Northern Sami

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Northern Sami
davvisámegiella
Native to Norway, Sweden, Finland
Native speakers
(ca. 25,000 cited 1992–2013)[1]
Uralic
Latin (Northern Sami alphabet)
Northern Sami Braille
Official status
Official language in
 Norway[2][3]
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1 se
ISO 639-2 sme
ISO 639-3 sme
Glottolog nort2671[5]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
A Russian foreign-language speaker of Northern Sami.

Northern or North Sami (davvisámegiella; disapproved exonym Lappish or Lapp), sometimes also simply referred to as Sami, is the most widely spoken of all Sami languages. The area where Northern Sami is spoken covers the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The number of Northern Sami speakers is estimated to be somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000. About 2,000 of these live in Finland[6] and between 5,000 and 6,000 in Sweden.[7]

History[edit]

A page from the 1638 edition of Svenske och Lappeske ABC Book with the Lord's Prayer in what is believed to be Northern Sami

Among the first printed Sami texts is Svenske och Lappeske ABC Book ("Swedish and Lappish ABC book"), written in Swedish and what is likely a form of Northern Sami. It was published in two editions in 1638 and 1640 and includes 30 pages of prayers and confessions of Protestant faith. It has been described as the first book "with a regular Sami language form".[8]

Northern Sami was first described by Knud Leem (En lappisk Grammatica efter den Dialect, som bruges af Field-Lapperne udi Porsanger-Fiorden) in 1748 and in dictionaries in 1752 and 1768. One of Leem's fellow grammaticians was Anders Porsanger, who studied at the Trondheim Cathedral School and other schools, but who was unable to publish his work on Sami due to racist attitudes at the time. The majority of his work has disappeared.

Assimilation[edit]

Area number 5 illustrates the approximate distribution of Northern Sami in northern Scandinavia.
Trilingual international border sign (Finnish, Swedish and Northern Sami) on the E8 road at the border between Norway and Finland, at Kilpisjärvi, Finland

The mass mobilization during the Alta controversy as well as a more tolerant political environment caused a change to the Norwegian policy of assimilation during the last decades of the twentieth century. In Norway, Northern Sami is currently an official language of two counties (Finnmark and Troms) and six municipalities (Kautokeino, Karasjok, Nesseby, Tana, Porsanger and Gáivuotna (Kåfjord)). Sami born before 1977 have never learned to write Sami according to the currently used orthography in school, so it is only in recent years that there have been Sami capable of writing their own language for various administrative positions.

Phonology[edit]

Consonants[edit]

The consonant inventory of Northern Sami is large, contrasting two or three degrees of length for almost all consonants. Some analyses of Northern Sami phonology may include preaspirated stops and affricates (/hp/, /ht/, /hts/, /htʃ/, /hk/) and pre-stopped or pre-glottalised nasals (voiceless /pm/, /tn/, /tɲ/, /kŋ/ and voiced /bːm/, /dːn/, /dːɲ/, /gːŋ/). However, these can be treated as clusters for the purpose of phonology, since they are clearly composed of two segments. The terms "preaspirated" and "pre-stopped" will be used in this article to describe these combinations for convenience.

Northern Sami consonants[9]
Labial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive /
Affricate
voiceless p t t͡s t͡ʃ ɟ k
voiced b d d͡z d͡ʒ ɡ
postaspirated
Fricative voiceless f θ s ʃ h
voiced v ð
Approximant central j
lateral l ʎ
Trill r

Notes:

  • Voiceless stops have voiced or partly voiced allophones when they occur adjacent to voiced sounds, and sometimes also word-initially. When lengthened, they are always voiceless.
  • Postaspirated consonants occur only in recent loanwords from the Scandinavian languages, and occurs only before a stressed syllable when not next to another consonant.
  • /v/ is realised as a labiodental fricative [v] in the syllable onset (before a vowel), and as bilabial [β] or [w] in the syllable coda (in a consonant cluster).[9] Although [v] is a fricative, it behaves phonologically like an approximant, in particular like /j/.

Consonant length and gradation[edit]

Consonants, including clusters, that occur after a stressed syllable can occur in multiple distinctive length types, or quantities. These are conventionally labelled quantity 1, 2 and 3 or Q1, Q2 and Q3 for short. The consonants of a word alternate in a process known as consonant gradation, where consonants appear in different quantities depending on the specific grammatical form. Normally, one of the possibilities is named the strong grade, while the other is named weak grade. The consonants of a weak grade can be quantity 1 or 2, while the consonants of a strong grade can be quantity 2 or 3.

  • Quantity 1 includes any single consonant. It originates from Proto-Samic single consonants in the weak grade.
  • Quantity 2 includes any combination of consonants (including two of the same) with a short first member. It originates from Proto-Samic single consonants in the strong grade, as well as combinations of two consonants in the weak grade.
  • Quantity 3 includes any combination of consonants (including two of the same) with a long first member. It originates from Proto-Samic combinations of two consonants in the strong grade.

Not all consonants can occur in every quantity type. The following limitations exist:

  • Single /h/ is restricted to quantity 1, and does not alternate.
  • Postaspirated consonants do not occur after a stressed syllable, and thus do not have any quantity distinctions.
  • Voiced stops and affricates only occur in quantity 3, whereas voiceless stops and affricates only occur in quantity 1 and 2. In quantity 1, voiced stops are allophones of the corresponding voiceless stops.
  • /ɟ/ and /ʎ/ occur in quantity 2 and 3, but not in quantity 1.

When a consonant can occur in all three quantities, quantity 3 is termed "overlong".

Consonant clusters (combinations of two or more different consonants), can only occur in quantity 2 or 3. In quantity 2, the second consonant of the cluster is lengthened if the first consonant is voiced. In quantity 3, if the first consonant is /ð/, /l/ or /r/, the additional length is realised phonetically as an epenthetic schwa, e.g.: muorji /ˈmŭŏ̯rːjiː/, phonetically [ˈmŭŏ̯rejiː], or silba /ˈsilːpɑ/, phonetically [ˈsilɑpɑ]. This does not occur if the second consonant is a dental/alveolar stop, e.g. gielda /ˈkĭĕ̯lːtɑ/, phonetically [ˈkĭĕ̯lːtɑ], or sálti /ˈsaːlːhtiː/, phonetically [ˈsaːlːl̥tiː].

Vowels[edit]

Northern Sami possesses the following monophthongs:

Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a ɑ

A seventh vowel, /ə/, exists as an epenthetic vowel to break up certain consonant clusters. It assimilates in quality to the surrounding vowels:

  • Between two rounded vowels (but not the diphthong /uo̯/) in the adjacent syllables, it becomes [o].
  • Before a front vowel in the next syllable, it becomes [e].
  • Otherwise, it becomes [ɑ].

Several diphthongs also exist, all of the opening type. They are only present in stressed syllables.

Front Back
Close to mid ie̯ uo̯
Mid to open ea̯ oɑ̯

Closing diphthongs such as ái also exist, but these are phonologically composed of a vowel plus one of the semivowels /v/ or /j/. The semivowels still behave as consonants in clusters.

Vowel length[edit]

Northern Sami possesses phonemic vowel length, which is not indicated in the orthography. Length is, however, often predictable. In stressed syllables, the vowels /i/, /u/, /o/ and /ɑ/ are normally short, while /a/ and the diphthongs are normally long. In syllables following the stressed one, /a/, /i/ and /u/ are normally long, except when followed by /j/. In a second unstressed syllable, no long vowels occur.

Throughout this article, macrons will be placed above vowels that are short by default, to indicate their length. Length of ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩ in the syllable after the stressed one is assumed, and not indicated, except in the combinations ⟨ii⟩ and ⟨ui⟩, which are assumed to have a short vowel unless a macron is added.

Certain processes act to lengthen or shorten vowels. Diphthong simplification produces a long /eː/, /iː/, /oː/, /uː/:

  • guolli /ˈɡuo̯lliː/ "fish" (nom. sg.) ~ gūliin /ˈɡuːlijn/ (com. sg.)
  • viessu /ˈvie̯ssuː/ "house" (nom. sg.) ~ vīssui /ˈviːssuj/ (ill. sg.)

Stressed short vowels other than /ɑ/ are lengthened before a weak grade, if the strong grade has a quantity 3 preaspirate or overlong consonant:

  • čohkka /ˈtʃohːkɑ/ "top" (nom. sg.) ~ čōhka /ˈtʃoːhkɑ/ (acc. sg.)
  • gol'li /ˈɡolːliː/ "gold" (nom. sg.) ~ gōlli /ˈɡoːlliː/ (acc. sg.)

All stressed short vowels, including /ɑ/, are lengthened in the weak grade, before a consonant cluster beginning with a sibilant.

  • aski /ˈɑsːkiː/ "lap" (nom. sg.) ~ āskki /ˈɑːskiː/ (acc. sg.)
  • šušmi /ˈʃuʃːmiː/ "heel" (nom. sg.) ~ šūšmmi /ˈʃuːʃmːiː/ (acc. sg.)

There are various rules that shorten long vowels, including those that were produced by the processes above. All long vowels and diphthongs are shortened before a quantity 3 preaspirate or overlong consonants (strong grade):

  • oahppa /ˈŏɑ̯̆hːpɑ/ "teaching" (nom. sg.) ~ oahpa /oɑ̯hpɑ/ (acc. sg.)
  • guos'si /ˈɡŭŏ̯sːsiː/ "guest" (nom. sg.) ~ guossi /ˈɡuo̯ssiː/ (acc. sg.)

Additionally, the high diphthongs /ie̯/ and /uo̯/ are shortened under various other circumstances. Firstly, before short pre-stopped nasals and quantity 2 or 3 stops and affricates, if the next syllable contains a long vowel.

  • fuotni /ˈfŭŏ̯tniː/ "bad" (nom. sg.) ~ fuoni /ˈfuo̯niː/ (acc. sg.)
  • gieddi /ˈɡĭĕ̯dːdiː/ "field" (nom. sg.) ~ gietti /ˈɡĭĕ̯ttiː/ (acc. sg.)

They are also shortened before quantity 3 voiced stops or affricates, if the next syllable contains /ɑ/.

  • biegga /ˈbĭĕ̯ɡːɡɑ/ "wind" (nom. sg.) ~ biekka /ˈbie̯kːɑ/ (acc. sg.)

With a consonant cluster beginning with the sibilants /s/ or /ʃ/, a preceding /ie̯/ and /uo̯/ as well as any long vowels produced by diphthong simplification are shortened:

  • luosku /ˈlŭŏ̯sːkuː/ "loose snow" (nom. sg.) ~ luoskku /ˈluo̯skuː/ (acc. sg.) ~ luskui /ˈlusːkuj/ (ill. sg.)
  • jieska /ˈjĭĕ̯sːkɑ/ "growth" (nom. sg.) ~ jieskka /ˈjie̯skɑ/ (ill. sg.) ~ jiskii /ˈjisːkij/ (ill. sg.)
  • meastu /ˈmea̯stuː/ "jam" (nom. sg.) ~ mestui /ˈˈmesːtuj/ (ill. sg.)

Prosody[edit]

Stress is generally not phonemic in Northern Sami; the first syllable of a word is normally stressed. Like most Sami languages, Northern Sami follows a pattern of alternating (trochaic) stress, in which each odd-numbered syllable is relatively stressed and even-numbered syllables are unstressed. The last syllable of a word is never stressed, unless the word has only one syllable.

Consequently, words can follow three possible patterns:

  • A single stressed syllable.
  • An even number of syllables: Ending in a stressed odd-numbered syllable followed by an unstressed even-numbered syllable.
  • An odd number of syllables: Ending in a stressed odd-numbered syllable followed by an unstressed even-numbered syllable, and an unstressed odd-numbered (final) syllable.

This gives the following pattern, which can be extended indefinitely in theory. S indicates stress, _ indicates no stress:

  • S
  • S _
  • S _ _
  • S _ S _
  • S _ S _ _
  • S _ S _ S _
  • etc.

The number of syllables, and the resulting stress pattern, is important for grammatical reasons. Words with stems having an even number of syllables inflect differently from words with stems having an odd number of syllables. This is detailed further in the grammar section.

Some recent loanwords such as kultuvra "culture" or advearba "adverb" have a stressed second syllable instead. The stress pattern is the same as for words with initial stress, except shifted by one syllable.

In compound words, which consist of several distinct word roots, each word retains its own stress pattern. If the first element of a compound has an odd number of syllables, then there will be a sequence of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one, which does not occur in non-compound words. Hence, stress is lexically significant in that it can theoretically distinguish compounds from non-compounds.

Conjunctions, postpositions, particles, and monosyllabic pronouns tend to be unstressed altogether, and therefore fall outside the above rules.

Dialects[edit]

Sammallahti[10] divides Northern Sami dialects as follows:

The written language is primarily based on the western Finnmark dialects, with some elements from the eastern Finnmark dialects.

Western Finnmark dialects[edit]

Features of the western Finnmark dialects are:

  • Merging of the velar nasals into the palatal nasals, except before a (plain or preaspirated) homorganic stop.
  • Lengthening of short /ɑ/ when the preceding syllable contains a short vowel and a quantity 1 or 2 consonant.
  • Kautokeino: Merging of /ɟ/ into /tʃ/.
  • Kautokeino: Assibilation of /θ/ into /s/.

Eastern Finnmark dialects[edit]

The eastern Finnmark dialects have the following characteristics:

  • Lengthening of stressed vowels before quantity 1 and 2 consonants.
  • Shortening of the first element of quantity 3 consonants, merging them with quantity 2 consonants unless the second element of the corresponding Q2 consonant is long. Combined with the previous change, this causes Q3-Q2 gradation in Eastern Finnmark to become primarily about vowel length rather than consonant length.
  • Fronting of /a/ to /æ/ in unstressed syllables.
  • Umlaut: fronting of vowels before a following front vowel in the second syllable (including /æ/ produced by the previous change).
    • /a/ is fronted to /æ/.
    • /ea̯/ is fronted to /eæ̯/.
    • /oɑ̯/ is fronted to /oæ̯/.
    • /uo̯/ is fronted to /ue̯/.
  • Between vowels, lenition of /b/ to /v/, and of /ɡ/ to /ɣ/, which in modern speech becomes /j/ between a stressed vowel and a front vowel, and zero otherwise.
  • Raising of the non-close diphthongs /ea̯/ and /oɑ̯/.
    • Along the lower Tana river, these merge entirely with standard /ie̯/ and /uo̯/, resulting in /iɑ̯/ and /uɑ̯/ (when not fronted) or /iæ̯/ and /uæ̯/ (when fronted).
    • Along the upper Tana, the non-close diphthongs are only raised before single and (original) geminate consonants, and they may or may not merge with original /ie̯/ and /uo̯/.
    • In dialects south of Tana bru, only fronted /eæ̯/ and /oæ̯/ are raised to /iæ̯/ and /uæ̯/.

Torne dialects[edit]

  • Jukkasjärvi, Karesuando, Finnish Wedge: Loss of distinction between postalveolar and plain alveolar consonants, with the result being alveolar in Karesuando and postalveolar in the Finnish Wedge.
  • Use of -n instead of -s in the locative singular.
  • Use of -o instead of -u in the third-person singular present tense.
  • Jukkasjärvi and Kaitum: Use of -is instead of -in in the locative plural.
  • Karesuando: Long /eː/ and /oː/ from diphthong simplification are re-diphthongised to /ie̯/ and /uo̯/.
  • Jukkasjärvi and Karesuando: Raising of short /ɑ/ to /e/ before /j/ and /v/.
  • Jukkasjärvi and Karesuando: /ie̯/ and /uo̯/ instead of standard long /iː/ and /uː/ in post-stressed syllables.
  • All except Finnish Wedge: /ɡd/ and /ɡdʒ/ instead of standard /vd/ and /vdʒ/ from the Proto-Samic clusters mt and .

Sea Sami dialects[edit]

  • Lack of fortition in strong-grade nasals and glides, thus /mː/, /nː/, /ɲː/, /ŋː/ rather than /ʔm/, /ʔn/, /ʔɲ/ and /ʔŋ/.
  • Use of -st instead of -s in the locative singular.
  • Eastern Sea Sami: Loss of distinction between postalveolar and plain alveolar consonants.

Orthography[edit]

Northern Sami has a long orthographic history, which has had no fewer than 9 Latin alphabets.

History[edit]

The roots of the current orthography for Northern Sami were laid by Rasmus Rask who, after discussions with Nils Vibe Stockfleth, published Ræsonneret lappisk sproglære efter den sprogart, som bruges af fjældlapperne i Porsangerfjorden i Finmarken. En omarbejdelse af Prof. Knud Leems Lappiske grammatica in 1832. Rask opted for a phonemic orthographic system. All of the orthographies that have been used for Northern Sami trace their roots back to Rask's system, unlike the orthographies used for Lule and Southern Sami, which are mainly based on the orthographical conventions of Swedish and Norwegian. Following in the tradition of Rask meant that diacritics were used with some consonants (č, đ, ŋ, š, ŧ and ž), which caused data-processing problems before Unicode was introduced. Both Stockfleth and J. A. Friis went on to publish grammar books and dictionaries for Sami. It can be said that Northern Sami was better described than Norwegian was before Ivar Aasen published his grammar on Norwegian.

Northern Sami was and is used in three countries, each of which used its own orthography for years. Friis' orthography was used when work on translating the Bible into Northern Sami commenced, in the first Sami newspaper called Saǥai Muittalægje, and in the Finnemisjonen's own newspaper Nuorttanaste. The groundwork for Northern Sami lexicography was laid by Konrad Nielsen who used an orthography of his own creation in his dictionary Lappisk ordbok. Starting in 1948, the orthographies used in Norway and Sweden were combined into a single Bergsland-Ruong orthography. It was not greatly used in Norway. In 1979, an official orthography for Northern Sami was adopted for use in Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Thus, until the official orthography currently in use was adopted in 1979, each country had its own, slightly different standard, so it is quite possible to come across older books that are difficult to understand for people unacquainted with the orthography:

  1. Maanat leät poahtan skuvllai.
  2. Mánát leat boahtán skuvlii.

(The children have come to school.)

The first sentence is from Antti Outakoski's Samekiela kiellaoahpa from 1950; the second one is how it would be written according to the current orthography.

Alphabet[edit]

The most recent alphabet was approved in 1979 and last modified in 1985:

Letter Name Phoneme(s) English approximation
A a a /ɑ/ spa
Á á á /a/, /aː/ chai
B b be /b/ bat
C c ce /ts/ lets
Č č če /tʃ/ chew
D d de /d/ do
Đ đ đe /ð/ this
E e e /e/, /eː/ sleigh
F f áf /f/ fun
G g ge /ɡ/ go
H h ho /h/ help
I i i /i/, /iː/,
/j/ (after a vowel)
me
J j je /j/ yes
K k ko /k/, /kʰ/ cat
L l ál /l/ lip
M m ám /m/ myth
N n án /n/ no
Ŋ ŋ áŋ /ŋ/ sing
O o o /o/, /oː/ go
P p pe /p/, /pʰ/ park
R r ár /r/ (trilled) rat
S s ás /s/ sip
Š š áš /ʃ/ shed
T t te /t/, /tʰ/, /h(t)/ told
Ŧ ŧ ŧe /θ/ thick
U u u /u/, /uː/ do
V v ve /v/ vex
Z z ez /dz/ rods
Ž ž /dʒ/ hedge

Notes:

  • Vowel length is not indicated. Reference works and grammars may indicate long vowels by doubling them, or by placing a macron over the letter, e.g. ⟨ē⟩, ⟨ī⟩, ⟨ō⟩.
  • The phoneme /j/ is written as j when a vowel follows, as i otherwise.
  • The letters k, p and t include postaspiration when they are located at the beginning of a stressed syllable, and are plain otherwise. When preceded by another consonant, they have different pronunciations, which are detailed below.
  • The letter t at the end of a word indicates /ht/ or simply /h/.

When typing, if there is no way of entering the letters particular to Northern Sami (Áá Čč Đđ Ŋŋ Šš Ŧŧ Žž) correctly, an acute accent is sometimes placed over the corresponding Latin letter as a substitute.[11] These substitutions are still found in books printed after the common orthography was adopted due to system limitations when typing.

Multigraphs[edit]

Northern Sami orthography includes many combinations of multiple letters. The diphthongs, as may be expected, are written using a combination of two letters. Again, length is not indicated.

Letters Phoneme
ea /eæ̯/, /ĕæ̯̆/
ie /ie̯/, /ĭĕ̯/
oa /oɑ̯/, /ŏɑ̯̆/
uo /uo̯/, /ŭŏ̯/

Doubling of a letter indicates a long consonant. Overlong consonants are not distinguished from regular long consonants, both are written with a doubled consonant letter. In reference works, overlong consonants are commonly denoted with an apostrophe between the two consonant letters (⟨f'f⟩, ⟨m'm⟩, ⟨s's⟩ etc.).

The combinations ⟨dj⟩, ⟨lj⟩ and ⟨nj⟩ indicate /ɟː/, /ʎː/ and /ɲ/ respectively. The first letter is doubled to indicate longer versions, and an apostrophe is then used for overlong /ɲːː/.

Letters Phoneme Letters Phoneme Letters Phoneme
dj /ɟː/ ddj /ɟːː/
lj /ʎː/ llj /ʎːː/
nj /ɲ/ nnj /ɲː/ n'nj /ɲːː/

Preaspiration is indicated with a preceding ⟨h⟩. Long preaspiration is indicated by doubling the second letter.

Letters Phoneme Letters Phoneme
hc /hts/ hcc /hːts/
/htʃ/ hčč /hːtʃ/
hk /hk/ hkk /hːk/
hp /hp/ hpp /hːp/
ht /ht/ htt /hːt/

Glottalisation of nasal consonants is indicated by a preceding letter for a voiceless stop. Long glottalised (interrupted) nasals are written with a voiced stop in place of the voiceless one.

Letters Phoneme Letters Phoneme
pm /ʔm/ bm /mʔm/
tn /ʔn/ dn /nʔn/
tnj /ʔɲ/ dnj /ɲʔɲ/
/ʔŋ/ /ŋʔŋ/

Other combinations of consonants also exist, indicating consonant clusters. In general, these are written simply with the letters for the individual phonemes in sequence. The last consonant in a sequence may be doubled. This often, but not always, indicates a lengthening of the corresponding consonant. If the last consonant is not doubled, there may be an unwritten epenthetic vowel in between the two consonants, depending on which consonants are present.

In the case of ⟨lj⟩, there are two possible interpretations: as a single long consonant /ʎː/, or as a consonant cluster with an epenthetic vowel /ləj/ (e.g. olju), although the latter is rare. By contrast, both the sequences ⟨llj⟩ and ⟨ljj⟩ represent overlong /ʎːː/. These two cases are distinguished by their behaviour in consonant gradation. In the first case, ⟨llj⟩ appears in the strong grade while ⟨lj⟩ appears in the weak grade, and these simply represent overlong /ʎːː/ and long /ʎː/ respectively. In the second case, ⟨lj⟩ appears in the strong grade while ⟨ljj⟩ appears in the weak grade, representing /ləj/ and /ʎːː/ respectively. Thus, the pronunciation of ⟨lj⟩ and the spelling of /ʎːː/ are decided by whether they appear in a strong or weak grade form.

The letters for stops and affricates are pronounced differently when in a consonant cluster compared to when they occur alone. These changed pronunciations apply only when another stop does not precede; clusters of two stops are spelled and pronounced normally.

Letters Phoneme Letters Phoneme Letters Phoneme
(consonant +) zz /tsː/ (consonant +) c /hts/ (consonant +) cc /hːts/
(consonant +) žž /tʃː/ (consonant +) č /htʃ/ (consonant +) čč /hːtʃ/
(consonant +) gg /kː/ (consonant +) k /hk/ (consonant +) kk /hːk/
(consonant +) bb /pː/ (consonant +) p /hp/ (consonant +) pp /hːp/
(consonant +) dd /tː/ (consonant +) t /ht/ (consonant +) tt /hːt/

Grammar[edit]

Northern Sami is an agglutinative, highly inflected language that shares many grammatical features with the other Uralic languages. Sami has also developed considerably into the direction of fusional and inflected morphology, much like Estonian to which it is distantly related. Therefore, morphemes are marked not only by suffixes but also by morphophonological modifications to the root. Of the various morphophonological alterations, the most important and complex is the system of consonant gradation.

Consonant gradation[edit]

Consonant gradation is a pattern of alternations between pairs of consonants that appears in the inflection of words. The system of consonant gradation in Northern Sami is complex, especially compared to that found in the Finnic languages. A word stem can appear in two grades: the strong grade and the weak grade. Historically, the weak grade appeared when the syllable in which the consonant appeared was closed (ended in another consonant), but the loss of certain vowels or consonants have obscured this in Northern Sami and it is now a more-or-less opaque process.

Consonants show a three-level gradation pattern, with higher level being "stronger" in some sense. A given word can alternate either between level 3 in the strong grade and level 2 in the weak grade, or between level 2 in the strong grade and level 1 in the weak grade. The level of a consonant depends on how it interacts with the preceding vowel: a vowel is always shortened when a level 3 consonant follows. Thus, all consonant clusters (combinations of different consonants) have level 3/2 gradation, only non-clusters can be level 1.

Non-clusters[edit]

The full three-level patterns apply to short, long and overlong consonants of any type, except for long voiced/voiceless occlusives.

Level 2 → level 1 alternations:

  • Short preaspirated occlusives in the strong grade become short voiced in the weak grade. Note however that ⟨ht⟩ gradates to the fricative ⟨đ⟩ rather than the plosive ⟨d⟩.
  • Short glottalized nasals in the strong grade become short plain nasals in the weak grade.
  • Long non-occlusive non-glottalized consonants in the strong grade become short in the weak grade.

Level 3 → level 2 alternations:

  • Long preaspirated occlusives in the strong grade become short preaspirated in the weak grade.
  • Long glottalized nasals in the strong grade become short glottalized nasals in the weak grade.
  • Overlong non-occlusive non-glottalized consonants in the strong grade become long in the weak grade.

Note that short ⟨lj⟩ does not occur, and the consonant only has level 3/2 gradation.

Level 3 Level 2 Level 1
Long
preasp.
Short
preasp.
Short
voiced
hpp hp b
htt ht đ
hcc hc z
hčč ž
hkk hk g
Long
glott.
Short
glott.
Short
plain
bm pm m
dn tn n
dnj tnj nj
ŋ
Overl. Long Short
m'm mm m
n'n nn n
n'nj nnj nj
ŋ'ŋ ŋŋ ŋ
f'f ff f
đ'đ đđ đ
s's ss s
š'š šš š
ŧ'ŧ ŧŧ ŧ
l'l ll l
r'r rr r
v'v vv v
llj lj

Long voiced/voiceless occlusives[edit]

Long voiced occlusives alternate with long voiceless occlusives. These behave as clusters, and are therefore level 3/2 in terms of weight.

Level 3 Level 2
Long
voiced
Long
voiceless
bb pp
dd tt
zz cc
žž čč
gg kk

An exception here is ⟨dj⟩, which has three levels.

Level 3 Level 2 Level 1
ddj dj j

Clusters ending with glottalized nasal[edit]

Clusters ending with glottalized nasals can behave in two ways. If the first member of the cluster is ⟨r⟩, then the nasal changes from long glottalized to short glottalized. In other cases, the nasal changes to long plain.

Level 3 Level 2
Long
glott.
Short
glott.
rbm rpm
rdn rtn
rdnj rtnj
rgŋ rkŋ
Long
glott.
Long
plain
*bm *mm
*dn *nn
*dnj *nnj
*gŋ *ŋŋ

Other clusters[edit]

All other clusters have doubling of the final consonant of the cluster in the weak grade. In clusters beginning with ⟨k⟩, the ⟨k⟩ itself also changes to ⟨v⟩.

Level 3 Level 2
Consonants
+ short
Consonants
+ long
*b *bb
*c *cc
*čč
*d *dd
*f *ff
*g *gg
*hl *hll
*hm *hmm
*hn *hnn
*j *jj
*k *kk
*l *ll
*p *pp
*r *rr
*s *ss
*šš
*t *tt
*v *vv
*z *zz
*žž
⟨k⟩ + short ⟨v⟩ + long
kt vtt
kc vcc
včč
ks vss
kst vstt
všš

Diphthong simplification[edit]

Diphthong simplification is a process whereby a diphthong loses its second component and becomes a long monophthong:

  • ieī: viehkat "to run" → vīhken "I ran"
  • eaē: eadni "mother" → ētniid "of the mothers"
  • oaō: goarrut "to sew" → gōrro! "sew!"
  • uoū: guoika "waterfall" → gūikii "into the waterfall"

Historically, diphthong simplification was caused by a short i or u in the following syllable, the same conditioning that still exists in neighbouring Lule Sami. In Northern Sami, these vowels have now become short e and o, except when followed by i (that is, /j/), so simplification can occur when the next syllable contains e or o, or the sequences ii or ui.

The process is complicated by two factors. Firstly, vowel length is not indicated in the spelling, so it's not possible to tell whether the first vowel in ui is short or long. It is short in the illative singular and thus causes simplification (viessu "house" → vīssui "into the house"), but it is long in the plural forms and does not cause any simplification (viessūide "into the houses"). A second complicating factor is that under some circumstances, original long i and u in unstressed syllables have shortened to e and o. These shortened vowels do not cause simplification, but are indistinguishable from the older originally short vowels that do trigger it. These cases must simply be memorised.

Changes to word-final consonants[edit]

Only a limited number of consonants are allowed at the end of a word. Therefore, consonants will be modified when they come to stand word-finally. The following table shows these changes:

Original Final
b, hp t
d, ht t
g, hk t
c, z s
č, ž š
h t
j i
m n

When a consonant cluster appears word-finally, all consonants except the first are removed.

Inflection types[edit]

All inflected words, whether nouns, adjectives or verbs, can be divided into three main inflectional classes. The division is based on whether there is an even or odd number of syllables from the last stressed syllable to the end of the word.

  • Words with even inflection (bárrastávvalsánit, also called "vowel stems") have an even number of syllables from the last stressed syllable of the stem; usually two, but sometimes also four.
  • Words with odd inflection (bárahisstávvalsánit, also called "consonant stems") have an odd number of syllables from the last stressed syllable of the stem; usually three, but very rarely one or five.
  • Words with contracted inflection (?) have an even number of syllables from the last stressed syllable of the stem, but have the consonant gradation pattern of odd-inflection words. If the gradation has three levels, the strong grade is always level 3.

For nouns and adjectives, the stem is taken from the accusative/genitive singular rather than the nominative, as the latter often drops the final vowel and sometimes also the preceding consonant. For verbs, the infinitive is used to determine the stem, by removing the infinitive ending -t.

Words with even and contracted inflection can be divided further, based on the final vowel of the stem. For even-inflected words, this vowel is most commonly a, i or u, while for contracted words it is mostly á, e or o. Words with odd inflection are not differentiated by stem-final vowel.

Nouns[edit]

Nouns inflect in singular (ovttaidlohku) and plural (máŋggaidlohku), and also in 7 cases. The following table shows the general endings; the actual forms can differ based on consonant gradation and the inflection type of the word.

Case Singular
ending
Plural
ending
Meaning/use
Nominative (nominatiiva) -∅ -t Subject
Accusative (akkusatiiva) -∅ -id Object
Genitive (genitiiva) -∅ -id Possession, relation
Illative (illatiiva) -i -ide, -idda Motion towards/onto/into
Locative (lokatiiva) -s -in Being at/on/in, motion from/off/out of
Comitative (komitatiiva) -in -iguin With, in company of, by means of
Essive (essiiva) -n, -in As, in the role of, under condition of (when)

The accusative and genitive are always identical. There is no singular/plural distinction in the essive, so that for example mánnán is interpreted as either "as a child" or "as children".

Nouns with even inflection[edit]

Nouns with even inflection have consonant gradation of the last consonant in the stem. The strong grade appears in the nominative, illative and essive singular, while the weak grade appears in the remaining forms.

The most common of this type are the nouns with a stem ending in -a, -i or slightly rarer -u.

giehta "hand"
Stem in -a
oaivi "head"
Stem in -i
ruoktu "home"
Stem in -u
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative giehta gieđat oaivi oaivvit ruoktu ruovttut
Accusative gieđa gieđaid oaivvi ōivviid ruovttu ruovttūid
Genitive gieđa gieđaid oaivvi, oaivve ōivviid ruovttu, ruovtto ruovttūid
Illative gīhtii gieđaide oaivái ōivviide rūktui ruovttūide
Locative gieđas gieđain oaivvis ōivviin ruovttus ruovttūin
Comitative gieđain gieđaiguin ōivviin ōivviiguin ruovttūin ruovttūiguin
Essive giehtan oaivin ruoktun

Even-syllable nouns with a stem ending in , -e or -o also exist, but are much rarer.

guoddá "pillow"
Stem in
baste "spoon"
Stem in -e
gáivo "well"
Stem in -o
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative guoddá guottát baste basttet gáivo gáivvot
Accusative guottá guottáid bastte basttiid gáivvo gáivvuid
Genitive guottá guottáid bastte basttiid gáivvo gáivvuid
Illative guoddái guottáide bastii basttiide gáivui gáivvuide
Locative guottás guottáin basttes basttiin gáivvos gáivvuin
Comitative guottáin guottáiguin basttiin basttiiguin gáivvuin gáivvuiguin
Essive guoddán basten gaivon

Even-syllable nouns with four or more syllables sometimes drop the final vowel in the nominative singular. Consequently, simplification of the final consonant occurs. The stem of these nouns always ends in -a.

sápmelaš "Sami person"
Case Singular Plural
Nominative sápmelaš sápmelaččat
Accusative sápmelačča sápmelaččaid
Genitive sápmelačča sápmelaččaid
Illative sápmelažžii sápmelaččaide
Locative sápmelaččas sápmelaččain
Comitative sápmelaččain sápmelaččaiguin
Essive sápmelažžan

Nouns with odd inflection[edit]

Nouns with odd inflection have consonant gradation. The weak grade appears in the nominative and essive singular, while the strong grade appears in the remaining forms. Some nouns also have other alternations in the stem of the strong grade, such as changes of i to á, u to o, or addition of a consonant.

ganjal "tear (eye)" lávlla "song"
Extra consonant
mielddus "copy"
Vowel change
+ monophtongization
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative ganjal gatnjalat lávlla lávlagat mielddus mildosat
Accusative gatnjala gatnjaliid lávlaga lávlagiid mildosa mīldosiid
Genitive gatnjala gatnjaliid lávlaga lávlagiid mildosa mīldosiid
Illative gatnjalii gatnjaliidda lávlagii lávlagiidda mildosii mīldosiidda
Locative gatnjalis gatnjaliin lávlagis lávlagiin mildosis mīldosiin
Comitative gatnjaliin gatnjaliiguin lávlagiin lávlagiiguin mildosiin mīldosiiguin
Essive ganjalin lávllan mielddusin

Nouns with contracted inflection[edit]

Nouns with contracted inflection have consonant gradation. The pattern follows that of odd-inflection nouns, with the weak grade in the nominative and essive singular, and the strong grade in the remainder. If the weak grade is level 1, the strong grade will be level 3. The final syllable is generally altered along with the gradation as well.

čeavrris "otter"
Stem in -á-
boazu "reindeer"
Stem in -o-
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative čeavrris čeavrát boazu bōhccot
Accusative čeavrá čeavráid bōhcco bōhccuid
Genitive čeavrá čeavráid bōhcco bōhccuid
Illative čeavrái čeavráide bōhccui bōhccuide
Locative čeavrás čeavráin bōhccos bōhccuin
Comitative čeavráin čeavráiguin bōhccuin bōhccuiguin
Essive čeavrrisin boazun

Possessive suffixes[edit]

The possessive suffixes are similar in meaning to the English personal possessive determiners my, your, their and so on. There are 9 possessive suffixes: one for each person in singular, dual and plural. Possessive suffixes attach to the end of a noun, after the case ending. Thus, for example, ruovttus "in a house" may become ruovttustan "in my house".

Like noun case endings, the suffixes have different forms depending on whether they are attached to a stem with an even or odd number of syllables, and (in the case of even-syllable stems) depending on the last vowel of the stem. The following table shows the suffixes:

1st sg. 2nd sg. 3rd sg. 1st du. 2nd du. 3rd du. 1st pl. 2nd pl. 3rd pl.
Even in -a -an -at -as -ame -ade -aska -amet -adet -aset
Even in -án -át -ás -áme -áde -áska -ámet -ádet -áset
Even in -e -en -et -es -eme -ede -eska -emet -edet -eset
Even in -i -án -át -is -áme -áde -iska -ámet -ádet -iset
Even in -o -on -ot -os -ome -ode -oska -omet -odet -oset
Even in -u -on -ot -us -ome -ode -uska -omet -odet -uset
Odd -an -at -is -eame -eatte -easkka -eamet -eattet -easet

The suffixes attach to a combination of noun plus case ending, so the stem that the suffix is attached to may not be the stem of the noun. Rather, a new "possessive stem" is formed from the noun with its case ending included. This stem is not always identical to the ending of the noun on its own; some case endings undergo modifications or the addition of a final vowel. Thus, certain cases may have possessive stems that inherently end in -a, other cases may have -i, but this is only significant if the combination has an even number of syllables.

The following table shows the possessive stems for each case, for four of the nouns whose inflection was given above. If the stem ends in a vowel, it is even and the suffixes with the matching vowel are used. If the stem ends in a consonant, it is odd and the odd endings are used.

giehta "hand"
Even in -a
oaivi "head"
Even in -i
ruoktu "home"
Even in -u
lávlla "song"
Odd
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative giehta-  ? oaivi-  ? ruoktu-  ? lávlag-  ?
Accusative giehta-, gieđa- gieđaid- oaivi- ōivviid- ruoktu- ruovttūid- lávlag- lávlagiiddi-
Genitive giehta-, gieđa- gieđaid- oaivi- ōivviid- ruoktu- ruovttūid- lávlag- lávlagiiddi-
Illative giehtas- gieđaidasa- oaivás- ōivviidasa- rūktos- ruovttūidasa- lávlagasa- lávlagiiddás-
Locative gieđast- gieđain- oaivvist- ōivviin- ruovttust- ruovttūin- lávlagistti- lávlagiinni-
Comitative gieđain- gieđaid- -guin ōivviin- ōivviid- -guin ruovttūin- ruovttuid- -guin lávlagiinni- lávlagiiddi- -guin
Essive giehtan- oaivin- ruoktun- lávllan-

In the comitative plural, the possessive suffix attaches between the possessive stem and the final -guin.

As can be seen in the table, for the nominative, accusative and genitive singular cases, the possessive stem is identical to the noun stem. The stem also undergoes consonant gradation in the accusative and genitive singular forms, and endings beginning with e or o also trigger diphthong simplification. The noun is in the strong grade with the first-person possessive suffixes, and in the weak grade with the second- and third-person possessives.

The possessive forms of ruoktu are:

Case/number 1st sg. 2nd sg. 3rd sg. 1st du. 2nd du. 3rd du. 1st pl. 2nd pl. 3rd pl.
Nominative singular rūkton rūktot ruoktus rūktome rūktode ruoktuska rūktomet rūktodet ruoktuset
Accusative/genitive singular rūkton rūvttot ruovttus rūktome rūvttode ruovttuska rūktomet rūvttodet ruovttuset
Illative singular rūktosan rūktosat rūktosis rūktoseame rūktoseatte rūktoseaskka rūktoseamet rūktoseattet rūktoseaset
Locative singular ruovttustan ruovttustat ruovttustis ruovttusteame ruovttusteatte ruovttusteaskka ruovttusteamet ruovttusteattet ruovttusteaset
Comitative singular ruovttūinan ruovttūinat ruovttūinis ruovttūineame ruovttūineatte ruovttūineaskka ruovttūineamet ruovttūineattet ruovttūineaset
Accusative/genitive plural ruovttūidan ruovttūidat ruovttūidis ruovttūideame ruovttūideatte ruovttūideaskka ruovttūideamet ruovttūideattet ruovttūideaset
Illative plural ruovttūidasan ruovttūidasat ruovttūidasas ruovttūidasame ruovttūidasade ruovttūidasaska ruovttūidasamet ruovttūidasadet ruovttūidasaset
Locative plural ruovttūinan ruovttūinat ruovttūinis ruovttūineame ruovttūineatte ruovttūineaskka ruovttūineamet ruovttūineattet ruovttūineaset
Comitative plural ruovttūidanguin ruovttūidatguin ruovttūidisguin ruovttūideameguin ruovttūideatteguin ruovttūideaskkaguin ruovttūideametguin ruovttūideattetguin ruovttūideasetguin
Essive ruoktunan ruoktunat ruoktunis ruoktuneame ruoktuneatte ruoktuneaskka ruoktuneamet ruoktuneattet ruoktuneaset

Adjectives[edit]

Adjectives inflect the same as nouns do, and have the same cases and inflection types.

Attributive form[edit]

Adjectives also have an additional form, the attributive form (attribuhttahápmi). This form is used when the adjective is used attributively, where it precedes the noun. The attributive does not receive any endings, so it does not have cases or number. Its formation is also unpredictable: for some adjectives, it's formed from the nominative singular by adding an extra ending of some kind to the stem, while for others the attributive is formed by removing part of the stem. It may also be identical to the nominative singular. Some examples:

Nom. singular Stem Attributive Meaning
boaris boarás- (odd) boares old
čáppat čábbá- (contracted) čáppa beautiful
čielggas čielggas- (odd) čielga clear, transparent
čieŋal čieŋal- (odd) čiekŋalis deep
duohta duohta- (even) duohta true
duolvvas duolvas- (odd) duolva dirty
gievra gievra- (even) gievrras strong
guhkki guhkki- (even) guhkes long
mohkkái mohkká- (contracted) mohkkás complicated
ruoksat ruoksad- (odd) rūkses red
šealgat šealgad- (odd) šealges shiny
uhcci uhcci- (even) uhca small

Not all adjectives have an attributive form. For example, the frequently-used adjective buorre "good" has only case forms. When there is no attributive form, this doesn't mean it can't be used attributively. Instead, the case and number of the adjective matches that of the noun it is an attribute of (as in for example Finnish).

Comparison[edit]

buoret "better"
Odd inflection in -u
buoremus "best"
Even inflection in -a
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative buoret buorebut buoremus buoremusat
Accusative buorebu buorebuid buoremusa buoremusaid
Genitive buorebu buorebuid buoremusa buoremusaid
Illative buorebui buorebuidda buoremussii buoremusaide
Locative buorebus buorebuin buoremusas buoremusain
Comitative buorebuin buorebuiguin buoremusain buoremusaiguin
Essive buorebun buoremussan
boaráset "older"
Even inflection in -o
boaráseamos "oldest"
Odd inflection
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative boaráset boaráseappot boaráseamos boarásēpmosat
Accusative boaráseappo boaráseappūid boarásēpmosa boarásēpmosiid
Genitive boaráseappo boaráseappūid boarásēpmosa boarásēpmosiid
Illative boarásēbbui boaráseappūide boarásēpmosii boarásēpmosiidda
Locative boaráseappos boaráseappūin boarásēpmosis boarásēpmosiin
Comitative boaráseappūin boaráseappūiguin boarásēpmosiin boarásēpmosiiguin
Essive boaráseabbon boaráseamosin

Pronouns and determiners[edit]

Personal pronouns[edit]

The personal pronouns inflect irregularly, and also have a third number, the dual (guvttiidlohku). The dual is used to refer to exactly two people. The following table shows the forms.

Case mun, mon "I" don "you (sg.)" son "he, she"
Nominative mun, mon don son
Accusative mu du su
Genitive mu du su
Illative munnje dutnje sutnje
Locative mus dus sus
Comitative muinna duinna suinna
Essive munin dunin sunin
Case moai "we two" doai "you two" soai "they two"
Nominative moai doai soai
Accusative mun'no dudno sudno
Genitive mun'no dudno sudno
Illative mun'nuide dudnuide sudnuide
Locative mun'nos dudnos sudnos
Comitative mun'nuin dudnuin sudnuin
Essive mun'non dudnon sudnon
Case mii "we (all)" dii "you (all)" sii "they (all)"
Nominative mii dii sii
Accusative min din sin
Genitive min din sin
Illative midjiide didjiide sidjiide
Locative mis dis sis
Comitative minguin dinguin singuin
Essive minin dinin sinin

Demonstratives[edit]

The five demonstrative determiners/pronouns inflect somewhat irregularly as well. The nominative singular and nominative plural are identical, and some other cases have endings not found in nouns.

dat "it, the (aforementioned)" dát "this (near speaker)" diet "that (near listener)" duot "that (not near either)" dot "that, yonder (very far)"
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative dat dat t t diet diet duot duot dot dot
Accusative dan daid n id dien dieid duon duoid don doid
Genitive dan daid n id dien dieid duon duoid don doid
Illative dasa daidda sa idda diesa dieidda duosa duoidda dosa doidda
Locative das dain s in dies diein duos duoin dos doin
Comitative dainna daiguin inna iguin dieinna dieiguin duoinna duoiguin doinna doiguin
Essive danin nin dienin duonin donin

When these words modify a noun rather than standing alone, the demonstrative is in the same case as the noun, with the following exceptions:

  • A noun in the illative or locative singular is preceded by a demonstrative in the accusative/genitive singular form.
  • A noun in the comitative plural is preceded by a demonstrative in either the comitative or the accusative/genitive plural form.

Interrogatives[edit]

The interrogative/relative pronouns/determiners gii "who" and mii "what" are likewise irregular.

gii "who" mii "what, which"
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative gii geat mii mat
Accusative gean geaid man, máid maid
Genitive gean geaid man maid
Illative geasa geaidda masa maidda
Locative geas geain mas main
Comitative geainna geaiguin mainna maiguin
Essive geanin manin

In the accusative singular of mii, there are two possible forms. The "regular" form man is used when there is an implication of a choice from a limited number of options. The form máid has no such implication.

These two pronouns, as well as other interrogatives (which inflect regularly) can act as determiners and modify nouns. The rules for which case to use are the same as for the demonstrative. The form máid is followed by a noun in the accusative plural form.

Reflexive pronoun[edit]

The reflexive pronoun is ieš (dual and plural ieža), meaning myself, yourself, himself, herself and so on. In its base form, the pronoun occurs only in the nominative case and is never used on its own; it always occurs next to the subject of the sentence, where it acts as an adverb to strengthen it. Compare for example sentences such as I myself have never seen it..

The other cases can occur by themselves, but only in the singular, and are always used in combination with a possessive suffix that matches the subject of the sentence (i.e. always I see myself, never I see himself). These forms are irregular as well as suppletive: the illative and locative forms derive from completely different roots. There are also several alternative stems.

Case Possessive stem Notes
Accusative ieža- (iehča-) The stem iehča- is only used with first-person possessives.
Genitive ieža- (iehča-)
Illative alcces-, alcce-, allas- (alcca-) The stem alcca- is only used with first- and second-person possessives.
Locative alddi-, alddest- (alddiin-, alddán-) The stems alddiin- and alddán- are only used with dual and plural possessives.
Comitative iežain-
Essive iehčan-

Verbs[edit]

Verbal categories[edit]

The conjugation of Northern Sami verbs resembles that of Finnish. There are three grammatical persons (persovnnat), and three grammatical numbers (logut), singular, dual and plural. There are four or five grammatical moods (vuogit):

  • indicative (indikatiiva or duohtavuohki), indicating real events or statements of fact.
  • imperative (imperatiiva or gohččunvuohki), indicating commands.
  • optative (optatiiva or ávžžuhusvuohki), indicating wishes, things that the speaker would like to see done or realised. The optative is not usually considered a distinct mood, but is generally combined with the imperative.
  • conditional (konditionála or eaktovuohki), indicating conditional or hypothetical statements, like the English subjunctive and the verb "would".
  • potential (potientiála or veadjinvuohki), indicating ability or possibility.

Tense is also distinguished, but only in the indicative. There are two tenses (tempusat):

Finally, there are several non-finite forms.

  • infinitive, the dictionary form of a verb.
  • Present participle, an adjective indicating a current or ongoing action.
  • Past participle, an adjective indicating a past or completed action.
  • Action noun, a noun that indicates the action itself. The locative and essive cases of the noun have additional uses in phrasal constructions.
    • Action essive, which indicates "in the process of" or "in the act of" and is used as a complement of the verb leat "to be".
  • Gerund, an uninflected adverbial form that indicates "while" performing the verb's action.
  • Verbal abessive, an adverbial form indicating "without" doing the verb.
  • Verbal genitive, an adverbial form often used to indicate the way/method, accompanied by a verb of motion. It only exists for some verbs and is not very productive.
  • Supine, which expresses "in order to". It is only used in western Northern Sami dialects.

Verbs with even inflection[edit]

viehkat "to run" Present
indicative
Past
indicative
Imperative/
optative
Conditional Potential
1st singular viegan vihken vihkon viegašin, viegašedjen viegažan
2nd singular viegat vihket viega viegašit, viegašedjet viegažat
3rd singular viehká viegai vihkos viegašii viegaža, vieg
1st dual vihke viegaime viehkku viegašeimme viegažetne
2nd dual viehkabeahtti viegaide viehkki viegašeidde viegažeahppi
3rd dual viehkaba viegaiga vihkoska viegašeigga viegažeaba
1st plural viehkat viegaimet vihkot, viehkkut viegašeimmet viegažit, viegažat
2nd plural viehkabehtet viegaidet vihket, viehkkit viegašeiddet viegažehpet
3rd plural vihket vihke vihkoset viegaše, viegašedje viegažit
Connegative viega viehkan viega viegaše vieg
eallit - to live Present
indicative
Past
indicative
Imperative/
optative
Conditional Potential
1st singular ealán ellen ellon ealášin, ealášedjen eležan
2nd singular ealát ellet eale ealášit, ealášedjet eležat
3rd singular eallá elii ellos ealášii eleža, el
1st dual elle eliime eal'lu ealášeimme eležetne
2nd dual eallibeahtti eliide eal'li ealášeidde eležeahppi
3rd dual ealliba eliiga elloska ealášeigga eležeaba
1st plural eallit eliimet ellot, eal'lut ealášeimmet eležit, eležat
2nd plural eallibehtet eliidet ellet, eal'lit ealášeiddet eležehpet
3rd plural ellet elle elloset ealáše, ealášedje eležit
Connegative eale eallán eale ealáše el
goarrut - to sew Present
indicative
Past
indicative
Imperative/
optative
Conditional Potential
1st singular goarun gorron gorron gorošin, gorošedjen gorožan
2nd singular goarut gorrot goaro gorošit, gorošedjet gorožat
3rd singular goarru gorui gorros gorošii goroža, gor
1st dual gorro goruime goar'ru gorošeimme gorožetne
2nd dual goarrubeahtti goruide goar'ru gorošeidde gorožeahppi
3rd dual goarruba goruiga gorroska gorošeigga gorožeaba
1st plural goarrut goruimet gorrot, goar'rut gorošeimmet gorožit, gorožat
2nd plural goarrubehtet goruidet gorrot, goar'rut gorošeiddet gorožehpet
3rd plural gorrot gorro gorroset goroše, gorošedje gorožit
Connegative goaro gorron goaro goroše gor

Verbs with odd inflection[edit]

muitalit - to say Present
indicative
Past
indicative
Imperative/
optative
Conditional Potential
1st singular muitalan muitalin muitalehkon muitalivččen muitaleaččan
2nd singular muitalat muitalit muital muitalivččet muitaleaččat
3rd singular muitala muitalii muitalehkos muitalivččii muitaleažžá
1st dual muitaletne muitaleimme muitaleahkku muitalivččiime muitaležže
2nd dual muitaleahppi muitaleidde muitalahkki muitalivččiide muitaleažžabeahtti
3rd dual muitaleaba muitaleigga muitalehkoska muitalivččiiga muitaleažžaba
1st plural muitalit muitaleimmet muitalehkot muitalivččiimet muitaleažžat
2nd plural muitalehpet muitaleiddet muitalehket muitalivččiidet muitaleažžabehtet
3rd plural muitalit muitaledje muitalekoset muitalivčče muitaležžet
Connegative muital muitalan muital muitalivčče muitaleačča

Verbs with contracted inflection[edit]

Negative verb[edit]

Northern Sami, like other Uralic languages, has a negative verb that conjugates according to mood (indicative and imperative), person (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and number (singular, dual and plural). It does not conjugate according to tense.

Indicative Imperative/
optative
Supine
1st singular in allon aman
2nd singular it ale amat
3rd singular ii allos amas
1st dual ean al'lu amame
2nd dual eahppi al'li amade
3rd dual eaba alloska amaska
1st plural eat allot amamet
2nd plural ehpet allet amadet
3rd plural eai alloset amaset

Syntax[edit]

Northern Sami is an SVO language.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Northern Sami at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ https://snl.no/språk_i_Norge
  3. ^ https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/stmeld-nr-35-2007-2008-/id519923/sec4
  4. ^ "To which languages does the Charter apply?". European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Council of Europe. p. 4. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  5. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Northern Sami". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  6. ^ "Samediggi – Saamelaiskäräjät – Sámi language". Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  7. ^ "The Sami dialects". Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  8. ^ Original quote: ""med en regelmessig samisk sprogform""; Forsgren, Tuuli (1988) "Samisk kyrko- och undervisningslitteratur i Sverige 1619–1850." Scriptum: Rapportserie utgiven av Forskningsarkivet vid Umeå universitet, ISSN 0284-3161; p. 12 [1]
  9. ^ a b Bals, Berit Anne; Odden, David; Rice, Curt (2005). "Topics in North Saami Phonology" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-11-08. 
  10. ^ Sammallahti, Pekka (1998). The Saami Languages: An Introduction. Kárášjohka: Davvi Girji. pp. 8–20. 
  11. ^ Svonni, E Mikael (1984). Sámegiel-ruoŧagiel skuvlasátnelistu. Sámiskuvlastivra. III. ISBN 91-7716-008-8. 

External links[edit]