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Inari Sami
anarâškielâ or aanaarsämikielâ
Native toFinland
EthnicityInari Sámi people
Native speakers
400 (2018 census)[1]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2smn
ISO 639-3smn
ELPInari Saami
Sami languages large.png
Inari Sami is 7 on this map.

Inari Sami (anarâškielâ, "the Inarian language", or aanaarsämikielâ, "the Inari (Aanaar) Sámi language") is a Sami language spoken by the Inari Sami of Finland. It has approximately 300 speakers, the majority of whom are middle-aged or older and live in the municipality of Inari. According to the Sami Parliament of Finland, 269 persons used Inari Sami as their first language. It is the only Sami language that is spoken exclusively in Finland.[1] The language is classified as being seriously endangered, as few children learn it; however, more and more children are learning it in language nests. In 2018, Inari Sami had about 400 speakers; due to revival efforts, the language had gained speakers.[3]


Edvard Wilhelm Borg's Anar sämi kiela aapis kirje ja doctor Martti Lutherus Ucca katkismus
Edvard Wilhelm Borg's Anar sämi kiela aapis kirje ja doctor Martti Lutherus Ucca katkismus

The first book in Inari Sami was Anar sämi kiela aapis kirje ja doctor Martti Lutherus Ucca katkismus, which was written and translated by Edvard Wilhelm Borg in 1859. The written history of modern Inari Sami, however, is said to begin with Lauri Arvid Itkonen's translation of the history of the Bible in 1906, although he had already translated some other books into Inari Sami (Martin Luther and John Charles Ryles). After that, Inari Sami was mainly published in books written by linguists, in particular Frans Äimä and Erkki Itkonen. For many years, very little literature was written in Inari Sami, although Sämitigge has funded and published a lot of books, etc., in recent years.

Since 1992, Finland's Sami have had the right to interact with officials in their own language in areas where they have traditionally lived: Enontekiö, Utsjoki, Inari and the northern part of Sodankylä as official policy favors the conservation of the language. All announcements in Inari, which is the only officially quadrilingual municipality in Finland, must be made in Finnish, North Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami. Only about 10% of the public servants in the area, however, can serve the Inari Sami-speaking population in Inari Sami, so Finnish is used by the remaining 90%.

In 1986, the Anarâškielâ servi (Inari Sami Language Association) was founded to promote the language and its use. The association publishes numerous books, textbooks, a calendar, etc., in Inari Sami. They have established a language immersion program in 1997 for 3- to 6-year-old children in a day care in Inari and Ivalo. In 2007, the association started publishing an Inari Sami newspaper called Kierâš online.

A new phenomenon is the use of Inari Sami in rap songs by Mikkâl Morottaja, whose stage name is Amoc. Morottaja published the first full-length Inari Sami rap CD in the world on 6 February 2007, the Sami National Day.

Geographic distribution

Along with Finnish, Skolt Sami and Northern Sami, Inari Sami is one of the four official languages in the municipality of Inari, in particular in the following villages[4] located on the shore of Lake Inari (the Inari Sami name for the village is enclosed in parentheses):



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


Front Central Back
Close i y u
Mid e ə o
Open æ (ä) ɑ



Inari Sami, like the other Samic languages, has fixed word-initial stress. Syllables are furthermore divided into feet, usually consisting of two syllables each, and with secondary stress on the first syllable of every foot. In the other Samic languages the last syllable in a word with an odd number of syllables is not assigned to a foot. In Inari Sami, however, two important changes in the early development of Inari Sami have changed this structure, making the prosodic rhythm quite different:

  1. In words with an odd number of syllables, the last two syllables were converted into a foot, leaving the third-last syllable as a foot of its own.
  2. The apocope of certain final vowels, in words of three syllables or more, reduced this new final foot to a single syllable.

Consequently, Inari Sami distinguishes prosodically between words that originally ended in a vowel but have undergone apocope, and words that already ended in a consonant in Proto-Samic.

This rearrangement of the foot structure has an effect on the length of vowels and consonants.


Inari Sami is written using the Latin script. The alphabet currently used for Inari Sami was made official in 1996 and stands as follows:

Letter Phoneme(s)
A a /ɑ/
 â /ə/
B b /b/
C c /t͡s/
Č č /t͡ʃ/
D d /d/
Đ đ /ð/
E e /e/
F f /f/
G g /ɡ/
H h /h/
I i /i/, /j/
J j /j/
K k /k/
L l /l/
M m /m/
N n /n/
Nj nj /ɲ/
Ŋ ŋ /ŋ/
O o /o/
P p /p/
R r /r/
S s /s/
Š š /ʃ/
T t /t/
U u /u/
V v /v/
Y y /y/
Z z /d͡z/
Ž ž /d͡ʒ/
Ä ä /æ/
Á á /a/ (/ä/)

The phonetic values are the same as in Karelian, and đ represents the voiced dental fricative (in English "the"). Q/q, W/w, X/x, Å/å, Ö/ö are also used in words of foreign origin. Á was traditionally pronounced in the middle of a and ä, but in modern Inari Sami the distinction between á and ä is nonexistent. In writing, Á and ä are nevertheless considered separate characters. Ä is used in:

Marks used in reference works

In dictionaries, grammars and other linguistic works, the following additional marks are used. These are not used in normal writing.


Consonant gradation

Consonant gradation is a pattern of alternations between pairs of consonants that appears in the inflection of words. Consonant gradation in Inari Sami is more complex than that of other Sami languages, because of the effects of the unique stress pattern of Inari Sami. Like in other Sami languages, there is a distinction between the strong and weak grade, but a second factor is whether the consonants appear in the middle of a foot (FM) or in the juncture between two feet (FJ). In the latter case, consonants are often lengthened.

Q3 Q2 Q1
đđ đ̣ đđ đ
jj jj j
ll ll l
mm mm m
nn nn n
rr rr r
vv ṿ vv v
Q3 Q2 Q1
cc c cc s
čč č čč jj
kk h h/hh ṿ vv
pp p pp v
ss s ss s
šš š šš š
tt t tt đ


Umlaut is a phenomenon in Inari Sami, whereby the vowel in the second syllable affects the quality of the vowel in the first.

The following table lists the Inari Sami outcomes of the Proto-Samic first-syllable vowel, for each second-syllable vowel.

Proto *ā, *ō *ë, *i, *u
Inari á, o/u e/i â/a, i, u
a o
*o o u
*i i
*u u
á ä a
*ea e
*ie ie
*oa o
*uo ye uo

As can be seen, several of the Proto-Samic vowels have identical outcomes before certain second-syllable vowels. Only before Proto-Samic are all vowels distinguishable. For example, Proto-Samic *oa and both appear before as o, while *o and *u both appear as u. In cases where the second-syllable vowel changes, it is necessary to know which series the vowel of a particular word belongs to. For example, juuḥâđ "to drink" has the third-person singular present indicative form juhá, while nuuḥâđ "to end" has nohá; the former originates from Proto-Samic *u, the latter from *o.

A second kind of umlaut also occurs, which operates in reverse: when the first syllable contains a (originating from Proto-Samic ) and the second syllable contains á, the second-syllable vowel is backed to a. Thus, the third-person singular present indicative form of moonnâđ "to go" is maṇa (rather than *maṇá), and the illative singular of ahe "age" is ahan (rather than *ahán).


Inari Sami has nine cases, although the genitive and accusative are often the same:

The partitive appears to be a highly unproductive case in that it seems to only be used in the singular. In addition, unlike Finnish, Inari Sami does not make use of the partitive case for objects of transitive verbs. Thus "Mun puurâm leeibi" could translate into Finnish as either "Minä syön leivän" (English: "I'm eating (all of) the bread") or "Minä syön leipää" (I'm eating (some) bread, or generally, I eat bread); this telicity contrast is mandatory in Finnish.


The personal pronouns have three numbers: singular, plural and dual. The following table contains personal pronouns in the nominative and genitive/accusative cases.

singular dual plural
nominative genitive nominative genitive nominative genitive
1st person mun muu muoi munnuu mij mii
2nd person tun tuu tuoi tunnuu tij tii
3rd person sun suu suoi sunnuu sij sii

The next table demonstrates the declension of a personal pronoun I/we (dual)/we (plural) in the various cases:

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative mun muoi mij
Genitive-Accusative muu munnuu mii
Locative must, muste munnust mist, miste
Illative munjin munnui mijjân
Comitative muuin, muin munnuin, munnuuin miiguim
Abessive muuttáá munnuuttáá miittáá
Essive munen munnun minen
Partitive muđe --- ---



Inari Sami verbs conjugate for three grammatical persons:


Inari Sami has five grammatical moods:

Grammatical number

Inari Sami verbs conjugate for three grammatical numbers:


Inari Sami has two simple tenses:

and two compound tenses:

Verbal nouns

Negative verb

Inari Sami, like Finnish and the other Sami languages, has a negative verb. In Inari Sami, the negative verb conjugates according to mood (indicative, imperative and optative), person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and number (singular, dual and plural).

Ind. pres. Imperative Optative
sg. du pl. sg. du pl. sg. du pl.
1 jie'm iän ep 1 1 iällum iäl'loon iällup
2 jie'h eppee eppeđ 2 ele ellee elleđ 2 ele ellee elleđ
3 ij iä'vá 3 3 iä'lus iällus iällus


  1. ^ a b "Anaras: The Inari Sámis". Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  2. ^ "To which languages does the Charter apply?". European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Council of Europe. p. 3. Archived from the original on 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  3. ^ "400 puhujan inarinsaame jäi ilman kielityöntekijää – kielenhuolto Facebookin ja vapaaehtoisneuvonnan varassa?". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  4. ^ "Language". Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  • Itkonen, Erkki. Inarilappisches Wörterbuch. Lexica societatis fenno-ugricae: 20. Suomalais-ugrilainen seura. Helsinki. ISBN 951-9019-94-4.
  • Morottaja, Matti. Anarâškielâ ravvuuh – inarinsaamen kieliopas Kotimaisten kielten keskuksen verkkojulkaisuja: 56. Helsinki 2018. Näköisjulkaisu painetusta teoksesta (2007). ISBN 978-952-5446-26-5.
  • Taarna Valtonen and Jussi Ylikoski and Ante Aikio. 2022. Aanaar (Inari) Saami. In Marianne Bakró-Nagy and Johanna Laakso and Elena Skribnik (eds.), The Oxford guide to the Uralic languages, 178-195. Oxford: Oxford University Press.ISBN 978-0198767664, ISSN 2323-3370.
  • Olthuis, Marja-Liisa. Kielâoppâ. Inari : Sämitigge, 2000.
  • Sammallahti, Pekka. Morottaja, Matti. Säämi-suoma sänikirje. Inarinsaamelais-suomalainen sanakirja. Girjegiisá. Ykkösoffset Oy, Vaasa 1993. ISBN 951-8939-27-6.
  • Østmo, Kari. Sämikielâ vieres kiellân vuáðuškoovlâst. Helsinki : Valtion painatuskeskus, 1988.