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Map showing the Sámi area. Northern Sámi is nr 5. Darker yellow signifies municipalities where Sámi is an official language.

Northern Sámi (davvisámegiella), the Sámi language used in this phrasebook, is the most widely-spoken of the Sámi languages. It is spoken mainly in northern Norway, northern Sweden and much of the Sámi area in Finland. It is used often in towns such as Kiruna (Giron), Utsjoki (Ohcejohka), Kautokeino (Guovdageaidnu) and Karasjok (Kárášjohka). It is also understood by some Sámi who speak other Sámi languages.

Sámi (also spelled Saami or Sami) is a group of languages spoken by the Sámi people who dwell in northern Europe. Their traditional homeland consists of the central and northern parts of Norway and Sweden, northern Finland, and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. They are now a minority in most of this area.

Because of earlier language politics, not all Sámi speak Sámi and some Sámi languages are extinct. There are nine living Sámi languages. They are Finno-Ugric languages and thus have many linguistic similarities and some common vocabulary (including many loanwords) with other languages in the family, such as Finnish, Karelian and Estonian. The similarities are not enough for understanding, but greatly help in learning the language. Even the Sámi languages are generally not mutually intelligible, but many Sámi understand the neighbouring languages. There are also loanwords from the unrelated Scandinavian languages of Norwegian and Swedish (and for the eastern Sámi languages, from Russian).

"Sámi" is mostly used as a shorthand for Northern Sámi below.

Pronunciation guide[edit]

Like Finnish or Estonian, Sámi is written quite phonetically, with a certain letter mostly pronounced the same way and doubled letters meaning longer sounds (but "á" is pronounced as a long "a" in western dialects). Northern Sámi uses the Latin alphabet with some extra letters, some of which are not found in Swedish, Norwegian or Finnish. The current writing system is from 1979, modified in 1985.

Below are the vowels and consonants, with name of the letter (spelt in Sami) and normal pronunciation with IPA codes.

Stress is on the first syllabus. In longer words certain syllables get secondary stress which gives spoken Sámi a distinctive, nodding melody.

Vowels[edit]

A Á E I O U

A a Á á E e I i O o U u
a á e i o u
(IPA: /ɑ/) (IPA: /a/) or (IPA: /æ/) (IPA: /e/) (IPA: /i/) (IPA: /o/) (IPA: /u/)

The letter á tends to be pronounced as a long, vivid a in the western dialects and like æ in the eastern dialects.

Consonants[edit]

B C Č D Đ F G H J K L M N Ŋ P R S Š T Ŧ V Z Ž

Đ đ in Sámi is a different letter from the Icelandic Ð ð and African Ɖ ɖ, although sometimes similarly looking.

The letter i is pronounced as a j if it is preceded by a vowel, whereupon it is considered a consonant.

B b C c Č č D d Đ đ F f G g H h
be ce če de đje eff ge ho
(IPA: /b/) (IPA: /ts/) (IPA: /tʃ/) (IPA: /d/) (IPA: /ð/) (IPA: /f/) (IPA: /ɡ/) (IPA: /h/)
J j K k L l M m N n Ŋ ŋ P p R r
je ko ell emm enn eŋŋ pe err
(IPA: /j/) (IPA: /k/) (IPA: /l/) (IPA: /m/) (IPA: /n/) (IPA: /ŋ/) (IPA: /p/) (IPA: /r/)
S s Š š T t Ŧ ŧ V v Z z Ž ž
ess te ŧe ve ez
(IPA: /s/) (IPA: /ʃ/) (IPA: /t/) (IPA: /θ/) (IPA: /v/) (IPA: /dz/) (IPA: /dʒ/)

Exceptions: the letter t is pronounced as /ht/ if it is at the end of a word AND sentence, and as /h/ if it is at the end of a word somewhere in the middle of a sentence. Letter d is pronounced as đ if it is between the second and third syllables.

Just like in Finnic languages, Sámi consonants can be different lengths. There are three different consonant lengths: short, long, and overlong. Short consonants are easy to pronounce and are written as a single letter. Long and overlong ones are both written as double letters. Pronouncing such consonants may be quite tricky for non-native speakers. In some dictionaries overlong sounds are denoted by ' (for example bus'sá, a cat) but the difference is not shown in normal text. So you can't really know that there is more s in the word bussá than in word oassi (part/piece).

Diphthongs[edit]

ea ie oa uo
(IPA: /eæ/) (IPA: /ie/) (IPA: /oɑ/) (IPA: /uo/)

Diphthongs may appear only in stressed syllables. The exact pronunciation of these varies a lot depending on the speaker's dialect.

Grammar[edit]

Being a member of the Uralic language family, Sámi grammar is quite different from that of any Indo-European language, such as English, Norwegian or Russian. On the other hand, if you are already familiar with Finnish, Estonian or Hungarian grammar you'll find learning a Sámi language quite reasonable and cosy.

In Northern Sámi, nouns can be declined in six or seven different cases, the exact number depending on whether the genitive and the accusative are considered the same or not (they have different uses, but the forms differ only in a few words). Cases handle things like living in the North, going to the town or working with a friend. Cases are coded into suffixes (i.e. word endings) but they often cause some changes to the "central consonants" and sometimes even vowels in the word itself. This phenomenon is known as consonant gradation and exhibits perhaps its most extensive form in Sámi languages.

If you are studying the language by reading poems or song lyrics you'll encounter possessive suffixes, one of the iconic features of the Uralic language family. However, using them in normal speech is nowadays uncommon.

Adjectives do not inflect by case with the noun like they do in Finnish. On the other hand many adjectives have a separate attribute form which you must use if the adjective is an attribute to the noun. There are no rules on how the attribute form is formed from the adjective; you just have to learn them together with the adjective.

Verbs have four tenses: present, preterite, perfect, and pluperfect. Perfect and pluperfect are formed in a similar way to English but using "to be" instead of "have". In fact, this is not a coincidence: it is a relic from close contact between Germanic language speakers and Finno-Samic tribes some 3000-3500 years ago! Verbs express also four moods: indicative, imperative, conditional, and potential. In modern-day speech, the potential mood is often used to indicate future tense (logical, as the future is always unclear!) The word "no" is a verb and inflects with the person and mood just like in many other Uralic languages.

In addition to the grammatical singular and plural, the Sámi languages have a third number: dual. So, "we two" is different from "we many". This means that verbs conjugate in nine persons instead of six. The dual is used only for people, never for animals or things.

Northern Sámi has no articles and no grammatical gender. Also rules for conjugation are mostly quite simple and the language itself is fairly regular.

Phrase list[edit]

Common signs


RABAS
Open
GITTA
Closed
SISA(MANNAN)
Entrance
OLGGOS(MANNAN)
Exit
HOIGGA
Push
ROHTTE
Pull
HIVSSET
Toilet
DIEVDDUT
Men
NISSONAT
Women
GILDOJUVVON
Forbidden
BISÁN
Stop

Basics[edit]

Hello.
Bures. ( )
Hello. (informal)
Bures bures. ( )
How are you?
Mo dat manná? ( ?)
Fine, thank you.
Dat manná bures, giitu. ( )
What is your name?
Mii du namma lea? ( ?)
My name is ______ .
Mu namma lea ______ . ( _____ .)
Nice to meet you.
Somá deaivvadit. ( )
Please.
Leage buorre. ( )
Thank you.
Giitu. ( )
You're welcome.
Leage buorre. ( ):. ()
Yes.
Juo/Jo. ( )
No.
Ii. ( )
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Ándagassii. ( )
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Ándagassii. ( )
I'm sorry.
Ándagassii. ( )
Goodbye
Báze dearvan (to one person). ( )
Goodbye
Báhcci dearvan (to two people) ( )
Goodbye
Báhcet dearvan (to more than two people) ( )
See you!
Oaidnaleabmai!( )
I don't speak Saami [well].
Mun in hála sámegiela. ( [ ])
Do you speak English?
Hálatgo eaŋgalasgiela? ( ?)
Do you speak Finnish/Swedish/Norwegian?
Hálatgo suomagiela/ruoŧagiela/dárogiela ( ?)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Hállágo giige dáppe eaŋgalasgiela? ( ?)
Help!
Veahket! ( !)
Look out!
Fárut! ( !)
Good morning.
Buorre iđit. ( )
Good afternoon
Buorre beaivvi. ( )
Good evening.
Buorre eahket. ( )
(Reply to any greeting above)
Ipmel atti. ( )
Good night.
Buorre idjá. ( )
Good night (to sleep)
Buorre idjá. ( )
I don't understand.
Mon in ádde / ipmir. ( )
Where is the toilet?
Gos hivsset lea? ( ?)

Problems[edit]

I no, you no, we all no

Like in many Uralic languages, in Northern Sámi the word "no" is a verb. Thus, as háliidit means "want"...

in háliit
"I don't want"
it háliit
"you don't want"
ii háliit
"he/she doesn't want"
ean háliit
"we (two) don't want"
eahppi háliit
"you (two) don't want"
eaba háliit
"they (two) don't want".
eat háliit
"we don't want"
ehpet háliit
"you all don't want"
eai háliit
"they don't want".

Numbers[edit]

½ - beal

0 - nolla

1 - okta

2 - guokte

3 - golbma

4 - njeallje

5 - vihtta

6 - guhtta

7 - čiežá

8 - gávcci

9 - ovcci

10 - logi

11 - oktanuppelohkái

12 - guoktenuppelohkái

20 - guoktelogi

21 - guoktelogiokta

30 - golbmalogi

40 - njealljelogi

50 - vihttalogi

100 - čuođi

200 - guoktečuođi

300 - golbmačuođi

400 - njeallječuođi

500 - vihttačuođi

1,000 - duhát

2,000 - guokteduhát

3,000 - golbmaduhát

4,000 - njealljeduhát

5,000 - vihtaduhát

1,000,000 - miljovdna

1,000,000,000 - miljárda

Time[edit]

now
dál ()
later
maŋŋil ()
before
ovdal ()
morning
iđit ()
afternoon
eahketbeaivi ()
evening
eahket ()
night
idja ()

Clock time[edit]

In spoken language the 12-hour clock is normally used, with no formal AM/PM notation, though the time of day can be clarified if needed.

one o'clock (AM)
diibmu okta (iddes) ()
seven o'clock (AM)
diibmu čieža (iddes)
noon
gaskabeaivi ()
one o'clock PM / 13:00
diibmu okta / diibmu golbmanuppelohkái ()
two o'clock PM / 14:00
diibmu guokte / diibmu njealljenuppelohkái ()
midnight
gaskaidja ()

Minutes and fractions:

twenty past (one)
guoktelogi badjel (okta) ()
five to (two)
vihtta váile (guokte) ()
a quarter to (three)
njealjádas váile (golbma) ()
a quarter past (four)
njealjádas badjel (njeallje) ()
half past (one)
beal (guokte) () NB! This literally means "half two", time is expressed "half to", not "half past".

Duration[edit]

_____ minute(s)
_____ minuhta ()
_____ hour(s)
_____ diimmu ()
_____ day(s)
_____ beaivvi ()
_____ week(s)
_____ vahku ()
_____ month(s)
_____ mánu ()
_____ year(s)
_____ jagi ()

Days[edit]

today
otne ()
the day before yesterday
ovddet beaivve ()
yesterday
ikte ()
tomorrow
ihtin ()
the day after tomorrow
don beaivve ()
this week
dán vahku ()
last week
mannan vahku ()
next week
boahtte vahku ()

In the Nordic countries, the week starts on Monday.

Monday
vuossárga / mánnodat ()
Tuesday
maŋŋebárga / disdat ()
Wednesday
gaskavahkku ()
Thursday
duorastat ()
Friday
bearjadat ()
Saturday
lávvordat ()
Sunday
sotnabeaivi ()

Months[edit]

January
ođđajagimánnu ()
February
guovvamánnu ()
March
njukčamánnu ()
April
cuoŋománnu ()
May
miessemánnu ()
June
geassemánnu ()
July
suoidnemánnu ()
August
borgemánnu ()
September
čakčamánnu ()
October
golggotmánnu ()
November
skábmamánnu ()
December
juovlamánnu ()

Writing time and date[edit]

When written by numbers, dates are written in the day-month-year order, e.g. 2.5.1990 for 2nd May 1990. If the month is written out, miessemánu 2. beaivi (May's 2nd) is used. Notice that month must be in genitive case (here fairly simple as -mánnu just becomes -mánu).

Colours[edit]

Like many adjectives, some colours have a separate attribute form which must be used if the adjective is an attribute to the noun. For example, when saying vilges beana (a white dog) you must use the attribute form but in a sentence beana lea vielgat (a dog is white), the dictionary form applies.

black
čáhppat [čáhppes] ()
white
vielgat [vilges] ()
grey
ránis [ránes] ()
red
ruoksat [rukses] ()
blue
alit ()
blue-green
turkosa ()
yellow
fiskat [fiskes] ()
green
ruoná ()
orange
oránša ()
purple
fiolehtta ()
brown
ruškat [ruškes] ()
pink
čuvgesruoksat [-rukses] ()

Transportation[edit]

Place names[edit]

Words from the map


Sámi place names often describe the site somehow. Here are some words you'll commonly see on maps.

ája
creek, rivulet
ávži
gorge
bákti
vertical cliff
bohki
streaming, narrow strait between two lakes
coáhki
wash, shallow water
čohkka
sharp-shaped fell
čopma
small hill
čuodjá
long bay
dievvá
sandy hill or esker
gárggu
pebbled stones
gordži
waterfall
guoika
rapids
guolbba
dry forestland
gurra
v-shaped valley
feaskkir
adjacent hill, satellite peak
jávri
lake
jeahkki
open mire
johka
river
láddu
pond or small lake
lánjas
birch forest
leakšá
valley with a mire at the bottom
luoppal
pond-like expansion in a river
luokta
bay
lusmi
place where lake drains into a river
njavvi
rapidly flowing part of a river
njunni
elevated point, high ridge
maras
hill covered with only deciduous trees
muotki
strip of land between two lakes
oaivi
round-headed fell
ráhkká
block field
roavvi
old forest fire
savvon
slowly sreaming part in a river
sáiva
deep pond, usually without drainage
skáidi
terrain between two rivers
suohpáš
pass between cliffs or rivers
suolu
island
várri
fell, sometimes forested hill
vađđa
opening in a forest
vuohčču
wetland, unaccessible mire
America
Amerihká ()
Canada
Kanáda ()
Denmark
Dánmárku ()
Estonia
Estlánda ()
Finland
Suopma ()
France
Fránkariika ()
Germany
Duiska ()
Japan
Jáhpan ()
China
Kiinná
Norway
Norga (), Norwegian language : dárogiella
Poland
Polska ()
Russia
Ruošša ()
Spain
Espánnja ()
Sweden
Ruoŧŧa ()
UK
Ovttastuvvan gonagasriika ()
USA
Amerihká ovttastuvvan stáhtat / USA ()
Copenhagen
Københápman ()
London
London ()
Moscow
Moskva ()
Paris
Paris ()
Saint Petersburg
Biehtára ()
Stockholm
Stockholbma ()
Helsinki
Helsset ()

Bus and train[edit]

Directions[edit]

Taxi[edit]

Taxi!
Tákse! ()
Take me to _____, please.
_____, giitu. ()
How much does it cost to get to _____?
Man ollu máksa _____ -ii/-ái/-ui? [e.g. siidii = to the village, guovddažii = to the centre] ()
(Take me) there, please.
Dohko, giitu.

Lodging[edit]

Money[edit]

Eating[edit]

Bars[edit]

Shopping[edit]

Driving[edit]

Authority[edit]

In Finland, Norway and Sweden the authorities will speak fluent English, so there is no need to communicate by phrasebook. Also, often the authorities will not speak Sámi, while all will know the main language of the country.

This Northern Sámi phrasebook is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!