The Sami (Lapp) Language Branch

The Sami (Sabme, formerly known as the Lapps)

Population: Approx. 56,700

Concentration: Northern Scandinavia (Finland, Sweden and Norway) and the Kola Peninsula in Russia.

Religion: Protestant

Ethnic inheritance: Definitely stronger Mongoloid traits than the Baltic-Finnics, and some Germanic and Arctic traits.

Language: Northern Sami, Southern Sami, Inari, Skolt, and Kola. Other dialects include Ume, Pite, Lule, Kemi (Extinct), Akkala, Kildin and Ter. (Usually followed with Sami after the name of the language, many Lapp dialects are extinct today or have only a couple of speakers remaining)

The origin of the Lapps is for the most part unknown, they have been mentioned as having a non-Uralic origin. They definitely have some common inheritance with the other Uralic peoples, since there language structure is strongly similar and racially they are thought to be much like the Proto-Uralics. Scholars have speculated that the Sami originally spoke a non-Uralic or ancient Uralic tongue and then incorporated the languages of the Baltic-Finnic tribes with there arrival.

According to theories the Ancient Sami tribes split of from the other Uralic tribes at some time and headed towards Scandinavia. They arrived in Finland around 7500-6000 BC. When the Baltic-Finnic Tribes began migrating to Finland there was contact with the Lapps, as a result of this there are strong similarities between Baltic-Finnic and Lapp. The Baltic-Finnic Tribes drove the Lapps further north. A Finnish epic the Kalevala also tells of fighting between the presumed Lapp and Finnish tribes.

During the Middle ages the Sami tribes lived as far south as the modern city of Tampere. They paid heavy taxes to the Norwegians, Karelians and Finns. They have resisted assimilation from many peoples, and have lived mainly in a genetic isolation.

Many of the Lapps have assimilated into there neighbors in recent times. A large part of there vocabulary is related to early Finnish languages. There are also many borrowed words from Swedish, Norwegian, Russian and Old Norse. Lapp should not be thought of as one language, as it is made up of many languages that are at least as different as the different Baltic-Finnic languages. The largest and most common Lapp literary language is Northern Sami. The word Tundra appears in many languages around the world and is of Sami origin, it is interesting considering the general geographical location of the Sami.