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.
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.
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.