Ter Sami language

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Ter Sami
Region Russia
Native speakers
2  (2010)[1]
no writing system
Language codes
ISO 639-3 sjt
Glottolog ters1235[2]
Ter Sami is number 9 on the map.

Ter Sami is the easternmost of the Sami languages. It was traditionally spoken in the northeastern part of the Kola Peninsula, but now it is a moribund language; in 2004, only ten speakers were left. By 2010, the number of speakers had decreased to two.[1]


In the end of the 19th century, there were six Ter Sami villages in the eastern part of the Kola Peninsula, with a total population of approximately 450. In 2004, there were approximately 100 ethnic Ter Sami of whom two elderly persons speak the language; the rest have shifted their language to Russian.[3]

The rapid decline in the number of speakers was caused by Soviet collectivisation, during which its use was prohibited in schools and homes[citation needed] in the 1930s, and the largest Ter Sami village, Jokanga, was declared "perspectiveless" and its inhabitants were forced to move to the Gremikha military base.[3]


There are no educational materials or facilities in Ter Sami, and the language has no standardized orthography. The language is incompletely studied and documented; text specimens, audio recordings as well as dictionaries for linguistic purposes exist,[4][5] but no grammatical description is available.

The earliest known documentation of Sami languages is a short Ter Sami vocabulary collected by the British explorer Stephen Burrough in 1557; the vocabulary was published by Richard Hakluyt.[6]


  1. ^ a b Sami Languages Disappearing Barents Observer
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Ter Sami". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ a b Tiuraniemi Olli: "Anatoli Zaharov on maapallon ainoa turjansaamea puhuva mies", Kide 6 / 2004.
  4. ^ Itkonen T. I.: "Koltan- ja kuolanlapin sanakirja", Helsinki: Société Finno-Ougrienne, 1958.
  5. ^ Itkonen T. I.: "Koltan- ja kuolanlappalaisia satuja", 1931.Memoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne 60
  6. ^ Aikio Samuli: "Olbmot ovdal min - Sámiid historjá 1700-logu rádjái". Girjegiisá: Kárášjohka, 1992.