Scoltsamian language

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Skoltsamisch (sää'mǩiõll)

Spoken in

Finland , Russia , Norway
speaker approx. 320-330


Volga Finnish
  • Scoltsamian
Official status
Official language in recognized as a minority language in the Finnish municipality of Inari
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


Distribution area of ​​Skolt Sami (No. 6) in the Sami language area

The Scoltsamian language (own name sääʹmǩiõll ) is a language from the eastern group of the Sami languages and thus belongs to the main Finno-Ugric group within the Urals language family . It is spoken by an estimated 320-330 people, 300 of them in Finland and 20-30 in Russia . The Scoltsamian language is mainly spoken in northeastern Finland. The next related language is Akkalasamian .


The Skolt Saami language is mainly spoken by the Skolt seeds in Finland. This Sami ethnic group belongs to the Orthodox faith . Most speakers live in a number of villages such as Sevettijärvi and Nellim in Inari Municipality , which are in northeastern Finnish Lapland . However, there are also Scoltsamian speakers who are located south of Lake Inari or on the Russian border. The main village and cultural center of the Skolt-Saami, the village Sevettijärvi, has the largest number of speakers with around 300 inhabitants. In the other regions mentioned above, the Skolt Sami language is the least spoken, as a large part of the population belong to the Inari Saami and Finns . In the municipality of Inari, the Skolt Sami language has had an official status as a minority language alongside Finnish , North Sami and Inari Sami since 1992 and is permitted in official communication. Originally the Skolt Saami lived in the area of Petschenga (Petsamo). When Finland had to surrender Pechenga to the Soviet Union after the Second World War , the Skolt seeds were relocated to Inari. In the municipality of Inari, Scolt Sami has had an official status as a minority language alongside Finnish, North Sami and Inari Sami since 1992 and is permitted in official communications. More recently, rock music in the Skoltsamian language has even emerged. Although Skolt Sami is state sponsored and taught in schools, it is considered to be highly endangered because it is hardly passed on to the younger generation.

There are also around 20 speakers who live in Verhnetulomskij , Tuloma , Murmashi or scattered elsewhere on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Also in the Norwegian municipality of Sør-Varanger , v. a. Skolt seeds traditionally live in the village of Neiden . The Skolt Sami dialect of Neiden is no longer spoken, but today there are at least 3 active Skolt Sami speakers who immigrated from Finland in Sør-Varanger.

spelling, orthography

Skolt Sami is written according to the official spelling standard in an expanded version of the Latin alphabet , which has the following letters:

A a  â B b C c Č č Ʒ ʒ Ǯ ǯ D d
Đ đ E e F f G g Ǧ ǧ Ǥ ǥ H h I i
J j K k Ǩ ǩ L l M m N n Ŋ ŋ O o
Õ õ P p R r S s Š š T t U u V v
Z z Ž ž Å å Ä Ä ʹ

The letters Q / q, W / w, X / x, Y / y and Ö / ö are also used in foreign words. The alphabet uses a modifying stroke as a palatalization symbol ( Unicode : U + 02B9).


The Scoltsamian language is a synthetic, highly inflected language that shares many grammatical features with the other Uralic languages. Skolt Sami, however, is not a typical agglutinating language ; it has developed noticeably towards a fusional language, similar to Estonian . This is in contrast to many other Uralic languages . Therefore, cases and other grammatical features are also indicated by changes to the root. Many of the Suffixes in the Scoltsamian language are Portmanteau-Morphe , which express several grammatical features at the same time.

In order to show grammatical connections, different upper and lower case letters are used for noun phrases in Skolt-Saami phrases , verbs indicate person and number markings. As a result, the verb and object order is less rigid than in other Urural languages.

Word order

The typically used SOV word order can be found in pragmatically unmarked sentences. It is also the predominant word order in dependency clauses and complement clauses , since the lexical verb remains in the end position of the sentence. The OVS position in which the object stands in front of the subject represents a deviation . This is implemented pragmatically when new information is introduced at the beginning of the sentence ( information structure ) and it is therefore a plausible explanation. The object also stands in front of the subject in the OSV construction. This happens when the object the Topik is the sentence.

exemplary glosses for the SOV word order
neezzan suâjjkååutid kuårru
woman.PL.NOM protection.SG.NOM + skirt.PL.ACC sew.PST.3PL
the women sewed protective skirts.
The women sewed protective skirts.

exemplary glosses for the SOV word order
piiđvaaʹldi seeʹst ǩieʹmn väʹldde
tax + take.NMLZ.PL.NOM 3SG.LOC aucepan.SG.ACC take.PRS.3PL
the tax collectors take a saucepan from them.
The tax collectors take the pots from you.

Sentence level

V2 position

In sentences that contain an auxiliary , it seems to be the verb second position phenomenon because the auxiliary verb occupies the 2nd position of the sentence. However, this only works if both verbs appear in main clauses and not in subordinate clauses and adverbials are ignored.

Information structure

The OVS word order is used to introduce new information. The new information is at the beginning of the sentence. The same applies to the OSV construction, in which the object is the topic of the sentence and is therefore pragmatically marked. There is also the particle k'al (dt. Ja), which is used as a focus mechanism. The unusual construction of the lexical verb in front of the auxiliary is seen as a contrast mechanism. This positioning is used to focus the main verb and thus creates a contrast to the previous sentence.

Phrase level

Noun phrase

Noun phrases that do not have the role of a core argument in a phrase often have an adverbial function. Using the Skolt Saami’s rich grammatical case system , information is expressed through noun phrases, which are instead expressed in many languages ​​using a prepositional phrase . An adverbial noun phrase can consist of a single head , or, as in the example below, a modified noun.

exemplary glosses
puk oummu noorõʹtte põʹrtte
Alles person.PL.NOM gather.together.PST.3PL house.SG.ILL
all the people gathered together in the house.
All of these people gathered in the house.

Postpositional phrase

The Skoltsaamische language is predominantly a postpositional language, however, there are also a number of prepositions that come before the noun to be governed. All positions regulate the genitive case. But there are also a number of positions that can appear either before or after the noun to be governed. However, the semantic function is not well known here.

exemplary glosses
volume manna puäʹldde live out õʹnne
DIST.SG.GEN nach burn.PRS.3PL or material.ESS use.PST.3PL
after that, they burnt (the tree) or used (it) as material.
They then burned (the tree) or used (it) as material.


Scoltsamian phonology is extremely complicated because of its wealth of phonemes and the presence of meaningful suprasegmental features .


The Skoltsamische has ten vowel phonemes : A [⁠ ɑ ⁠] Â [⁠ ɜ ⁠] , E [⁠ e ⁠] , E [⁠ ɛ ⁠] , I [⁠ i ⁠] , O [⁠ o ⁠] Õ [⁠ ɘ ⁠] , U [⁠ u ⁠] , A [⁠ ɔ ⁠] , and Ä [⁠ a ⁠] . The letter E can therefore stand for two different phonemes. The distinction between long and short vowels is phonematic and indicated in writing by the doubling of the vowel letter (e.g. leʹtt "vessel", leeʹtt "vessel"). There are also twelve diphthongs : eâ [ ], eä [ ea ], iâ [ ], ie [ ie ], ie [ ], iõ [ ], ue [ ue ], ue [ ], uõ [ ], uå [ ] and [ ua ]. With them, too, the length can have a different meaning, although diphthong length is not reproduced in the scriptures.

The number of consonant phonemes is 27. Consonants can appear long both internally and finally (doubled in writing). In Scripture that are Affrikaten with C [⁠ ts ⁠] , ʒ [⁠ dz ⁠] , Č [⁠ ⁠] , Ǯ [⁠ ⁠] , Š [⁠ ʃ ⁠] and Z [⁠ ʒ ⁠] reproduced, the palatal plosives with ǩ [⁠ c ⁠] and Ǧ [⁠ ɟ ⁠] . The horizontal line represents a fricative pronunciation, so Đ [⁠ ð ⁠] and g with stroke [⁠ ɣ ⁠] . The ng-sound [⁠ ŋ ⁠] is written with Ŋ.

Suprasegmental features

As a suprasegmental feature in Skolt Sami, the palatalizing suprasegmental occurs, which influences the pronunciation of the entire syllable. In scripture, it is represented by a modifying prime (ʹ) between a stressed vowel and the following consonant (e.g. kåʹll “gold”). The suprasegmental feature is significant, cf. väärr ("journey"), vääʹrr ("mountain, hill").

The suprasegmental palatalization has three phonetic effects: The stressed vowel is pronounced a little earlier in suprasegmental palatalized syllables. The following consonant or the following consonant combination is easily palatalized. In addition to suprasegmental palatalization, palatalization also occurs as a segmental feature of individual consonants. Palatalized consonants can also appear in suprasegmental palatalized syllables. In the case of monosyllabic words that end in a consonant, a non-phonematic unstressed vowel is spoken at the end of the word. This vowel sounds after an e in suprasegmental palatalised syllables , otherwise it sounds like an a (e.g. mieʹll [ miellɘ̯ ] "sandbank").


Scoltsami has primary, secondary, tertiary and zero stress. The first syllable of every Scoltsamian word always has the main tone (primary stress). For words with two or more syllables, the last syllable is given a light (tertiary) stress, for words with three syllables the middle syllable is stressed more than the last but weaker than the first (secondary stress). Conjunctions , postpositions , particles and monosyllabic pronouns are unstressed.

For forms in the abessive and comitive singular, however, this system is changed for polysyllabic words. In this case, the penultimate syllable does not have a secondary accent, as would be expected, but just like the ending a tertiary accent.


Skolt Sami has nine cases : nominative , genitive , accusative , locative , illative , comitive , abessive , essive and partitive . Genitive and accusative have the same form in the singular .

The nominative is, as in all Uralic languages , endingless and usually refers to the subject or predicate nominative . The nominative plural is also endless in most inflection classes and always has the same form as the genitive singular.

The plural genitive has the ending -i . The genitive denotes a possession ( Tuʹst lij mu ǩeʹrjj "You have my book"). In addition, the number counted for numerals between 2 and 6 is in the genitive ( kuõʹhtt põõrt "two houses"). All prepositions and most of the postpositions rule the genitive ( Sij mõnenne ääkkäd årra “You went to your grandmother”). The genitive is increasingly used instead of the partitive.

The accusative is the case of the direct object . In the singular it has no end, in the plural it has the ending -d just like the illative plural , before which the plural identifier -i- is placed.

The locative has the ending -st in the singular and -n in the plural . It expresses a spatial location ( Kuäʹđest lij ǩeʹrjj “There is a book in the Kohte ”), a spatial origin ( Niõđ puõʹtte domoi Čeʹvetjääuʹrest “The girls came home from Sevettijärvi ”) or a possession ( Suʹst lij čâustõk “He / she has a Lasso "). In addition, some verbs rule the locative.

The illative has three different endings in the singular, -a , -e and -u . In the plural, like the accusative plural, it has the ending -d , which is preceded by the plural character -i- . The illative expresses a direction of movement or the indirect object.

The comitive has the ending -in in the singular and -vuiʹm in the plural . It expresses with whom or what something is done ( Njääʹlm sekstet leeiʹnin “The mouth is wiped with a cloth”; Vuõʹlğğem paaʹrnivuiʹm ceerkvest “I went out of church with the children”).

The abessive has the ending -tää in both the singular and the plural . It always bears the tertiary emphasis. It expresses a lack (without whom or what) ( Sij mõʹnne niõđitää põʹrtte “They went into the house without the girls”).

The essive expresses a state (as what). It does not appear in the plural, the dual forms are still used in pronouns.

The partitive occurs only in the singular and can be replaced by the genitive. Its ending is -d . For numerals over 6, the count is in partitive ( kääuʹc čâustõkkâd "eight lassos"). It also occurs in certain post positions ( kuäʹtted vuâstta "against a Kohte") and in the comparative ( kåʹlled pueʹrab "better than gold").

Inflection paradigm of "čuäcc" = "rotten tree stump"
Singular Plural
Nominative čuäcc [t͡ʃwatt͡s] čuäʒʒ [t͡ʃwadd͡z]
Genitive čuäʒʒ [t͡ʃwahdd͡z] čuäʒʒ-ai [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑj]
Accusative čuäʒʒ [t͡ʃwahdd͡z] čuäʒʒ-aid [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjd]
Illative cuåc'c-u [t͡ɕwɔ̟htʲt͡su] čuäʒʒ-aid [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjd]
Locative čuäʒʒ-a-st [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑst] čuäʒʒ-ain [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjn]
Comitative čuäʒʒ-a-in [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjn] čuäʒʒ-ai-vui´m [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjvʲɥi̟m]
Abessive čuäʒʒ-taä [t͡ʃwahdd͡ztaː] čuäʒʒ-ai-taä [t͡ʃwahdd͡zɑjtaː]
Essive čuäcc-an [t͡ʃwahtt͡sɑn] -
Partitives čuäcc-ad [t͡ʃwahtt͡sɑd] -


The conjugation of verbs in the Scoltsamian language indicates the person (1st – 4th person), mode (potential, conditional and imperative) tense (past, non-past) and number.

Conjugation table of person-marked forms "kuullâd" = "to hear"
Non-past past Potentials Conditional imperative
1st person singular kuulam cool kuulžem kuulčem -
2nd person singular kuulak kuʹlliǩ kuulžiǩ kuulčiǩ kuul
3rd person singular kooll kuuli kuulâž kuulči koolas
1st person plural kuullâp kuulim kuulžep kuulčim kuullâp
2nd person plural kuullveʹted kuulid kuulžid kuulčid kuullâd
3rd person plural koʹlle cool kuulže kuulče collaz
4th person kuulât kuʹlleš kuulžet kuulčeš -

There are four different grammatical persons:

  • first person
  • second person
  • third person
  • fourth person, also called indefinite person (indefinite)

The Scoltsamian verb is conjugated in three persons and an impersonal form ("4th person") and two numbers (singular, plural). It has two simple (past and non-past) and two composite ( Perfect , Past Perfect ) Tempora , five modes ( indicative , imperative , conditional , potential and opt ) and six nominal forms ( infinitive , gerund , active participle , abessive, Präsens- Participle and past participle). Like the other Sami languages, Finnish and Estonian , Scoltsami uses a negative verb. In contrast to the other Sami languages, which have a dual, in Skolt Sami there is no distinction between dual and plural in the negative verb.

The verbs in Skolt Saami fall into four functional classes called 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade. The conjugacy 1, 2 and 4 can be further subdivided into three groups based on the vocal level of the vocal center and the absence or presence of Palatalisierung . This palatalization can be divided into groups A, B and C. This subdivision cannot be used for 3rd grade verbs. The infinitive form of all Skolt Saami verbs ends with either -âd, -ad or -ed.

Infinitive inflection stem

maaššâd (to be happy) → maašš–

čeâk'kjed (to be buried) → čeâk'kj–

1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th verb classes

The flexion paradigms of the 1st verb class (after Feist) end with either a short or long consonant - gemination , or a long consonant cluster . In the 2nd verb class, the inflection paradigms end in a series of consonants that do not show any cluster formation, provided that no suffixes are appended to them . Once a suffix has been used, a vowel must be used, with the exception of stems that end with -j-. These stems belong to the 3rd verb class. The infinitive forms of the 4th verb class end with -eed, so the inflectional paradigm at the end of a verb has an -e ending after the -ed suffix has been removed.

Examples of the verb classes
Verb class infinitive Flexion paradigm
1 kuärŋŋad (climbing) kuärŋŋ
2 mainsted (say / tell) mainst
3 sedggjed (faintly visible) sedggj
4th ääʹveed (open) ääʹve

Properties of the A, B, C verb groups

Verbs from group A (according to Feist) have vowels from the "high" group of the "high-low" vowel pairs, the palatalization is not present in the infinitive form. The B verb group has vowels of the "lower" group, which are embedded in the same environment as in the A verb group. Here, too, the palatalization has no infinitive form. Verbs from group C embed vowels from both the "high" and "low" groups, but they differ from the other verb groups in that they are palatalized in the infinitive form. Using the last vowel in the infinitive form, you can assign the verbs to the respective verb groups. Verbs that end with -âd belong to group A, and those that end with -ad belong to group B. Verbs that end with -ed belong to group C. This group identification does not apply to verbs from the 2nd verb class, as these end in -ed.

Verb classes and groups
Classification example Explanation
1st class group A kaggâd (to rise) (a) high vowel, ending -âd
1st class group B mäccad (fold) (ä) lower vowel, ending -ad
1st class group C pääʹcced (to stay) palatalized, ending -ed
2nd class group A juurdčed (consider) (u) high vowel
2nd class group B mååjjmed (smile) (å) lower vowel
2nd class group C ǩeeʹrjted (write) palatalized
4th grade group A vaulleed (brakes) (a) high vowel, ending -eed
4th grade group B âskkeed (to hug) (â) lower vowel, ending -eed
4th grade group C oiʹǧǧeed (press) palatalized

According to Feist, the third verb class is not listed with the other groups, since the palatalization in the infinitive form ends with an -e in the 2nd person (singular) in the imperative instead of a -u.

3rd verb class
Classification example Explanation 2nd person (singular) imperative
3rd class, not palatalized čåuddjed (lose) not palatalized čouddu
3rd class, palatalized võʹllʼjed (jump up) palatalized võʹllʼje


There are two auxiliary verbs in Skolt Sámi that have many uses, such as periphrastic tense, perfect, progressive aspect, locative constructions, and passive. The lexical verb always follows the auxiliary .

  • The first of them is the verb lee'd (dt. To be), which occurs irregularly in many forms and therefore cannot be assigned to any inflectional class.
  • The second auxiliary verb is the negative auxiliary verb that has no infinitive form . However, the negative suffix –ga is added to the auxiliary lee'd . The negative auxiliary verb inflects only for person and number, while tense and mode are marked on the lexical verb that occurs as well. In the case of questions , the negative auxiliary is sentence-final in order to lend emphasis
Conjugation table of person-marked forms " lee´d " = "sein"
Non-past past Potentials Conditional imperative
1st person singular leem le'jjem leʹžžem leʹččem -
2nd person singular leäk le'jjiǩ leʹžžiǩ leʹččiǩ leäk'ku
3rd person singular lij leäi leežž leʹčči leäǥǥas
1st person plural leä'p leeiʹm leʹžžep leʹččim leäk'kap
2nd person plural leä'ped leeiʹd leʹžžveʹted leʹččid leäk'ku
3rd person plural lie, liâ leʹjje leʹžže leʹčče leäk'kaz
4th person leät leʹjješ leʹžžet leʹččeš -

Negative verb

In Uralic languages, as in Finnish and Scoltsamic, there is a verb form that has a negating function, the "negative verb". In the Scoltsamian, the negative verb is congruent with the mode (imperative, indicative, optative), the person (1st – 4th person) and the number (singular, plural).

person Indicative imperative Optional
1 Singular jiõm - -
Plural jeäʹp - jeälˈlap
2 Singular jiõk each
Plural jeäʹped jieʹlˈled
3 Singular ij - jeälas
Plural jie ~ jiâ - jeälˈlas
4th jeäʹt -


The Scoltsamian language has 5 grammatical modes:


Skolt Sami has two simple tenses :

  • Past: "Puõʹttem škoouʹle jåhtta." (I went to school yesterday.)
  • Non-past: "Evvan puätt mu årra taʹbbe." (John is coming to my house today.)

Furthermore, two compound tenses are rarely found:

  • Perfect
  • past continuous


The aspect is expressed in three ways in Skolt Saami: (i) periphrastic with an auxiliary verb, (ii) periphrastic by means of a participle and an aspect construction, or (iii) by a morphological marking on the verb.

The progressive aspect is marked by the auxiliary leeʹd, followed by the progressive participle of the lexical verb. The progressive aspect can occur in one of the four tenses identified by the auxiliary verb.

Nominal morphology

Nominals inflect over numbers (singular and plural) and over nine grammatical cases (nominative, accusative, genitive, illative, locative, comitive, abessive, essive, partitive), which are marked by suffixes on the word. In the table you can see the singular nominative, Sg . Accusative, sg. Genitive, as well as nominative plural have no suffixes. The plural genitive only takes the plural marker -i as a suffix. Still, it makes the case unique. The # sign indicates that there is a vowel change before the suffix. The asterisk * also represents a vowel of different quality.

  Singular Plural
accusative id
Genitive i
Illative * id
locative #st in
Comitative in i-vuiʹm
Abessive tää i-taä
Essive #n
Partitive #d

This makes Skolt Sámi a morphologically complex language and ensures that the stem of a noun has a multitude of realizations in different syntactic contexts. Words can be nominalized with the suffix –mõš . In addition, all nouns and pronouns can be modified to an owner of the noun with the help of the genitive form . In general, nominal values ​​inflect after changes in vowel quality , vowel length , consonant quality , consonant length , palatalization and epenthesis . Therefore there are over seventy different forms of realization, which are divided into 12 different inflection classes:

Nominal classes in Skolt Sámi
class Number of syllables in Sg . Nom Consonant center ends with Division into groups? Suffix vowel Illative vowel
1 monosilbic

(over 50% of all nominal values ​​belong to this class)

strong long / short Geminat

long consonant cluster

yes (A: high vowel, not palatalized;

B: low vowel, not palatalized;

C: vowel palatalized)

A: â

B: a

C: e

A: e

B: u

C: a

2 monosilbic

(approx. 10% of all nominal values ​​belong to this class)

weak Vowel (except Sg . Nom ) yes (A: high vowel, i-final;

B: u-final)

A: e

B: a / e

A: a

B: a

3 monosilbic weak like class 2 (only different: Pl . Nom = disilbic and final consonant) No e a
4th disilbic strong (only Sg.Nom weak) final consonant either l, m, n, r, s, š, z or ž, or very rarely nj yes (A: high vowel, not palatalized;

B: low vowel, not palatalized;

C: vowel palatalized)

e a
5 ≥ disilbic final syllable vowel is õ, and final consonant (strong) is either k, s or š â e
6th ≥ disilbic strong (only pl. nom weak) i-final No e a
7th disilbic strong (all) i-final No e a
8th ≥ disilbic (only Sg.Nom strong) Consonant-final (class 4 delimitation: last syllable the structure CVCC, derived noun, the final consonant is not l, m, n, r, s, š, z or ž) No e a
9 ≥ disilbic až, âz, ež or už, laž ( diminutive ) yes (A: end in â or ež, high vowel, palatalized, e-final;

B: end in už, not palatalised;

C: end in až, not palatalized, a-final

e e
10 ≥ disilbic šeǩ, neǩ or ne'ǩǩ No e a
11 disilbic d-final, also the predicative form of some adjectives No e / ee ä / ää
12 disilbic b-final, comparative (ends in ääb) A distinction is made between comparatives that end in ääb and comparatives that have no ending ääb: u

k. Ending: â / u



Due to the rich grammatical case system of Skolt Sámi, it is possible that a noun phrase that consists of a single main noun and is not the core argument of a sentence does not need a prepositional phrase in order to have an adverbial function. However, there are adpositions in Skolt Sámi, all of which require the genitive. There are mainly Post positions used which are behind the word to which they relate. However, there are also 2 prepositions kâskka and ouddâl that appear before the word to which they refer. In addition, there is a whole range of words that can be both preposition and preposition.

Adpositions of Skolt-Sámischen
Post position translation preposition translation both translation
ââlda close kâskka in the middle of, to the middle čõõđ by
âʹlnn on (above), (from) to ouddâl Before, before manna to
kõõskâst between, in the middle of pâ′jjel over
kõʹsǩǩe between, in the middle of pirr around
ǩeäcca until the end rââst across, through
ǩeeʹjjest in ... time, later
luʹnn in, near, next to
luzz near, near (express movement)
mââibeä′lnn behind (e.g. follow behind)
mââibeälla behind (e.g. follow behind)
mieʹldd (together) with, through
ooudâst before, before, on behalf of
ou′dde before (express movement)
paaldâst next to, next to
pa′ldde next to (express movement)
puõtt across from
pääiʹk through, via
rajja to
rääi by
se'st inside, inside, inside, between
sizz in (express movement), in
do behind (expresses crossing / passing behind an object)
tuâkka behind (express movement)
do'ǩǩen behind (express location), after, at a distance of
vuâlla under (expression movement under an object)
vue′lnn under (express location), from below
vuâstta against


Determiners have a weak declension , which means that only the main noun inflects after case and number. They can act as both modifiers and head nouns . The three demonstrative pronouns ät (dt. This) , tõt (dt. Das ) and tut (dt. Das ), which are dealt with below, are seen as determiners.

Pronominal system

Personal pronouns

The personal pronouns come in three numbers : singular (singular), dual (two-number) and plural (plural) and also differ according to the person (1st, 2nd and 3rd). Thus there are 9 different personal pronouns; There is no distinction between male and female pronouns ( rather “he” or “she”). With these pronouns one still encounters the dual, although it no longer exists in the language. For this reason, they only appear with the corresponding plural form of the verb. The personal pronouns in Skolt Sámi inflect after each case in the singular, but with restrictions in the dual and plural. Dual pronouns inflect for all except the partitive, and plural pronouns do not inflect either the partitive or the essive. Often the personal pronouns are replaced by demonstrative pronouns in the discourse. This is especially the case when they are used anaphorically . In addition, personal pronouns can optionally be omitted because, in addition to tense, person and number are also encoded on the verb. The third person is most often left out compared to others (see Pro Drop ).

person Inari Sami German
1. Sg. mon I
2nd Sg. volume you
3rd Sg. son he she
1. You. muana we both
2. You. tuana you both
3. You. suana they both
1st pl. mij we
2nd pl. tij her
3rd pl. sij she


Declination of the personal pronoun son ("he, she") in all three numbers:

  Singular dual Plural
Nominative son suana sij
accusative suu suannnaid siʹjjid
Genitive suu suännai sij
Illative suʹnne suannnaid siʹjjid
locative sweet suännast siiʹst
Comitative suin suännain siʹjjivuiʹm
Abessive suutää suännaitää siʹjjitää
Essive suuʹnen suännan -
Partitive suuʹđed - -

reflexive pronouns

There is a reflexive pronoun in Skolt Sámi jiõčč ("self"), which inflects both according to case (except abessive and partitive ) and number (singular and plural) as well as according to person (1st, 2nd and 3rd). Only in the singular and plural are the nominative forms identical, otherwise they all differ from one another. The reflexive pronoun can also act as a nominal modifier, expressing a co-reference between the owner of an NP head and the subject of a sentence.


Declination of the reflexive pronoun jiõčč ("self"):

  Singular Plural


2. 3. 1. 2. 3.
Nominative jiõõõ jiõõõ jiõõõ jiijj jiijj jiijj
accusative jiõõõan jiijjad jiijjâs jiijjjân jiijjjâd jiijjjâz
Genitive jiõõõan jiijjad jiijjâs jiijjjân jiijjjâd jiijjjâz
Illative jiõo'osan jiõo'osad jiõo'oses jiõo'oseen jiõo'oeed jiõo'oeez
locative jijstan jijstad jijstes jijsteen jijsteed jijsteez
Comitative jjijjinan jjijjinad jjijjines jiijjeenvui'm jiijjeedvui'm jiijjeezvui'm
Essive jiõõõnan jiõõõnad jiõõõnes jiõõõneen jiõõõneed jiõõõneez

Demonstrative pronouns

As already mentioned in personal pronouns , demonstrative pronouns are used in discourse instead of noun phrases because they have the same syntactic functions. Like nouns, they inflect after the case as well as for singular and plural. There are two undisputed demonstrative pronouns tt (dt. This) and tõt (dt. That ) . Tat either refers to oncoming (proximal) objects or is used for speakers close to the speaker. Tõt, on the other hand, is used for objects that are moving away (distal discourse marker) or for more distant referents. In addition to this function, tõt is also used as a deictic discourse marker, which often expresses an anaphoric sense. Since tõt has two functions and the demonstratives just mentioned have the same translation and function as in Finnish, it is discussed whether there are the same number of demonstrative pronouns in Skolt Sámi. It seems to behave in such a way that tõt has taken over a function of tut (dt. That ) and therefore only exists in one form, but the Finnish system has formed the basis. However, Tut can also be used as a demonstrative pronoun.


Declination of the three demonstrative pronouns ät (dt. This) , tõt (dt. Das ) and tut (dt. Das ):

activity t does








Nominative activity dead does
accusative tan volume to do
Genitive tan volume to do
Illative taäzz tõõzz tuuzz
locative do tõʹst do
Comitative tain tõin tuin
Abessive tantää tõntää tuntää
Essive tä'đen tââʹđen do
Partitive taäʹđ (ed) tââʹđ (ed) tuuʹđ (ed)






Nominative tek tõk tuk
accusative taid tõid do
Genitive tai tõi tui
Illative taid tõid do
locative tain tõin tuin
Comitative taivuʹim tõivuʹim tuivuiʹm
Abessive daily tõitää tuitää

relative pronoun

The relative pronoun in Skolt Saami is kååʹtt . It inflects according to case and number. In addition, mii (dt. What) and ǩii (dt. Who) can also function as relative pronouns. With the help of the case marking of the relative pronoun, the role of the noun phrase in the relative clause can be read. If the relative pronoun is in the nominative , then the noun phrase has the role of the subject. With the accusative it is the direct object and with the illative it is the indirect object .


Inflection paradigm of the relative pronoun kååʹtt (without translation) according to number:

Singular Plural
Nominative kååʹtt kook
accusative koon koid
Genitive koon kooi
Illative koozz kooid
locative cost koin
Comitative koin kooivuiʹm
Abessive koontää kooitää
Essive kååʹđen -
Partitive kååʹđed -

Indefinite pronouns

Normally -ne be as suffixes to certain relative pronoun attached to indefinite generate pronouns. In the ablative (singular and plural) and comitive (plural) -ne- is inserted as an interfix between the pronoun and the case morphem.


  • mii-ne = anything
  • kååʹtt-ne = anything
  • ǩii-ne = anyone

Distributive pronouns

The suffix -a can be added to certain relative pronouns to create distributive pronouns. In the ablative (singular and plural) and comitive (plural), -a- is inserted as an interfix between the pronoun and the case morphem.


  • ǩii-a = everyone
  • kuäbbaž-a = everyone

Negative pronouns

The negative word ni can precede a relative pronoun, making it a negative pronoun. As soon as there is a negative pronoun in the sentence, the negative auxiliary verb must also be used to create a negative sentence.


  • ni mii = nothing
  • ni ǩii = nobody

Interrogative pronouns

There are three interrogative pronouns in Skolt Sámi, which are inflected in the singular after all cases and in the plural only after the nominative, accusative, genitive, illative, locative, comitive and abessive:

  • mii = what
  • ǩii = who

There is an exception

  • kuäbbaž = which (of the two)

because here we only inflect into the singular. There are also other question words that are not interrogative pronouns:

  1. koʹst = where, from where
  2. koozz = where to
  3. kuäʹss = when
  4. mows = how
  5. måkam = what kind


Inflection paradigm of the three interrogative pronouns mii, ǩii and kuäbbaž :

What who Which








Nominative mii ǩii kuäbbaž
accusative maid ǩeän kuäbba
Genitive mõõn ǩeän kuäbba
Illative mõõzz ǩeäzz kuäbbže
locative mast ǩeäʹst kuäbbast
Comitative Hello ǩeäin kuäbbain
Abessive mõntää ǩeäntää kuäbbatää
Essive mââʹden ǩeäʹđen kuäbbžen
Partitive mââʹđed ǩeäʹđed kuäbbžed






Nominative mõõk ǩeäk -
accusative maid ǩeäid -
Genitive mââi ǩeäi -
Illative maid ǩeäid -
locative Main ǩeäin -
Comitative mââivuiʹm ǩeäivuiʹm -
Abessive mââitää ǩeäitää -


Sentence embedding

The primary marker of grammatical relationships in Skolt Saami is the case marker.

  • The subject is always in the nominative in intransitive sentences. In the case of transitive sentences, it is also used to mark the agent.
  • Objects are also marked with a special case depending on the semantic role. The direct object is in the accusative, the recipient in the illative and the source in the locative.

Predicative clauses

There are five types of predicate constructions in Skolt Saami: (i) predicate nominal ; (ii) predicate adjectives (attributive sentences); (iii) constructions of existence ; (iv) Predicate-allocative (v) possessive clauses . All predicate constructions in Skolt Saami have a lack of semantically rich verbs; therefore lee'd does not appear as an auxiliary verb but as a copula . These constructions can also form interrogatives by pulling the copula forward and adding a question particle.

  • Predicate nominal and predicate adjectives behave identically, since they appear in the nominative and match the subject of the sentence in the number and case. Therefore, they can also occur subjectlessly. The copula must also agree with the number.
  • Predicate adjectives can appear in three degrees: positive, comparative, and superlative. In contrast to positives, the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives are the same, regardless of whether they function as attributive or predicative. Attributive forms seem to be limited to 2 classes (to nominal of class 4 and class 11). Nowadays speakers hardly differentiate between the predicative and attributive forms.
  • The existential predicates are claims about the existence of an entity . This entity often follows the verb.
  • The locative predicate is about entities that are in a specific location. Here, too, the locative follows the verb. This construction often uses a prepositional phrase or noun phrase as an argument .
  • In possessive clauses , the owner is in the locative and what is possessed is in the nominative. The copula lee'd (Eng. To be) corresponds in number with what is possessed.

Interrogative clauses

There are two different sets of questions: polar questions and informational questions.

Polarity issues

Polarity questions are those that expect either a confirmation or a rejection in response. Scoltsamian polar questions are marked simultaneously on a morphological level, through the use of a question morphemic tied to the first word of the sentence, and on a syntactic level, by moving the verb or other sentence element to the beginning of the sentence. In the case of sentences that contain an auxiliary , this is placed in front of the sentence and assumes the question morpheme. As mentioned earlier, the question morpheme is not limited to being attached to a verb, but almost any clausal element can act as a question word.

Information issues

Information questions expect some form of information as an answer. They are formed with a question word that appears in the sentence starting position, which marks the sentence as a question. The question word occurs together with a corresponding "gap" in the sentence about what information the answer should give.

Negation clauses

Negative sentences in Skolt Saami require a negative auxiliary verb that corresponds in person and number with the subject, as this negative auxiliary verb now carries the marking information. If the information is still on the (positive) auxiliary verb, this is called a connegative. The verb lee'd (dt. To be), whether as an auxiliary verb, copula verb or in an existential or possessive construction, has irregular forms in negative constructions. In earlier negative constructions, like other lexical verbs in negative constructions, it appears in its earlier participle form, leäm'maš (~ leäm'ma ) or sometimes shortened to leäm . Nowadays it takes the form leäk'ku and in negative conditional and negative potential constructions it appears as le'čče and ležže, respectively .

Relative clauses

Relative clauses act as nominal modifiers and can occur recursively . The relativizer in Skolt Saami is a relative pronoun, kåå'tt , which inflects after case and number. Both a reflexive pronoun can appear as a subject in relative clauses, although the verb already has the reflexive suffix –õõtt .

Complementary sentences

Complement clauses are those that act as an argument to another clause. With the help of recursion, several complementary sentences can be embedded in a matrix sentence , which are typically object complements . These sentences can be finite and non-finite .

Finite vs. non-finite

Dependent sentences and finite complementary sentences can be found in the preferred word order SOV. Finite Komplementsätze need a complementers što as head and can not alone as a subordinate clause are as tense , mode and aspect are marked on the predicate of the matrix clause. Non-finite complement theorems do not need a complementer because they are controlled by the subject of the matrix theorem. The typical word order is also confirmed with non-finite sentences, so that the object precedes the non-finite verb form.


There are 4 different ways to express possessiveness . As already mentioned with the nouns and pronouns , these can express an owner with the help of the genitive form. In general, the genitive is primarily used to mark the owner. In addition to this possibility of expression, there are also possessive suffixes that inflect after number and case. An exception is the abessive in singular and plural as well as the comitive in plural; these are not suffixes, but interfixes , as they are inserted either between the lexical stem (singular) or the plural marker and the case suffix. The realization of the possessive suffix is ​​determined by its position in a word:

  1. Vowel of the possessive suffix in the position of the latus (= the first unstressed nucleus that follows the consonant center): corresponds to the suffix vowel specified for each inflection class
  2. Vowel of the possessive suffix in the position of the vowel edge: then it is realized as e (singular) or ee if the owner is in the plural

In Skolt Sámi there is a preference that the possessive suffix always occurs together with a noun that is not marked for possession. Another alternative way to mark possessiveness is to have the possessessor in the locative , followed by the copula verb leeʹd 'to be'. Here the number agrees with the owner. The relative pronoun kåå'tt in the locative can also leave a possesor / the possessive.

Affix sequence

Above all, suffixes and interfixes can be found in Skolt Sámi. Suffixes are added to the root of the word and are thus the last element. They are, among many others, very widespread in number and case marking. These suffixes can be attached to almost any clausal element, as with the question morphemes . It's not just limited to attaching to a verb. It is an interfix when the inserted morpheme is inserted between two other morphemes. This is the case, for example, with possessive marking . Here it is only inserted in the abessive singular and plural as well as in the comitative plural between the case and plural marker.


  • Timothy Feist: A Grammar of Skolt Saami . Manchester 2010.
  • Jouni Mosnikoff, Pekka Sammallahti: U ʹ cc sääm-lää ʹ dd sää ʹ nnǩeârjaž = Pieni koltansaame-suomi sanakirja . Utsjoki 1988, ISBN 951-8939-02-0 .
  • Mikko Korhonen, Jouni Mosnikoff, Pekka Sammallahti: Koltansamen opas. (= Castrenianumin toimitteita. Volume 4). Helsinki 1973, ISBN 951-45-0189-6 .
  • Pekka Sammallahti, Jouni Mosnikoff: Suomi-koltansaame sanakirja. Girjegiisá, Ohcejohka 1991, ISBN 951-8939-17-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Raymond G. Gordon, Jr. (Ed.): Ethnologue: Languages ​​of the World, Fifteenth edition. SIL International, Dallas, Tex. 2005. Online version.
  2. ^ Project "Skolt Saami Culture Across Borders" (Østsamisk museum, Neiden)
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az Timothy Feist: A Grammar of Skolt Saami . 2010.