Pite Sámi

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Pite Sámi
Native toSweden
Native speakers
25 to 50 (2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3sje
ELPPite Saami
Pite Sami language area (red) within Sápmi (grey)
Pite Saami is classified as Critically Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Pite Sámi or Arjeplog Sámi (Pite Sami: Bidumsámegiella, Swedish: Pitesamiska, Norwegian: Pitesamisk) is a Sámi language traditionally spoken in Sweden and used to be spoken in Norway. It is a critically endangered language[2] that has only about 25–50[1] native speakers left and is now only spoken on the Swedish side of the border along the Pite River in the north of Arjeplog and Arvidsjaur and in the mountainous areas of the Arjeplog municipality.


Pite Sámi is a part of the Western Sámi group, together with Southern Sámi and Ume Sámi to the south, Lule Sámi and Northern Sámi to the north. Of these, Pite Sámi shows closest affinity to Lule Sámi, but a number of features also show similarity to Ume and Southern Sámi.



The Pite Sámi consonant inventory is very similar to that found in neighbouring Lule Sámi, but lacks contrastive voicing of stops and affricates entirely.

Pite Sámi consonants
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive / Affricate p t t͡s t͡ʃ k
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v (ð)
Semivowel j
Lateral l
Trill r
  • Stops before a homorganic nasal (pre-stopped nasals) are realised as unreleased stops.
  • /v/ is realised as a labiodental fricative [v] in the syllable onset (before a vowel), and as bilabial [w] in the syllable coda (in a consonant cluster).
  • /ð/ is present only in the language of some elderly speakers. It is otherwise replaced by /r/ or /t/, depending on dialect.


The Pite Sámi vowel inventory has a relative lack of phonemic diphthongs, compared to other Sámi languages and particularly neighbouring Lule Sámi. Instead, there are more vowel height distinctions.

Pite Sámi vowels[3][disputed ]
Monophthongs Diphthongs
Front Back Front Back
Close i u (ie̯) (uo̯)
Close-mid e o uæ̯ uɑ̯
Open-mid ɛ ɔ ɔː
Open a
  • The close vowels /i/ and /u/ are realized as laxer [ɪ] and [ʊ] respectively, in unstressed positions.
  • Close-mid /e/ and /o/ are diphthongized to [ie̯] and [uo̯] respectively, when stressed.[disputed ]
  • /ɔ/ contrasts with /ɔː/ in near-minimal pairs such as båhtet /ˈpɔːhtet/ "to come" vs båhtjet /ˈpɔht͡ʃet/ "to milk".
  • /ɛ/ does not occur in unstressed syllables.
  • /ɔ/ can occur in unstressed syllables, but only when a preceding stressed syllable contains /ɔ/.

Sammallahti[4] divides Lule Sámi dialects as follows:

Features of the northern dialects are:

  • Lack of /aː//eː/ umlaut.
  • Voicing in quantity 3 of plain stops (thus strong /bː.b/ ~ weak /p.p/ etc.), like in Lule Sámi.
  • /t/ as the outcome of Proto-Samic .

Features of the southern dialects are:

  • /r/ as the outcome of Proto-Samic .-->


For a long time, Pite Sámi was one of the four Sámi languages without an official written language. A working orthography was developed in 2008–2011 by the Sámi Association of Arjeplog;[5] this version was described by Joshua Wilbur and implemented in the dictionary Pitesamisk ordbok samt stavningsregler, published in 2016.[6] On August 20, 2019, an official orthography was approved for the language.[7][8] The orthography closely resembles the orthography of neighbouring Lule Sámi.

Letter Pronunciation[8] Notes
A a [ä]
Á á [äː]
B b [p]
D d [t]
Đ đ [ð]
E e [], [ɪe̯], [e]
F f [f]
G g [k]
H h [h]
I i [ɪ]
J j [j]
K k [k], [ʰk], [] Postaspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable.
L l [l]
M m [m]
N n [n]
Ŋ ŋ [ŋ]
O o [], [ʊɒ̝̯]
P p [p], [ʰp], [] Postaspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable.
R r [r]
S s [s]
T t [t], [ʰt], [] Postaspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable.
Ŧ ŧ [θ]
U u [ʊ], [ʊː]
V v [ʋ]
Å å [ɒ̝], [ɒ̝ː]
Ä ä [æː]


Pite Sámi digraphs
Digraph Pronunciation[8] Notes
ie [ɪe̯]
ua [ʊä̯]
uo [ʊɒ̝̯]

Lexicographic sources[edit]

A number of (re)sources exist with extensive collections of Pite Sámi lexical items, including grammatical and (morpho)phonological information to various extents. These include:

  • Ignácz Halász published a collection of Pite Sámi lexical items in 1896 with Hungarian and German translations in the book Pite lappmarki szótár és nyelvtan.[9] Pite Sámi words are written in using a UPA-type standard.
  • Eliel Lagercrantz published a two-volume collection of Sámi lexical items in 1939 titled Lappischer Wortschatz with German translations.[10] Many of the entries include Pite Sámi forms, which are marked with the abbreviation Arj (for Arjeplog, as Pite Sámi is often referred to as "Arjeplog Sámi" as well[11]). Pite Sámi words are written in using a UPA-type standard.
  • Just Knud Qvigstad created a wordlist of Pite Sámi words in his Lappisk ordliste : Arjeplog-dialekt (Beiarn–Saltdal–Rana). This handwritten manuscript is from around 1928 and can be found on the Norwegian National Library website[12]
  • Israel Ruong's collection of handwritten note cards and other materials with Pite Sámi lexical items is archived at the Swedish Institute for Language and Folklore in Uppsala.
  • Although not intended primarily as a lexicographic collection, Israel Ruong's 1943 dissertation Lappische Verbalableitung dargestellt auf Grundlage des Pitelappischen[13] is in fact a rich source of derived verbs. These are presented in a somewhat simplified UPA-type transcription with explanations and translations in German.
  • Arjeplogs sameförening (the Arjeplog Sámi association) carried out a project called Insamling av pitesamiska ord (Collection of Pite Sámi words) between 2008 and 2012, written in a preliminary version of the current standard orthography. This wordlist includes translations into Swedish and Norwegian.[14][15]
  • A Pite Sámi dictionary and set of orthographic rules was published in 2016 as Pitesamisk ordbok samst stavningsregler in the book series Samica.[16] This collection is based on the wordlist created by Arjeplogs sameförening (cf. previous item), but with significant editing and additions covering grammatical and phonological information by the editor (J. Wilbur). It includes translations into Swedish and English, and uses a preliminary version of the current standard orthography. A website with these orthographic rules can be found at Pitesamiska stavningsregler.
  • A searchable lexical database is accessible online at Bidumsáme Báhkogirrje. It is maintained by linguist J. Wilbur (in collaboration with O. Utne and P. Steggo), and is regularly being updated, corrected and edited, especially checking for consistency and adherence to the standard orthography;[8] missing lexemes are also added on a regular basis.[17]
  • A searchable lexical database including automatically generated inflectional paradigms for a large subset of the lexical items in the Bidumsáme Báhkogirrje (cf. previous item) can be found in the Nähttadigibáhko, hosted by Giellatekno at the University of Tromsø, with collaborative development of the language technology tools for Pite Sámi by J. Wilbur. This uses the standard orthography.[8]
  • A mobile phone app called BidumBágo (for Android systems) is under development by Olve Utne at the Norwegian Institute of Local History and National Library of Norway (in collaboration with P. Steggo and J. Wilbur). It currently has more than 6300 entries, including references to older sources, many place names, and translations into Norwegian, Swedish, German and English. This uses the standard orthography[8][18] and can be downloaded from the Facebook group BidumBágo.



Pite Sámi has nine cases:

The inflectional paradigm for the noun guolle 'fish' by Israel Ruong, archived at the Swedish Institute for Language and Folklore in Uppsala.



Pite Sámi verbs conjugate for three grammatical persons:

  • first person
  • second person
  • third person


Pite Sámi has five grammatical moods:

Grammatical number[edit]

Pite Sámi verbs conjugate for three grammatical numbers:


Pite Sámi verbs conjugate for two simple tenses:

and two compound tenses:

Negative verb[edit]

Pite Sámi, like Finnish, the other Sámi languages and Estonian, has a negative verb. In Pite Sámi, the negative verb conjugates according to mood (indicative, imperative and optative), person (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and number (singular, dual and plural). This differs from some of the other Sámi languages, e.g. from Northern Sámi, which do not conjugate according to tense and other Sámi languages, that do not use the optative.

Non-past indicative Past indicative
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1st person iv ien iehp, iep 1 ittjiv iejmen, ittjijmen iejmeh, ittjijmeh
2nd person ih iehpen, ähpen, ihpen iehpit, ihpit 2 ittjih iejten, ittjijten iejteh, ittjijteh
3rd person ij iepá, iepán ieh 3 ittjij iejkán, ittjijka ittjin

For non-past indicative versions that have more than one form, the second one is from the dialect spoken around Björkfjället and the third is from the Svaipa dialect. The plurality in the other forms is due to parallel forms that are not bound by dialect.

Singular Dual Plural
2nd person ieleh iellen iellit
1st person alluv iellun, allun iellup, allup
2nd person alluh ielluten, alluten ielluteh, alluteh
3rd person allus ielluska, alluska ielluseh, alluseh


  1. ^ a b At least 25 speakers in 2010 according to researcher Joshua Wilbur. At least 30 active, native speakers in 2010; at least an additional 20 native speakers who do not use the language actively according to the Pite Sámi dictionary project leader Nils Henrik Bengtsson.
  2. ^ "UNESCO - Accueil patrimoine immatériel". ich.unesco.org (in French). Retrieved 2023-05-24.
  3. ^ (Wilbur 2014: 63–70)
  4. ^ Sammallahti, Pekka (1998). The Saami Languages: An Introduction. Kárášjohka: Davvi Girji.
  5. ^ (Wilbur 2014:18–19)
  6. ^ (Wilbur 2016:9-11)
  7. ^ Sunna, Anna; Päiviö, Anne Marit; Niia, Anna-Karin (19 August 2019). "Nu har pitesamiskan eget skriftspråk" [Now Pite Sámi has its own written language]. Sveriges radio (in Swedish). Sameradion & SVT Sápmi. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Pitesamisk ortografi: beslut om pitesamisk ortografi" [Pite Saami orthography : resolution on the Pite Saami orthography] (PDF) (in Swedish). Sámi Giellagáldu. 20 August 2019. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  9. ^ (Halász 1896)
  10. ^ (Lagercrantz 1939)
  11. ^ cf. the titles of Lagercrantz 1926 and Lehtiranta 1992.
  12. ^ (Qvigstad 1926)
  13. ^ (Ruong 1943)
  14. ^ (Wilbur 2016:9-10)
  15. ^ "Insamling av pitesamiska ord". Interregnord. Archived from the original on 2016-08-26. Retrieved 2019-10-12.)
  16. ^ (Wilbur 2016)
  17. ^ Wilbur, Joshua. "Bidumsáme Báhkogirrje credits". Bidumsáme Báhkogirrje. Retrieved 2019-10-12.
  18. ^ cf. credits for the app.


  • Halász, Ignácz (1896). Pite lappmarki szótár és nyelvtan. Svéd-Lapp Nyelv. Vol. 6. Budapest: Magyar tudományos akadémia.
  • Lagercrantz, Eliel (1926). Sprachlehre des Westlappischen nach der Mundart von Arjeplog. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia. Vol. 25. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura.
  • Lagercrantz, Eliel (1939). Lappischer Wortschatz I-II. Lexica Societatis Fenno-Ugricae. Vol. 6. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura.
  • Lehtiranta, Juhani (1992). Arjeploginsaamen äänne- ja taivutusopin pääpiirteet. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia. Vol. 212. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. ISBN 951-9403-55-8.
  • Pite Saami Documentation Project. www2.hu-berlin.de/psdp. 2009.05.03.
  • "Pite Saami Documentation Project". Pite Saami Documentation Project. Retrieved 2019-10-12.
  • Qvigstad, Just Knud (c. 1926). Lappisk ordliste : Arjeplog-dialekt (Beiarn–Saltdal–Rana) (manuscript). Retrieved 2019-10-12.
  • Ruong, Israel (1943). Lappische Verbalableitung dargestellt auf Grundlage des Pitelappischen. Uppsala: Almqvist och Wiksell.
  • Wilbur, Joshua (2014). A Grammar of Pite Sami. Studies in Diversity Linguistics. Vol. 5. Berlin: Language Science Press. ISBN 978-3-944675-47-3. Retrieved 2014-10-10.
  • Wilbur, Joshua (2016). "Stavningsregler" In: Pitesamisk ordbok samt stavningsregler (=Samica 2), ed. by Joshua Wilbur. Freiburg: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. pages 123-197
  • Wilbur, Joshua, ed. (2016). Pitesamisk ordbok samt stavningsregler. Samica. Vol. 2. Freiburg: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. ISBN 978-3-9816835-1-6.

External links[edit]