Ođđasat: the news in Sámi

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Having recently taken leave from work to be with my youngest daughter, I have rather more time to do things that I enjoy like watching the news, particularly Ođđasat — the news in Sámi (what is sometimes called Lappish in English). It should be noted that I don’t speak Sámi, news is also subtitled in Norwegian.

Sometimes this news really puts your own life into perspective; in one such case, a the mother of a young Sámi child resident in Sweden complained that the government had not carried out their legal obligation to provide mother-tongue teaching for her child. She complained that her child had to attend a kindergarten with Finnish children, and never heard her own language spoken in this context. She was however offered a solution: that the child attend kindergarten just over the border in Norway, where there was a suitable language offering, but the mother responded “who wants to row over the river Tana every morning?”.

The Sámi are a group consisting of several sub-groups living in Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. The Sámi language — a Finno-Ugric language — is recognized as an official language in Finland, Norway and Sweden. The language is divided into several sub-dialects, which are generally mutually intelligible. It is not mutually intelligible with Norwegian — a Germanic language — nor is it typically understood by non-Sámi.

Another language-related news item reported that the local prison in Tromsø in the far North of Norway had — perhaps illegally — required that Sámi prisoners speak Norwegian when receiving visitors so that their conversations could be monitored. Prisoners obviously found not being allowed to speak their own language in their home country upsetting. It was also expressed as problematic that no Sámi-speaking doctor had been provided, making it difficult for some prisoners to discuss their problems with medical staff. The situation was described as regrettable by the prison management, but as they only had one Sámi-speaking warden, they could not provide cover for every visiting period. They had also tried — without success — to find a Sámi-speaking doctor.

Links:
NRK: Ođđasat podcast
Sámi language in Wikipedia

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