|Pronunciation||IPA: [ nwɘrʰtːɕa̟ːmʰc͡çjɘhlː]|
|Native to||Finland, Russia|
|(320 cited 1995–2007)|
Skolt Sami is 6 on this regional map of Sami languages.
Skolt Sami (sääʹmǩiõll [ɕa̟ːmʰc͡çjɘhlː], "the Sámi language", or nuõrttsääʹmǩiõll [nwɘrʰtːɕa̟ːmʰc͡çjɘhlː], "the Eastern Sámi language", if a distinction needs to be made between it and the other Sami languages) is a Uralic, Sami language that is spoken by the Skolts, with approximately 300 speakers in Finland, mainly in Sevettijärvi and approximately 20–30 speakers of the Njuõʹttjäuʹrr (Notozero) dialect in an area surrounding Lake Lovozero in Russia. Skolt Sami also used to be spoken in the Neiden area of Norway. It is written using a modified Roman orthography which was made official in 1973.
The term Skolt was coined by representatives of the majority culture and has negative connotation which can be compared to the term Lapp. Nevertheless, it is used in cultural and linguistic studies.
On Finnish territory Skolt Sami was spoken in four villages before the Second World War. In Petsamo, Skolt Sami was spoken in Suonikylä and the village of Petsamo. This area was ceded to Russia in the Second World War, and the Skolts were evacuated to the villages of Inari, Sevettijärvi and Nellim in the Inari municipality.
On the Russian (then Soviet) side the dialect was spoken in the now defunct Sami settlements of Motovsky, Songelsky, Notozero (hence its Russian name – the Notozersky dialect). Some speakers still may live in the villages of Tuloma and Lovozero.
On Norwegian territory Skolt Sami was spoken in the Sør-Varanger area with a cultural centre in Neiden. The language is not spoken as mother tongue any more in Norway.
In Finland, Skolt Sami is spoken by approximately 400 people. According to Finland's Sami Language Act (1086/2003), Skolt Sami is one of the three Sami languages that the Sami can use when conducting official business in Lapland. It is an official language in the municipality of Inari, and elementary schools there offer courses in the language, both for native speakers and for students learning it as a foreign language. Only a small number of youths learn the language and continue to use it actively. Skolt Sami is thus a seriously endangered language, even more seriously than Inari Sami, which has a nearly equal number of speakers and is even spoken in the same municipality. In addition, there are a lot of Skolts living outside of this area, particularly in the capital region.
From 1978 to 1986, the Skolts had a quarterly called Sääʹmođđâz published in their own language. Since 2013, a new magazine called Tuõddri peeʹrel has been published once a year.
The Finnish news program Yle Ođđasat featured a Skolt Sami speaking newsreader for the first time on August 26, 2016. Otherwise Yle Ođđasat presents individual news stories in Skolt Sami every now and then. In addition, there have been various TV programs in Skolt Sámi on YLE such as the children's TV series Binnabánnaš.
The first book published in Skolt Sami was an Eastern Orthodox prayer book (Risttoummi moʹlidvaǩeʹrjj, Prayerbook for the Orthodox) in 1983. Translation of the Gospel of John was published (Evvan evaŋǧeʹlium) in 1988 and Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom (Pââʹss Eʹččen Evvan Krysostomoozz Liturgia, Liturgy of our Holy Father John Chrysostom) was published in 2002  Skolt Sami is used together with Finnish in worship of the Lappi Orthodox Parish (Lappi ortodookslaž sieʹbrrkåʹdd) at churches of Ivalo, Sevettijärvi and Nellim.
Like Inari Sami, Skolt Sami has recently borne witness to a new phenomenon, namely it is being used in rock songs sung by Tiina Sanila-Aikio, who has published two full-length CDs in Skolt Sami to date.
In 1993, language nest programs for children younger than 7 were created. For quite some time these programs received intermittent funding, resulting in some children being taught Skolt Sami, while others were not. In spite of all the issues these programs faced, they were crucial in creating the youngest generations of Skolt Sami speakers. In recent years, these programs have been reinstated.
In addition, 2005 was the first time that it was possible to use Skolt Sami in a Finnish matriculation exam, albeit as a foreign language. In 2012, Ville-Riiko Fofonoff (Skolt Sami: Läärvan-Oʹlssi-Peâtt-Rijggu-Vääʹsǩ-Rijggu-Ville-Reeiǥaž) was the first person to use Skolt Sami for the mother tongue portion of the exam; for this, he won the Skolt of the Year Award the same year.
Skolt Sami uses the ISO basic Latin alphabet with the addition of some special characters:
|E e||/e/, /ɛ/|
|I i||/i/, /j/|
|U u||/u/, /w/|
Additional marks are used in writing Skolt Sami words:
Special features of this Sami language include a highly complex vowel system and a suprasegmental contrast of palatalized vs. non-palatalized stress groups; palatalized stress groups are indicated by a "softener mark", represented by the modifier letter prime (ʹ).
The system of vowel phonemes is as follows:
Skolt Sami has vowel length, but it co-occurs with contrasts in length of the following consonant(s). Before a long consonant, vowels are short, while before a short consonant vowels are long (written with a doubled letter). For example, leʹtt ‘vessel’ vs. leeʹtt ‘vessels’.
The vowels can combine to form twelve opening diphthongs:
|front||front to central||back to front||back to central||back|
|close to close-mid||ie||iɘ||ue||uɘ|
|close to open-mid||iɛ||iɐ||uɛ||uɐ||uɔ|
|close to open||ua|
|close-mid to open-mid||eɐ|
|close-mid to open||ea|
Like the monophthongs, all diphthongs can be short or long, but this is not indicated in spelling. Short diphthongs are distinguished from long ones by both length and stress placement: short diphthongs have a stressed second component, whereas long diphthongs have stress on the first component.
Diphthongs may also have two variants depending on whether they occur in a plain or palatalized environment. This has a clearer effect with diphthongs whose second element is back or central. Certain inflectional forms, including the addition of the palatalizing suprasegmental, also trigger a change in diphthong quality.
The inventory of consonant phonemes is the following:
|Labial||Dental / Alveolar||Postalveolar||Palatal||Velar|
Consonants may be phonemically short or long (geminate) both word-medially or word-finally; both are exceedingly common. Long and short consonants also contrast in consonant clusters, cf. kuõskkâd 'to touch' : kuõskâm 'I touch'. A short period of voicelessness or h, known as preaspiration, before geminate consonants is observed, much as in Icelandic, but this is not marked orthographically, e.g. joʹǩǩe 'to the river' is pronounced [jo̟hk̟k̟e].
There is one phonemic suprasegmental, the palatalizing suprasegmental that affects the pronunciation of an entire syllable. In written language the palatalizing suprasegmental is indicated with a free-standing acute accent between a stressed vowel and the following consonant, as follows:
The suprasegmental palatalization has three distinct phonetic effects:
Skolt Sami has four different types of stress for words:
The first syllable of any word is always the primary stressed syllable in Skolt Sami as Skolt is a fixed-stress language. In words with two or more syllables, the final syllable is quite lightly stressed (tertiary stress) and the remaining syllable, if any, are stressed more heavily than the final syllable, but less than the first syllable (secondary stress).
Using the abessive and the comitative singular in a word appears to disrupt this system, however, in words of more than one syllable. The suffix, as can be expected, has tertiary stress, but the penultimate syllable also has tertiary stress, even though it would be expected to have secondary stress.
Zero stress can be said to be a feature of conjunctions, postpositions, particles and monosyllabic pronouns.
Skolt Sami is a synthetic, highly inflected language that shares many grammatical features with the other Uralic languages. However, Skolt Sami is not a typical agglutinative language like many of the other Uralic languages are, as it has developed considerably into the direction of a fusional language, much like Estonian. Therefore, cases and other grammatical features are also marked by modifications to the root and not just marked with suffixes. Many of the suffixes in Skolt Sami are portmanteau morphemes that express several grammatical features at a time.
Umlaut is a pervasive phenomenon in Skolt Sami, whereby the vowel in the second syllable affects the quality of the vowel in the first. The presence or absence of palatalisation can also be considered an umlaut effect, since it is also conditioned by the second-syllable vowel, although it affects the entire syllable rather than the vowel alone. Umlaut is complicated by the fact that many of the second-syllable vowels have disappeared in Skolt Sami, leaving the umlaut effects as their only trace.
The following table lists the Skolt Sami outcomes of the Proto-Samic first-syllable vowel, for each second-syllable vowel.
|Proto||*ā, *ō||*ē||*ë, *u||*i|
As can be seen, palatalisation is present before original second-syllable *ē and *i, and absent otherwise. Where they survive in Skolt Sami, both appear as e, so only the umlaut effect can distinguish them. The original short vowels *ë, *u and *i have a general raising and backing effect on the preceding vowel, while the effect of original *ā and *ō is lowering. Original *ē is fronting (palatalising) without having an effect on height.
Skolt Sami has 9 cases in the singular (7 of which also have a plural form), although the genitive and accusative are often the same.
The following table shows the inflection of čuäcc ('rotten snag') with the single morphemes marking noun stem, number, and case separated by hyphens for better readability. The last morpheme marks for case, i marks the plural, and a is due to epenthesis and does not have a meaning of its own.
|Nominative||čuäcc [t͡ʃwatt͡s]||čuäʒʒ [t͡ʃwadd͡z]|
|Genitive||čuäʒʒ [t͡ʃwahdd͡z]||čuäʒʒ-a-i [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑj]|
|Locative||čuäʒʒ-a-st [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑst]||čuäʒʒ-a-i-n [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjn]|
|Comitative||čuäʒʒ-a-in [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjn]||čuäʒʒ-a-i-vui´m [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjvʲɥi̟m]|
|Abessive||čuäʒʒ-tää [t͡ʃwahdd͡ztaː]||čuäʒʒ-a-i-tää [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjtaː]|
Like the other Uralic languages, the nominative singular is unmarked and indicates the subject or a predicate. The nominative plural is also unmarked and always looks the same as the genitive singular.
The genitive singular is unmarked and looks the same as the nominative plural. The genitive plural is marked by an -i. The genitive is used:
The genitive has been replacing the partitive for some time and is nowadays more commonly used in its place.
The accusative is the direct object case and it is unmarked in the singular. In the plural, its marker is -d, which is preceded by the plural marker -i, making it look the same as the plural illative. The accusative is also used to mark some adjuncts, e.g. obb tääʹlv ('the entire winter').
The locative marker in the singular is -st and -n in the plural. This case is used to indicate:
In addition, it is used with certain verbs:
The illative marker actually has three different markers in the singular to represent the same case: -a, -e and -u. The plural illative marker is -d, which is preceded by the plural marker -i, making it look the same as the plural accusative. This case is used to indicate:
The comitative marker in the singular is -in and -vuiʹm in the plural. The comitative is used to state with whom or what something was done:
To form the comitative singular, use the genitive singular form of the word as the root and -in. To form the comitative plural, use the plural genitive root and -vuiʹm.
The abessive marker is -tää in both the singular and the plural. It always has a tertiary stress.
The dual form of the essive is still used with pronouns, but not with nouns and does not appear at all in the plural.
The partitive is only used in the singular and can be replaced by the genitive in most cases. The partitive marker is -d.
1. It appears after numbers larger than six:
This can be replaced with kääʹuc čâustõõǥǥ.
2. It is also used with certain postpositions:
This can be replaced with kuäʹđ vuâstta'
3. It can be used with the comparative to express that which is being compared:
This would nowadays more than likely be replaced by pueʹrab ko kåʹll
The personal pronouns have three numbers: singular, plural and dual. The following table contains personal pronouns in the nominative and genitive/accusative cases.
The next table demonstrates the declension of a personal pronoun he/she (no gender distinction) in various cases:
Next to number and case, Skolt Sami nouns also inflect for possession. However, usage of possessive affixes seems to decrease among speakers. The following table shows possessive inflection of the word muõrr ('tree').
|1st person||2nd person||3rd person|
Skolt Sami verbs inflect (inflection of verbs is also referred to as conjugation) for person, mood, number, and tense. A full inflection table of all person-marked forms of the verb kuullâd ('to hear') is given below.
|1st Person Singular||kuulam||kuʹllem||kuulžem||kuulčem||-|
|2nd P. Sg.||kuulak||kuʹlliǩ||kuulžiǩ||kuulčiǩ||kuul|
|3rd P. Sg.||kooll||kuuli||kuulâž||kuulči||koolas|
|1st Person Plural||kuullâp||kuulim||kuulžep||kuulčim||kuullâp|
|2nd P. Pl.||kuullveʹted||kuulid||kuulžid||kuulčid||kuullâd|
|3rd P. Pl.||koʹlle||kuʹlle||kuulže||kuulče||kollaz|
It can be seen that inflection involves changes to the verb stem as well as inflectional suffixes. Changes to the stem are based on verbs being categorized into several inflectional classes. The different inflectional suffixes are based on the categories listed below.
Skolt Sami verbs conjugate for four grammatical persons:
Skolt Sami has 5 grammatical moods:
Skolt Sami verbs conjugate for two grammatical numbers:
Unlike other Sami varieties, Skolt Sami verbs do not inflect for dual number. Instead, verbs occurring with the dual personal pronouns appear in the corresponding plural form.
Skolt Sami has 2 simple tenses:
and 2 compound tenses:
The verb forms given above are person-marked, also referred to as finite. In addition to the finite forms, Skolt Sami verbs have twelve participial and converb forms, as well as the infinitive, which are non-finite. These forms are given in the table below for the verb kuullâd ('to hear').
|Negative converb||kuul, kullu, kuulže, kuulče (all forms exist, they underlie idiolectal variation)|
Skolt Sami has two auxiliary verbs, one of which is lee´d (glossed as 'to be'), the other one is the negative auxiliary verb (see the following paragraph).
Inflection of lee´d is given below.
|1st Person Singular||leäm||le´jjem||leʹžžem||leʹččem||–|
|2nd P. Sg.||leäk||le´jjiǩ||leʹžžiǩ||leʹččiǩ||leäk'ku|
|3rd P. Sg.||lij||leäi||leežž||leʹčči||leäǥǥas|
|1st Person Plural||leä´p||leeiʹm||leʹžžep||leʹččim||leäk'kap|
|2nd P. Pl.||leä´ped||leeiʹd||leʹžžveʹted||leʹččid||leäk'ku|
|3rd P. Pl.||lie, liâ (both forms exist, they underlie idiolectal variation)||leʹjje||leʹžže||leʹčče||leäk'kaz|
Lee'd is used, for example, to assign tense to lexical verbs in the conditional or potential mood which are not marked for tense themselves:
(negation (1st P. Sg.) – then – 1st P. Sg. – even – ask (negated conditional) – if – 1st P. Sg. – know (1st P. Sg. conditional) – be (1st P. Sg. conditional) – soup – make (past participle, no tense marking) – before)
'I wouldn't even ask if I knew, if I had made soup before!'
Skolt Sami, like Finnish, the other Sami languages and Estonian, has a negative verb. In Skolt Sami, the negative verb conjugates according to mood (indicative, imperative and optative), person (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th) and number (singular and plural).
|Plural||jie ~ jiâ||–||jeälˈlas|
Note that ij + leat is usually written as iʹlla, iʹlleäkku, iʹllää or iʹllä and ij + leat is usually written as jeäʹla or jeäʹlä.
Unlike the other Sami languages, Skolt Sami no longer has separate forms for the dual and plural of the negative verb and uses the plural forms for both instead.
The most frequent word order in simple, declarative sentences in Skolt Sami is subject–verb–object (SVO). However, as cases are used to mark relations between different noun phrases, and verb forms mark person and number of the subject, Skolt Sami word order allows for some variation.
An example of an SOV sentence would be:
Intransitive sentences follow the order subject-verb (SV):
An exception to the SOV word order can be found in sentences with an auxiliary verb. While in other languages, an OV word order has been found to correlate with the auxiliary verb coming after the lexical verb, the Skolt Sami auxiliary verb lee'd ('to be') precedes the lexical verb. This has been related to the verb-second (V2) phenomenon which binds the finite verb to at most the second position of the respective clause. However, in Skolt Sami, this effect seems to be restricted to clauses with an auxiliary verb.
An example of a sentence with the auxiliary in V2 position:
In Skolt Sami, polar questions, also referred to as yes-no questions, are marked in two different ways. Morphologically, an interrogative particle, -a, is added as an affix to the first word of the clause. Syntactically, the element which is in the scope of the question is moved to the beginning of the clause. If this element is the verb, subject and verb are inversed in comparison to the declarative SOV word order.
If an auxiliary verb is used, this is the one which is moved to the initial sentence position and also takes the interrogative affix.
A negated polar question, using the negative auxiliary verb, shows the same structure:
An example of the interrogative particle being added to something other than the verb, would be the following:
Information questions in Skolt Sami are formed with a question word in clause-initial position. There also is a gap in the sentence indicating the missing piece of information. This kind of structure is similar to Wh-movement in languages such as English. There are mainly three question words corresponding to the English 'what', 'who', and 'which' (out of two). They inflect for number and case, except for the latter which only has singular forms. It is noteworthy that the illative form of mii ('what') corresponds to the English 'why'. The full inflectional paradigm of all three question words can be found below.
Some examples of information questions using one of the three question words:
In addition to the above-mentioned, there are other question words which are not inflected, such as the following:
An example sentence would be the following:
The Skolt Sami imperative generally takes a clause-initial position. Out of the five imperative forms (see above), those of the second person are most commonly used.
Imperatives in the first person form, which only exist as plurals, are typically used for hortative constructions, that is for encouraging the listener (not) to do something. These imperatives include both the speaker and the listener.
Finally, imperatives in the third person are used in jussive constructions, the mood used for orders and commands.