Saami languages

Areas where Saami languages are spoken. Figure from Saamentutkimus tänään [Saami Studies Today]. Eds. IRJA SEURUJÄRVI-KARI, PETRI HALINEN and RISTO PULKKINEN. Tietolipas 234. Finnish Literature Society, Helsinki 2011.

There are Saami living throughout the Cap of the North in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. For a long time, Saami was referred to as if it was just one language. Today, we speak of the Saami languages.

There are eight to ten Saami languages still alive today. Some of the Saami languages, such as Kemi Saami, which used to be spoken in Finland, have already become extinct.

Distinguishing between a language and a dialect is difficult with regard to Saami languages, too. There are cases where linguistic differences can be seen as kinds of drifts. It is often the case that speakers of different Saami languages who live close to each other understand each other almost without any difficulty. When the geographical distance increases, linguistic differences also increase and speakers can no longer understand each other.


Veli-Pekka Lehtola: Saamelaiset. Historia, yhteiskunta, taide [The Saami. History, Society, Arts]. PUNTSI, 2015.

Johdatus saamentutkimukseen [Introduction into Saami studies]. Tietolipas 131. Finnish Literature Society.

Saamentutkimus tänään [Saami Studies Today]. Tietolipas 234. Finnish Literature Society.

The Saami. A Cultural Encyclopaedia. Finnish Literature Society.