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Inari Sami language

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Title: Inari Sami language  
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Subject: Sami languages, Sami people, Skolt Sami language, Inari Sami people, Kemi Sami language
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Inari Sami language

Inari Sámi
Region Finland
Ethnicity Inari Sami people
Native speakers
300  (2001 census)[1]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2 smn
ISO 639-3 smn
Glottolog inar1241[3]
Inari Sami is 7 on this map.

Inari Sámi (anarâškielâ) is a Uralic, Sami language spoken by the Inari Sami 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 Sami Parliament of Finland 269 persons used Inari Sami as their first language. It is the only Sami language that is spoken exclusively in Finland.[1] The language is classified as being seriously endangered as few children learn it.


Edvard Wilhelm Borg's Anar sämi kiela aapis kirje ja doctor Martti Lutherus Ucca katkismus

The first book in Inari Sámi was Anar sämi kiela aapis kirje ja doctor Martti Lutherus Ucca katkismus, which was written and translated by Edvard Wilhelm Borg in 1859. The written history of modern Inari Sámi, however, is said to begin with Lauri Arvid Itkonen's translation of the history of the Bible in 1906, although he had already translated some other books into Inari Sámi (Martin Luther and John Charles Ryles). After that, Inari Sami was mainly published in books written by linguists, Frans Äimä and Erkki Itkonen, in particular. For many years, very little literature was written in Inari Sami, although Sämitigge has funded and published a lot of books, etc., in recent years.

Since 1992, Finland's Sami have had the right to interact with officials in their own language in areas where they have traditionally lived: Enontekiö, Utsjoki, Inari and the northern part of Sodankylä as official policy favors the conservation of the language. All announcements in Inari, which is the only officially quadrilingual municipality in Finland, must be made in Finnish, North Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami. Only about 10% of the public servants in the area, however, can serve the Inari Saami-speaking population in Inari Saami, so Finnish is used by the remaining 90%.

In 1986, the Anarâškielâ servi (Inari Sámi Language Association) was founded to promote the language and its use. The association publishes numerous books, textbooks, a calendar, etc., in Inari Sami. They have established a language immersion program in 1997 for 3- to 6-year-old children in a day care in Inari and Ivalo. In 2007, the association started publishing an Inari Sámi newspaper called Kierâš online.

A new phenomenon see Inari Sami is being used in rap songs by Mikkal Morottaja, whose stage name is Amoc. Morottaja published the first full-length Inari Sámi rap CD in the world on February 6, 2007 (Sami National Day).

Geographic distribution

Along with Finnish, Skolt Sami and Northern Sami, Inari Sámi is one of the four official languages in the municipality of Inari, in particular in the following villages[4] located on the shore of Lake Inari (the Inari Sámi name for the village is enclosed in parentheses):


Inari Sámi is written using the Latin script. The alphabet currently used for Inari Sami was made official in 1996 and stands as follows:

А а (Â â) B b C c Č č D d Đ đ E e
F f G g H h I i J j K k L l M m
N n Ŋ ŋ O o P p R r S s Š š T t
U u V v Y y Z z Ž ž Ä ä (Á á)

The phonetic values are the same as in Karelian, and đ represents the voiced dental fricative (in English "the"). Q/q, W/w, X/x, Å/å, Ö/ö are also used in words of foreign origin. Á is traditionally pronounced in the middle of /a/ and /ä/, but in modern Inari Sámi the difference between á and ä is nonexistent. In text, Á and ä are nevertheless considered as separate characters. Ä is used only, if

  • it is in a first syllable of a word, and there is an "e" or "i" in a second syllable of the same word,
  • it is in a word, which does have only one syllable (although á is also used), or
  • it is a part of diphthong "iä".

Ä is not used, if it is supposed to be a part of diphthong "uá" (uá and uä are pronounced almost the same, but only uá is correct).



Inari Sámi has nine cases, although the genitive and accusative are often the same:

The partitive appears to be a highly unproductive case in that it seems to only be used in the singular. In addition, unlike Finnish, Inari Sámi does not make use of the partitive case for objects of transitive verbs. Thus "Mun puurâm leeibi" could translate into Finnish as either "Minä syön leivän" (English: I'm eating (all of) the bread) or "Minä syön leipää" (I'm eating (some) bread, or generally, I eat bread).


The personal pronouns have three numbers: singular, plural and dual. The following table contains personal pronouns in the nominative and genitive/accusative cases.

  English nominative English genitive
First person (singular) I mun my muu
Second person (singular) you (thou) tun your, yours tuu
Third person (singular) he, she sun his, her suu
First person (dual) we (two) muoi our munnuu
Second person (dual) you (two) tuoi your tunnuu
Third person (dual) they (two) suoi theirs sunnuu
First person (plural) we mij our mii
Second person (plural) you tij your tii
Third person (plural) they sij their sii

The next table demonstrates the declension of a personal pronoun I/we (dual)/we (plural) in the various cases:

  Singular Dual Plural
Nominative mun muoi mij
Genitive-Accusative muu munnuu mii
Locative must, muste munnust mist, miste
Illative munjin munnui mijjân
Comitative muuin, muin munnuin, munnuuin miiguim
Abessive muuttáá munnuuttáá miittáá
Essive munen munnun minen
Partitive muđe --- ---



Inari Sami verbs conjugate for three grammatical persons:

  • first person
  • second person
  • third person


Inari Sami has five grammatical moods:

Grammatical number

Inari Sami verbs conjugate for three grammatical numbers:


Inari Sami has two simple tenses:

and two compound tenses:

Verbal nouns

Negative verb

Inari Sami, like Finnish, the other Sámi languages and Estonian, has a negative verb. In Inari Sami, the negative verb conjugates according to mood (indicative, imperative and optative), person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and number (singular, dual and plural).

    Ind. pres.                  Imperative                Optative
    sg.      du      pl.        sg.    du      pl.        sg.      du      pl.
1   jie'm    iän     ep      1  –      –       –       1  iällum iäl'loon  iällup
2   jie'h    eppee   eppeđ   2  ele    ellee   elleđ   2  ele    ellee     elleđ   
3   ij       iä'vá   iä      3  –      –       –       3  iä'lus iällus    iällus


  1. ^ a b Anaras: The Inari Sàmis
  2. ^ "To which languages does the Charter apply?". European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Council of Europe. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Inari Sami". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ "Language". Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  • Itkonen, Erkki. Inarilappisches Wörterbuch. Lexica societatis fenno-ugricae: 20. Suomalais-ugrilainen seura. Helsinki. ISBN 951-9019-94-4.
  • Sammallahti, Pekka. Morottaja, Matti. Säämi-suoma sänikirje. Inarinsaamelais-suomalainen sanakirja. Girjegiisá. Ykkösoffset Oy, Vaasa 1993. ISBN 951-8939-27-6.
  • Olthuis, Marja-Liisa. Kielâoppâ. Inari : Sämitigge, 2000.
  • Østmo, Kari. Sämikielâ vieres kiellân vuáðuškoovlâst. Helsinki : Valtion painatuskeskus, 1988.

External links

  • Brief history of Inari Sámi
  • 1993.UNESCO Red Book on Endangered Languages.Salminen, Tapani.
  • Kimberli Mäkäräinen A minute vocabulary (Inari Sámi-English) (233 words)
  • Names of birds found in Sápmi in a number of languages, including Skolt Sámi and English. Search function only works with Finnish input though.
  • Inari Saami language resources at Giellatekno
  • Clip about keeping Inari Sami alive (requires RealPlayer)
  • The Inari Sami Language by Toivonen and Nelson
  • Hans Morottaja speaks about himself, etc. in Inari Sámi
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