- 国立民族学博物館研究報告 = Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology (ISSN:0385180X)
- vol.15, no.3, pp.847-910, 1991-03-18
This paper aims to analyze the efforts of the Samis to revivetheir language as a modern medium of communication, and, inconnection with this, to throw light upon the role of languagerehabilitation in the Sami ethnopolitical movement.The Sami people, numbering from 50,000 to 70,000 accordingto different sources, are the oldest known indigenous inhabitantsin Northern Scandinavia and the Kola peninsula. Butexcept in some northernmost administrative communes, they nowconstitute only a small portion of the total inhabitants, even intheir own traditional territory, which is partitioned and controlledby four countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and theSoviet Union. In sections 2-4 of this paper, the unfavourableconditions of the present Sami language are outlined from variouspoints of view : as a lower-ranked spoken language in multilingualcommunities, as a standard written language, and as anobject and medium of education.The next section attempts to sum up the problems of theSami language under three major factors: its socio-functional stateas a minority language, the linguistic competence of the Samisin their mother tongue, and its normative crisis. By the lastterm I mean (1) the lack of available linguistic norms in the commonwritten language, (2) the lack of means of protecting thelanguage from direct exposure to foreign influence, and (3) aninability to match the language to the demands of presentdaySami society.The next two sections, 6 and 7, summarize the developmentof the Sami ethnopolitical movement in three phases: the periodof growth from the beginning of this century, the revival of themovement after World War II, and the period of remarkable progressfrom the 1970s onward. Attention is paid here also to thechange of conditions surrounding the Samis, i.e. the attitudes ofthe authorities toward them and general notions about the inherentrights of indigenous minority peoples. In this connectionwe discuss the present tendency of the Samis to seek a newethnical identity by emphasizing their cultural uniqueness onthe one hand, and on the other by identifying themselves withindigenous minority peoples. The latter tendency seems to beparticularly significant to the movement, because an increasingnumber of countries and political organizations have, during thelast two decades, recognized the preferential rights of indigenousminorities to territorial claims and other natural resources.In the light of Sami ethnopolitical development, sections8 and 9 characterize various attempts to establish the Sami languageas a full-fledged working language for the Samis. Followingthe generally accepted schema of language planning,Sami language rehabilitation activities are described along twolines: linguistic policy and extralinguistic policy. In the case ofthe Sami language or, more precisely, Northern Sami, the mostcentral issues in linguistic policy were the establishment of normsfor a common orthography for Northern Sami, which has hadseveral systems, and lexical elaboration, i.e. the standardizationand modernization of the lexical stock.Extralinguistic policy, the ultimate aim of which is to raisethe status of the language in society, is directed to three majorpoints. These are: (1) the acquisition of a legal guarantee tothe official status of the Sami language in various situations, includingeducation; (2) the expansion of the domain of useof the language, particularly by ensuring its position in massmedia; and (3) the encouragement of the people to revaluatetheir own language as an irreplaceable medium of their ethnicvalues. It is not difficult to associate the ideology of the lastpoint with that of the recent tendency in the ethnopoliticalmovement mentioned above, i.e. the emphasis of cultural uniqueness.It is to be noted, however, that their demand for the rightto the mother tongue, especially in education, is not accountedfor only in terms of this "uniqueness." It appears that increasingstress is being put on a kind of universal axiom concerningboth the importance of the mother tongue in elementary education and the injurious effects of failure in normal language acquisition.This theory, which has been repeatedly resorted toin various connections (e.g. in demands for the improvementof Sami language education and in parents' meetings) seems extremelyeffective, because little is left for either the political authoritiesor individuals to argue against when presented withthese scientifically attested human rights.The achievement of these activities, at least in the normestablishmentand social-legal settings of the Sami language,has been notable since the early 1970s and, in particular, fromthe late 1970s, when a common orthography for Northern Samiwas finally created. In reality, however, concrete achievementin language rehabilitation e.g. an increase in language use or animprovement in the language competence of the speakers, hasnot been seen yet.The last two sections, 10 and 11, discuss the role of the Samilanguage rehabilitation movement in Sami ethnopolitics. Theaim to revive their mother tongue has been accounted for asbeing similar to the recovery of their ethnic right to their nativelands. It is also to be noted that the language movement itselfhas played an important role in the entire ethnopolitical movementas a unifying force for the national assembly of the Samis.The unique value of the language in relation to the Sami environmentand traditions, coupled with their cooperation to achievethis collective common goal of revitalizing their language inpresent-day Sami society, has without doubt contributed to therecent ethnopolitical processes of the Sami peoples.