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Pite Sámi is a part of the Western Sámi group, together with Southern Sámi and Ume Sámi to the south, Lule Sámi and Northern Sámi to the north. Of these, Pite Sámi shows closest affinity to Lule Sámi, but a number of features also show similarity to Ume and Southern Sámi.
The Pite Sámi consonant inventory is very similar to that found in neighbouring Lule Sámi, but lacks contrastive voicing of stops and affricates entirely.
Voicing in quantity 3 of plain stops (thus strong /b:.b/ ~ weak /p.p/ etc.), like in Lule Sámi.
/t/ as the outcome of Proto-Samic *?.
Features of the southern dialects are:
/r/ as the outcome of Proto-Samic *?.-->
For a long time, Pite Sámi was one of the four Sámi languages without an official written language. A working orthography was developed in 2008-2011 by the Sámi Association of Arjeplog; this version was described by Joshua Wilbur and implemented in the dictionary Pitesamisk ordbok samt stavningsregler, published in 2016. On August 20, 2019, an official orthography was approved for the language. The orthography closely resembles the orthography of neighbouring Lule Sámi.
A number of (re)sources exist with extensive collections of Pite Sámi lexical items, including grammatical and (morpho)phonological information to various extents. These include:
Ignácz Halász published a collection of Pite Sámi lexical items in 1896 with Hungarian and German translations in the book Pite lappmarki szótár és nyelvtan. Pite Sámi words are written in using a UPA-type standard.
Eliel Lagercrantz published a two-volume collection of Sámi lexical items in 1939 titled Lappischer Wortschatz with German translations. Many of the entries include Pite Sámi forms, which are marked with the abbreviation Arj (for Arjeplog, as Pite Sámi is often referred to as "Arjeplog Sámi" as well). Pite Sámi words are written in using a UPA-type standard.
Just Knud Qvigstad created a wordlist of Pite Sámi words in his Lappisk ordliste : Arjeplog-dialekt (Beiarn-Saltdal-Rana). This handwritten manuscript is from around 1928 and can be found on the Norwegian National Library website
Although not intended primarily as a lexicographic collection, Israel Ruong's 1943 dissertation Lappische Verbalableitung dargestellt auf Grundlage des Pitelappischen is in fact a rich source of derived verbs. These are presented in a somewhat simplified UPA-type transcription with explanations and translations in German.
Arjeplogs sameförening (the Arjeplog Sámi association) carried out a project called Insamling av pitesamiska ord (Collection of Pite Sámi words) between 2008 and 2012, written in a preliminary version of the current standard orthography. This wordlist includes translations into Swedish and Norwegian.
A Pite Sámi dictionary and set of orthographic rules was published in 2016 as Pitesamisk ordbok samst stavningsregler in the book series Samica. This collection is based on the wordlist created by Arjeplogs sameförening (cf. previous item), but with significant editing and additions covering grammatical and phonological information by the editor (J. Wilbur). It includes translations into Swedish and English, and uses a preliminary version of the current standard orthography. A website with these orthographic rules can be found at Pitesamiska stavningsregler.
A searchable lexical database is accessible online at Bidumsáme Báhkogirrje. It is maintained by linguist J. Wilbur (in collaboration with O. Utne and P. Steggo), and is regularly being updated, corrected and edited, especially checking for consistency and adherence to the standard orthography; missing lexemes are also added on a regular basis.
A searchable lexical database including automatically generated inflectional paradigms for a large subset of the lexical items in the Bidumsáme Báhkogirrje (cf. previous item) can be found in the Nähttadigibáhko, hosted by Giellatekno at the University of Tromsø, with collaborative development of the language technology tools for Pite Sámi by J. Wilbur. This uses the standard orthography.
Pite Sámi, 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 of the other Sámi languages, e.g. from Northern Sámi, which do not conjugate according to tense and other Sámi 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
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.
sg. du. pl. sg. du. pl.
1 - - - 1 alluv iellun iellup
2 ieleh iellen iellit 2 alluh ielluten ielluteh
3 - - - 3 allus ielluska ielluseh
^ abAt 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 Sámi dictionary project leader Nils Henrik Bengtsson.
^Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Pite Saami". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
^Sunna, Anna; Päiviö, Anne Marit; Niia, Anna-Karin (19 August 2019). "Nu har pitesamiskan eget skriftspråk" [Now Pite Sámi has its own written language]. Sveriges radio (in Swedish). Sameradion & SVT Sápmi. Retrieved 2019.