Jens Andreas Friis

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Jens Andreas Friis (2 May 1821 in Sogndal Norway – 16 February 1896 in Kristiania) was a Norwegian linguist and author. He is widely recognized as the founder of the Sami language studies. [1]


Friis completed his final exams from Møllers Institute in Christiania in 1840 and earned his cand.theol. in 1844. From 1847-49, he was a research fellow in Sami and Finnish. By the autumn of 1849, he went on a grant to Kajaani, Finland to continue his studies under Lönnrot Elias, the founder of Finnish folklore studies. Friis stayed for a time in Finnmark and in return he assumed teaching ministry for priests.

Friis was appointed reader in Sami languages at the University of Kristiania (now Oslo) in 1863. Three years later he was awarded a chair in the Lapp and Kven languages, with a special duty in translation. He published on the Sami language and mythology as well as travel literature about Northern Norway. His novel Lajla from 1881 was later adapted in three movies.

Friis established the northern Sami orthography, which although modified through three spelling reforms is in common usage. Until the Konrad Nielsen's dictionary Lappisk ordbok was published in three volumes between 1932 to 1938, Friis' Sami dictionary was the most important of its kind. Friis also translated With Nansen over Greenland in 1888: My journey from Lapland to Greenland by Samuel Balto from the original Sami into the Norwegian language.[2]

Friis' ethographical maps[edit]

Friis published three series of thematic maps covering Norway north of the Ofotfjord. First edition in 1861, second in 1888/1890. Each household was coded by a trivariate symbology denoting (1) ethnic group (2) household member's fluency in the Norwegian, Sami and Kven language and (3) whether the family lived in a goahti. These maps, in addition to the censuses of 1865, 1875, 1891 and 1900 provide a valuable resource of knowledge of the ethnicity and language in the circumpolar region decades before the enforcement of Norwegian as the single official language in schools.

Selected works[edit]

  • Lappisk Grammatik, 1856
  • Lappiske Sprogprøver. En Samling af Lappiske Eventyr, Ordsprog og Gaader med Ordbog, 1856
  • Lappisk Mythologi, Eventyr og Folkesagn, 1871
  • En Sommer i Finmarken, Russisk Lapland og Nordkarelen. Skildringer af Land og Folk, 1871
  • Hans Majestæt Kong Oscar II's Reise i Nordland og Finmarken Aar 1873, 1874
  • Tilfjelds i Ferierne eller Jæger- og Fiskerliv i Høifjeldene, 1876
  • Fra Finmarken. Skildringer, 1881
  • Klosteret i Petschenga. Skildringer fra Russisk Lapland, 1884
  • Ordbog over det Lappiske Sprog, 1887
  • Skildringer fra Finmarken, 1891


Other sources[edit]

  • Lindkjølen, Hans J. A. Friis og samene (Hønefoss: Tyri forlag, 1983) ISBN 82-7122-000-4
  • Hansen, Lars Ivar Friis' etnografiske kart i Ottar Tidsskrift fra (Tromsø Museum. 1998)

External links[edit]