The Sami case Internet and the Sami language

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					The Sami case: Internet and the
Sami language
FILTER Closing Event
Amsterdam Febuary 10 2006
Presentation by Jan Atle Toska
Some major FILTER concerns

 A major concern: The dangers of linguistic and
 cultural homogenization: ”The same, yet
 English language and US produced content
 becoming too dominant: Badly written and
 understood English as lingua franca?
 Question: What is the role of the Internet in
 the processes of homogenization?
My hypothesis

 The Internet may support processes of
 homogenization, yet at the same time it may
 also strenghten the position of minority
 language (ML) (and culture)
 Regarding ML the Internet may
 * Expand the possibilities for dispersed ML
 users to communicate with each other
 * Expand the areas of ML use
 * Enhance the access to ML teaching and
 learning opportunities
The Sami case

 The Sami language is a non Indo-European ML
 in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia
 Norway has the largest Sami population: 20-
 30 000
 The Sami people in Norway has to be bilingual
 (Norwegian and Sami)
 A process of ”fornorsking” has been going on
 for centuries. Many Sami people does not
 know the language of their ancestors
Political initatives for the Sami

 In the last 20-25 years: A new minority policy
 in Norway, establishing a Sami parliament and
 a Sami university college (making up for old
 The position of the Sami language has been
 strenghtend in the new Sami generation (it’s
 cool to be Sami and speak the language)
 An interesting point: Mastering your mother
 tongue may be a prerequisite for mastering a
 second and third (etc) language like
 Norwegian and English
Internet use and Sami language

 The use of Internet is important in
 strenghtening the situation of Sami as a ML:
 * Establishing a Sami learning portal for
 kindergarden and schools containing learning
 material in Sami:
 * Developing distance higher education
 courses in Sami language and culture, in
 particular to meet the need for Sami teachers
 * Establishing a Sami e-school for continuing
Some challenges

 The lack of teachers mastering the Sami
 language is a problem on all levels of the
 educational system. This problem is even
 bigger in the lesser used variants of Sami:
 Lule and South Sami
 The problem of Sami letters was a concern
 until recently. Now the political authorities in
 Finland, Norway and Sweden have signed an
 agreement with Microsoft making it possible to
 use Sami letters in the new version of
 Microsoft Office

 In Norway the Internet has been used quite
 successfully to enhance the situation of Sami
 as a ML
 But: The Sami language with so few users is
 still an endangered language species
 If the Sami language disappears in the future,
 however, this will not be an effect caused by
 the Internet
 Read more about this in the upcoming FILTER
 book! Thank you
The End: More information
Information (also in English):