Kildin Saami language

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Kildin Saami language

Kildin Saami belongs to the peninsular group of the Eastern Saami languages. It is spoken by appr. 600 native speakers in the central inland parts and the central costal parts of the Kola peninsula in Russia. It consists of at least four sub-dialects: the Šoŋguj dialect (now probably extinct), the Teriberka dialect, the Luujaavv'r dialect and the Aarsjogk dialect. Most of the Kildin Sami speakers have been transferred to the village of Lovozero. The neighbouring Saami language in the West is Skolt Saami, in the East there is Ter Saami with very few speakers. Kildin Saami is surrounded by the Russian language that has influenced especially vocabulary and syntax of Kildin Saami. Contacts with the Karelians and probably Finns, that lasted until the 16th century, have also left their traces in a vocabulary of Kildin Saami.

Characteristic features in the phonology that distinguish Kildin Saami from Ter Saami are especially in vowels: the qualitative alternation of Proto Saami stressed short vowels *o and *e is characteristic to Kildin but not to Ter Saami. Both long and short word final second syllable vowels in the substantives have been lost in Kildin Saami, mannˊ 'egg', nõõmm 'name' (vs. manni and namma in North Saami). A further characteristic feature to Kildin Saami is the two level palatalization of the consonant centre. The two different levels, semi-palatalized and palatalized, are distinguished in the literary language, e.g. mannˊ (semi-palatalized; 'egg') ~ mannˊ (palatalized; 'daughter-in-law'). The characters for palatalization are different in the modern cyrillic script.

The noun in Kildin Saami has 9 case endings (e.g. partitive as in Skolt Saami): kuõˊssk (PS goaski)

  Sg. Pl.
Nominative kuõˊssk kuõˊsk
Accusative kuõˊsk kuuˊskõtˊ
Genitive kuõˊsk kuusˊ
Illative kuasska kuu'skõtˊ
Inessive kuõ'skõsˊt kuu'skõnˊ
Elative (Ablative) kuõˊskha kuuˊskõha
Comitative kuu'skõnˊ kuuˊskõguõim
Essive kuõdˊtõnˊ  
Partitive kuõˊsskõ  

The possessive suffixes, mainly the first and second persons singular, are used very seldom with some words characteristically referring to a personal relation, as the words for relatives, e.g. jaannam 'my mother', jaannant 'your mother', ađant 'your father', niijtnjam 'my daughter' (all nominative forms, others are used sporadically).

The first book written in Kildin Saami was the Gospel of Matthew, translated to Kildin Saami 1878 by the linguist Arvid Genetz. It was written with the cyrillic script. There are large Kildin Saami materials in the Dictionary of Kola Saami dialects (Kuollan lapin murteiden sanakirja) by Genetz (1891) ad the Dictionary of Skolt and Kola Saami (Koltan- ja kuolanlapin sanakirja) by T. I. Itkonen. Both of them have until lately been the most important reference books in the research of Kildin Saami.

The research in Kildin Saami in the Soviet Union was initiated in the beginning of 1930's with the publication of several preliminary textbooks for school children in Latin script. The main dialect for the initiation of the literal language was Kildin Saami. The teaching of Saami in schools as well as the development of the literary language came to an end in the late 1930's as a consequence of the new language policy. After the World War II research in the Saami language and the cultural traditions was initiated anew. The linguist G. Kert published a research on Kildin Saami phonology, morphology and syntax in 1971. The new orthography in Cyrillic script was revealed in 1982 with the first Kildin Saami-Russian dictionaries and textbooks for elementary schools.

Other Saami languages

Table of contents: Languages and naming

Jelena Porsanger

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