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Ume Sami is a Sami language spoken in Sweden and (formerly) in Norway. It is a moribund language with only about 10 native speakers left which used to be spoken mainly along the Ume River in the south of present-day Arjeplog, in Sorsele and Arvidsjaur.[3][4]

Ume Sami
ubmejensámien giella
Native toNorway, Sweden
Native speakers
20 (2000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3sju
Sami languages large.png
Ume Sami is 2 on this map.




Labial Dental/
Velar Glottal
Plosive /p/ /t/ /k/
Affricate /t͡s/ /t͡ʃ/
Fricative voiceless /s/ /ʃ/ /h/
voiced /v/ /ð/
Nasal /m/ /n/ /ɲ/ /ŋ/
Trill /r/
Approximant /l/ /j/

An /f, ʋ/ and /θ/ are allophones of /v/ and /ð/. When a /h/ sound occurs before a plosive or an affricate sound, they are then realized as preaspirated sounds. If an /l/ sound occurs before a /j/ sound, it is realized as a palatal lateral /ʎ/ sound. It is said that some western dialects of the language do not have a presence of the /ð/ phoneme.


Short vowels
Front Central Back
Close /i/ /y/ /ʉ/ /u/
Mid /e/ /o/
Open /a/
Long vowels
Front Central Back
Close /iː/ /ʉː/ /uː/
Mid /eː/ /oː/
Open /aː/

Four diphthongs are included; /ie/, /yʉ/, /ʉi/, /uo/. A schwa sound /ə/ may exist as an allophone of various vowel sounds.[5]

Writing systemEdit

Until 2010, Ume Sami did not have an official written standard, although it was the first Sami language to be written extensively (because a private christian school for Sami children started in Lycksele 1632, where Ume Sami was spoken). The New Testament was published in Ume Sami in 1755 and the first Bible in Sami was also published in Ume Sami, in 1811.

The current official orthography is maintained by the Working group for Ume Sami, whose most recent recommendation was published in 2016.

Letter Phoneme(s)
A a /ʌ/
Á á /ɑː/
B b /p/
D d /t/
Đ đ /ð/
E e /e/, /eː/
F f /f/
G g /k/
H h /h/
I i /i/
Ï ï /ɨ/
J j /j/
K k /hk/, /k/
L l /l/
M m /m/
N n /n/
Ŋ ŋ /ŋ/
O o /o/ (only in diphthongs)
P p /hp/, /p/
R r /r/
S s /s/
T t /ht/, /t/
Ŧ ŧ /θ/
U u /u/, /uː/
Ü ü /ʉ/, /ʉː/
V v /v/
Y y /y/
Å å /o/, /ɔː/
Ä ä /ɛː/
Ö ö /œ/ (only in diphthongs)


  • Vowel length is ambiguous for the letters ⟨u⟩, ⟨ü⟩ and ⟨å⟩. In reference works, the length is indicated by a macron (⟨ū⟩, ⟨ǖ⟩, ⟨å̄⟩). In older orthographies, length could be indicated by writing a double vowel.
  • No distinction is made between long and overlong consonants, both are written with a double consonant letter. In reference works, the overlong stops are indicated with a vertical line (⟨bˈb⟩, ⟨dˈd⟩ etc.).


Consonant gradationEdit

Unlike its southern neighbor Southern Sami, Ume Sami has consonant gradation. However, gradation is more limited than it is in the more northern Sami languages, because it does not occur in the case of short vowels followed by a consonant that can gradate to quantity 1 (that is, Proto-Samic single consonants or geminates). In these cases, only quantity 3 appears. Consonant clusters can gradate regardless of the preceding vowel.




Person and grammatical numberEdit

The verbs in Ume Sami have three persons:

  • first person
  • second person
  • third person

There are three grammatical numbers: singular, dual and plural.


Ume Sami has two grammatical moods:


Negative verbEdit

Ume Sami, like Finnish, the other Sami languages and Estonian, has a negative verb. In Ume Sami, the negative verb conjugates according to mood (indicative and imperative), person (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and number (singular, dual and plural).


Transcription Swedish Translation English Translation
Båtsuoj-bieŋjuv galggá báddie-gietjiesna álggiet lieratit. De tjuavrrá jiehtja viegadit ráddiesta ráddáje jah nav ájaj livva-sijiesna, guh jiehtják súhph. Die galggá daina báddie-bieŋjijne viegadit bijrra ieluon, nav júhtie biegŋja galggá vuöjdniet gúktie almatjh gelggh dahkat. Lierruo-biegŋja daggár bälij vánatallá ieluon bijrra ja ij akttak bijgŋuolissa luöjtieh. Die måddie bálliena daggár biegŋja, juhka ij leäh ållást lieratuvvama, die butsijda válldá ja dulvada. De daggár bälij tjuavrrá suv báddáje válldiet jah slåvvat.

Renhunden ska man börja lära i koppel. Då måste man själv springa från den ena kanten till den andra (av renhjorden) och så också på (renarnas) viloplats, medan de andra äter. Då ska man med den där bandhunden springa runt hjorden, så att hunden ser, hur folket gör. Lärohunden springer en sådan gång runt hjorden och låter ingen undslippa. Så finns det ofta sådana hundar, som inte har lärt sig helt, som tar någon ren och jagar iväg den. Då måste man en sådan gång sätta band på den och slå den.

A reindeer herding dog must begin its training with a leash. Then one has to run from one side [of the herd] to the other and also on the area where they [the reindeer] rest, while others are eating. One must run around the herd with the dog [to be trained] on a leash, so that the dog sees how people do it. The trained dog then runs around the herd and does not allow any to slip away. Then there are often dogs that are not fully trained [and] who single out a reindeer and drive it away [i.e. to kill it]. Then one must put a leash on that [dog] and strike it.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ume Sami at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ume Sami". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Korhonen, Olavi (2005). "Ume Saami language". The Saami: a cultural encyclopaedia. Helsinki. pp. 421–422.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Pekka Sammallahti, The Saami languages: an introduction, Kárášjohka, 1998
  5. ^ von Gertten, Daniel (2015). Huvuddrag i umesamisk grammatik. University of Oslo.

External linksEdit

  • Sámi lottit Names of birds found in Sápmi in a number of languages, including Skolt Sami and English. Search function only works with Finnish input though.