / -jne / -inie (no plural form)

Southern Sámi is one of the westernmost Sami languages that still differentiate between the accusative and the genitive morphologically.



Southern Sami verbs conjugate for three grammatical persons:

  • first person
  • second person
  • third person



Grammatical number

Southern Sami verbs conjugate for three grammatical numbers:

Negative verb

Southern Sami, like Finnish, the other Sámi languages and Estonian, has a negative verb. In Southern Sami, the negative verb conjugates according to tense (past and non-past), mood (indicative and imperative), person (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and number (singular, dual and plural). This differs from some other the other Sami languages, e.g., from Northern Sami, which do not conjugate according to tense.

Southern Sami negative verb, indicative forms
Non-past indicative Past indicative
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1st im ean ibie idtjim idtjimen idtjimh
2nd ih idien idie idtjih idtjiden idtjidh
3rd ij eakan eah idtji idtjigan idtjin
Southern Sami negative verb, imperative forms
Non-past imperative Past imperative
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1st aelliem aellien aellebe ollem ollen ollebe
2nd aellieh aelleden aellede ollh olleden ollede
3rd aellis aellis aellis olles olles olles


Unlike the other Sami languages, Southern Sami is an SOV language.


  • Bergsland, Knut. Røroslappisk grammatikk, 1946.
  • Bergsland, Knut. Sydsamisk grammatikk, 1982.
  • Bergsland, Knut and Lajla Mattson Magga. Åarjelsaemien-daaroen baakoegærja, 1993.
  • Hasselbrink, Gustav. Südsamisches Wörterbuch I–III

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:


Southern Sami


Southern Sami

  1. A Finno-Ugric language spoken in parts of Norway.


External links



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