Social media strengthens Sami language

A new survey shows that the Sami language is getting a boost – in social media.

The study, carried out at Umeå University, shows that many young Samis listen to Sami music and are proud of their heritage, but they don’t often watch Sami TV or read books in the Sami language. And when they speak, it is more Swedish than Sami.

But according to the findings in this study, their mother tongue often slips in when they use social media.

“It could be Facebook, chat or text messaging – that’s what they have indicated. And we thought it was exciting because it shows that these children and youngsters are positive to the language, they want to use it and they find ways of doing so,” says Eva Lindgren, who is in charge of the study.

Kids ‘take charge of their language’

In this preliminary study, north-Sami children in Sweden aged between nine and 18 have been filling in the questionnaires. North-sami is the biggest sami language and is spoken in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The Sami information centre estimates that approximately up to 17,000 people speak it in the world, 6,000 of them in Sweden.

“These kids take charge of their language and find a way of using it, because it is important to them, and a part of their identity,” says Eva Lindgren.

“The more a language is used, the more it is confirmed, and hopefully this can be like ripples on the water,” she says.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Losing their Words (Video documentary), Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  English language dominance worries language teachers in Finland, Yle News

Greenland: (VIDEO) The importance of perserving the Inuit language, Eye on the Arctic

Norway:  Sami character keyboard app released, Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden to expand teaching of minority languages, Yle News

Russia:  More students in North Finland opting to study Russian, Yle News

United States:  Alaska bill to be signed recognizing indigenous languages as official state languages, Alaska Dispatch

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