Reindeer husbandry: terminology

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Reindeer husbandry: terminology

The Saami language is very rich in the terminology for reindeer, reindeer husbandry and landscape generally (reindeer). This terminology is an important part of the traditional knowledge of Saami people transmitted from one generation to another. This very exact knowledge on nature shows clearly how important reindeer husbandry is for Saami people and their living in the arctic region. Reindeer husbandry forms a basis for Saami culture, not only for subsistence, but especially for lifestyle. Knowledge of landscape, such as of grazing or snow conditions is important for reindeer herders to manage and survive in the hard and cold conditions. It is also necessary for a reindeer herder to know exactly what kind of reindeer is in question, for example when he/she is is separating his/her own reindeer of a big reindeer herd driven into a corral. Terminology on reindeer is very precise and professional and it can be described, for example according to colour, age and sex, antlers, appearance, nature and some other special character, as shown below.

Reindeer terms according to colour from white to black:

Gabba a completely white reindeer.
Jievja a white reindeer.
Luosttat a reindeer with white flanks.
Čuoivvat a grey or white-tipped reindeer or a reindeer with a muzzle or sides of white-tipped colour or of several colours.
Muzet a black reindeer.

In addition:
Ruksesmiessi a reindeer calf as long as it keeps its red fur colour.
Miessi a reindeer calf.

Reindeer terms according to age/sex:

Čearpmat a reindeer in its first winter.Čearpmat a reindeer in its first winter.
Vuonjal a reindeer in its second winter.Varit a reindeer in its second winter.
Áldu a reindeer in its third winter.Sarvvis an uncastrated reindeer
Vuobirs, vuobis, vuobiras a reindeer in its third winter.
Gottodas a reindeer in its fourth winter.
Goasohas a reindeer in its fifth winter.
Máhkan(as) a reindeer in its sixth winter.
Nammaláhpat a reindeer over six years.

Reindeer terms according to the shape of antlers:

Barfi or bierfi, a reindeer with much branched antlers
Biikasággi a reindeer with vertical horns. Typically a reindeer in its first winter (à čearpmat)
Čaločoarvi a reindeer with skin peeling from its antlers.
Nálat a reindeer with its antlers cut off.
Námmečoarvi a reindeer whose antlers are covered with skin.
Njabbi a female reindeer with delicately shaped antlers which slope back a little.
Nulpu a reindeer without antlers.
Sággi a reindeer that has antlers with very few branches

Reindeer terms according to condition/training:

Gisor a small, young and worn-out reindeer.
Livat an exhausted reindeer.
Váibbat a very worn-out reindeer.
Rávži a sick, feeble reindeer
Rotnu a doe that did not calve in a particular year
Heargi a castrated, draught-reindeer
Sarvvis an uncastrated male reindeer
Stáinnat a female reindeer which never calves (if a three-year-old reindeer does not calve
Spáillit an untrained, castrated male reindeer,

Some other examples:

Eallu a big reindeer herd (from two or three or from five or six hundred and upwards, according to people's pretensions), sometimes used also of a smaller reindeer herd which is kept in a separate "camp", in a unit of a few families as a subvision of a siida, (a reindeer village).
Čora a rather small reindeer herd
Bálgat grazing of reindeer on the summer pasture.
Ruovgat the grunting sound made by a reindeer.
Sađđat Panting of a reindeer.
Dápmat the process of taming a reindeer.
Ráidi a reindeer herder who in the winter looks after the draught reindeer of residents.
Ráidu a reindeer caravan, harnessed to a sledge one behind the other.
Rátkin Separation of reindeer in a corral.
Sivlá Holding corral the reindeer first put in a holding corral to settle down before they are separated and identified and given the earmarks. Reindeer's earmark separation of reindeer rátkin.
Girdno, girtno. a circle of the hence of separation of reindeer, where a smaller part from are in deer herdisseparated.
Čoarvegiella Suohpan
Suohpan a long, tarred lasso, which has in its other end čoarvegiella made of horn to make a lasso run smoothly. Reindeer are caught with a lasso.
Spágat packsaddles for reindeer.
Vuohtaráipi a reindeer's trace.
Siida a reindeer village, a mountain camp (consisting of one or, as a rule, several families of reindeer owners with their reindeer, when the herd or a particular part of it is kept together and watched from the family tents; as a rule each family has its own tent).

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