Indigenous and minority language names for Norway now have official status

The Norwegian-Finnish border at Kivilompolo-Kautokeino is already marked with the Sámi name Norga. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Roads into Norway from Sweden, Finland and Russia will get new signs with the country name also written in the indigenous Sámi language depending on the region.

Southern Sámi areas from Engerdal in the south to Hattfjelldal and Umbukta near the Arctic Circle will soon get signs reading both Norge and Nöörje.

Entering Norway from Sweden at Graddis and Bjørnfjell, the border signs will include Vuoda, the Lule Sámi language name of Norway.

Further north, the six border roads from Finland and the single entry road from Russia will have both the Northern Sámi- and the Kven languages, Norga and Norja, additional to Norge.

“When borders reopen and I can drive from Sweden into Trøndelag, and see Norway signposted in Southern Sámi on the border, it will for me be a strong symbol that Sámi and Norwegian are equal languages,” said Minister of Regional Development and Digitalization, Linda Hofstad Helleland.

The bill approved by the Parliament this week is, symbolically, based on a proposal from the Government presented in three languages; Norwegian, North Sámi and Kven.

This is the first time in Norway that a Governmental proposal is printed in Kven language. Kven was recognized as a minority language in 2005 and is a Finnish dialect spoken in the northernmost part of Norway by the Kven people.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: New road signs to raise visibility of Tlingit language in Canada’s northwestern Yukon territory, CBC News

Finland: Everyone encouraged to boost Sami language visibility in Finland, Norway and Sweden this week, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Walt Disney Animation Studios to release Saami-language version of “Frozen 2”, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Can cross-border cooperation help decolonize Sami-language education, Eye on the Arctic 

United States: Inuit leaders applaud UN move to designate International Decade of Indigenous Languages, Eye on the Arctic

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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