In Hebrew’s revival, a Nordic people see hope
2012 03 08

By Daniella Cheslow | Boston.com / AP

JERUSALEM—Norway’s Sami people, an indigenous community with roots as reindeer herders in the northern reaches of Scandinavia and Russia, are looking south to Israel for help preserving their fading native language.

A Sami delegation spent five days in Israel recently, hoping the Jewish state’s experience reviving the once-dormant ancient Hebrew language can provide a blueprint for them.

Over the past century, Israel has transformed Hebrew, once reserved almost exclusively for prayer and religious study, into a vibrant, modern language. Through its "ulpan" language immersion program, it has taught a common tongue to immigrants from all over the world, helping the young state absorb generations of newcomers.

"We are trying different methods for 20, 30 years and we haven’t succeeded in increasing the number of fluent Sami speakers," said Odd Willenfeldt, principal of Sami School for Mid-Norway and a member of the delegation. "So we are looking for methods that are good and have shown results to make people bilingual."



In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, Nils Ante Eira, center right, and Lars Joar Halonen, Sami of Norway, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, as part of their stay in Israel, viewed by many as a model for reviving ancient tongues. A delegation of Norway’s indigenous Sami people visited Israel this week, to seek help in preserving and expanding their fading native language. According to a senior researcher at the Academy of Hebrew Language the Sami are not the first foreigners to look to Israel for language instruction tips; visitors from the Maori tribes of New Zealand, from Wales and from the Basque region of Spain have come before. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)


The Sami, the Nordic countries’ only officially indigenous people, live in northern Sweden, Finland and Russia. There are no official population statistics for the Sami, but best estimates range between 80,000 and 100,000; around 30,000 speak Sami languages, Willenfeldt said.

Sami were formerly known outside their community as Lapps -- a term that means "patch" and has been abandoned because the Sami regard it as derogatory.

Nils Ante Eira and Lars Joar Halonen stood in the corner of a Hebrew class late last month at Ulpan Morasha in Jerusalem as a class of two dozen adults mumbled through introductions in Hebrew. The men watched carefully, with an eye toward picking up ideas for how to teach adults Sami at home.

Halonen was wearing a blue fleece over brown leather pants, shoes and a belt, all made by his mother from reindeer hide. He heads the Sami Language Centre in Lavangen, a mostly Sami community in northern Norway.

Eira, a member of the Lavangen town council, wore a green tunic edged in an elaborate woven ribbon that is the hallmark of his Sami tribe.

Both men speak Sami at home to their children, but say they are the exception following years of government suppression of the indigenous culture.

"It was prohibited to use Sami at school," Halonen said. "It was prohibited for Sami to have land, and it was prohibited for Sami to use Sami."

Today, most Sami are fully integrated into the societies where they live and have adopted Christianity instead of the traditional shamanism. Although reindeer herding remains prevalent, many Sami also work in fishing, education and other industries because of shrinking habitat and earlier official efforts to suppress the indigenous culture.


[...]

Read the full article at: boston.com


The Sami People - Wikipedia


The Sami flag.


"Traditionally, the Sami have pursued a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping and sheep herding. Their best-known means of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding, with which about 10% of the Sami are connected and 2,800 actively involved on a full-time basis. For traditional, environmental, cultural and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sami people in certain regions of the Nordic countries."


Sami Storehouse on stilts, displayed at Skansen in Stockholm. Creative Commons: Flikr - M. Prinke







Video from: YouTube.com








Related Articles
The Three Levels of the Hebrew Alphabet
Discovery of Jerusalem tomb with purported early Christian symbols ignites debate
2012 Zion Olympics in London Coincide with Tisha B’Av - Commemoration of the Destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem
The Vatican Wants to Lay its Hands on Jerusalem
Mark Pagel: How language transformed humanity (Video)
Every human language evolved from ’single prehistoric African mother tongue’
Numbers make no sense to people who can’t speak a language, scientists claim
Birth of a Language (Video)
Ancient language mystery deepens
On Languages of Power and Powerlessness


Latest News from our Front Page

Chess-playing computers may cause the robot apocalypse
2014 04 23
Sore-loser chess programs might be the end of us all... In the movie The Terminator, we heard the human side of the story of Judgment Day, with the machines getting smart and seeing us as a threat. It wasn’t until the sequel that we heard the tale from the machine’s point of view, as it chose to start World War III ...
Archeologists’ findings may prove Rome a century older than thought
2014 04 23
It is already known as the eternal city, and if new archeological findings prove correct Rome may turn out to be even more so than believed until now. Next week, the city will celebrate its official, 2,767th birthday. According to a tradition going back to classic times, the brothers Romulus and Remus founded the city on 21 April in the year ...
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
2014 04 23
A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. "I can’t speak for other MPs, but I’ve had many, many calls over the past eight years about chemtrails. And these questions are not so easy to answer," ...
Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound
2014 04 23
If it quacks like a duck... it’s not always a duck. Scientists have reportedly gotten to the bottom of the mysterious ’Bio-Duck’ sound in the Antarctic. Here’s a recording of the strange sound (it’s kind of a stretch to say it sounds like a duck, but who are we to second guess the biologists?). --- Mystery of Bizarre Duck-Like Ocean Sound Solved By Tanya Lewis ...
’Extreme’ Carbon Dioxide Reduction will be a Death Sentence for Humanity & Planet Earth
2014 04 23
If we allow a fraudulent pseudo-environmentalist cult to control every aspect of our lives then our children are doomed to a totalitarian existence which Stalin could only have dreamed of. “The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine ...
More News »