Nenets is the largest Samoyedic language in terms of the number of speakers and therefore also the one spread over the largest geographical area. There are around 44,000 ethnic Nenets, with around 25,700 of them speaking Nenets as their native language.
The Nenets language is divided into two groups: Tundra Nenets and Forest Nenets. Today, these are regarded as two different languages because the differences between them are so great. Forest Nenets only has around 700 speakers and does not have a literary language.
The first alphabet book in Nenets was published in 1895. Based on Tundra Nenets, the actual literary language was not created until the 1930s. There are some newspapers, radio programmes, children’s books, textbooks as well as fiction published in Nenets.
Seven Songs from the Tundra is a film directed by Markku Lehmuskallio and Anastasia Lapsui based on the personal experiences of Lapsui, a Nenets, and on Nenets folklore, and is the first narrative film in the Nenets language. It received the Jussi Award for Best Film in Finland and was the Finnish submission for the Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Foreign Language Film. It also won the Press Award at the Paris Film Festival. Produced by Jörn Donner Productions Oy, the film was released in 2000.