Saami, North


A language of Norway

Alternate Names
North Sámi, Northern Saami, Saami, Same, Samic, “Lapp” (pej.), “Northern Lappish” (pej.), “Norwegian Lapp” (pej.)

20,000 in Norway (Laakso et al 2013). Ethnic population: 30,000 (1995 M. Krauss). Total users in all countries: 25,700.


Finnmark, Troms counties; Nordland county: Ofoten.

Language Status

2 (Provincial). Statutory provincial language in Sami Administrative District (1987, Sami Act, No. 12, Article 3).


Ruija, Torne, Sea Lappish. Two-thirds of all Saami speak Ruija dialect.


SVO; prepositions and postpositions; noun head final; dual number; case-marking (8 cases); verb affixes mark person, number; passives; comparatives; 30 consonants, 7 vowels, 4 diphthongs; non-tonal.

Language Use

In central Finnmark Province, where North Saami has an official status, many children learn the language and are likely to continue to use it in adulthood (Salminen 2007). Used by all. Also use Norwegian [nor].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 30%–60%. Literacy rate in L2: 75%–100%. Taught in primary schools. Bible: 1895.


Cyrillic script [Cyrl]. Latin script [Latn], primary usage.

Other Comments

Formerly called “Finns” which they consider derogatory.

Also spoken in:

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