No standard Sámi?

Linguaphile
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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-08-14, 15:36

Woods wrote:Racist? Called somebody by their race or something? I just asked a question, haven't even expressed an opinion here. I don't see why people have such problems with such things.

There were several things in your original post that seemed to express a derogatory (or at the very least, dismissive) attitude towards the various Saami languages. You wrote the word "languages" in quotation marks (Does anyone learn and use these "languages") as if saying you don't believe they are genuine languages. (If that wasn't your reason, then why the quotes?) You said that "it's so strange" that there are signs with these languages on them. (What is strange about it?) You said this happens "even in Finland," as if Finland were the last place you'd expect to see those signs. (Again: why would you be surprised to see them "even" in Finland, as opposed to elsewhere?) You asked if the use of these languages was "more of a joke." Yes, you asked that one as a question, but usually asking a question like that means that you think the answer might be "yes". (Why would it be a joke?)
I have to add here that I wouldn't call the use of Cornish in England a "joke" either, as you did. For many people it is a symbol of identity and of recognition even if they don't speak the language. The same is for the most part true of the Saami-language signs, because not all Saami people today can speak their ancestors' language, and nearly all who can speak it also speak the national language of their country. They don't need the translation in order to understand what the sign says, but its presence acknowledges their heritage and in a small way keeps the language visible and valued.
Maybe people have heard that "Kautokeino" means "middle road" or "half way" in "Saami". Well, Kautokeino does not mean that, but Guovdageaidnu does, in Northern Saami. It is the spot that was at the middle (guovddaš) of a road (geaidnu) between the start and end points of a migratory route; when you got to Guovdageaidnu, you were halfway there. Kautokeino is just the non-Saami settlers' mispronunciation of Guovdageaidnu. Isn't it better to have the original name on the sign rather than just the mispronounced one? But the name Guovdageaidnu wasn't given any recognition or official status until 1987.
Image
Whether you meant it to or not, it comes off as sounding as though you think the use of Saami languages is strange and unnecessary or even inappropriate, and as though you think they aren't real languages at all but rather a "joke".
It makes me think of this quote: “If you want to really hurt me, speak badly about my language" (Gloria Anzaldúa, "How To Tame a Wild Tongue").
The term "linguicism" (linguistically-argued racism), was coined by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, relevant here in more than one way because she is from Finland and (among many other things) has advocated extensively for Saami language education and for linguistic human rights for speakers of minority languages. I once had the opportunity to hear her speak. The treatment of Saami people and their languages was one of the motivating factors for her to see the need to coin the term "linguicism" to indicate language-based racism. It is related to the term "racism", it is related to the term "linguicide."
Your original post mentioned the Saami-language road signs. Are you aware that some of the Saami-language road signs that your original post mentioned have been vandalized as a form of racism against Saami people and their languages? On these signs, the Saami wording is removed, either by scratching it out, covering it up, knocking it down, or shooting it with bullets. So you can see, although you probably didn't know it when you posted, you know it now: your original questions and statements concern a topic that is full of symbolism, connected to indigenous identity, and a target for anti-Saami sentiment. Whether you meant it to or not, your post, which gave the impression that these signs shouldn't have so many languages on them and that maybe they aren't real languages at all, does sound quite similar to the comments people with genuine racist intentions might make.
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On your profile I see that you have listed Saami as a language you want to learn and so I don't believe that you meant to be insulting towards the Saami languages. I'm just explaining why it sounds that way to others. If you are interested in learning Saami, maybe you are wondering which Saami language to learn and that is where these questions come from? I think that's something people on this forum could help you with, if that were the question you asked.
But it's not the question you asked.

Woods wrote:I didn't quite get - if all these languages have their equal rights to exist, then why not use Sámi instead of Saami? Of course I had no idea which one is what and comes from where, I've been writing Sámi for the last ten years because I had read somewhere that this is the Sámi/Saami way to do it :)

This part I don't see as racist or linguicist or any such thing, just a preference, but like awrui, in English I prefer the term Saami over Sámi, for the same reasons that awrui stated. Even better, specify which one: Northern Saami, Inari Saami, Kildin Saami, South Saami, Lule Saami, Pite Saami, Ume Saami, Akkala Saami, Ter Saami.... Sometimes I just say Inari, or Kildin, or Skolt, or Pite, although that doesn't work with Northern Saami or Southern Saami (i.e. you can't just call them "Southern" or "Northern" in most contexts, unless you've already said "Saami" too). I guess we could call them Davvi and Åarjel; I have at times said "Davvi Sámi" for Northern Saami when speaking English.
The term Sámi is what the language is called in Northern Saami, and as such there is nothing wrong with calling it that.
I don't see it as insulting to use the term Sámi and I myself use it occasionally if I see that others in a particular context are using it. But, several of the Saami languages don't even have the letter á in their alphabets, and normally English does not either. So why insist on using it in English, which doesn't have the letter á, to describe a Saami language which doesn't have the letter á either? In Skolt Saami the word for Saami/Sámi is sääʹm, in Inari Saami it is säämi, in Southern Saami it is saemie, in Kildin Saami it is са̄мь. In many Saami languages it is a lengthened vowel (sääʹm, säämi, са̄мь, etc). I therefore think that Saami better reflects the word in English and is more inclusive of the various varieties. It doesn't bother me if someone uses Sámi in English, but I use Saami.

awrui wrote:Yea, as said, it's the North Saami way- only the North Saami way. And it's ok to use that if you only talk about the North Saami language. But you wouldn't call all Germanic languages "English" just because one of those languages is called that? Imagine you speak English. When you apply to University, they tell you lectures and books will be in "English". And then everything is in Icelandic. Same goes for radio, the news, newspapers, books, even school and kindergarten! Imagine signing your child up for English-language Kindergarten in England (but weirdly: supermarked, media, government, most people, is in another language), and all it means is that they have a guy there once a week who knows a little bit of German.

Awrui, this is a very good analogy. Thanks for posting.

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Woods » 2020-08-20, 12:50

Sorry, guys, this would definitely take some time, but after the emotionally charged answers I felt obliged to answer.

awrui wrote:You asked if my "language" is a joke.

Yes I did :)

Please stop shouting at me some stuff that I already know. I respect your opinion and your language. You're not going to convince anyone in anything by behaving like that.


awrui wrote:And you come here and imply it's not even a real language and a joke.

How am I supposed to know?


awrui wrote:Imagine you speak English. When you apply to University, they tell you lectures and books will be in "English". And then everything is in Icelandic. Same goes for radio, the news, newspapers, books, even school and kindergarten! Imagine signing your child up for English-language Kindergarten in England (but weirdly: supermarked, media, government, most people, is in another language), and all it means is that they have a guy there once a week who knows a little bit of German. This is the situation of Saami speakers TODAY.

Well if not enough people know these languages then who is supposed to teach them and how?


awrui wrote:Not because Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia are poor, but because people have the same attitude as you.

Yeah, but the same story again - I am interested in your language but I really don't like listening to you. If I were one of your local politicians you're trying to convince in your cause and I heard you spoke to me like that, I'd just tell you to f**k off.



Linguaphile wrote:You wrote the word "languages" in quotation marks (Does anyone learn and use these "languages") as if saying you don't believe they are genuine languages. (If that wasn't your reason, then why the quotes?) (...) You asked if the use of these languages was "more of a joke." Yes, you asked that one as a question, but usually asking a question like that means that you think the answer might be "yes". (Why would it be a joke?)

Because that was at that point my uneducated impression.


Linguaphile wrote:Isn't it better to have the original name on the sign rather than just the mispronounced one?

Of course it is. I don't know if you guys realised that I agreed with almost everything you said all of you. Maybe only awrui didn't.

By the way if Kautokeino does not mean anything, then has Finland (or the community or whoever is in charge) thought of removing the artificial name and calling the municipality Guovdageaidnu also in standard Finnish? That's what I'd do. (Like Peking became Beijing - well, maybe there are more people in the the municipality calling the place Kautokeino and knowing it by that name but if Guovdageaidnu is more authentic and as a sign of recognition to the Sámi people, why not make an effort?


Linguaphile wrote:The treatment of Saami people and their languages was one of the motivating factors for her to see the need to coin the term "linguicism" to indicate language-based racism.

How would you define racism to start with? Isn't it treating someone as inferiour based on their race? And even if we do this (in my opinion inappropriate) extention to other things such as a person's language, what does the lack of an expensive language policy in the present day have to do with treating them as inferiour in any way? When I feel neglected for other things that society should have given me but hasn't, I advocate for them for the good of everybody without complaining that society has been racist to me.


Linguaphile wrote:Are you aware that some of the Saami-language road signs that your original post mentioned have been vandalized as a form of racism against Saami people and their languages?

I am sorry to hear that but comparing my questions to it is very disrespectful.



Linguaphile wrote:your post, which gave the impression that these signs shouldn't have so many languages!

I have never said anything like that. Impressions are in the eye of the beholder.


But thanks for the educative posts - you seem to be very much interested in the topic!



Linguaphile wrote:On your profile I see that you have listed Saami as a language you want to learn and so I don't believe that you meant to be insulting towards the Saami languages. I'm just explaining why it sounds that way to others. If you are interested in learning Saami, maybe you are wondering which Saami language to learn and that is where these questions come from?

Yeah, good point!

I listed it more because I'm interested in Finnish and I thought it would be great to know another similar language in order to compare and see what other shapes and forms the Finnish language might have taken throughout time. Also in order to understand Sámi culture as part of Finnish culture. As such, having so many different versions of the language(s) and also the fact that it'll be impossible to practise it with locals unless one moves to one and only small community and stays there is very discouraging and from there my initial attitude. It has nothing to do with me being racist and I wander if by now awrui has understood that.


Linguaphile wrote:several of the Saami languages don't even have the letter á in their alphabets, and normally English does not either. So why insist on using it in English, which doesn't have the letter á

Cause English has all kinds of stuff if you want to add it and that's the coolest thing about it. It tries to keep everything as it is and not twist it into some artificial spelling like for example Swedish. It has the words façade and cliché and pretty much any other diacritic you want to add and can easily do it with a modern keyboard, so why not?


Linguaphile wrote:In Skolt Saami the word for Saami/Sámi is sääʹm, in Inari Saami it is säämi, in Southern Saami it is saemie, in Kildin Saami it is са̄мь. In many Saami languages it is a lengthened vowel (sääʹm, säämi, са̄мь, etc)

Yeah, you see? Wouldn't it be easier to learn and preserve these languages if a certain effort was made to unify the writing standards a little bit? Of course only where it makes sense and Saami people agree?

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Johanna » 2020-08-20, 22:18

Bulgarian is a joke, you know, nothing more than some weird version of Serbian that the Ottomans got their hands on. So why not give it up?

Honestly, a Slavic language without cases is no language at all!
Swedish (sv) native; English (en) good; Norwegian (no) read fluently, understand well, speak badly; Danish (dk) read fluently, understand badly, can't speak; Faroese (fo) read some, understand a bit, speak a few sentences; German (de) French (fr) Spanish (es) forgetting; heritage language.

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-08-21, 2:33

Woods wrote:By the way if Kautokeino does not mean anything, then has Finland (or the community or whoever is in charge) thought of removing the artificial name and calling the municipality Guovdageaidnu also in standard Finnish? That's what I'd do. (Like Peking became Beijing - well, maybe there are more people in the the municipality calling the place Kautokeino and knowing it by that name but if Guovdageaidnu is more authentic and as a sign of recognition to the Sámi people, why not make an effort?

Yes, this has happened and the "effort" you refer to has been made. By the way, it is in Norway, not Finland. I had to look up the years but: it was officially called Kautokeino from 1851 to 1987. Then its official name was Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino from 1987 to 2005, with both being used together, just like in the sign that I posted earlier (and the signs you mentioned in your original post). Since 2005 it has two official names, either Guovdageaidnu or Kautokeino, which are given equal status and so either one can be used on its own.

Woods wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:several of the Saami languages don't even have the letter á in their alphabets, and normally English does not either. So why insist on using it in English, which doesn't have the letter á

Cause English has all kinds of stuff if you want to add it and that's the coolest thing about it. It tries to keep everything as it is and not twist it into some artificial spelling like for example Swedish. It has the words façade and cliché and pretty much any other diacritic you want to add and can easily do it with a modern keyboard, so why not?
You have really quoted me out of context here, removing the part which I considered key. Here is what I actually wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:But, several of the Saami languages don't even have the letter á in their alphabets, and normally English does not either. So why insist on using it in English, which doesn't have the letter á, to describe a Saami language which doesn't have the letter á either?

My point was that many Saami languages do not have the letter á in their alphabets either and so it is odd and inconvenient to use in English to describe them, considering that neither language - not the language being described nor the language being used to describe it - have that letter.

Woods wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:In Skolt Saami the word for Saami/Sámi is sääʹm, in Inari Saami it is säämi, in Southern Saami it is saemie, in Kildin Saami it is са̄мь. In many Saami languages it is a lengthened vowel (sääʹm, säämi, са̄мь, etc)

Yeah, you see? Wouldn't it be easier to learn and preserve these languages if a certain effort was made to unify the writing standards a little bit? Of course only where it makes sense and Saami people agree?

The thing is that it is not just a matter of writing standards. They are different languages with different words. You could use the same alphabet for all of them, but any given word still would not be spelled the same in each Saami language, because the words are pronounced differently (and, in some cases, the words don't even resemble each other at all).
For example, take this sign that I posted earlier:
Image
A common writing system would make them a bit more similar - it would smooth over the difference between Northern Saami guovddáš and Inari Saami kuávdâš (though some pronunciation differences would probably be lost in the process), but it would do nothing to make Skolt Saami kõõskõs look like them - to say nothing of the differences between Northern Saami oahpahus and Inari Saami máttááttâs and Skolt Saami škooul'jem, etc. You could give them a shared orthography, but they'll still be entirely different words.
The point here - they are related, but different languages, much like (as was mentioned earlier) languages like English, German, and Icelandic, or like Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. The similarities are obvious, but their differences are too significant to make it possible to write them with the same spelling (!) or even the same orthography. No one argues that Spanish and Portuguese should switch to a new, shared alphabet for the "convenience" of it. It wouldn't even be convenient! Many of the words would still look very different, and if you tried to come up with a contrived word that they could share, it would require each language to make very significant changes and lose much of its original form. It's the same with Saami languages.

Woods wrote:the same story again - I am interested in your language but I really don't like listening to you.

Oh my. Really, Woods? Don't get me started on the problems of "not listening". Actually, a couple of decades ago "gula" was the first Northern Saami word I learned, from Mari Boine's song "Gula, gula." It means "hear" or "listen, listen".
Good advice.

Woods wrote:I listed it more because I'm interested in Finnish and I thought it would be great to know another similar language in order to compare and see what other shapes and forms the Finnish language might have taken throughout time.

Are you thinking that the Saami languages represent what Finnish was once like historically? They don't. The Finnish and the Saami languages diverged from each other a long time ago and each continued to develop in its own way after that. Finnish and the Saami languages share a common ancestor, but they are more like cousins - neither is the ancestor of the other.

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby awrui » 2020-08-21, 19:44

Btw: It's not yours to define if we, the speakers of Saami languages, are to be offended by your lack of reflection and amount of insults. It's ours. We alone are to decide what's offensive and what's not. And with that attitude of yours, you should be grateful that some of us put up with that racist bullshit and try to spread knowledge and information. Because most of us are just too tired.
I only do because people must know about our situation.

Every community of language speakers has their own way to feel about their language, which is not for non-speakers to judge. We who speak a Saami language often call it "golden language" or "language of the heart", which comes from cruel and terrible treatment through history and the suffering people had and still have(!!!) to go through to keep their mothertongue. If you don't respect our reality of life, feelings and history, I don't think any Saami speaker would welcome you to share their knowledge with you.

It is OK to not know things and ask questions. But those questions should contain a minimum of respect and zero insult, and you should only ask them if you actually want to receive an answer and broaden your horizon. If we tell you your wording was hurtful, you should learn from your mistakes, apologise and try again in a better way, with the knowledge you have gained from failing, instead of arguing if we have a right to our feelings (yes we do).

Woods wrote:I listed it more because I'm interested in Finnish and I thought it would be great to know another similar language in order to compare and see what other shapes and forms the Finnish language might have taken throughout time.

That's what Saami people and Saami speakers want to be accepted for: people with feelings, history, experiences, values and culture. Not an exotic thing for people to study. There are quite a few non-saami researchers working at nordic universities, studying Saami languages. And they all have one thing in common: respect and giving back to the community. And not that colonist, degrading world-view.

You should listen to some songs of Mari Boine, the relevant ones mostly really old, but important to your mindset. I also recommend the movie Saemien vïrre/Sameblod (it's on netflix, very relevant), and visiting some Saami-curated museums and cultural centres.

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Woods » 2020-08-22, 6:18

awrui wrote:It's not yours to define if we, the speakers of Saami languages, are to be offended by your lack of reflection and amount of insults.

Yeah, but imagine what a person who is not as interested and understanding as me would do - instead of saying "okay guys, seems I was pretty ignorant on the matter," get angry and think "I just spoke to one of those Saamis who was mad and shouted at me - let's go spray some Sámi-language signs!"

Conflict is never good. Sorry that you feel tired - but you should not call people racist either. It sounds very offending to me, since I've always been anti-racist (and I think languages have nothing to do with racism, so you should use different terminology - if you called me "linguicist" for example, I wouldn't take it that badly but get curious and think "what is this and why is he/she saying that?" :)

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby awrui » 2020-08-22, 14:38

Woods wrote: Conflict is never good. Sorry that you feel tired - but you should not call people racist either. It sounds very offending to me, since I've always been anti-racist (and I think languages have nothing to do with racism, so you should use different terminology - if you called me "linguicist" for example, I wouldn't take it that badly but get curious and think "what is this and why is he/she saying that?" :)


When studying or discussing indigenous languages, we have to look at the historical and ethical aspects, if we want it or not. Even if you're anti-racist, your wording was racist- even if unintentional. It mirrors the racist attitude and politics those countries have and had against the Saami population for centuries. The Saami languages are so deeply tied with the Saami identity, you can't look at one thing without looking at the other, too.

Btw, there is no lack of able Saami language spakers and interested people who would like to teach- but there is a lack of positive attitude from the government and education institutions. We're like: "Hey, what about a degree that involves our language? Maybe also some language classes and a proper teacher education? How about children getting classes in their native language?" and they're like "Nah bro, don't care". And when we keep nagging they're like: "Shut up already, don't care if you speak са̄мь or sää'm or saemien,we've done an amazing job making that degree programme: go and study some sámi litterature at some place far away! And you better be grateful for that!" And we're like: "???"

So i think there are three main reasons why there is no inter-saami:
1) It would be a completely new, artificial language, since the Saami languages are quite far from each other, in sounds, writing, grammar and words. There is not much common ground.
2) We who speak a Saami language have better things to do. There is still a lot of work and research to do to improve the community, and inter-saami is not an improvement and has no value or use to the community.
3) It would be totally useless, since noone would understand it and it's an extra burden to learn. Settlers usually don't even bother learning the language that is native to their area. So it would be up to the Saami population to learn, and maybe exept from 2-3 nerds there is just no capacity for that. Also we have English for communication between Saami groups, which is easier to learn and morally neutral.
4) Lack of funding. Who would give money for that? They aren't even willing to give us a proper primary education, why would anyone give money for an artificial language that noone understands?

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-08-22, 18:58

awrui wrote:I also recommend the movie Saemien vïrre/Sameblod (it's on netflix, very relevant)

Awrui, thanks for this recommendation! I haven't seen it. I don't have Netflix, but I'll try to find it elsewhere. I did find some clips with English subtitles on Youtube and I'll post them in case others are interested:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y3xkshhwLM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7FZa2xsB9A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz-iJI9QpiE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkFyMNzJeC0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gKJ-seihro


Woods wrote: you should not call people racist either. It sounds very offending to me, since I've always been anti-racist

I'm glad that it sounds offending to you, because it tells us that it was not your intent. But I think the point of these posts is not to criticize you but rather to help you understand why it sounds that way. You keep saying you agree or that we are saying things you already know, but you also keep saying that the rest of us should not react to your original comments in the ways that we did. They were honest reactions. Again, mine were not meant to criticize you but to help you understand - not just to understand the situation but also to understand why we reacted that way. Maybe your intentions are anti-racist but the way you have posted here does not come off sounding that way. You've said things like "I am interested in your language but I really don't like listening to you." You started off by asking if the use of Saami languages is a joke and calling the use of Cornish a joke as well. You put the word languages in quotes, and said you did so because you weren't aware, but even after we explained it you still wrote it as "so many different versions of the language(s)" (do you still think they are somehow different versions of one language? If so I'd say we're really not telling you things you "already know"). Meanwhile you keep asking if we understand your perspective better, but you also keep calling us disrespectful and don't seem to understand anyone else's perspective any better than you did before. If these are not your intentions, isn't knowing that your words can be perceived that way (by several of us) something that is useful for you to be aware of? Part of being anti-racist is learning how your words and actions are perceived by others, and adjusting them when you learn that your words and actions are too easily perceived in a way that differs from your intentions.

Woods wrote:and I think languages have nothing to do with racism,

But if a given ethnic group speaks a particular language (as is true in this case... and in many others) and policies discriminate against that language, then that policy is also discriminatory against the people who speak it. Discrimination against an ethnic group is racism. Restricting language use is a strategy that has been used in many parts of the world to target certain ethnic groups and force assimilation into a different culture. This has been the case for the Saami languages in many different ways. It ranges from children historically being taken to residential schools where they were not allowed to speak their native language (see the clips above for some hints at that policy, as well as a racist policy of head-measuring that lead to discrimination based on head size and head shape of Saami people, reflected also in comments in the videos about so-called "small brains" resulting in presumed lower capacity to learn), to the situations that Awrui has described as currently happening with language instruction and translated materials.
Imagine someone measuring your head and deciding from those measurements how smart you are. Imagine them using those same measurements to determine (or question) your race or ethnic background. Imagine them making you go to school in a foreign language and then claiming you can't learn as well as native speakers because of the aforementioned supposed correlation between ethnic background and intelligence. Imagine that situation starting to improve, but now when you want to learn more about your own heritage or language (the one your parents or grandparents were forbidden from using), you're encouraged to study a different one that has a similar history but still isn't yours. Imagine that you're told that this other language is "close enough" because, even though it's not the same to you or to your grandparents who wouldn't have even understood that language that they're offering translations or instruction for, it's the same to the people who made that policy.

I think it all boils down to this:

When you have a historical situation in which (for example):
    South Saami speakers were not allowed to speak South Saami (or practice their religion, sing their songs, etc) but instead forced to speak Swedish or Norwegian and adopt Swedish/Norwegian cultural traits, which they first had to learn because they didn't already speak the language or know the culture
and a current situation in which (for example):
    South Saami speakers are not given an option of South Saami instruction or South Saami translations but offered North Saami instruction/translations instead, which they would first have to learn in order to benefit from that opportunity because it's not the type of Saami language that they (or their parents/grandparents) already speak
can you see how the idea of an "Inter-Saami" language or "a common standard Saami language on road signs rather than several listed one after the other" might be perceived as just more of the same - a situation in which (for example):
    South Saami speakers are not given an option of South Saami translations or South Saami language road signs but instead offered Inter-Saami instruction/translations, which they would first have to learn in order to benefit from, because it's not the type of Saami language that they (or their parents/grandparents) already speak
Can you see how your suggestion about a common standard Saami language can be taken as "just more of the same from someone who doesn't know or respect the current or historical linguistic situation", especially when you introduced the topic by saying it's strange to have the existing languages on signs, asked if they were a joke, and put the word "languages" in quotes - all of which indicate a disregard for the individual languages or lack of awareness at best? And you followed this up with "you're the one being disrespectful" and "I don't like listening to you", all the while quoting people incorrectly, saying "yeah, you see?" in response to a point that was actually the opposite of yours, and still somehow claiming "you're telling me things I already know."

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Woods » 2020-08-23, 6:58

awrui wrote:When studying or discussing indigenous languages, we have to look at the historical and ethical aspects, if we want it or not. Even if you're anti-racist, your wording was racist- even if unintentional. It mirrors the racist attitude and politics those countries have and had against the Saami population for centuries.

No, it doesn't mirror anything - it was my own perception that people there are speaking too many languages and I couldn't understand why they don't make just one, so that they can communicate - like the Germans settled on Hochdeutsch, I guess. Then you and the others explained it to me, but you decided to also call me racist etc.

One thing remains quite unclear to me still - why do you not like the usage of the word Sámi? Linguaphile brought forth the argument that the letter á doesn't exist in English either. You're saying that it's the Northern way. But the other Saami languages, as Linguaphile pointed it, are called other things (not Saami). So what's the difference. Is there one particular Saami language which in itself is called Saami (and written this way) and which one is it? What makes the word Saami most appropriate?

I myself started using the word Sámi as I said because it was the first one which I read the language (which I then thought would be one language or if they're many - then I'd expect them to be very close (like Occitan and Catalan), and not as further apart as English and Icelandic) was supposed to be called in Saami language. Also as a long-time fan of Northern culture having a huge collection of music from all from all Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark) and Finland, you can imagine that if I ever was exposed to any Sámi languages, it was Northern ones.

I've listened to Mari Boine for sure, though I don't remember any songs right now - but of course, I'd do it again when it feels like, and when it comes to movies - okay, if the occasion comes to watch one I may come back and check your recommendation - although I watch films so rarely that it probably ain't happening soon. A book or an article would be something I'm more likely to check.

Which Saami language do you speak? Where are you from? How much do you understand from other ones? So do you think every single Sáami language that has been mentioned must be preserved and developed separately and there are no similar ones that can get closer to each other in development in standardisation?


awrui wrote:Btw, there is no lack of able Saami language spakers and interested people who would like to teach- but there is a lack of positive attitude from the government and education institutions. We're like: "Hey, what about a degree that involves our language? Maybe also some language classes and a proper teacher education? How about children getting classes in their native language?" and they're like "Nah bro, don't care". And when we keep nagging they're like: "Shut up already, don't care if you speak са̄мь or sää'm or saemien,we've done an amazing job making that degree programme: go and study some sámi litterature at some place far away! And you better be grateful for that!"

Well, you're not the only ones having problems with higher education and education institutions in general. A bunch of uninterested unpleasant people in the government with a salary make rules that don't take into account the interests and needs of the population. That's standard. It applies to all disciplines. The problem is all around the place and not only for speakers of Saami languages in the North (or wherever you are located). Try getting into a selective degree where a bunch of stupid shitheads has decided that there will be only 50 places per year for just because. What about the other 500 or 1000 who want to study the same subject? No funding? No teachers? How about you educate the maximum you can, say for example 200, so that after a few years you have 200 teachers and you can accept all 1000 and more? Nope. Same story. Or another, less important example - I tried getting a Finnish course organised by the government and that simply did not work. They do it their way, they don't care if it does not fit at all with your job, lifestyle and learner's needs. At least I'm happy I didn't waste my time and I'll learn Finnish language by myself from Finnish people and reading books in a more natural way, when I want it and how I want it :)



awrui wrote:4) Lack of funding. Who would give money for that? They aren't even willing to give us a proper primary education, why would anyone give money for an artificial language that noone understands?

Wouldn't be as easy as authorising primary education teachers in the community who speak the local language to educate using their native language? In this case - if it's a class intended for Saami children, and the teacher is capable, they can just go ahead and use the language, and if they don't speak it - then use Finnish (or actually is it Finland or where are you from?)




Linguaphile wrote:You keep saying you agree or that we are saying things you already know, but you also keep saying that the rest of us should not react to your original comments in the ways that we did. They were honest reactions.

Well yeah - even if I speak with a real racist I don't react this way, cause I know it won't help much to change them - and here you're calling me racist when I'm the furthest from it you could possibly imagine. Honest reactions okay, but let's fix the terminology and educate each other nicely. I came here with questions not with answers :)


Linguaphile wrote:mine were not meant to criticize you but to help you understand

Oh, I've never had anything to say against the way you wrote to me - it has actually been very interesting and nice and you made a lot of effort so thank you!


Linguaphile wrote:You've said things like "I am interested in your language but I really don't like listening to you."

Well, now you are quoting me out of context. It meant that I am not interested in listening to someone who calls me racist. There's a reason I first read your and Virankannos's posts and understood the situation. If only awrui answered or everybody answered like him/her, I would probably walk away from here never to be interested in Sámi languages again.

But now I don't see why you are repeating things you already said once we'va agreed with each other.


Linguaphile wrote:isn't knowing that your words can be perceived that way (by several of us) something that is useful for you to be aware of?

Of course. But I'm not wording the badly perceived things the same way anymore. Isn't this a little bit like the disrespected person (i.e. the one people used to be racist to) having gotten used to the racism/disrespect to the point where they don't want to accept that not everybody means to treat them that way?

We're running in a circle here. I don't like to be reminded of something I said yesterday after somebody convinced me that it was not the best way to say it or has changed my perspective on it. It is just annoying and takes time that can be used for other things.


Linguaphile wrote:Part of being anti-racist is learning how your words and actions are perceived by others, and adjusting them when you learn that your words and actions are too easily perceived in a way that differs from your intentions.

I think another part is to tell people who don't understand you're on their side that they must not speak to you this way if they want you as their friend. I have been attacked by black people for encouraging them to stand up for their rights where they have been severely disrespected by people who were openly racist. Example: black person is denied a job on the grounds of being black. The person in position to hire says "our customers will not be comfortable being served by a black person." I'm like "let's sue them and kick this failure of a human's ass out of here. The black person answers: "you don't understand me and you don't see how this is a racist place etc." I answer "I am sorry and I am ashamed that there are racist people here but I am not one of them and I don't accept that, let's change things." The black person doesn't want to and prefers telling that everybody is racist and that's why they can never progress in this society.

So I am very much for anti-racist policies and everything that awrui suggested - investing in Sámi education and culture. I don't work in the administration and I have no idea to what extent it will be possible. I imagine there will always be negotiation and compromise between the needs of the community and the amounts the state is willing to invest. So I advise awrui to become a better negotiator.


Linguaphile wrote:But if a given ethnic group speaks a particular language (as is true in this case... and in many others) and policies discriminate against that language, then that policy is also discriminatory against the people who speak it. Discrimination against an ethnic group is racism. Restricting language use is a strategy that has been used in many parts of the world to target certain ethnic groups and force assimilation into a different culture.

I agree. We did not talk about policies at that stage though and I asked purely about languages, let alone I had no idea that the Sámi languages are so different. Actually it could have also been that the four states (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia) want to keep different Sámi standards so that there is no common language between all the Saamis and they stay within the borders of their country. That's more what I would have imagined.


Linguaphile wrote:Imagine someone measuring your head and deciding from those measurements how smart you are. Imagine them using those same measurements to determine (or question) your race or ethnic background. Imagine them making you go to school in a foreign language and then claiming you can't learn as well as native speakers because of the aforementioned supposed correlation between ethnic background and intelligence. Imagine that situation starting to improve, but now when you want to learn more about your own heritage or language (the one your parents or grandparents were forbidden from using), you're encouraged to study a different one that has a similar history but still isn't yours. Imagine that you're told that this other language is "close enough" because, even though it's not the same to you or to your grandparents who wouldn't have even understood that language that they're offering translations or instruction for, it's the same to the people who made that policy.

I see! Which country did this happen in? If that was the case, then I definitely think that country owes it to Saami people to invest huge funds in restoring the heritage they have broken. Like Andrew Yang said it in his presidential campaign: after such a long time of practising racist policies, now not being racist is not enough. In order to repair the damage we need strong anti-racist policies.


Okay, this has been a crazy discussion. I like the debate, however I feel like I got the answers to my questions and I don't have time for it. Will come back and check your answers, but I might shorten mine in the future. It has been nice discussing the matter! And thank you Linguaphile in particular for all the nice exhaustive replies in all forums. I don't know where you find the time but they're very interesting!

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-08-24, 2:50

Woods wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:Imagine someone measuring your head and deciding from those measurements how smart you are. Imagine them using those same measurements to determine (or question) your race or ethnic background. Imagine them making you go to school in a foreign language and then claiming you can't learn as well as native speakers because of the aforementioned supposed correlation between ethnic background and intelligence. Imagine that situation starting to improve, but now when you want to learn more about your own heritage or language (the one your parents or grandparents were forbidden from using), you're encouraged to study a different one that has a similar history but still isn't yours. Imagine that you're told that this other language is "close enough" because, even though it's not the same to you or to your grandparents who wouldn't have even understood that language that they're offering translations or instruction for, it's the same to the people who made that policy.

I see! Which country did this happen in?

So, the cranial studies were in Sweden until about the 1950s or so; I'm not sure if it happened elsewhere too or not. The boarding school situation and education being in the national language rather than Saami has happened in various ways in all of the countries that have Saami populations. The situation of being offered education in a different language other than one's own heritage language is the situation Awrui has been mentioning and who it applies to depends upon which language the person speaks and where they live. Most resources are in Northern Saami (in Sweden and Norway and parts of Finland) or in Kildin Saami (in Russia), so speakers of other Saami languages in those countries will find themselves in that situation.

Woods wrote:If that was the case, then I definitely think that country owes it to Saami people to invest huge funds in restoring the heritage they have broken.

So, to come full circle back to the original topic of this thread: one of the things they invest in, in a small attempt to restore some of the heritage that has been lost, is road signs in which the placenames and other information are listed in the Saami languages of the region, one after another. This gives the languages more visibility, raises awareness, and helps to restore or at least educate people about the original Saami names of places.

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Johanna » 2020-08-24, 13:43

Woods wrote:I agree. We did not talk about policies at that stage though and I asked purely about languages, let alone I had no idea that the Sámi languages are so different. Actually it could have also been that the four states (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia) want to keep different Sámi standards so that there is no common language between all the Saamis and they stay within the borders of their country. That's more what I would have imagined.

A short trip to Wikipedia would have shown that all five Sami languages spoken in Sweden also have or have had speakers in Norway, and that both have one of them in common with Finland, and then Finland at the very least has had one in common with Norway and Russia. It would have taken you all of two minutes, if that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami
Swedish (sv) native; English (en) good; Norwegian (no) read fluently, understand well, speak badly; Danish (dk) read fluently, understand badly, can't speak; Faroese (fo) read some, understand a bit, speak a few sentences; German (de) French (fr) Spanish (es) forgetting; heritage language.

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-08-24, 14:30

Johanna wrote:
Woods wrote:I agree. We did not talk about policies at that stage though and I asked purely about languages, let alone I had no idea that the Sámi languages are so different. Actually it could have also been that the four states (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia) want to keep different Sámi standards so that there is no common language between all the Saamis and they stay within the borders of their country. That's more what I would have imagined.

A short trip to Wikipedia would have shown that all five Sami languages spoken in Sweden also have or have had speakers in Norway, and that both have one of them in common with Finland, and then Finland at the very least has had one in common with Norway and Russia. It would have taken you all of two minutes, if that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami

I also just remembered that there is this thread in this forum:
Comparison of Sami Languages

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Re: No standard Sámi?

Postby awrui » 2020-08-24, 17:31

Woods wrote:One thing remains quite unclear to me still - why do you not like the usage of the word Sámi? Linguaphile brought forth the argument that the letter á doesn't exist in English either. You're saying that it's the Northern way. But the other Saami languages, as Linguaphile pointed it, are called other things (not Saami). So what's the difference. Is there one particular Saami language which in itself is called Saami (and written this way) and which one is it? What makes the word Saami most appropriate?


Because it's not bound to one Saami language. You wouldn't call all Slavic languages "Russian". So don't call all Saami languages "North Saami". Because that's what Sámi means: North Saami. It's just one of many Saami languages. Saami is more inclusive and doesn't put one group up against another.

Woods wrote:Which Saami language do you speak? Where are you from? How much do you understand from other ones? So do you think every single Sáami language that has been mentioned must be preserved and developed separately and there are no similar ones that can get closer to each other in development in standardisation?


I speak serveral. I understand single words from other languages, but can't follow a conversation in the languages I don't know.
And this standardisation already has happened: The written Saami languages are just and average or show one dialect of many. Western Sámi dialects can be very different from eastern Sámi dialects, southern Saemien is very different from northern Saemien, and so on. Goes for most Saami languages.
Yes. Because they are their own languages with their own people and cultures. That's like asking: Can't we just get rid of Italian, Portugese, Romanian and Spanish? They can just learn to speak French.


Woods wrote:
awrui wrote:Btw, there is no lack of able Saami language spakers and interested people who would like to teach- but there is a lack of positive attitude from the government and education institutions. We're like: "Hey, what about a degree that involves our language? Maybe also some language classes and a proper teacher education? How about children getting classes in their native language?" and they're like "Nah bro, don't care". And when we keep nagging they're like: "Shut up already, don't care if you speak са̄мь or sää'm or saemien,we've done an amazing job making that degree programme: go and study some sámi litterature at some place far away! And you better be grateful for that!"

Well, you're not the only ones having problems with higher education and education institutions in general. A bunch of uninterested unpleasant people in the government with a salary make rules that don't take into account the interests and needs of the population. That's standard. It applies to all disciplines.


I don't think you understand the ethical and practical dimension of this problem. It's not a "I want to study lorry mechanics but they only teach car mechanics"-kind of situation.


Woods wrote:
awrui wrote:4) Lack of funding. Who would give money for that? They aren't even willing to give us a proper primary education, why would anyone give money for an artificial language that noone understands?

Wouldn't be as easy as authorising primary education teachers in the community who speak the local language to educate using their native language?


Saami children have the right to get education in their language. Yet there are not books (lack of funding), official documents (lack of will), Settler school leaders find our language so unimportant that it always means A LOT of extra work for the child, which means a lot of extra work for the teacher etc. Teachers must be properly trained (4 years or more) and take university exams to be able to teach a subject. Now guess what happens when they don't get to study their language at university.

Woods wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:You've said things like "I am interested in your language but I really don't like listening to you."

Well, now you are quoting me out of context. It meant that I am not interested in listening to someone who calls me racist. There's a reason I first read your and Virankannos's posts and understood the situation. If only awrui answered or everybody answered like him/her, I would probably walk away from here never to be interested in Sámi languages again.


Sorry to say, but maybe you should. When studying indiginous languages, you can't cherry-pick. As I said, language, history and culture belong together in this case. You can't seperate it like with Finnish, English, Russian. You need to be accepting of every single part, even if you think it's unimportant.
I'm here to deliver facts, not to massage your ego and take your insults without objecting (btw- that's what people with a colonist mindset expect). I'm a "be kind to me, and I'll be kind to you, and if you're not I'll tell you to your face"-person. It's also very interetsing to see that the offender gets offended by being called out on their BS.

Woods wrote:So I am very much for anti-racist policies and everything that awru suggested - investing in Sámi education and culture. I don't work in the administration and I have no idea to what extent it will be possible. I imagine there will always be negotiation and compromise between the needs of the community and the amounts the state is willing to invest. So I advise awrui to become a better negotiator.

I'm not here to negotiate with the prime minister... :partyhat:

Woods wrote:Actually it could have also been that the four states (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia) want to keep different Sámi standards so that there is no common language between all the Saamis and they stay within the borders of their country. That's more what I would have imagined.

Actually, no. The Saami people have fought to speak their languages. The Saami languages are not an anchievement of anyone else but the Saami speaking people. All four countries force their languages on the Saami population. They also closed the borders (historically). They weren't trying to seperate Saami groups and control them, they were trying to eradicate them.
What happened, was that some languages and dialects from the Saami dialect continuum were eradicated. And so smooth transitions became hard language borders. The forced removal of Saami people was not helping either.


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