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Pite Sami language

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Pite Sami, also known as Arjeplog Sami, is a Sami language traditionally spoken in Sweden and Norway. It is a critically endangered language[3] that has only about 25–50[1] native speakers left and is now only spoken on the Swedish side of the border along the Pite River in the north of Arjeplog and Arvidsjaur and in the mountainous areas of the Arjeplog municipality.

Pite Sami
Native to Norway, Sweden
Native speakers
25 to 50 (2010)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 sje
Glottolog pite1240[2]
Sami languages large.png
Pite Sami is 3 on this map.
The approximate area in which Pite Saami was traditionally spoken



Pite Sami is a part of the Western Sami group, together with Southern Sami and Ume Sami to the south, Lule Sami and Northern Sami to the north. Of these, Pite Sami shows closest affinity to Lule Sami, but a number of features also show similarity to Ume and Southern Sami.



Pite Sami has 22 basic consonant phonemes. Of these, all but the glottal fricative, [h], can occur both short and geminate, bringing the total to 43 if geminate consonants are counted as separate phonemes:

Pite Sami consonants[4]
Labial Alveolar Palatal /
Velar Glottal
short gem. short gem. short gem. short gem.
Nasal m n ɲ ɲː ŋ ŋː
Plosive plain p t k
preaspirated ʰp ʰpː ʰt ʰtː ʰk ʰkː
Affricates plain t͡s t͡sː t͡ʃ t͡ʃː
preaspirated ʰt͡s ʰt͡sː ʰt͡ʃ ʰt͡ʃː
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ ʃː h
voiced v
Approximant l j
Trill r

Geminate and preaspirated consonants can only occur word-medially.


Pite Sami has nine vowel phonemes. Length is contrastive only among the open vowels.

Pite Sami vowels[5]
Front Back
Close i ~ ɪ u ~ ʊ
Close-mid ie ~ e ʊo ~ o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open Short a

The close vowels /i/, /u/ are realized as laxer [ɪ], [ʊ] in unstressed positions. Close-mid /e/, /o/ are diphthongized to [ie], [ʊo] when stressed.



Pite Sámi is one of the four Sami languages that does not have an official written language. A working orthography has been developed in 2008–2011 by the Sami Association of Arjeplog.[6] It closely resembles the orthography of neighbouring Lule Sami.

Letter Phoneme(s) Notes
A a /a/
Á á /aː/
B b /p/
D d /t/
Đ đ /ð/
E e /eː/ Only unstressed.
F f /f/
G g /k/
H h /h/
I i /i/
J j /j/
K k /k/, /kʰ/ Postaspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable.
L l /l/
M m /m/
N n /n/
Ŋ ŋ /ŋ/
O o /oː/ Only unstressed.
P p /p/, /pʰ/ Postaspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable.
R r /r/
S s /s/
T t /t/, /tʰ/ Postaspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable.
U u /u/
V v /v/
Å å /ɔ/, /ɔː/
Ä ä /ɛː/



Pite Sámi has 9 cases:

The inflectional paradigm for the noun guolle 'fish' by Israel Ruong, archived at the Swedish Institute for Language and Folklore in Uppsala.



Pite Sami verbs conjugate for three grammatical persons:

  • first person
  • second person
  • third person


Pite Sami has five grammatical moods:

Grammatical numberEdit

Pite Sami verbs conjugate for three grammatical numbers:


Pite Sami verbs conjugate for two simple tenses:

and two compound tenses:

Negative verbEdit

Pite Sami, like Finnish, the other Sámi languages and Estonian, has a negative verb. In Pite Sámi, the negative verb conjugates according to mood (indicative, imperative and optative), person (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and number (singular, dual and plural). This differs from some other the other Sami languages, e.g. from Northern Sami, which do not conjugate according to tense and other Sami languages, that do not use the optative.

   Non-past indicative       Past indicative                           
   sg.  du.    pl.           sg.     du.        pl.      
1  iv   ien    iehp        1 ittjiv  iejmen    iejmeh    
               iep                   ittjijmen ittjijmeh           
2  ih   iehpen iehpit      2 ittjih  iejten    iejteh    
        ähpen  ihpit                 ittjijten ittjijteh                               
3  ij   iepá   ieh         3 ittjij  iejkán    ittjin     
        iepán                        ittjijka

For non-past indicative versions that have more than one form, the second one is from the dialect spoken around Björkfjället and the third is from the Svaipa dialect. The plurality in the other forms is due to parallel forms that are not bound by dialect.

   Imperative                Optative
   sg.    du.     pl.        sg.    du.      pl.                        
1  -      -       -       1  alluv  iellun   iellup
                                    allun    allup
2  ieleh iellen iellit    2  alluh  ielluten ielluteh
                                    alluten  alluteh
3  -      -       -       3  allus  ielluska ielluseh
                                    alluska  alluseh


  1. ^ a b At least 25 speakers in 2010 according to researcher Joshua Wilbur. At least 30 active, native speakers in 2010; at least an additional 20 native speakers who do not use the language actively according to the Pite Sami dictionary project leader Nils Henrik Bengtsson.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Pite Sami". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger
  4. ^ (Wilbur 2014:37–57)
  5. ^ (Wilbur 2014: 63–70)
  6. ^ (Wilbur 2014:18–19)


  • Lagercrantz, Eliel (1926). Sprachlehre des Westlappischen nach der Mundart von Arjeplog. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia. 25. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. 
  • Lehtiranta, Juhani (1992). Arjeploginsaamen äänne- ja taivutusopin pääpiirteet. Suomalais-Ugrilaisen Seuran Toimituksia. 212. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. ISBN 951-9403-55-8. 
  • Pite Saami Documentation Project. 2009.05.03.
  • Wilbur, Joshua (2014). A Grammar of Pite Sami. Studies in Diversity Linguistics. 5. Berlin: Language Science Press. ISBN 978-3-944675-47-3. Retrieved 2014-10-10. 

External linksEdit