Saami in Sweden and Norway

There are a total of around 17,000 ethnic Saami in Sweden and 30,000–50,000 in Norway. The Saami languages spoken in Scandinavia are North Saami⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, South Saami, Ume Saami, Lule Saami and Pite Saami.

Spoken in Central Scandinavia, South Saami has around 500 speakers. South Saami can be divided further into two main dialects: Jämtland Saami and Åsele Saami. Literary South Saami was created a couple of decades ago and is used to publish some textbooks and fiction.

Ume Saami only has around five remaining speakers and is linguistically very close to South Saami. Ume Saami was the first one of the Saami languages with literary usage. As Saami was previously thought to be just one language, it can therefore also be said that the first literary Saami language was based on Ume Saami.

There were religious literature and educational booklets published in Ume Saami in the 1700s and 1800s. The New Testament was published in Ume Saami in 1755 and the complete Bible in 1811. A grammar book and a Swedish–Saami dictionary were also published in the 1700s. Since the 1800s, the literary use of Ume Saami has been minor.

There are around 700 speakers of Lule Saami (Jokkmokk Saami). The literary use of Lule Saami was first initiated by pastor Lars Levi Laestadius, who is also known as the founder of the Laestadian pietist revival movement. In recent decades, the literary use of Lule Saami has been quite active, and the literary language is being constantly developed.

Pite Saami (Arjeplog Saami) only has perhaps 40 speakers today. Pite Saami is spoken in Sweden in the fjeld (mountain) area of the municipality of Arjeplog in Sweden and in the same region on the Norwegian side. There is no literary use of Pite Saami, which means it only exists in the spoken form.

There are many online dictionaries of Nordic languages that can be used for language comparisons, including between different Saami languages, such as the following.

Norwegian–North Saami–Norwegian

Lule Saami–North Saami–South Saami

Lule Saami–Norwegian–Lule Saami

Lars Levi Laestadius (1800-1861)